WRITTEN BY: SAMI RAHMAN
Father John Misty held his entire audience rapt for more than an hour with a passionate performance at The Fillmore Philadelphia this past Saturday. The bold singer-songwriter has made headlines lately due to his unpredictable, often volatile antics. On Saturday, he delivered an explosive set, filled with drunken sing-alongs and dance moves reminiscent of Ian Curtis.
Since the show sold out almost instantly, it came as no surprise that people were lined up down the block waiting for the doors to open. The crowd was a diverse one, contrary to Misty’s original hipster following. Older men chatted about vacation plans with wives, while 20-somethings lamented to each other about the probable surplus of Uber cars that could hamper their travel home.
As the crowd filed into the new venue, there appeared to be plenty of newcomers marveling at the pink chandeliers and extravagant bars that lay around every corner. As the audience began to fill the floor in front of the stage, the logo of opening act Tess and Dave was aglow onstage, foreshadowing a possible appearance by a superhero with the initials T.D.
Tess and Dave appeared in a robotic, synchronized walk, marching to their microphones, sans band. Dave, clad in a glittering suit, heavy eye makeup and flowing beard, stood to the right of Tess, who wore a simple black dress. Though they used their guitars to accompany a few of their songs, their set was mostly comprised of samples and loops played while they sang in harmony.
Their songs varied between electronic dance-pop and acoustic folk. A song called “Beer” elicited the largest crowd response. The crowd seemed to warm up to the duo, as it became more familiar with their style. In addition to their rehearsed choreography, Tess performed her own dance moves. Her moves got a mixed response from the audience, with one concertgoer describing them as “exuberant,” and another calling them “pretentious.”
By the time Tess and Dave began to wrap it up, they were playing to a nearly packed house. The crowd was ready for what it came to see: Josh Tillman, better known as Father John Misty. His band took to a dark stage without Misty, as horror movie sound effects boomed from the speakers. Misty strolled out to the microphone and, without introduction, launched into “Everyman Needs A Companion” off of his 2012 album “Fear Fun.”
Throughout the show, Misty played his music with little to no interaction with the audience. That being said, the lack of banter didn’t take away from the quality of the show. Misty’s infectious passion for his music was enough for the crowd. He took an aggressive tone for “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow.” He spat angrily into the air as he appeared to be remembering the people he wrote the song for.
The biggest sing-along of the night proved to be “Bored In the USA,” which is one of Misty’s most well-known songs. Lighters were drawn and off-key voices bellowed into the night, as melodrama ensued. At one point, Misty grabbed audience member’s phone from the front row and held it up to his face, giving the person a unique souvenir to show off later.
When Misty came back onstage for an encore, the band switched into high gear, with each song more aggressive than the last. The encore started with “True Affection.” Misty waved his arms and ran across the stage, a silhouette against a pink background. Misty then went on to cover “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, staying true to the song’s industrial rock roots. The show closed with “The Ideal Husband,” a swinging rock ’n’ roll number that left the frenzied audience satisfied. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, the up-and-coming artist Misty left a lasting mark on Philadelphia.