Father John Misty - Uptown Theater, Kansas City

by Tim Sentz Rating: Release Date:
Father John Misty - Uptown Theater, Kansas City
Father John Misty - Uptown Theater, Kansas City

The last time I saw a performance from Josh Tillman was in 2009 when he was still the drummer for Fleet Foxes. They played a drizzly Friday afternoon set at Lollapalooza in Chicago, and while a great set it was, his presence was minimal. So, it came as quite the shock Friday night to see him return to Kansas City after only a year since his last show here (at the KC Crossroads) and performing like a god. And by god, I mean, he acted like he was a god.

Relying heavily on his most recent album God’s Favorite Customer, Misty took to the Uptown stage with a boisterous performance, something he’s become known for since reinventing himself after the Fleet Foxes went on hiatus in 2012. No more the backing vocalist, he’s created this persona – a combination of Stephen Colbert and Elvis. The lights are bright, and he’s at the center of it all, as he rocks his hips to the enjoyment of the crowd.

These aren’t criticisms of Tillman – he’s a consummate performer now. His strengths lie with providing an experience, a show, instead of just getting up there and playing his songs – something many indie rock mainstays haven’t learned yet. None of this news to anyone who has seen him live, Tillman’s been this way for quite some time. I’d avoided seeing him live for many years, his last album Pure Comedy was a bloated mess, but after glancing at setlists for this tour I knew this would be the best time to see him. His set included all his best songs – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins,” “I’m Writing a Novel” – among many others. Each song burst onto the scene with full band explosions, and no one in the audience was still or silent till the more slowed down and morose sections of “Pure Comedy” came around.

Still, even in those moments Misty showed bombast, and never wavers from that entertainer aspect. Despite playing this area 3 years in a row, the Uptown was packed with only a few scattered seats visible. The Father John Misty persona that Tillman has perfected continues to grow in celebrity status, and it rewards him with screaming fans just like The King did back in the day. He closed out his set with arguably his strongest string of cuts from the night including “Real Love Baby,” “Holy Shit,” and finishing off with “the Ideal Husband,” much to the enjoyment of the audience. The question now is: how long can Tillman continue this rise? Even the King had to move on, so hopefully, Tillman manages to reinvent himself on the next album cycle.

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