Show Review: Father John Misty, Jenny O. at The Independent, 9/26/12

by Stephanie Skidmore on October 7, 2012

My best friend is the opposite of me. I’m flighty, she’s focused. I’m crazed, she’s calm. I can’t handle being alone, she craves it. In fact at some point in our friendship she told me I was no longer allowed to complain about not having plans for the night, because she didn’t understand why it was an issue. And would then go on to explain how a great night for her (great, people!) could involve a bottle of wine and some Agatha Christie movies.

Dear God.

So were not the same in every way. But we balance each other out, and she’s capable of bringing me back to earth when my brain and heart have gotten the best of me. Which is only, like, 23 of the 24 hours of the day. I got it together people!

What it has to do with a show review. Not much? Are you still reading this? Really?

No seriously, really?

There is a point, eventually. I first saw the hot as a button Father John Misty in simpler times when he was known only as J. Tillman, drummer for the Fleet Foxes. It was the first show I went to with said BFF and we sat in the corner and bonded over our mutual love of whiskey, and blissed out to the quiet, soft songs of the stoned, funny, hippy on stage.

Fast forward 3 years, and Father John has decided he’s tired of J, and I had just left my friend in Chicago permanently. The night after I left Chicago, I found myself in the balcony of the Independent, alone, waiting to compare how much Josh and I had changed in our three years apart.

As I stood there basking in self-congratulation for standing by myself (for realz guys, I can’t handle being by myself), Jenny O took the stage also by herself. I raised my glass to her and giggled as if to say ‘HEY HERE’S TO US, WE’RE DOING IT, WE’RE ON OUR OWN!” The girl standing next me scooted a few inches further away.

Jenny O didn’t need my reassurance. Taking the stage in a neon red body suit, and a swarm of hair obscuring her face, her Patti Smith style androgyny was betrayed only by the sweet, soft voice that accompanied her fevered guitar playing. She handled the entirety of her set on her own with aplomb. And then I was all like “ok I guess you’re doing ok by yourself then. Show off. I’m just gonna get another drink.” The girl standing next me walked away.

People have become fanatical about Father John (seriously I had to sit through a car ride home where the evolution of his career was expounded in detail) to the point that he’s now also being championed by the hipster arch-nemesis, the bro. I think his mass appeal is in no small part to his “fuck it” attitude. It’s not an aggressive ‘fuck you’, or a non-inclusive ‘fuck them’. It’s more a “fuck it, I’m just gonna be happy.” He’s a manifestation of the freedom we all experience through the power of music. Plus the man cut off his hair, and is now smoking hot.

John/Josh/J. seems to access this freedom through playing music, dancing like the Peanuts gang, and telling jokes. In a far cry from his performance three years ago, he provided all three in excess at the Independent. Gone was the seated guitar playing balladeer basking in a single spotlight, and in was the hippie dancing, light hearted performer. Even though he clearly must have been singing these songs all year (he played most of the album!), he couldn’t hide the joy that performing brought him. His playful interaction with his band and the audience, combined with the beautiful harmonies and melodies of his tunes made his set one of the best I’ve seen at the Independent.

My only critique would be the horrid Do You Realize cover at the end of his set. The cover of Mind Games right before it was spot on, but The Flaming Lips? Really? It felt a little bit like a forced “this is the finale” moment. Also Josh, I love ya, but you couldn’t hit those notes. The bro’s seemed to enjoy it though. Maybe the man just knows his audience.

By the end of the show my loneliness had subsided, I was surrounded by friends, and my belly was warm with booze. My friend may have moved, but John’s music brought her back to my heart. Aww, sentimental writing! There’s should be some kind of connection in here about seeing J. Tillman three years ago with my best friend, and then seeing the evolved John Misty the night after my best friend moved to Chicago. Something about the cyclical nature of change, and the way music finds it’s way into the crevices of our lives and makes a seamless soundtrack that can bring up memories with a single note. Or something overwrought like that. I’m too tired to see it. And I figure in the spirit of John/Josh/J./Whatever, I’ll just say “fuck it.”

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