In promotion of his recently released and critically acclaimed album, “I Love You, Honeybear,” Former Fleet Foxes’ percussionist Josh Tillman treated fans at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion with a concert Wednesday night. As anticipated, the evening was filled with a variety of self-indulgences, with Tillman’s Father John Misty alter-ego shredding and finger-picking his guitar strings as if they were part of his embittered heart, crooning sweetly all the same.
Following a relatively underwhelming opening act, Tillman walked on stage with a pulsing neon heart behind him: “No Photography,” it flashed. Unsuspecting though we were at the time, this would serve to set the tone perfectly for the evening.
Tillman’s style of performance is a dying art. The Father John Misty stage presence embodies the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” concept so perfectly that it’s probably ironic. Opening with the album’s title track, Tillman held nothing back as he flailed both arms and mic stands. A hip gyration on the drum platform provided a Jagger-esque feel to the set’s kickoff, and soon we were in full swing.
Never mind the fact that he looks like a combination of the guy who pulls the tap of your favorite IPA and a 49er sifting for gold, Tillman carried his floral and flannel-bearing crowd on a musical journey that was both unfamiliar and nostalgic. Mixed with the newer tracks were some of the songs that launched Tillman’s solo career, such as “I’m Writing a Novel,” “Only Son of the Ladiesman,” “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” and “Nancy from Now On.”
Originally drawing inspiration from Americana folk and blues, and with an occasional country western spin, Tillman remained true to form when writing his latest record. Yet, “I Love You, Honeybear” showcases a deeper progression into experimentation.
Tillman’s live rendering of “True Affection” delighted in an electrified buzz of synth as the room filled with the glow that only an enormous, neon pink heart could emit.
“Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” captivated the crowd with a Beirut-like ambiance, carried by horns of a majestic quality. And though these elements are noticeable from a quick Spotify spin of the album, Wednesday’s show only served to amplify their brilliance. Suffice it to say, you can never really get a feel for Tillman until you see his music live.
And even with these experimental indulgences, Tillman’s dry and stinging lyricism is what he’s really known for. His delivery of “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.,” “Bored in the USA” and “Nothing Good Ever Happens at The Goddamn Thirsty Crow” revealed twisted, cynical thoughts draped in a slow and sly country-western reverie.
His wit also carried over in his mutterings to the crowd, with Tillman at one point giving a shout out to “all those cruise ship-loving, middle-aged women dancing on Xanax and white wine.”
After a strong conclusion with the noisily distorted, yet groove-enticing “The Ideal Husband,” Tillman emerged back on stage for an encore. Conceding to the crowd that, “we’ve all got a part to play,” he appeased us with tender renditions of “I Went To The Store One Day” and “Everyman Needs a Companion.”
Father John Misty is probably pretty capable of forming a functioning cult. Wednesday night’s show left behind an audience reveling in divine debauchery. And somewhere amidst all of the evening’s hip gyrations, somewhat misogynistic musings and comments about how he could really smell the pizza in the room, is a man who really just wants to be loved.