I often say I hate comedy. This isn’t true of course, I love to laugh, it’s just that so much of what falls under the heading of comedy just isn’t funny. “Bridesmaids” isn’t funny, amateur improv definitely isn’t funny, bathroom humor isn’t funny. Actually, sometimes bathroom humor is funny, but not very often. The female comedian who opened for Father John Misty quite definitely wasn’t funny. In fact, it was painful. “It would be better if she was singing,” I complained to my friend. Given how much I like girl singers, that statement says a ton. Things started looking up once Father John Misty took the stage.
Josh Tillman, who went by J. Tillman for years, has managed to reinvent himself from a singer songwriter who I found tediously boring when I saw him years ago opening for Damien Jurado into someone intriguing and vital. I can even overlook the fact that he was in the equally tedious harmony-overdose known as Fleet Foxes. (It occurs to me now that there are a few other musicians who could use an alter-ego.) I’d reluctantly listened to Fear Fun, his first release under the FJM moniker, after a friend said she thought I would like it, and I agreed to go to this show since it seemed the best use of her two free tickets awarded for being a High Noon fan of the month. Both good decisions. The record is hooky and smart and I enjoyed it, but I still wasn’t completely convinced I needed to see him live until I was persuaded to stick around for his set at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Playing from a behind a giant iPhone cut-out, he was charming and engaging, and I was happy I skipped First Aid Kit to see him.
He left the giant phone backstage tonight, though I wasn’t the only one who wondered why. “Giant iPhone where are you?” he wondered during an uncomfortable moment in the show. His last tour had been with a band and no doubt he felt more exposed all alone on the stage this time around. As opposed to the depressing songs he used to sing, “Only Son of a Ladies Man” and “I’m Writing a Novel” are catchy, funny and straight-up entertaining. I do hate being wrong, but discovering I was wrong about Father John Misty was a happy revelation. I’ll definitely see him every chance I get. Um, you know, if it’s free, or at least cheaper than the overpriced $25 ticket this show was.