By Alex Molten
May 24, 2015
VANCOUVER — “Everything is doomed, nothing will be spared, but I love you, Honeybear,” crooned Father John Misty while the crowd in the Commodore Ballroom on sang along. His growing popularity meant he drew a good attendance on a Sunday night. He was in Vancouver on tour supporting his second album I Love You, Honeybear.
Father John Misty, formerly known as J. Tillman, is a fascinating man on stage. He has rock star swagger, but looks startlingly like Jesus in a suit. His voice is clear and lovely while he sings songs with content that is caught somewhere between the ramblings of a disillusioned art student and the fevered message of a doomsday zealot. He is poignant, on key, and hilarious.
At one point in the show, Father John Misty invited members of the crush at the front of the stage to ask him questions.
“Are you Jesus?” was the second question asked.
“No.” was the blunt reply from the Father. He sighed and moved the show along, commenting that maybe a Q&A wasn’t a good idea after all.
A giant neon heart with the words “No Photography” scrawled across it hung as backdrop on stage. It openly mocked the audience’s constant need to document every moment with their smartphone but also created rebels of the lot as screens light up the throng. For his encore, the heart and the “No” were dropped, finally giving permission for “Photography”. The sarcasm was palpable.
It felt as though Father John Misty scorned his audience but also loved them dearly. The tone of voice he used while speaking was that of a disgruntled teacher speaking to a group of rowdy children, but if he was the teacher his students were rapt, albeit a little bit rowdy.
The moment that was a personal favourite was when he sang the song “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” from his first album, Fear Fun. It is an anxious song that beautifully outlined the existential crisis that nibbles at the soul of the conscious consumer. The audience was not a uniform group, there was a wide spectrum of people, but the collective unease about the time we are living in obviously struck a chord in all of them. While Father John Misty sang the crowd sang the words with him: “Try not to think so much about the truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record.”
His sassy and deprecating manners are lined with tenderness and the amount of thought put into the words he sings is admirable. He truly is a joy to watch. He is not the next messiah, and definitely is not claiming to be, but it is easy to wish he were.BC, British Columbia, Commodore Ballroom, Father John Misty