REVIEW: Father John Misty sets the bar at the Paramount

April 7, 2016

Mat Hayward


Father John Misty played a sold-out show at the Paramount last night and let me just say, J. Tillman has a commanding stage presence. If you haven’t seen this band live, do yourself a favor and look at the tour dates and make sure you catch at least one of these shows.

My friends and I made a Lil’ Woody’s run for a can of Rainier and some delicious burgers and made our walk down. We got nice and close in the seat-less auditorium but had to sit cross-legged for about 45 minutes. That’s when Max made a terrible mistake.

Max is a smart guy, but his butt was tired of sitting on the floor, so naturally he stood up. Then Jeremy stood up because his butt was also tired. Then, everybody stood up because they thought Max and Jeremy saw the band.

Long story short, we stood for about 30 minutes longer than we needed to. Thanks, Max and Jeremy....

Here’s how it all went down.

Opener: Tess And Dave

Usually I would reserve a majority of the article to the headliner (don’t worry, I’ll get to that), but I need to take a couple moments to explain why Tess And Dave deserve your attention.

It’s not often you see groups outside of hip hop rely so heavily on pre-recorded backing music like this duo, but it definitely worked. They came out to the stage with all the instruments on stage, but sang the first two songs complete with coordinated dance moves and a slow waltz without picking up anything more than a set of sleigh bells.

Tess & Dave open for @fatherjohnmisty performance tonight at the Paramount. photo: @mattlambphoto #tessanddave #fatherjohnmisty #stgpresents #stg #livemusic #myvitalart

A photo posted by stgpresents (@stgpresents) on

For the most part, their sound is very late-70s, but transitions between Ratatat-esque duo guitar riffs and ethereal, drawn-out vocals. They sang a song with a lot of puns about automobile companies. They wrote the song the day before and Dave didn't remember the lyrics so Tess intervened with a happy chorus of "Subaru-uuuuuuuu!" It was all very charming.

Then Dave said, “Let’s go to space!” Tess completed a wardrobe change and stuff got real. Tess held up a sword above her head while Dave slammed out a guitar solo. All was right with the world then the set ended. It was not the end of Tess And Dave for the night, though, as the two are part of the seven-piece band to back J. Tillman in Father John Misty.

Main Event: Father John Misty

There’s something you should know about me. I was am a Fleet Foxes fan boy, so when J. Tillman started his own thing, it was the closest I could get to pretending like they never broke up (please come back).

That said, having seen both Fleet Foxes and Father John Misty many times, FJM blows the live set thing out of the water.

J. Tillman’s stage presence is that of a true rock star. Complete with the most awkward tall-guy dance moves and hip shaking, the dude had the whole crowd laughing, engaged and drawn into the masterful story-telling of his music.

Mat Hayward

Speaking of the music….

He pulled out all the stops on this one. The band played at least a 90-minute set and followed it up with a three-song encore. There was a solid mix of new and old music, he took someone's phone and recorded himself with it mid-song, did a lot of those cool "drop to the knees" moves that soul-singers always do, however a few songs really set the bar for the night.

J. Tillman took someone's phone and recorded himself until the end of the song with it. Anybody else catch that tonight?! #fatherjohnmisty

A photo posted by 1077 The End (@1077theend) on

“When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” was by far the best song of the night. While the recording might hold back a bit of the intensity, the live performance certainly did not. He spent a majority of the song yelling the “ohs” in the chorus and kneeling in the front row  where I think people were trying to take his wedding ring (not cool, guys).

Mat Hayward

“Bored In The USA,” while remaining appropriately quiet and reserved, also captured the audience with Tillman’s body language, truly telling the story of the song with minor movements and interactions with the audience.

Lastly, “True Affection” is a jam. You don’t need me to tell you that. But when that song started playing, a crowd of sweaty teenagers started dancing like they were at a rave. It helped that during an extended instrumental break, Tillman. Got. Loose. And I mean loose. The dude started dancing like the lankiest inflatable waving arms guy I have ever seen, and the crowd was into it.


The encore opened with a solo Tillman playing “I Went To The Store One Day” and when he finished, the band joined him back on stage.

Mat Hayward

Then, Tillman said this. “This has to be the most beautiful song about going down I have ever heard.”

Let’s just say I didn’t walk into this venue expecting to hear a guy with a scraggly beard and long hair cover “Kiss It Better” by Rhianna, but that’s what happened.

They closed with a heavy rendition of “The Ideal Husband” that left anyone who was hoping to leave only a little sweaty more like a lot sweaty.

That was it! Great show. Would highly recommend catching this guy live as soon as you can. 


  • Opener: Tess And Dave - Great on-stage chemistry, dance moves. Part of Father John Misty's full band
  • Headliner: Father John Misty killed it. He is a rock star. Go read the article and don't be lazy.
  • Encore: He covered Rhianna and made everyone sweaty.