Hailing from the DMV suburb of Rockville, Maryland, Josh Tillman, known as Father John Misty, played a home show at The Anthem on September 20th. He took the stage with his well-known song, “I Love You, Honeybear” and continued with songs from throughout his discography. A band including saxophone players and pianists accompanied Tillman, perfectly complementing the slow sound of his new album, “Chloë and the Next 20th Century.”
I wanted to see Tillman live due to the performative nature of his songs. He did not disappoint on this end. The instrumentation and lyrics of each song usually tell a dramatic story. Tillman told each of these stories with his stage presence. The best example was his closing song, “Ideal Husband.” The song tells the story of a man finally wanting to settle down after having his fair share of drunken nights, meaningless sex, and emotionless relationships. The song’s climax is in its outro when he runs to a girl’s house at “seven in the morning” and exclaims “Let’s put a baby in the oven/ wouldn’t I make the ideal husband?” When this part of the song came, the band increased its volume and Tillman slid across the stage on his knees. With his body language, he told the story of “Ideal Husband” so the audience could physically feel and see the song’s meaning.
Like Tillman’s blunt songs, his banter between songs was a bit unusual. He admitted to saying the same things every show after not getting any laughs at one comment: “I tell that story every night and it usually kills.” I laughed at and appreciated this engagement with the audience because it seemed to match Tillman’s songwriting style. Through the conversations had with the audience, I could get a glimpse of the person behind the sarcastic lyrics sung to me throughout the concert.
My only critique of the show would be the order of the setlist. Tillman made a comment, “I hope you don’t mind two long ballads in a row!” I did not mind such choices but when he did this during the encore, I was a bit disappointed. There were parts in the middle of the show that were more engaging than the last few ending songs. While I think the setlist was well thought out during most of the concert, the last few songs felt like an afterthought. The songs towards the end were still great—just sang in the wrong order in my opinion.
Tillman’s collection of satirical love songs shined at The Anthem earlier in September, and I would recommend every concert lover to see him live. He put on a simple show with few visuals yet still captivated the audience with his presence. His opener, fellow Subpop artist, Suki Waterhouse, also put on a show. She sang songs off her new project, Milk Teeth, coming out November 4th , and sang older songs. The singer gained popularity for the song “Good Looking” over summer on the app Tik Tok. She’s more than a viral song on Tik Tok though, her setlist and performance impressed those familiar and unfamiliar with her music. I usually don’t remember opening acts, but I think Waterhouse may be one of my favorites that I have seen.
Written by Carolina Permuy