Since his split from Fleet Foxes in 2012, Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty) has visited Portland on a more or less annual basis, bringing a mix of snark, sharp observation and—above all else—well-executed songs every time he comes through town.
Father John Misty is a polarizing character, with his mix of rockstar bravado and penchant for mockery, but Saturday's Edgefield show saw him as a more humble and gracious performer. On more than one occasion, he thanked the audience with more heartfelt overtures than Misty fans are used to hearing, noting, "You all are always so great when we come through here." As he sat down at the piano for cuts from God's Favorite Customer, his latest album, he even shared small glimpses into his personal life, noting that he had been in perhaps the lowest point of his life when he wrote "We're Only People (And There's Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)."
Was his more subdued nature a sign that FJM is losing his nihilistic edge? Even if the Beatles-esque progressions and instrumentation of his latest album seem more reserved, the lyrics are still just as dark and acerbic as on records past, so we probably don't have to worry too much about that. And in case you need more proof that he hasn't changed too much, Tillman danced around the stage in the way that has by turns delighted and discomforted his fans for the past six years, at times holding the microphone high above his head, and at other times sashaying his way from one side of the stage to the other.
As the 10-piece band worked through a selection of songs from all four studio albums, the sun set enough to allow for the title track off God's Favorite Customer, something Tillman claimed couldn't be played in sunlight. The sun's departure from the sky also allowed the stunning lighting to shine through, displaying Father John Misty as a dramatic silhouette against a wide range of colors.—Katey Trnka