CONCERT REVIEW: FATHER JOHN MISTY & THE WALKMEN (MADISON, WI)
Today we welcome our latest contributor to Mezzic, Hillary Sprecher! Hillary is a student based out of Madison, Wisconsin, and she will be assisting with our coverage of the lively Madison music scene and beyond. Also active in the realms of Daytrotter and Jonk Music, Hillary brings great musical depth to Mezzic and we’re lucky to have her on board. Welcome to Mezzic, Hillary!
Father John Misty
Josh Tillman, now acting under the moniker Father John Misty, released his well received album Fear Fun early in 2012. It is truly captivating- different from what we’ve seen Tillman do in the past with his solo work. This new material is seemingly much more true to the character that he is.
Last night, the crowd watched as Tillman wandered onto stage in the midst of his six piece band, where he promptly could be seen taking a long pull of Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey straight out of the bottle while the lights turned on him. Tillman can be quoted in his Daytrotter Session describing his music as, “…the sound of several different substances vying for supremacy in [his] body.” Though that may sound a little twisted, it seems that it just might be accurate. And working damn well for him. The crowd, myself included, were immediately drawn as he walked up to the mic, crossed his arms, and dove headfirst and serious faced into “Funtimes in Babylon”.
Tillmans’ stage presence drips with sarcasm and moodiness, with an overtone of apathy, but the passion and emotion in his voice, and the seemingly uncontrollable hip gyrations, eccentric poses and body contortions beg to differ. It’s like he’s feeling everything, all at once. Maybe that whiskey bottle stays only an arm’s length away in order to give him a way to dull that intense feeling.
The band joining Misty was spot on, adding layers of well-executed sound. Wrapping up his set with an extended version of “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”, the band pulled Tillman through a fuzzy delay bridge which involved the swinging of a mic stand, the writhing movements of Tillman and a cord being wrapped around his neck as he dropped to his knees in an over the top display.
Tillman’s immense talent is clear, and the magnetic draw of his presence is stronger than anything that I’ve encountered in quite a while. Leaving the stage casually, whiskey bottle in hand, as if nothing had really happened, Tillman left the Madison crowd satisfied, and possibly slightly dazed and confused.
Where Josh Tillman brings eccentric stage presence, the Walkmen bring a decade of experience and quality music making. It’s a different sound from their beginning however. Listening back through the Walkmen discography there’s shift from the forceful debut Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone to the comparatively calmer later albums, Lisbon and Heaven. The newer music still showcases the Walkmens’ unwavering musical capacity, but it’s more subtle now then we’ve heard in the past.
Lead vocalist Hamilton Leithauser dressed in a cool black suit started off their set with “We’ve Been Had”, showing us that this wasn’t just going to be a showcase of their new album, but instead, a well planned mix of their song history that also included songs such as, “Angela Surf City” and “In the New Year”.
These gentlemen belong on stage, and they act like it; not at all in a pretentious way, but rather by playing with a smooth confidence that can only be earned over time. The chemistry the band members share is clear, and has been captured in the sound and honed to perfection, every component fitting together right where it belongs. Leithausers’ dynamic voice soars above it all with straining passion, in the way that we’ve come to expect and love from him.
Although Mistys’ performance was undoubtedly a difficult performance to follow up, the Walkmen managed just fine, leaving the Madison crowd on high note.
If this show is any indication of what’s to come in the 2013 music streak it’s going to be good one, folks.