It’s been a busy couple of years for Josh Tillman. Of course, he’s better known by his boisterous, swashbuckling musical identity, Father John Misty. By this time last year, he was celebrating the release of his critically acclaimed album, Pure Comedy. It would later go on to receive Grammy nominations for best alternative album and best recording package, the second of which he was awarded with the golden horn. As the third full-length offering in his catalog, Pure Comedy serves as a critique on the human existence – a product of society’s contempt turned on itself for the imperious and exorbitant grandeur of its ways. Misty’s persona has often been known to embody both sides of this dichotomy – frequently praising himself while at the same time calling out his own bullshit, as he does on “Leaving LA,” conceding, “Oh great, that’s just what we need / Another white guy in 2017 / Who takes himself so goddamn seriously.”
On 2018’s God’s Favorite Customer, the latter sentiment becomes an internal instrument of catharsis. More so than ever we find the Misty Father turning his critiques on himself, shedding the mask of his ego. Having abandoned past praises of adoration on 2015’s sentimentally and descriptively titled I Love You, Honeybear, his most recent album stutters on the mediocrity of his own character, and his lamenting remorse of missteps made in the name of self indulgence. Much of Mr. Tillman’s inspiration for this project came from a story told by a song after the same name, depicting an extended stay at a hotel apart from his muse and the aforementioned Honeybear.
During this time he explores the depths of self-reflection, and in the end yearns for salvation, as he alludes on the title track, “I’m out here testing the maxim / That all good things have to stop. / The bar closes at 5 / But the big man is just opening shop.” God is so far an unfamiliar confidant for Tillman, especially considering the scathing opinions expressed on religion in Pure Comedy. But it seems that he’s reverting to antecedent motifs of finding enigmatic comfort in the great unknown, similar to those expressed on his inaugural album, Fear Fun (although this time he appears to have eased off the LSD).
Amid the continual effort to navigate the labyrinth of his thoughts, he somehow finds the time to play a show here and there. Last Saturday at the Edgefield Amphitheater in Portland, OR, was one such occasion. As the warm glow of fading sun soaked into his signature scruff, FTM crooned his way through a myriad of tracks spanning his entire catalog. The turn of the evening eventually welcomed a rousing dusk, and his silhouette strode across the stage backed by a gurgitation of frenzied lights.
The mask was surely off as he expressed humble gratitude for his admiring fans, telling them, “You guys are always so great when we come through here.” He’s shown a particular fondness for Cascadia, as he claims on Fear Fun‘s “Tee Pees 1-12,” “If I make it out alive of Hollywood and Vine, / I’ll build a cabin up in the Northwest.”
Ego or not, this wayward rockstar is always welcome in Portland. Check out more photos from the show below.