This blog bears witness to my adventures in rock tourism, but believe it or not, I have a lot more wisdom and knowledge (hahahahaha) from life on the road that I can't share in written form. However, I now get to impart some of these pearls to my best friend, as she has contracted the same condition. Thus, we both made our way to Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego for Father John Misty, ahead of his Coachella appearances.
Father John Misty, Humphreys by the Bay, April 12, 2017: I might as well play the music snob card and mention the time I saw Fleet Foxes open for Wilco in Boise, Idaho -- a great trip, by the way. As you may recall, Fleet Foxes were the It Band of that moment, but to tell you the truth, they never did it for me. I have my own preferences in Beardy Harmonizers (tm), though I loved witnessing the affectionate bond between the Fleet Foxes and Wilco. Since then, I recall seeing notices for Josh Tillman's solo career, but have mainly stayed away from the hype. As I've mentioned many times before, it's not a criticism on my part. My lizard brain simply can't handle as much music as it used to.
But when he became my best friend's favorite contemporary artist and ignited her own rock tourism bug, you know I had to be there! In fact, I'm sure I would've joined her earlier, but other events come up. Thus, the road led to San Diego.
I've seen Humphreys by the Bay has come up in itineraries for other bands, but every time I've checked, the shows have been seated, which is a no-no for me. Father John Misty was not, which was the first indicator I had to be there. It's a small outdoor courtyard in a resort-style hotel. Imagine a concert venue at the edge of an apartment complex. Got it?
Even better, it turned out the soundboard was stationed on our hotel room patio. Again, imagine your hotel room with a sliding glass door leading out to a wide patio shared by three other rooms. Then picture the soundboard sitting there. Yes, we did watch the soundcheck from the deck. I wonder what it would've been like to watch the entire show from there, but we had other plans.
As I indicated above, I haven't seen Father John Misty before, so I didn't know what to expect. I assume the setup (including a 7-piece string section) was a new development, as necessitated by the new record. From what I could tell, the new songs are mellower, but in my humble opinion, the 13-minute acoustic epic was the best tune of the night. I also loved one of the rockers, which I was later informed was his big hit "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings."
As an impartial observer, I'm here for the human drama, and one scenario I've never before witnessed played out: Apparently, some guy in the audience was pissing on people?! FJM interrupted the show to comment on it and to send security at him. I'm happy to report we were on the other side of the audience during this episode.
As for FJM himself, he wasn't particularly chatty, which isn't a concern for me, but longtime fans may have their own opinions. He did tell a funny story about a line he likes to throw out when he goes to other people's shows ("someone's been listening to Radiohead") -- it could be worth stealing.
The biggest revelation to me came toward the end of the set, as he prepped for his solo segment. As the other band members left the stage, I finally recognized some faces: Four of the members were the Section Quartet, whom I've seen at Largo several times. In fact, I saw group leader Eric Gorfain drop by Largo last April for a fantastic podcast taping. I probably shouldn't be surprised by the continued appearance of Largo-associated talent in my life, but it always warms my heart.
One of the other highlights of the night was in fact the opening act, Tim Heidecker. I have to admit I was never a "Tim and Eric" fan, but Tim's musical side was more straightforward than I expected. His songs verged on parody, but you could take them at face value too. Less ambiguous was "I Am a Cuck," for which FJM joined Tim for a rewrite of Simon and Garfunkel's "I Am a Rock." I liked it!
By all indications, I'm committed to attending more FJM shows for moral support. Those reports will come in down the line.
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