A Valentine’s Day with Father John Misty

Credit: 411posters.com

Credit: 411posters.com

On Valentine’s Day, Father John Misty, a unique, extremely talented, and bold musical artist performed at the Bowery Ballroom on Delancey Street in Manhattan. Father John, whose real name is Josh Tillman, is a former member of the commonly known band Fleet Foxes. The doors opened at 8 p.m., with the opening act beginning at 9 p.m., and Father John Misty coming on stage an hour later. As it was Valentine’s Day, there were many couples at this concert thoroughly enjoying themselves as they danced and shouted and sang along to the majority of the songs played off of Father John Misty’s two albums made under his stage name, one of which came out only in February. He has made a total of ten albums in the past eleven years, but his most recent album, I love you, Honeybear, is garnering high praise from critics.

The atmosphere of the Bowery Ballroom was very comforting and intimate. The venue is not very large, and had a bit of a speakeasyvibe to it. The curtains falling down to the edges of the stage were lime green and velvet, and the lights on stage were light blue creating a very mellow mood.  

The first act of the night was a one man band by the name of Guy Blakeslee, who is based out of Hollywood. Blakeslee had a bracelet with bells on it that he would shake throughout the majority of his songs. His lyrics held much meaning and his tone was very ghostly, enchanting and even a bit eerie. 

At 10 p.m., five men came out on stage and began settling into their instruments. Father John Misty walked onto the stage roughly a few seconds into the first song being played the titular song off the recent album. Father John is slender, very tall and can be easily identified by his long hair, beard, and bright eyes.The audience burst out into exciting shrieks as he stood up on a drum and started dancing with his back to the audience. 

The following songs played alternated from the new album to the old album. A personal favorite off of the new album, “True Affection”, was one of the first songs played. He directly faced the crowd when he sang “Seems like/you” and “I/need to have a crazy conversation!” “True Affection” was one of the more electric sounding songs played during the concert. During “Chateau Lobby,” Father John had a man with a trumpet wearing a Mariachi suit come out on stage and join him. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” was sung closer to the end of the concert. This is one of his most well-known songs as it also has a music video featuring Aubrey Plaza from the show Parks and Recreation

Father John threw out his arms into the crowd many times throughout the night. Fans raced up to simply shake his hand. Near the end of the show he jumped off the stage, still with the microphone in his hand, and walked right into the audience! He serenaded several people and many fans tried to get close to him. The sarcastic and witty song “Bored in the U.S.A.” was one of the slower songs he played at the end of the show. He turned to the audience to sing, “By this afternoon I’ll live in debt, by tomorrow be replaced by children.” He danced up until the very end of his performance, with his long legs stepping along to the rhythm of each song he sang. 

His live performance was vivacious, genuine and energetic. Seeing his love for his music in person thoroughly proves just how talented and passionate he is about what he does. His next concert in Manhattan will be on August 5th on Central Park Summer Stage. It is hard to think of a better live performer or venue, so if you have the opportunity to see him, definitely seize it! 

By Palmer Smith ’17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Father and Son Create an Original Album, “Sukierae”

Jeff Tweedy and his son, Spencer. Photo via  The New York Times

Jeff Tweedy and his son, Spencer. Photo via The New York Times

Many alternative rock lovers are familiar with the name Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer of Wilco, a band formed in Chicago twenty years ago.

However, they might not be familiar with Spencer Tweedy, Jeff Tweedy’s 18-year-old son. Spencer, who has grown up with the musical influence of his father, joined him in making what would have been Jeff’s next solo album. The album, Sukierae, confronts the difficulties of relationships in addition to the themes of death, love, and time. In the midst of the creation of the album, Sue Miller, Jeff’s wife and Spencer’s mother, was diagnosed with lymphoma. “Sukierae” is a nickname Jeff called his wife, and the father and son duo decided to dedicate this album to her. Many of the songs are reflective of her current condition and the father’s and son’s reactions to it. The album is both playful and upbeat as well as dark and somber.

Jeff told the New York Times that he “would never call [making the album] collaborating—it’s just fun…It’s rooted in sharing something that we find enjoyable to do, like sitting down with Matchbox cars or building Lego sets.”

The album was released in September while Wilco was already on tour. At one of their concerts in Port Chester, N.Y. on Oct. 30, Spencer stood backstage singing along to his father’s songs. Bopping his head up and down and smiling, it was clear that Spencer was excited to see his father perform with his band. The Tweedys are currently on tour in Europe, singing many of the 20 songs that comprise this beautiful album. 

One of the most well-known songs off of Sukierae, “Summer Noon,” holds itself to the highest standards of Wilco fans. It feels reminiscent of youth and warm memories. At times it has a hopeful tone, like when Tweedy Sr. sings, “Summer noon I can always stay,” in an excited manner. The song was featured in the highly regarded film “Boyhood” that came out this past summer.

“World Away” is a much more intense song that consists of striking drum beats and might even remind the listener of The Black Keys, to an extent. The lyrics are sung in a shortened, matter-of-fact way. Jeff sings, “Out of bounds of maps crawl / over the mounds of bones / is how I came to call you lonesome / over the telephone / over the microphone.” We get a sense of a lonely loved one, or even a stranger, that the father and son might be analyzing or reflecting upon. However, as Jeff’s lyrics are often interpreted in many ways, listeners can interpret its meaning on their own.

“Wait for Love” appears to be directed towards a lover once again. The whistling in the background of the song makes it both cheery and dreamy. The duo sings, “I still wanna look in your eyes and say I’ll wait for you.” This is a stunning line and might be directed towards Mrs. Tweedy.

“Low Key” proves to have more of a naïve tone. Tweedy Sr. sings, “I’ll always be your fool/and when it looks like I don’t care/I’m just playing it cool.” This song is easy to dance to as the melody constantly jumps up and down. There are female voices in the background, which also provide a more uplifting tone.

“Pigeons” is a quieter song. The line, “Let’s sing our songs for the pigeons / as common as religion / high on high on Mt. Zion / we’re all dandelions / all dandelions,” is a lovely, powerful lyric perhaps suggesting each of our own lives might be as small as “dandelions” but we should all still “sing.” 

“Nobody Dies Anymore” begins with a drumbeat that is quickly silenced by a guitar. Jeff’s voice is slow and tired at the start of the song, which sets the tone for the subject of the song. He sings, “Love every song that I know / you ask me well how so / strange I can’t defend / I love how every song ends.” This song could perhaps be about his wife. He wishes that “Nobody dies anymore / nobody dies / nobody dies.” It leaves the listener both impressed by the questioning of the subject matter and relaxed by its quiet tone.

Overall, this father and son team has created an album that incorporates both Spencer’s drum style and acoustic ideas while keeping Jeff’s poetic lyrics and originality. It is the perfect album for a long car ride, or simply for studying or hanging out with friends. On the surface, the songs are relaxing, but once one truly dissects the lyrics, the listener might never fully grasp what Tweedy is trying to say. Maybe that’s part of the album’s magic, however. It is safe to say in the words of Tweedy, “I can’t defend / I love how every song ends.” Well, we love the beginning and middle, too.

by Palmer Smith '17
psmith@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.