Father John Mistry and Built to Spill in Morrison, CO at Red Rocks Amphitheater on 8/25/17

Father John Misty

Every time Father John Misty performs in Denver, he plays a larger venue mainly due to his dramatic performances. He went from playing the Ogden Theatre (1,600 capacity) in 2015 to the Ellie Caukins Opera House (2,225 capacity) in 2016. On Friday, Father John Misty played Red Rocks Amphitheater (9,925 capacity). Drama started about a week before the show. First, fellow alternative musician Ryan Adams had a Twitter fit about Father John Misty and declared him “the most self-important asshole on earth” (he later apologized). A few days later, opening act Jenny Lewis cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. There were rumors her friendship with Ryan Adams caused the withdrawal (a family emergency was the real reason).  Built to Spill replaced her.  That’s right . . . Built to Spill.

Father John Misty – All photos by The Rock 
and Roll Princess

Father John Misty A.K.A. Josh Tillman followed up his 2015 album I Love You, Honey Bear about marriage in dark times with another cynical album about the current state of America entitled Pure Comedy. He began his performance with the title track – “Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them/What make these clowns they idolize so remarkable?/These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new gods/So they can go on being godless animals.” Okay. This might sound like a depressing foreboding folk downer. But it’s not. It’s performed with James Brown like energy with a side of sarcasm. Father John Misty explodes with emotion fueled by the passion for music shown through dance. His pants with holes in the knees and his ripped suit jacket are the results of his spirited performances.

The Dancing Father John Misty 

The extraordinary lighting mixed with the beauty of Red Rocks Amphitheater provided a dream like atmosphere. His song So I am Growing Old on Magic Mountain felt like it was tailor made to perform at the historic venue. Father John Misty played a number of his older songs. The synth heavy True Affection turned Red Rocks into a dance party. The lighting transformed his body into a silhouette while he danced. When the song ended, the lights suddenly went dark. Thus providing a perfect time for Bored in the U.S.A. to begin. The 420 fueled audience were singing along while laughing at the lyrics at the same time. The night ended with the fast paced Ideal Husband – “I spend my money getting drunk and high/I’ve done things unprotected/Proceeded to drive home wasted/Bought things to win over siblings/I’ve said awful things, such awful things.”  Of course, it was done the Misty way with a wink and a smile.

I was disappointed that Jenny Lewis had to cancel. I opened my heart to embrace the band that replaced her. I searched for similarities. Built to Spill is the brain-child of Doug Martsch. Jenny Lewis was also in a band with a weird name called Rilo Kiley. Built to Spill gained national attention by playing Lollapalooza in 1995. Lewis earned national attention as a child actress in the 1989 Shelly Long vehicle Troop Beverly Hills (she played Lollapalooza in 2016). Bass player Jason Albertini and drummer Steve Gere back Doug Martsch. The Watson Twins (identical twin sisters) frequently back Lewis on vocals. Martsch’s fashion consists of sweat pants and a t-shirt.  Lewis favors pantsuits airbrushed by graphic designer Adam Siegel and boots by Saint Laurent. And that’s where the comparisons end.

Built to Spill

Built to Spill are credited for creating the Northwest Sound. Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse site them as a major influence. Doug Martsch’s guitar playing is impressively noisy. The hipster standing in front of me was inspired to dance along to every song. A few fans sprinkled throughout the audience really enjoyed their performance. Doug Martsch stated, he was “siked to be there.” And so was that guy standing in front of me.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one feeling misty about Jenny Lewis.

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