All words: Ross Bonaime — All photos: Kara Capelli
The combination of Har Mar Superstar and Father John Misty performing at the Rock & Roll Hotel definitely sounded like a weird one on paper. Besides their lead singer’s similar last names (Har Mar Superstar is really Sean Tillmann, Father John Misty, J. Tillman), they don’t seem to have that much in common. Har Mar is known for his wild stage antics and having written pop songs for bands like The Cheetah Girls, yet Father John Misty is mostly known for being the ex-drummer of the folk rock group Fleet Foxes. Yet surprisingly, these two together worked much better than expected.
When Har Mar Superstar took the stage and announced “My name is Har Mar Superstar and I’m fucking awesome,” there was definitely some trepidation in the crowd, but it didn’t take long before the audience understood that yes, Har Mar Superstar is in fact, fucking awesome.
Mr. Superstar has a voice like smooth R & B, the looks of a young Ron Jeremy and the cockiness of Jon Lovitz. This creates a perfect storm of a persona that is incredible. As he sings his soulful, funky songs, he also is constantly gyrating and taking off layers of clothes. His performance was weird enough already, but when he started singing a song entitled “Four Shots of Jagermeister”, in which he asks someone to bring him, surprise surprise, four shots of Jagermeister, and passed them out to his band (including J. Tillman on drums), he announced “weird shit is about to start happening.”
From there he took to the crowd, walking to the back of the club and greeting people as they came in. He continued to strip down to a fittingly unfitting Prince and the Revolution tank top and as the crowd fell in love with him more and more, he proclaimed that they had finally “drank the Kool Aid.” Considering how pessimistic the crowd was at the beginning, the packed club really had turned around in his favor.
But Har Mar kept giving his all as he continued his set, stripping down to nothing but his underwear and dancing on the bar in the back of the club. He finished with a track called “Tall Boy” he said was originally written for Britney Spears but was rejected since it wasn’t family friendly. Their may not be anything really family friendly about Har Mar Superstar, but what an incredible showman.
Now I wasn’t sure if Father John Misty would be able to keep up this energy, but as soon as J. Tillman and his band walked out to King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”, with Tillman drinking a bottle of water, then dropping it like a mic, as if he had just won a rap bottle, I pretty much had my answer that Father John Misty would be equally as bad ass.
Father John Misty’s Fear Fun album has a sly wit to it, a sort of humorous twist that throws little lines of laughable lines into song that are otherwise seemingly serious. Tillman came off as part stand-up comedian, part musician throughout his set. When he admitted that his set wouldn’t be political, but claimed that his only political stance would be “fuck voting,” Tillman made his set lively and pretty hilarious.
Two of those songs that show his funny side, “I’m Writing a Novel” and “Nancy From Now On” started him off. He then told the audience that he hoped everyone was ready to spend the night at the Rock & Roll Hotel, with us all getting Rock & Roll rooms there, and waking up at Rock & Roll o’clock (which is 11, if you’re wondering), and stated that the most rock and roll alcohol is anything raspberry flavored.
Having this comedy interspersed with Father John Misty’s songs was a wonderful mix, such as when he played “This Is Sally Hatchet”, ending it with an incredible jam session, then almost immediately going into a discussion of who would survive if we all were locked in the Rock & Roll Hotel and had to survive Lord of the Flies style.
Father John Misty played about half of Fear Fun in the order in which it appears on the album, playing “Well You Can Do It Without Me” and “Now I’m Learning To Love the War”, interspersed with a little commentary on what it would be like hanging out with Michelle Obama, saying that he was getting into “some Doonesbury shit.”
The real highlight of the evening was an incredible version of Father John Misty’s most popular track “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” which on the album is pretty straightforward, yet Tillman and co. elevated it into a monster of a song, with everyone on stage basically going insane riffing. Father John Misty followed that up with a few quieter tracks, but that blow out of a performance set the bar high for everything to come after.
While it seemed odd at first, Har Mar Superstar and Father John Misty are two great tastes that taste great together, in what turned out to be a incredible night of comedy, and oh yeah, some music as well.