Father John Misty packed Surly Brewing Festival Field


Winter is quickly approaching here in Minneapolis. Yes, I know that sounds dramatic but, if you live up here, you know it’s true. Because of this, I will find any concert to cover that’s outside. I don’t care what it is… I just want to be outside enjoying the last glimpses of the beautiful Minnesota summer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Father John Misty isn’t quite my cup of tea but it was outside and, with a couple of good friends going, I wasn’t going to miss it.

Saturday night’s show was held at Surly Brewing’s “Festival Field”. It’s a giant open space right next to the infamous Surly Brewery in Saint Paul. I caught Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros there last year and had been craving another show there ever since. FJM’s show is the only show that has been held at Festival Field this year and that almost bums me out in a way. This is definitely a “venue” that I would love to go to at least once a week. I love the friendly staff, the cheap beer and great local food trucks. As my friends and I got our first beer of the night, the music was starting.

The show was opened up by Denver based Tennis. This indie-pop band is actually a husband (Patrick Riley) and wife (Alaine Moore) duo but performs as an entire band. Their almost dream-pop sounds were the perfect soundtrack to everything that was going on at the time. People were saying their hellos to friends new and old while grabbing drinks and grabbing some food. Although Tennis’ music was the perfect background music, it wasn’t completely in the background. There was something about this group that demanded your ears’ attention. Even if you were having a conversation with a friend, you were also listening to the music.

It was clear that some people in the sold out crowd had come to the show excited to see Tennis. With four full-length albums out that span the past six years, Tennis is not a new band by any means. They seem to have already established a great fan base and playing such a large show last night only helped that fan base grow. Even for those that had never heard Tennis prior to last night’s show, many of them walked away with a sense of intrigued about this group. I wouldn’t be surprised if, the next time they come through, Tennis is headlining a sold out First Avenue Mainroom show.

As the stage was getting turned over for FJM, you could feel the excitement in the air. People rushed to go get another drink and some food before the headliner was to take the stage. My friends and I found ourselves gravitating to Dough Dough– a local food truck that serves cookie dough and has truly taken off to the point where they will be opening a brick and mortar shop at The Mall of America. After getting our fix of delicious cookie dough, some hot dogs from the Surly food truck, and another beer, we claimed our spot in the grass in front of the stage.

FJM (born Josh Tillman) is a bit of an icon in the indie-pop scene. He’s a sarcastic writer and, although his recorded music doesn’t do much for me, I’ve heard people rave about his live show and his snarky attitude so I was excited to see what he would bring to the stage. As soon as FJM hit the stage, I was struck by his energy. Although he had a sense of energy about him, he didn’t seem to be trying too hard to entertain the audience. He got up on stage with his band and just played. That’s it… he just played his music and, although that usually isn’t enough for me, it was more than enough when coming from FJM.

His sound is very indie-pop and almost folky at time. His lyrics are a bit strange and obviously drug fueled but that’s part of his charm. Josh’s whole aura is a bit strange and a bit cocky but still accessible and fun. There are times when his music makes you want to dance around like a fool while trying to not spill your beer, and then other times when it makes you want to curl up and take a nap. Clearly, not what I typically like as there was no pushing and shoving but there was something intriguing about what his music could make you feel.

I have heard about FJM’s long winded rants that he tends to go on during live shows. He is said to be political and super opinionated. With everything going on lately in politics, I was ready to hear his stance on it. On top of that, some drama popped off just the other day when Ryan Adams called FJM “the most self-important asshole on the earth” during a Twitter rant. I was just waiting for Josh to address this drama but it never happened. I would by lying if I said I wasn’t a bit bummed and was looking forward to one of his notorious rants but I still got more than enough to keep me entertained.

FJM’s staggering seventeen song set followed up a three song encore seemed to hit everyone’s favorite songs. From the first song “Pure Comedy” to the final note of “The Ideal Husband”, there was an undeniable “festival” energy throughout the sold out crowd. It was the type of atmosphere where, even if you weren’t a huge fan of the music, you were having a great time enjoying the beautiful weather surrounded by friends while sipping on great local beer.

Winter is looming in Minnesota’s future but there are still more than enough outdoor events for you to get your fix of the heat and sun. Don’t waste your time sitting inside dreading the inevitable cold weather… get out and enjoy the beauty that is a Minnesota summer (I suggest you do this with a cold beer in hand, great friends by your side, and listening to amazing live music).