“I’m old now, that’s the big reveal,” quipped Josh Tillman as he walked on stage.

Needless to say, he didn’t look old. Buzzed head, big beard, and suede loafers, if Tillman looked any different than he did on his last proper tour in 2019, it was because he seemed more at ease. Often, he would perform with sunglasses or an air of superiority. At the Walt Disney Concert Hall, he truly seemed happy to be there. And hey, how could you not be.

Father John Misty, Josh Tillman’s project for the past ten years, is prepping for the release of Chloë and the Next 20th Century. The fifth Father John Misty album comes nearly four years after God’s Favorite Customer, which was critically acclaimed for an ability to mix wit and humor with an overall despondent narrative. Two new songs, “Funny Girl” and “Q4″ were played live for the first time on February 25.

Of course, as much as Tillman was the star of the show, the big draw was sharing the stage with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led this time by conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser. Sharing is perhaps not the right word to describe the interaction on stage, where Tillman and his seven-bandmates at times did block the view of the orchestra behind them. Of course, different seats in the hall would have given a different vantage point and different experience.

Sonically though, there were also times where the band’s instrumentation was easier to hear than the eighty musicians behind them. At other times, like during “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” and “I Love You, Honeybear,” listening to the songs with anything less than a full orchestra will now feel like something is lacking. The instrumentation and the acoustics of the room felt like being swept up by a wave and taken out to sea. In fact, it only became extra clear how much richness the LA Philharmonic was adding when they left the stage for the three-song encore.

For songs like “Q4,” as well as some older ones like “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” there is such dramatic orchestration in the studio versions that it only makes sense to have the LA Phil perform them. Translating “Q4” to the stage with a typical band will be a challenge, but surely one Tillman is up to. The song sounds nostalgic and futuristic all at once, with gorgeous classical strings dipped in something psychadelic.

A few times throughout the night, I thought it would have been nice to stand up, perhaps even with a beer in hand, and truly feel the full body of the music. Instead, in a sold-out room with theater seats, we were left to bob heads and perhaps sneak a iPhone photo during an applause break. Seeing fans of all ages come together in movement is always a beautiful moment (perhaps only more now after not doing it for two years) and only during “Total Entertainment Forever” and “Date Night” during the encore did the crowd rise to their feet.

Tillman’s joy and brighter presence will hopefully last and be on showcase at festivals and eventually an album-supporting tour later this year. Most of what he said was in the form of the joke, oftentimes callbacks to mixing up two of the the lyrics to “The Palace”. We missed “the poem zone” he joked (the skipped-over line was “Last night I wrote a poem / Man, I must have been in the poem zone). When we finally did get to rise to our feet for the final two songs, it was Tillman’s idea and came at his invitation.

Seeing Father John Misty perform with an orchestra is a spectacular experience, even in a twenty-inch chair. Tillman had fun, and so did we.


I Love You, Honeybear
Hangout at the Gallows
Mr. Tillman
Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
Q4 (live debut)
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
The Palace
Funny Girl (live debut)
Pure Comedy
God’s Favorite Customer
Holy Shit

Funtimes in Babylon
Total Entertainment Forever
Date Night



Brian Benton

Brian Benton is a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles.