He was bearded, humble and alone with a well-worn guitar in support of then-buzz-band Youth Lagoon. That night he owned the venue, and he had no trouble taking over the same place again last Friday night.
Accented by hilariously dramatic hip gyrations and deep lunges — a move that recently resulted in a black eye as his knee caught him a little too close — Tillman’s personality anchored the new five-piece he brought with him this time around. The full band added clarity to his tunes, and clean, brilliant country western guitar work, that lent Tillman a Kris Kristofferson-meets-Jim Morrison feel.
The band opened with the sardonically beautiful “Funtimes in Babylon,” and led quickly into “Only Son of the Ladiesman,” “Nancy from Now On” and “I’m Writing a Novel.” Between each tune Tillman engaged the crowd with charmed wit and anecdotes about dreams in which the world was ruled by cats — and how they influenced elections. The highlight came with the sweepingly troublesome and desperate poetry of “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” as the last pre-encore tune.
For the encore, Tillman and his guitarist performed a version of Frank Sinatra’s “Nevertheless (I’m In Love With You),” and were interrupted by a catcall from a couple of Fleet Foxes diehards. Tillman was not amused, and curtly said as much, before the band returned and closed with a cover of Canned Heat’s “On the Road Again.”
Katy Goodman, as La Sera, performed an hour of 2-minute, high-energy songs spearheaded by Goodman’s endless cuteness before Tillman’s band took over. Her sweet vocals were weaved with crunchy guitar chords and young girl romance that really lifted the audience before Father John’s eccentricity.
Nic Turiciano is a writer and student in Fort Collins. You can follow him on Twitter at @nic_turishawno or email him at email@example.com.