The usual parking spots were all taken down the road from White Oak Music Hall. It seems like the draw of the so-called sarcastic siren Father John Misty and his opener, Americana rocker Jason Isbell and the 400 unit, had lured the suburbanites out of their homes for a rare outing on white oak’s lawn. Despite the specter of rain hanging over the night’s showcase, the crowd was undeterred, cramming onto the muddy astroturf. After an obligatory pregame at Raven Tower, I settled into the lawn right at sunset to witness the second half of Jason Isbell’s set.

The Stans

The crowd skewed older. The babysitters of Houston must have been killing it this evening, as the dads were out in full force, complete with ironic tees, beards, and undercuts. It was hard to tell which headliner drew the largest crowd, as it seemed there were many there to Jason Isbell and Father John Misty independently, with those in attendance seeming only to really know about one or the other. 

The Stage

The stage was ablaze with lights and other theatrics on the lawn, with a definite ambiance of a festival showcase. It was certainly a bit swampy due to day’s rain, but it just made it that much easier to squeeze to the front and get prime real estate for the show as people attempted to avoid standing in the loose mud. Father John Misty’s frontman Josh Tillman was decked out in a nonchalant vacation vibe, adorned with an open Hawaiian shirt and all with sunglasses. As he put it, looking like “an off-duty jet ski salesman.”

The Setlist

  1. Hang Out at the Gallows
  2. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
  3. Mr, Tillman 
  4. Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
  5. When You Are Smiling and Astride Me
  6. Nancy From Now On
  7. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for 2 Virgins)
  8. Total Entertainment Forever
  9. Ballad of the Dying Man
  10. Only Son of the Ladiesman
  11. Generic Pop Song #3
  12. Please Don’t Die
  13. Pure Comedy
  14. Holy Shit
  15. I Love You Honeybear
  16. Date Night

The Standouts

The sound was immaculate, more than rivaling what could be experienced during indoor shows at the venue. The humming cricket gave off a more than authentic aesthetic that fit the country roots of the night’s headliners.

In comparison to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Father John Misty’s innate quirkiness was on full display, if not a bit haggard. Tillman did not take shots at the crowd as he has been known to do during previous shows, and perhaps he was just a bit too tired to really care too much about it. There were moments when he had some heart-to-hearts with the audience, endowing him with greater authenticity than his trademark sarcastic tirades. 

The Sign-Off

Father John Misty delivered on all aspects of faux rock stardom as he heckled the crowd without their innate knowledge, dancing and moving the whole way through. The band was a bit grittier than the opening Isbell band, who also impressed with their anthemic Americana rock and sterling musicianship, but overall the sheer volume and enthusiasm shown through. In the end, depressing music really is good for you.

The Score

♥♥♥♥ out of 5 hearts