While Colorado Springs has found its way into hundreds of Christianity Today articles, the Black Sheep has never had the honor. At least not until two weeks ago, when Father John Misty's show at the local all-ages venue was the subject of a 1,200-word critique.
In "We Will, We Will Mock You," Springs-based writer Patton Dodd took well-written exception to frontman Josh Tillman's onstage ridiculing of our city's hard-earned evangelical reputation, James Dobson's enduring legacy, and the former Fleet Foxes member's own religious upbringing.
"I tend to binge on new music discoveries until I'm sick of them," confessed Dodd, "but the Father John Misty album has only improved with near-constant play. Until that Saturday night, that is. Fear Fun sounds vapid to me now, because the artist behind it suggested that he is a vapid man." Or, as Dodd tweeted the morning after, "Kinda wish I had not seen Father John Misty in concert last night, b/c now I can't like his music anymore. Smug, pretentious, unfunny shtick."
Given how my Christianity Today subscription somehow lapsed without my noticing, I might never have seen the story had the singer not made fun of it onstage at Father John Misty's Ogden Theatre show last week.
"Sadly, I kind of agree with this guy," commented Black Sheep soundman Chris Forsythe after reading Dodd's article online. "Father John seemed almost miffed to have to be performing in such a backwoods hillbilly hellhole. I'm not Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but I groaned the first time he brought up Dobson. I play in a death metal band and we don't even bother making fun of Focus on the Family anymore."
But that didn't sour Forsythe on what he felt was a fine show. While Dodd may have treated it as an act of personal betrayal, Tillman's contempt is much more equal-opportunity and often self-directed. "I don't even know who this person I'm talking about IS anymore," he ranted during an Indy interview back in October. "He sounds like an asshole. He sounds like a fucking blowhard. I HATE him."
Be that as it may, the adoration of the kids pressed up against the Black Sheep stage made it clear that Tillman's ironic persona only adds to his pop-star mystique. As Howlin' Wolf famously sang, "The men don't know, but the little girls understand." (Note to the less sensitive among us: Father John Misty has just announced a new tour, including a June 18 show at the Ogden.)
Meanwhile, I can't say for sure where Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds resides on Christianity Today's hit list, but I can vouch for the fact that Friday's album release show at the Loft was completely packed. As you might guess, most of the set was given over to songs from the band's Blank Tape debut album, Round and Round, which we got into in last week's column.
But there's a lot more where those songs came from: The group already has 45 original songs under its belt, with 10 recorded for a follow-up release. Friday's performance of "I Can't Shake It," for instance, boasted a quirky David Byrne-style vocal that just might be the catchiest thing the local musician has done since his viral hit "Daisy," which also found its way into the set.
You can catch another Sugar Sounds show Friday at Deer Pile, a newish Denver venue whose website is overrun with photos of deer humping zebras, dogs and each other. Recently named "Best New Community Space" by Westword, Deer Pile will also be hosting the Colorado debut of Denver Broncos UK, an intriguing new Slim Cessna's Auto Club side-project, on Thursday. (SCAC, meanwhile, plays South Moe's in Englewood the following evening.) Following the Denver date, Mike Clark ships out for a month-long solo tour in the company of videographer Kevin Ihle, who'll be tagging along to document the shows.
Speaking of which, former Reverb columnist Adam Leech has launched a new Kickstarter site to help fund his own documentary, A Nickel and a Nail: The Original Hobo Nickel Story. He's inviting local musicians to drop off CDs for soundtrack consideration at the Leechpit (802 N. Nevada Ave.). So far, the Haunted Windchimes, the Flumps and El Toro de la Muerte are on board, along with out-of-town talents Kimya Dawson, Nathen Maxwell and Mini Mansions. If all goes well, the film chronicling Mr. Leech's hitchhiking venture to a Florida nickel-carving auction should be ready for summer release.