J Tillman’s performance at The Casbah was charming display of stage presence
In an anxious state of mind, trying to complete my editor work for the newspaper on Tuesday night in the hopes that I would at least catch the majority of J Tillman’s set at the Casbah, my hopes of making the show on time began to diminish while driving on the 5 South at 11:10 P.M. on December 1. Frantically charging down the street, leaving the Mrs. a good ten steps behind, I turned the corner where the bouncer studied the guest list for our names. Our names not being there, I began by explaining my friend had just been down here to do an interview with Tillman. As the words rolled off my tongue, Tillman walked around the corner, glaring at his cell phone and asked, “Are you Ryan and Kaitlin?”
This was a fortunate stroke of serendipity. However, I feel I have the right to speculate that he was waiting for our arrival to begin the show because not a moment later, he regrouped with his band members and began plugging in on stage. Tillman’s kindness echoed in his soothing voice and gentle words. Even when drunken bystanders in the back continually spoke over his soft and mellow songs, he didn’t have the heart to ask them to be respectful but only remarked in his charming tone, “I just want them to like me.” With this he asked if anyone had any songs they would like to hear and “James Blues” was requested politely by a man in attendance to hear some music. Alone on his guitar, lightly strumming, Tillman beautifully sang the song with words decorating a depressed soul quite gracefully.
Best known for his role as the drummer of Fleet Foxes, Tillman epitomizes the musical ear, having the capability to move between an array of instruments flawlessly. Aside from his acoustic guitar and gorgeous voice, he shared intimate moments with a flute, vertical cymbal, and tambourine, making for an experimental session, aesthetically pleasing to anyone with taste. Many of the songs were approached with a slow-paced fashion, but eventually transformed into a heavy jam, dropping down to his knees to slam the vertical cymbal he had set up to the right of his feet. After the show I praised his choice to bring such a heavy tone into a melodious style of music and conveyed my hope that he would continue in that direction. Tillman responded, “A lot of people have said that so it is something I definitely think about.”
It’s unfortunate that he only played about eight songs. I don’t know if he was tired or fed up with the rudeness of the drunkards but I would like to have heard much more from this musician. The peacefulness of the music had me in a trance, yearning for more. I can only wonder how it might feel to be disrespected like Tillman was at the Casbah. He said it was upsetting but he couldn’t really hear them all that much. I think that statement was Tillman just being the humble man he is, but it was evident that the other members of the band were irritated. When at a small venue there is nothing more disconcerting than people who feel the need to converse during a performance. However, there is nothing more pleasing than a performer who is so self-effacing.