Ezra Miller’s Hidden Talent
Imagine: The year is 2011. I am a freshman in college. My new friends and I are making our way through Ezra Miller’s entire filmography. How this started, no one can be sure. It would be like asking why I bought a squishy stress ball shaped like the Earth at a Walgreens the other day. It just happened. But as my friends and I suffered through our first year at art school, we did it with Ezra. From his delicately dark performance as Kevin Khatchadourian costarring with Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin to his role as Vinnie, a teenager with a healthy dose of “feederism” in City Island, we went through it all. (We even made loose plans to visit the actual City Island, about 14 miles north of our Brooklyn campus, but it never came to be. When are we going to actually do this, guys?) Fast forward to 2015, when it was announced that Ezra would be appearing in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It was like the universe was bestowing a gift upon us. And by us, I don’t just mean me and my friends. I mean all of humanity.
But did you know that Ezra’s talents extend beyond depicting engrossingly unique characters? He’s a member of Brooklyn-based band Sons of an Illustrious Father, alongside Josh Aubin and Lilah Larson. They performed Monday, March 26 at C’mon Everybody, a small venue in Bed-Stuy, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. My friend Eva Marie and I eagerly attended.
The band refers to its genre as “heavy meadow” and “genre queer.” Ezra, Josh, and Lilah are all multi-instrumental, playing musical chairs with guitars, drums, keyboard, and vocals the entire show.
They opened with their recent single, “U.S.Gay,” which was written in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016. It was also notably featured on NPR’s 2018 SXSW “The Austin 100” playlist. The rest of the setlist consisted of material from their 2016 album, Revol, along with tracks from other EPs. One of the most delightful elements of the show was Ezra Miller’s facial expressions. Though impossible to capture on camera, they ranged from grinning with pure joy to Harry James Potter’s “He was their friend!” moment in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Each member has a unique voice, and the band usually performs with one vocalist at a time. Halfway through their set, though, all three band members left their instruments and came to the front of the stage to perform a shared a cappella cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.”
After their initial set, they left the stage but returned to the enormous applause of the crowd requesting more. With a smile like a beam of sunshine, Ezra remarked how this was only the third or so time they’d been called back for an encore.
After the show officially ended, we milled around, and eventually, Ezra emerged from the green room to come hang out with the fans. I told him it was not my first interaction with him: At the November 2016 NYC premiere of Fantastic Beasts, I yelled out, “We love your band, Ezra!” as he rolled by in a fancy car with the window down. He had given me a groovy smile and a nod at the time. He laughed at my anecdote and thanked us genuinely for coming to the show and then excitably told us how he can’t wait to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald this November.
As we left, we heard a security guard murmur, “[censored] groupies.” We took pride in that, whatever it meant. Sons of an Illustrious Father groupies? Ezra Miller groupies? Fantastic Beasts groupies? Credence Barebone groupies? Live music groupies? All are worthy titles.
Sons of an Illustrious Father’s next gigs are March 28 (again in Brooklyn), April 14 in Portland, Oregon, and June 2 in São Paolo, Brazil.