Neutral Milk Hotel Played Austin, Texas Last Night! Squee!
If you had told me five years ago that I’d be on a high after seeing Neutral Milk Hotel last night in Austin, Texas I’d have asked what you were smoking.
Jeff Mangum, the leader of the band, famously stopped touring in the 90s. There were only a few grainy videos of his shows online, as he morphed from an indie act to cult sensation. He was a recluse in the J.D. Salinger vein, similar to the singer/songwriter in the Nick Hornby book Juliet, Naked, but with a strong interest in Eastern European folk music.
Then a couple of years ago, Mangum came back to rockland. He played a secret show in Brooklyn. Then a small tour, with only a few people playing backup. When that tour came to Austin, I cried through the whole thing, as did a friend I was with.
Incredibly last night, I ended up on the floor at Neutral Milk Hotel when a friend had a spare ticket for the second night of his tour stop in Austin, Texas. Incredibly, my friend was just getting into the band. Nearly every song I turned around to her and said. “I really like this one.” Or, “This one is my favorite!” Umm, a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel songs are my favorite.
Unlike the first time I saw Mangum, last night I only cried at the beginning of the show including Mangum playing “The King of Carrot Flowers.”
One of the interesting things about the two Jeff Mangum shows I’ve been to is that –at least on the floor of the Moody Theater in Austin—they’ve both been a sharp departure from the usual run of public behavior at concerts that has people relentlessly videoing, Instagramming and live Tweeting shows.
With Mangum, I choose to think that the audience is worried that they will scare him off again, and that he’ll go back to not performing for many many years.
Last night I didn’t see anyone videotaping the show with their smart phones, but I did see a couple of people holding up lighters at the front of the stage near the end of the show. So 90s.
Halfway into the show, I shushed the two loud talkers who were standing behind me. I don’t care if you sing along (Like Mangum said we could!) or use your best stadium howl/clap/ Longhorn hoot after each song. But please don’t talk over something that I never thought I’d hear, Neutral Milk Hotel with a full band, right before my ears.
Elf Power also played.