Posted in music on October 12, 2008

Jeff Mangum @ Knitting Factory, NYC - Oct 11, 2008 (jbeauchamp)
Jeff Mangum

As everyone hoped/expected, Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum made another one of his mysterious appearances at the NYC stop on the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour. It happened at Knitting Factory Saturday night. Anonymous said he was on stage for "for about 5 minutes total out of a 2.5 hour show". Cait wrote in with this description...

Jeff Mangum walked onstage 3 times last night at the amazing Elephant 6 collective show -- first just for the chorus of a song, about halfway through, then again for just a chorus, and finally at the last song ("The Opera House" by Olivia Tremor Control, before the encores) when he went NUTS and sang for the whole song. He was jumping around and sort of tackled Scott Spillane halfway through and put him in a headlock. He had the most intense look in his eyes the whole time he was on stage. Everyone chanted "Jeff Jeff Jeff", and someone was yelling for songs from Aeroplane ("anything from that album!!! you have to!!") but all we got from that album was Julian Koster and Scott Spillane doing a stripped-down, unpracticed version of The Fool, "dedicated to a friend", which Julian said they hadn't practiced in years. I'm sure you'll get more emails about it -- it was incredible.
We'll have more pictures from the whole show later. In the meantime, here's a video...

Elephant 6 Collective at Knitting Factory NYC 10-11-08

all in all it was a fun night... I love Jeff but he was really on stage for about 5 minutes total out of a 2.5 hour show... Olivia Tremor Control did about 5 songs in different forms throughout the evening which was a highlight and I guess a Neutral Milk Hotel song was played but it was an instrumental.. "The Fool" from Aeroplane , done by Scott and Julian from NMH with one or two other people. It wasn't the most spot on version but a nice surprise nonetheless ..they did dedicate it to a "friend" wink.. good times! [Anonymous]

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Comments (34)

Jeff needs to stop being a little bitch and have a reunion show already.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 6:02 PM

Old news. Go back to covering corporate denim parties, ya hack.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 6:25 PM

Woah...relax...

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 6:26 PM

"Old news. Go back to covering corporate denim parties, ya hack."

ha, what a moron.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 6:53 PM

i thought one of the highlights of the show was the group Nana Grizol. anybody know more about them? this was the first time i heard them.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 6:55 PM

6:25 needs to get a life.

ATP NY 2009. Neutral Milk Hotel. Please!

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 8:03 PM

what a show! some more video evidence of elusive jeff sighting at the event...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1671703379835484392&hl=en

Posted by sam | October 12, 2008 8:52 PM

Have to say, I've always loved NMH, and like pretty much everyone, think that Aeroplane is a brilliant record, one of the true touchstones of the past decade or so in indie rock. But I do also find the endless hero worship of Jeff a little odd and the expectations for his occasional ten-minute stage appearances a little off the charts.

I saw NMH live on the Aeroplane tour, at the Bowery show that has now become legendary, and, honestly, it wasn't that good. It was pretty sloppy, in fact. Not great-despite-themselves-Replacements-style sloppy, just sloppy. And, let's be honest, the first NMH record isn't all that good, and, if we want to be really honest, Aeroplane's Side Two can't touch Side One with a pole.

The closest comparison has always been Kevin Shields, but Shields at least put out two stunning albums, an incredible ep and, depending on your taste for indie pop, some truly wonderful seven inches in the early days. Plus they pretty much redefined what a live indie band could be. Yeah, they borrowed from Dinosaur Jr., but still....

Don't get me wrong with NMH, I still love that record and think that Jeff pretty much re-defined at least one strain of indie rock, but if we look at his career, it's really just one truly brilliant half-a-record and some so-so live shows. Has he been tremendously influential? Of course. Okervill River and Conner Oberst pretty much owe the man their careers. But is there any reason to think another NMH record or tour would be all that great? Not really.

Honestly, in the wash, Robert Schneider has put out a hell of a lot more great music than Jeff has.

Posted by Matt | October 12, 2008 8:56 PM

what

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 9:06 PM

Matt, you are an ass. Jeff Magnum is a God and can do no wrong. How dare you say Jeff is anything less than perfect.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 9:27 PM

On Avery Island is great and underrated record.. more often than not I prefer to listen it to over Aeroplane.. its so fuzzy and warm & weird.
I too like The Apples (well the first 2 records and ep) but Robert works in a different way than Jeff on many different levels and while yes he has a much larger body of work there's alot of sub par stuff there & talk about sloppy live, I've seen them both play (sometimes on the same bill) & The Apples made NMH look like Journey at times..

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 10:10 PM

I'm pretty sure Conor Oberst doesn't owe Jeff Mangum his career, they're contemporaries, Conor was writing and recording around the same time Jeff was.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 10:16 PM


>>I'm pretty sure Conor Oberst doesn't owe Jeff Mangum his career, they're contemporaries, Conor was writing and recording around the same time Jeff was.

well a small part of his career maybe ... now The Decemberists are a different story.. those first two Decemberists record sound a water downed NMH tribute band..

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 10:25 PM

Whatever, GBV at ATP 2009!

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 10:27 PM

>>Whatever, GBV at ATP 2009!

no chance dude

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 11:14 PM

omg he's alive.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 11:40 PM

he was walking around atp for the whole weekend this year.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2008 11:51 PM

long live Scott Spillane. That guy stole the show for me!

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2008 9:19 AM

Ok, Matt just needs to hold his horses on this Aeroplane as 1/2 a great record business. Maybe (and I'm only giving you maybe) the first half is a little stronger, but the second half of that record is still better than 99.9% of the records that have been put out by other bands since then. To claim NMH has 1/2 a record of great material and nothing else is a little silly and very reductive in reasoning.

Let's save our hyperbolic comments for Dan Deacon and the Black Kids please. Leave one of the best albums of all time out of the silliness.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2008 9:54 AM

Set list?

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2008 1:29 PM

Who cares?

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2008 2:29 PM

Really? This is being reported? No wonder dude is a shut in.

Posted by p-wiz | October 13, 2008 2:33 PM

9:54, "one of the best albums of all time", sorry, maybe according to Pitchfork and a lot of indie-rock fans, but in "all time"? Not quite...

It's a good album, don't get me wrong, but it's amazing how people put this album WAY UP on a pedestal way up higher then even a guy like Mangum feels it should be.

Is it on par with Big Star's Third? London Calling? REM's 'Fables' or even 'Murmur'? 'Pet Sounds'? Not even close. I'd take Marquee Moon, Let it Be, or even Disintegration over this record anyday of the week. Sonically even OK Computer (from a REALLY over-rated band) blows this album out of the water. There's songs on Aeroplane that are borderline unlistenable at the end of the day, and not even in a good way. For a record as over-rated as this, please go out and learn something about musical history before making moronic declarations.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2008 9:07 PM

^^ Missed the boat on NMH.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2008 10:57 PM

Seriously overrated. You children didn't grow up with good music.

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2008 1:53 AM

"You children didn't grow up with good music."

Ok, sure, because only bands that were around pre 1800 or whenever you were born were good right? If that's your attitude it's time to put yourself down pops.

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2008 6:43 AM

"please go out and learn something about musical history before making moronic declarations."

Stamping musical snobbery over other people's tastes is ridiculously pointless. You might have a mental encyclopedia of rock music tucked away in your enthusiastic brain there, but it doesn't make you an authority on other people's likes and dislikes. It's not a matter of fact, it's a matter of personal choice. You say "London Calling" I say "In The Aeroplane..." - who are you to argue - and more to the point, why even bother?

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2008 6:56 AM

London Calling was a far more influential LP, not to mention sprouted far more songs. Musically it's comparing apples to oranges, but we're also talking about two different leagues of talent here.

Posted by Anonymous | October 17, 2008 8:57 PM

i'm pretty sure conor oberst does owe his career to simon joyner.

Posted by km | October 17, 2008 10:01 PM

Aeroplane is a great record, and I think time may even put it up there with the other albums people mentioned.

But it is pretty pathetic how people who were ten when the record came out have these N'Sync level fits about just *seeing* the guy, so much so that they feel the need to e-mail a blogger about it as soon as they get back to their dorm.

It's really unflattering, cliquish, post-Facebook "look what I did" posturing. The issue isn't Mangum's talent, it's that 95% of people who go to NYC shows nowadays have vapid, uninteresting lives.

Posted by Anonymous | October 17, 2008 10:26 PM

we are talking about different leagues of talent, and it matters what you like. in the aeroplane over the sea is a concept album, and an album based off of wierd dreams and abstract afflictions based off of the holocaust. A lot of albums mentioned are in a different category of music, and substance. It is beautiful at both ends of the dark things in life, and the colorful things in life. It is a concept...to be interpreted, and you all are acting like children, with your cute puns, and clever quotations....which I'm sure will happen with what I am writing. Just enjoy the music, and if you love it, love it.

Posted by Adam | October 26, 2008 8:19 PM

to the person who said Aeroplane is only brilliant for the first half (oct 12 8:52) ....
I really couldn't disagree with you more.
All those songs run together in such a great way. Granted Oh Comely isn't the first song you put on when you show unexposed friends, but it still has it's merits. The closing lyrics of the song make it something worth the listen. and really... that second half is great. Ghost and the untitled... And two-headed boy part 2.. a great closing song and great closing lyrics. It's an album, not just a mix CD with their name on it. He put obsessive consideration in its creation, down to the order of the songs. Every song isn't golden, but it's the whole picture, the ride it sort of takes you on that makes it great. The emotions it envokes. He's been quoted to say that he wanted to make sound that resembled things that he's felt... and granted there were negative consequences for himself when it was released, but the spiritual awakening in a sense has been passed down to its listeners. No, I wouldn't shit myself if he came on stage, but I would be really excited to be of the few who get to see him. Yeah, most current listeners weren't on board when the album came out, I personally was listening to deathmetal, industrial, and darkwave at the time... but this album maintains it's position on some top50 seller lists for a reason. It's an album progressed by word-of-mouth, and resulting inspiration. It touches something that we can't put our finger on. Something that most music for me has never really touched before. You may not feel it, but that's where I think some of these fanatics are coming from. I don't know if it's of use to keep rambling...

But in addition, sam, I really have to disagree with you about On Avery Island. The lyrics of Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone by itself are reason enough for me to love the album. No, it's not their magnum opus, but it contains a certain optimism despite the sort of tragic setting. A certain hopefulness despite confusion. Much like Aeroplane. For me, in the raw sense, the band and their two main albums, represent passion in the general sense. That energy you feel in your chest, spiritual or not... the kind of thing that tries to keep our civilization 'good' (whatever that is) or genuine. that attempt to achieve a personal purity, whatever that may be

I'm just saying, it isn't entirely about the quality of the work, though I really do love the wall of sound recording Schneider did... but the point is, it really doesn't sound much like anything we've heard out there... and if there is music out there that resembles, it really doesn't obtain the same emotional effect. I don't discount your thoughts that their performances were probably sloppy, I didn't see them and from the footage out there, I definitely could imagine... and yeah, people shitting their pants every time he takes a breath is a little ridiculous, especially considering he's made it abundantly clear that he doesn't really prefer that sort of attention and it may have contributed to why he's maintained his public silence... I can't say I wouldn't be excited if I got the opportunity to see him, but clearly the people putting him under their microscope don't entirely appreciate how he feels about his work with NMH. If people backed off for a while with their interpretations of him, the meanings, and whatever, maybe there'd be an actual opportunity for him to sense some breathing room, and maybe then he'd actually consider putting something out there again. However, with his concern about creating something from great personal emotional inspiration in combinaion with this sort of strange fame he's achieved... it seems somewhat unlikely. Everyone puts too much weight on his character, this picture that everyone seems to have in their mind of who he is. Yeah, I imagine that he does want to make himself clear, to explain himself in a way, but I think there may be rivaling concern for disappointing people. I mean, he's just a guy who made some beautiful music. Regardless, save the interpretations for the guys (and gals) in E6. I doubt you're going to understand much about him or his situations unless you knew him personally

(I didn't really go back to revise this, and maybe I repeated myself, but I hope I got some general idea across)


and with the post above mine, you kind of summarized the thought I didn't really effectively get across: Just enjoy the music, and if you love it, love it.

Posted by joe | March 4, 2009 2:14 AM

Have you ever been in such a hole inside your own head that no matter where you go, who you meet, and no matter how much love is sent your way you cannot find a single thing to smile about? What is the true meaning of life and is there really heaven and hell?

I truly believe there is no meaning to life, not to say it's not worth living. But every now and then the planets align, meteors fly above us as if to state 'there is so much more to explore' and the stars all burn with such intensity that unexplained phenomenons occur. One such phenomenon, whether you love or hate him, is Jeff Mangum.

What I love about Jeff Mangum, as well as NMH as a whole, is he has never made music for fame, wealth, or for people who have nothing better to do then read an article about an artist they don't care about, just to feel better about themselves and their ability to type insults behind an anonymous alias. Don't be so quick to judge him for every little thing he does or doesn't do. He stuck with music to lift his friends spirits when they are tattered and torn.

From what I gather, it seems that few people (if any) have been through what cards were dealt to him. Sure he may not have lead the worst life possible (such as dying of dehydration in a third world country in pure poverty or being treated like cows lined up for the slaughterhouse in concentration camps), but to care so deeply for someone who was unfairly and unnecessarily murdered decades ago with the realization there's nothing you can do, is incomprehensible to everyone. The feelings Jeff experienced seemed to be so intense, that he honestly seems to need to find himself, recreate himself as we all do from time to time.

NMH fans seem to all have a common belief with varying levels-
the music created by this band with lyrics heavily based from dreams, seem to bring a little bit of hope, a little bit of heaven to us all.

I by no means intend to sound as spiritual as it seems or to praise him as a saint or god himself. Music this touching, personal, and original from such a gentle soul makes me gain faith back into the human race. It truly inspires me to make something of myself.

Posted by Matt Hoetzl | June 12, 2009 10:05 AM

check this out:

Neutral Milk Hotel’s Reclusive Jeff Mangum to Perform at Benefit in May:

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/03/neutral_milk_hotels_reclusive.html

Posted by jax | March 26, 2010 1:26 PM

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