Last Night: Jeff Mangum at Wortham Center
Armed with a selection of four acoustic guitars, a giant water bottle and some throat spray, Mangum alone tackled the Neutral Milk Hotel catalog to much approval. Despite the depth of sounds found in the songs -- accordion, drums, horns, fuzzy guitars, bagpipes, the list goes on and on -- the earnest acoustic set was more than full.
"You were hearing them all in your head," my friend remarked of the extra instruments after the show, and I realized he was right. My mind had unconsciously filled in all the gaps.
After playing "Two Headed Boy, Part 1," Mangum slipped in a cover of Roky Erickson's "I Love the Living You," a relatively unknown gem from the 1999 album Never Say Goodbye.
"I never thought so many people would be listening," he remarked afterward, while thanking everyone for coming to the show and participating. At the conclusion of each number the crowd would swell with applause and cheers, and Mangum himself seemed genuinely astonished at the adoration.
When he wrapped up his set with In the Aeroplane Over the Sea's "Ghost" and politely bowed, the crowd erupted into a true standing ovation, the likes of which is rarely seen here in Houston. The cheers extended for several minutes before he returned to perform "Two Headed Boy, Part 2" for the rapt audience.
Was it a transcendent experience? Judging from the beaming faces and the excitement afterward, for many in the room it certainly was. It took our "honorary member of Elephant Six" friend a good while to return to earth afterward.
"Up until just before he took the stage, I still wasn't certain I'd ever get to see [Mangum] perform in my life," he exclaimed. The sentiment and ensuing thrill appeared to carry throughout the crowd, spilling into the downtown streets and into countless post-concert conversations over drinks at nearby bars.
King Of Carrot Flowers, Parts 1-3
Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
Two Headed Boy, Part 1
I Love The Living You (Roky Erickson cover)
Song Against Sex
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Two Headed Boy, Part 2