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.


Oh Comely
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

Location Info


Wortham Theater Center

500 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

Category: General

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I'd be interested in hearing a more thorough review from a Jeff Mangum neophyte such as yourself.  I've seen him 15 times over the past 18 months, so this performance was old hat to me.  Of course, half of those shows were under an alias known only to three people: Jeff, myself and Jesus Christ.  He would deny it, but Jeff puts a little more heart into a show when JC attends.  A typical set would include unreleased pre-Avery Island material, sung entirely in reverse.

Caleb Fraid
Caleb Fraid

I'll tell you one thing: I hate boring ass TALL FIRS. it's a great show. That's the fourth time I've seen him in the past 2 years so I maybe need to stop. I was glad he did the Roky cover. He did it @ one of the other shows I saw. He was using Binaca this time & I think that made a big difference. Really. A couple of the other earlier shows his voice got a bit ragged so I think he's got it down now.Tons of water & Binaca imbetween songs. When you're pulling from two albums everybody loves, you can't go wrong. Maybe he'll give us a new album someday??? My fear is, he's been recording @ robert pollard speed over the years & it's not going to be discovered til he dies & then I'll already be dead myself & there'll be new mysterious henry darger type interest in him but what good does that do me? Tangent. Anyways, probably better to hear from somebody who saw it last night for the first time. "I'll hang up & listen"

Eric McPhail
Eric McPhail

The guy that yelled "KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD" between songs was the best.

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