It appears that Jeff Mangum, the lyricist and lead vocalist of wildly adored indie band Neutral Milk Hotel and one of the founders of the Elephant 6 Recording Company, is finally coming back from that dark place he left us for so long ago. Not only has he been popping up in the most unexpected (or actually, totally expected, if one were expecting him at all) places with more and more frequency over the past couple of years, but he has even broken down and played some classic NMH songs in recent appearances. Now, it seems that he will return in full force, with a series of shows starting in August that promise to be Actual Jeff Mangum Shows. Clearly, we couldn’t be more thrilled that the core of our favorite band from age 16 to present will be returning to us in the flesh. Click through for a (mostly) video timeline of Mangum’s appearances in recent years, slowly, quietly and secretly leading up to the current day.
February 4, 2001:
The last official Neutral Milk Hotel show. This actually happened after the dissolution of the band and post-Mangum breakdown, but musician and close Mangum friend Chris Knox asked Mangum to play, and he got up on his own for a Live at Jittery Joe’s-style NMH songs – only with an electric guitar instead of an acoustic.
October 19, 2008:
Mangum hops on stage at the end of the Elephant 6 show in Columbus to play NMH b-side “Engine” with Julian Koster, starting the song by saying “Okay. This is for all my friends that I love. And I love you.” Around this time, there are many sightings connected to Elephant 6 holiday shows and “Engine” in particular.
May 6, 2010:
After Chris Knox suffered a stroke, Mangum joined Sharon Von Etten, Magnetic Field’s Claudia Gonson, Kyp Malone and others at Le Poisson Rouge to play a benefit concert. This was the first time he had played any Neutral Milk Hotel songs in oh, a decade, so some people were fairly moved. We like all the shushing from the crowd waiting for him to begin. Mangum was moved too – according to Stereogum, someone yelled out “We’ve missed you!” And Mangum said, “I’ve missed you too,” then, just under his breath, “Don’t think that I haven’t.”
September 17, 2010:
We get frantic texts from friends saying that Jeff Mangum is in the crowd at the Elf Power/Capstan Shafts show at The Rock Shop. We are, foolishly, already asleep.
December 4, 2010:
Jeff Mangum plays 10 Neutral Milk Hotel songs at a super-secret, invite-only show at Bushwick’s The Schoolhouse. Ben Goldberg of Ba Da Bing Records says, “I really can’t say what this means in terms of future performances. This was a last minute show, done intentionally without buildup to let it be as simple and easy going as possible. It seems to have gone exactly like that. What I honestly feel like I saw tonight wasn’t The Greatest Musician In The World Performing The Most Amazing Songs Ever, but rather a fantastic musician performing his wonderful songs. God, I have to say that is so much more gratifying than trying to look at it as a life altering event. I bet others who were there would agree with me.”
February 16, 2011: Mangum announces his upcoming East Coast tour:
08-12 Toronto, Ontario – Trinity St. Paul’s United Church 08-13 Toronto, Ontario – Trinity St. Paul’s United Church 09-09 Cambridge, MA – TBA 09-10 Boston, MA – Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory 09-30 Asbury Park, NJ – Paramount Theatre (ATP) 10-03 Asbury Park, NJ – Paramount Theatre (ATP) 10-29 New York, NY – Town Hall 11-06 Jersey City, NJ – Loew’s Theatre 12-02 Somerset, England – All Tomorrow’s Parties
February 18, 2011: Tickets go on sale for ATP, which Jeff Mangum is curating.
February 25, 2011: Tickets go on sale for the first publicly billed, full-on Jeff Mangum solo show in NYC since his heyday, to take place on October 29, 2011 at NYC’s Town Hall.