One year ago, this happened:
To clarify, I did not experience the happenings of the video above in person. I did however experience the same performer performing the same song in the same fashion in Bloomington, Indiana the following night. Unfortunately, the performance I witnessed first hand was never made readily available on any internet site I have come across. But enough semantics, it’s time to get into why the contents of this video are so important.
The performer seen above is Jeff Mangum, an indie rock hero, and a personal hero of mine thanks to the great work he did in the 90’s with his band Neutral Milk Hotel. Mangum disappeared after touring behind the 1998 NMH masterpiece “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.”
Well, his sabbatical came to an end, briefly at least, when he popped up to perform “Engine,” at the conclusion of a few select shows on a “The Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour,” a whirlwind show featuring various peers and friends of Mangum, many of whom contributed to the works of Neutral Milk Hotel (the accompanying “singing saw” heard in the background of the video above was played by NMH member Julian Koster).
Luckily for me, as well as the hundreds of others in attendance at the tiny Bloomington club Rhino’s that evening, one of the stops Mangum appeared at was in little ol’ Bloomington. I don’t ever cry on account of being a tough, rugged mother fucker. And while I don’t recall any tears actually rolling down my face during Mangum’s performance, I will admit to succumbing to quivery lip syndrome. Normally I don’t acknowledge expressing any emotions because emotions are for girls. But at this moment, I am honest enough to admit I essentially transformed into a 14-year old girl at a Jonas Brothers concert. It was that amazing.
Oh, and I haven’t yet mentioned that going into the night I probably would have said “Engine” was my favorite song of all time. After this evening, I can safely state it now firmly holds positions 1-33 (sorry for the drastic plummet “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”).
Then, after the performance, I got this:
That is an autographed drawing on the back of my ticket from Mangum himself. I did get a chance to speak with him but seeing as how I am unable to construct intelligent conversations with people I’ve known for years, naturally I struggled to do so when I came face-to-face with a man whose music means more to me than the vast majority of my friendships (to be fair, most of my friends are dicks). As perfect as the performance was, I choose not to dwell on whatever bullshit drivel may have come out of my mouth when I tried to talk to Mangum.
All of this occurred one year ago today (Oct. 22). Maybe it’s an interesting story, maybe it isn’t, I really don’t care. This was the single most wonderful evening of my life, and if any of you saw your favorite singer come out of a decade of hiding and play your all time favorite song about three feet from your fucking face, and then give you an autographed drawing afterwards, you’d want to gush about it on your little website as well.