Yesterday morning I realized that this August I will turn 37 years old. It’s probably no coincidence that I’ve been talking about buying a sports car, jamming with some work friends, and going out to more concerts than usual. It’s mid-life crisis time and I am ready.
It was supposed to be just another mundane Monday when Goldenvoice tweeted that some good seats had become available for Jeff Mangum’s show at the Orpheum. Like every other dude with a closet full of plaid shirts I’ve spent some serious time consuming every note of On Avery Island and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. It’d been made clear to me and everyone else listening to these records that we’d never get the chance to see these songs performed live by the man himself, but then IT HAPPENED. I rushed to buy tickets and found myself with 4th row seats. 4th row seats the day of the show. Pretty good.
Jeff Mangum does not like ticket scalpers. Neither do I. In order to prevent people from scalping tickets, Jeff apparently insisted that all tickets be will-call. Good call, Jeff, but it takes a lot longer to look up every person’s name at will call than it does to just scan a barcode. Cool that it kept the scalpers away, not cool that everyone spent wayyy too long standing in line.
I’m too old to stand in line. I’ll show up at the last song before I spend all evening standing in a line that spans a block and a half. I took my impatient self to the Broadway Bar for some cocktails. I like that place, I just feel bad that the bartenders can’t slack off because they’re trapped in that circle bar. I saw a couple guys drinking whiskey so I ordered a whiskey too. Somehow I’m able to function today. That is a surprise.
We headed out to check out the line after giving it an hour to calm down. Nope, no calming, still wrapped around the block. Hey look, UMAMIcatessen! Sure, I can stomach an Umami burger before a fuzzy folk rock concert.
UMAMIcatessen was filled with other people that refused to stand in line. We all sat around, nursing cocktails and burgers, gazing out the window waiting for the end of the line to appear, but it never did.
I read on Twitter that Jeff’s set time had been pushed to 10:15, so when it hit 9:45 we joined the line. It moved pretty quickly, most people in line seemed to have found themselves with some extra cocktailing time so there was a lot of bumping into each other and conversation about things you usually wouldn’t want anyone else to hear. But hey, we’re going to see a guy that sings about semen stained mountain tops. Let if fly.
The show was exactly what any Neutral Milk Hotel fan has been wanting for 10 years. Jeff in a comfy chair sitting next to a collection of acoustic guitars, playing through all your old favorites as well as a Daniel Johnston cover, sometimes accompanied by some Elephant 6 buddies on horns. Lots of hard strumming and loud singing. It sounded exactly like it sounded 10 years ago, maybe even better.
Jeff Mangum, a recluse? The guy on stage last night seemed like he’d be your camping buddy of choice. Fun banter with the crowd, encouraging sing-a-longs, and a traveling horn section that always seems to show up at exactly the right time. Jeff Mangum if you want to go camping, I’m your man.