Jeff Mangum is Coming to St. Louis

Categories: This Just In

Illustration by Sasha Barr
Huge news today: Jeff Mangum is touring again after the New Year, and his itinerary includes a St. Louis date. The semi-reclusive singer/songwriter, whose unique twisted visions propelled Neutral Milk Hotel, is scheduled to play the Sheldon Concert Hall on January 16, 2013. New York duo Tall Firs will open the show.

See also:
-An Oral History of all of Neutral Milk Hotel's St. Louis Shows
-Nick Lowe at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 9/26/12: Review and Setlist
-Best of Coachella 2012

Over the past few years, Mangum has occasionally embarked on short acoustic tours, playing songs from the NMH catalog to rapturous fans. This tour, his longest since breaking up NMH, is billed as his last in this format. No word on what this means for the future. Mangum has kept in touch and performed with his NMH bandmates, however, so anything is possible.

Although this is Mangum's first solo performance in St. Louis, he frequently played in town during NMH's heyday. Earlier this year, we researched a small oral history of these performances, which included a show at the old Cicero's, a couple of dates with Superchunk, and an enigmatic, hushed show at the Side Door. The Side Door set has become one of the most traded of all NMH bootlegs, but we couldn't find a single person who'd either attended or remembered it. Months after the fact, we heard from Vanessa Hays, a Wash U. graduate and indiepop enthusiast who'd attended with some friends and had fond memories of Julian Koster's singing saw.

Tickets are $26 through $30.50 and will be on sale on November 15 at 12:00 through MetroTix. There is a limit of four tickets per person - which is probably prudent on the Sheldon's part, as this is sure to sell out.

Location Info


The Sheldon

3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Category: General

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I guess we missed connections -- I attended and reviewed that Side Door show. I was probably a little too harsh on Magnum as he could have just cancelled that night given his flu:


St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) - Friday, May 9, 1997

Author: Matthew Fernandes Special To The Post-Dispatch


Side Door, Monday, May 5

AN intense bunch of aging punk fans drifted into the Side Door looking for something more than the tiresome three-chords-and-out performances delivered by many a touring band. In their quest for meaning, they turned to Neutral Milk Hotel, a band that has made national waves over the last year.

Despite the critical acclaim for Neutral Milk Hotel's debut album, "On Avery Island," only about half of the floor space was occupied throughout the show. As band leader Jeff Mangum took the stage alone, the small gathering huddled close to the stage. They did not get too close, though, as Mangum announced that he was ill with a 100 degree temperature. Also, his drummer "couldn't be here."

Not a promising start, but perhaps the strength of the band's songs alo ne would offset the fatigue factor.

Not the case.

Mangum labored through an eight-song, acoustic set with few highlights. Mangum dominated the songs with his bold guitar work and vehement voice. Often, Mangum appeared ready to eat the microphone as his voice rang through the speakers. The effect was often awkward. Lowering the volume would have been appropriate for the band's folksy, slower tunes.

Not surprisingly, the instrumentals were the strong points. Julian Koster played the "singing saw" during some tunes, giving a surreal element to the music. The instrument consisted of a violin bow and a rusty saw, which Koster would bend to play. The bizarre sound was similar to the loony, high-pitched sound effects used in early horror films and original Star Trek episodes. An accordion and clarinet also were thrown into the mix on certain instrumentals. One memorable tune took on a traditional Irish sound, although the instruments used were anything but traditional or Irish.

On album standouts like "Song Against Sex" and "Naomi," the band lacked coordination. The jubilant horns, which made "Song Against Sex" so great on the record, were not only sloppy, but inaudible live. Some of the beauty of "Naomi" was lost due to miscommunication. A death-defying final note was held for a mini millennium by Mangum, thus salvaging the tune.

The set featured several new numbers that sounded promising, despite the somewhat crippled delivery.

Olivia Tremor Control's performance was upbeat by comparison. This band knew its material and played it in style. OTC blended the oddest of instruments to achieve a chaotic, yet pleasing sound. (Well, most of the time.)

It was a true country jamboree. Some of the oddball instruments included a banjo played with a violin bow, a sawed-off trumpet, a Moog synthesizer combined with a Casio keyboard and a strange wood box with electrical wires.

OTC's songs were tighter than those of NMH, their soul and label mates on Elephant 6. Funky bass lines gave the crowd a reason to dance. Impressive four-part melodies were featured on many songs. When the band jammed, their sound was earthy, with strictly positive lyrics, reflecting the bright and sunny atmosphere of their hometown of Athens, Ga. Each song held surprises, though; exploring homemade electronics during extended jams is clearly this band's passion.


Looks like this has sold out already!!

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