The Man, The Myth, The Mangum

The moment so many indie-rock fans have been waiting for has finally arrived in Philadelphia: Jeff Mangum will play tonight at Irvine Auditorium on the University of Pennsylvania campus.

Mangum is, or was, Neutral Milk Hotel, the uber-influential - hey Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, where'd you get that sound? - indie act who released two albums, On Avery Island (1996) and the masterful In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998). Then, he made his myth grow by disappearing from the scene nearly completely until last fall, when he played a series of solo dates, starting with two shows at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Asbury Park in September.

I caught a Sunday afternoon Mangum show at the Paramount Theater in Asbury. For a guy who's seen his share of troubles and has avoided the limelight as assiduously as Dave Chapelle or Harper Lee, the 40 year old Mangum was relatively at ease on stage, wearing a newsboy cap as he sat surrounded by four acoustic guitars and encouraged a crowd that knew every word to every song to sing along. His tart, Celtic-tinged voice has lost osme range, but still sounds pretty great. The Louisiana native also covered one song by a different disturbed Texas songwriter in each show: once it was Roky Erickson's "I Love The Living You," and once Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You In The End." 

My full account of that road trip to Asbury is here. "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea" is below. Tonight's show, with The Music Tapes opening, is extremely sold-out.

Previously: Bruce Springsteen to play two Wells Fargo shows in March Follow In The Mix on Twitter here