A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Mail: PO Box 1556 | Burlington, VT 05402

Wrapup: Jeff Mangum @ First Unitarian Church, Burlington 8/8/11

Filed Under: Live Shows

Written by Brendan

Tuesday August 9, 2011

Though I admittedly waste way too much time paying attention to live music listings in Burlington, Montreal, Boston, D.C., New York and Chicago, sometimes all that wasted time pays off.  For every 50 shows I see that are in a city that I can’t make it to, I come across one gem like last night’s show that makes every freaking second worth it.

As a brief introduction for those unfamiliar, Jeff Mangum was most notably the the driving force behind Neutral Milk Hotel, indie rock idols who last released an album in 1998.  Yup, the same year I was heading off to college with posters of 2Pac and Wu-Tang Clan to hang on my walls, Jeff Mangum released what could be considered one of the best albums of my generation.

Last night, after taking a decade or so off of performing live music, Mangum proved to an adoring crowd of several hundred overheated fans that the wait was worth it.  And the audience responded in kind, pumping the packed, nearly 200-year old church with a palpable electricity.

A few songs in, as he was putting down one guitar and picking up another underneath a glowing red altar, the PA system popped and went silent.  Taking it completely in stride, Mangum picked up his folding chair and a guitar and sat on the floor facing the first pew to sing a tune while the issue was fixed.  With at least half of the audience singing along (at his request), he belted out an acoustic rendition of Two Headed Boy Pt. 2 as people streamed from the pews to the floor to sit beside him.

Playing a good mix of tunes from Neutral Milk Hotel’s two releases (Avery Island & In the Aeroplane Over the Sea), as well as a Daniel Johnston cover and an unreleased song requested by someone up front, Mangum gave us no hint as to his future as a performer, only a reminder of his talented past.

Kudos to everyone there last night (at least as far as I’ve heard) for respecting the artist’s request for no photos or recording of any sort.  It definitely spoke volumes about the quality of Burlington’s live music scene, and made me excited rather than envious for the first time in a while.

Extra special thanks go to Angioplasty Media and MSR for bringing this show to Burlington. Your efforts are more appreciated than I’m able to express on the internet.  Please keep doing what you’re doing.

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

3 Responses to “Wrapup: Jeff Mangum @ First Unitarian Church, Burlington 8/8/11”

  1. Eric W says:

    Sounds like it was awesome. Can’t wait for him to come through this area.

  2. He played a fantastic show last night in Montreal – I have to wonder what it is that sparked this tour …