Jeff Mangum Plays Chris Knox Benefit @ Le Poisson Rouge, NYC 5/6/10

jessica | May 7, 2010 - 10:04 am

Jeff Mangum played a short acoustic set, his first in ten years, last night for the Chris Knox benefit at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan (Mangum also recorded “Sign The Dotted Line” for Knox’s benefit album). The doors were at 6 p.m., and Mangum took the stage at 9 p.m. or so. People were patient leading up to his performance, but as sets went by (Kyp Malone, Sharon Von Etten, Magnetic Fields’s Claudia Gonson) people were happy that they played short (even one song) sets, but worried that Mangum would play even shorter.

Rachel Feinstein, who did a filthy, hilarious stand up set, was Mangum’s unlikely opener. I think she had a tough time: It’s hard to do jokes about overly sensitive men to a crowd of Neutral Milk Hotel fans. She asked the crowd who liked sex, and like, two people applauded (I believe these results might have been scientific). Mangum appeared on stage shortly after to, honestly, the loudest applause I’ve ever heard. He forgot to bring up water, and it appeared from fans on both sides; his hands shook while he opened the bottle. But he seemed confident once he started playing “Oh Comely” and people were rapt and smiling, if they weren’t crying. A lot of people around me were crying. By some luck (and good friends) I was at front row center for the benefit, close enough to read the logo on Mangum’s shoes, and I was mostly amazed: It’s an odd, surreal thing, hearing and seeing that voice actually come out of his mouth. The nicest part of Mangum’s set (besides the music): Someone shouted “We’ve missed you!” And Mangum said, “I’ve missed you too,” then, just under his breath, “Don’t think that I haven’t.”

“Oh Comely”
“A Baby for Pree”
“Two Headed Boy Pt. 2″
“In the Aeroplane over the Sea”

“Engine” (Mangum asked the audience to sing with him)

There was a strict no-camera policy (the signs in the lobby added: “not even cell phone cameras”) and bags were checked/searched, so any video and audio is shaky.

“Oh Comely”

“Two Headed Boy Pt. 2″

[Photo by @wingedfeetxc]