Chicago promoter Mike Reed has been working for years to get the elusive and reclusive Jeff Mangum to play the beloved songs of his hugely influential band Neutral Milk Hotel at the Pitchfork Music Festival, but it just never came together.
However, now that Mangum is making his tentative return to the stage with scattered gigs across the U.S., Reed and his new project Brilliant Corners, in collaboration with the fine folks at Schubas and Lincoln Hall, have succeeded in bringing the Southern psychedelic-folk genius to the Athenaeum Theater in Lakeview near Lincoln and Southport on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 6 and 7.
Tickets go on sale at noon on Friday (Nov. 11) via https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/889455, and they are almost certain to sell out quickly.
Though Mangum made only two albums with Neutral Milk Hotel during its brief lifetime, both are classics that rank on my list of the best psychedelic rock albums ever made, with the second in particular, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, looming larger than ever as an oft-cited reference and inspiration in indie-rock. But, encouragingly, Mangum seems not to be resting on his laurels.
Back in the day, the artist was not an especially convincing performer onstage. But my good friend and rock-critic mentor Jim Testa saw both of his sets at Jersey City’s historic Loews Theatre last weekend, and if he went in a skeptic, he came out a convert. His review can be found here, along with set lists from both shows.