Neutral Milk Hotel’s Reclusive Jeff Mangum to Perform at Benefit in May

We know who our enemies are.

Buried in a press release for an upcoming May 6 benefit show in NYC for New Zealand musician Chris Knox (who suffered a series of strokes last year) is the news that indie-rock messiah Jeff Mangum, the famously austere lead singer of Neutral Milk Hotel, will be performing:

“In addition, we are pleased to announce the night will include a very short acoustic set by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, his first public performance in over a decade.”

While not quite true (Mangum performed at several stops on the Elephant Six Holiday Surprise Tour in 2008, for example), it’s still extremely rare and exciting for indie rock’s J.D. Salinger to come out of hiding.

Mangum also contributed a track to the Chris Knox benefit album, Stroke. As for the show, it will take place at Le Poisson Rouge, with tickets going on sale at next Tuesday, March 30, and the promoter warns that they “won’t be cheap.”

Since the show will certainly sell out quickly no matter what, we’ll be honest and say that while there is no artist we’d rather see perform than Mangum (in the world), the fact that every single person there will be holding up a Flip Cam or iPhone to record it, ruining the moment and breaking our hearts, means we will be skipping the show and waiting for the YouTube footage to be uploaded that night. (And no, the irony of that isn’t lost on us.) We’d rather remember Jeff as he was in 1998, when human beings could and did rapturously enjoy a musician’s work in the moment without the need to distract from it by holding up devices so they could prove they were there. (And if taking these measures to protect our memories/hearts makes us old Luddites, sign us up. We’re pretty sure Jeff himself would be on our side.)

(Thanks to the folks at Stereogum for the tip!)

Neutral Milk Hotel’s Reclusive Jeff Mangum to Perform at Benefit in May