Dallas Is Sorry, Neutral Milk Hotel

Categories: Last Night

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Rachael Cleaver
No photographs allowed, so my wife drew the band in MS Paint. It's pretty damn good.
I don't know how many of you were at the Jeff Mangum show last January. For those of you who were not, though I assume the Venn diagram of the two crowds shares a considerable crossover, the crowd at the solo show could sense a frailty in Mangum that made them reverent and silent and respectful in a way I had absolutely never experienced before in Dallas. Every note hung clear in the air, no-one whooped, nothing was shouted apart from messages of love and support. The crowd even did the trumpet parts.

Jeff Mangum is clearly a lot more used to gigging now. A year on, with his band of 1990s lo-fi heroes reformed, he's even playing shows standing up, and while he might not be smiling quite yet, he at least seems to be enjoying himself. The normalcy of this show, as normal as a show by a band who haven't toured in over a decade can be, combined with the larger draw that is the full band operating under "Neutral Milk Hotel" rather than a Jeff Mangum solo show, brought in the usual Dallas crowd. By that, I mean a crowd with enough people determined to spoil it for everyone else.

Mangum spent the first song, a tender solo rendition of "Two-Headed Boy," glowering at a man about ten feet from him who, despite the posters everywhere saying no photos, and the announcement before the band took the stage that there should be absolutely no photography, decided the best way to respond to these warnings was to spend the song taking photos on his iPhone, with the flash on. Said man had spent the pre-show boasting to his friends about how he was just expensing all of these tickets. Security eventually dealt with him.

This is, of course, to say nothing of the man who thought it would be best to shout "PANTERAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" between not one but two songs, because perhaps when the crowd didn't laugh the first time they just didn't hear him.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so hung up on a crowd. It's just deflating, that's all. Mangum wasn't hung up. When eventually someone decided enough was enough, they shouted "DALLAS IS SORRY!" which was met by a thunderous round of applause. Mangum, who was on stage by himself at this point, paused and looked quizzical. He stepped up to the mic. "What are you sorry for?"

"THAT GUY," came the response of dozens. "There's nothing to be sorry for. We're having fun."

A scarcely believable solo rendition of "Oh Comely" followed, to be joined at the end of the song by the band returning to their vast array of eccentric instruments. As well as the usual band set-up of guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, I observed a hand-bell, three saws, electric bagpipes, the rarely-seen electric saxophone, and a wide array of brass instruments.

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How about the idiots that jumped on stage during Elf Power and removed the tarp from NMH's drum set and started drumming?! I've never seen that before. They looked pretty old (mid-30s) to be pulling that type of crap.


I think this is just too emo and self-conscious to extract this from the show. I do not feel the same way, but I certainly understand where the awkwardness comes from and it's all in context.

I've had some cringe-worthy moment at some of my favorite shows all around town...but also in other cities that I've lived in (Seattle and Chicago). Toss in the number of shows I've seen in other "cool" cities and this shit just happens and it's random.

Mangum is from Ruston, LA, ever been through there? It's not far. I think they're all based out of Athens, GA now. I think these are guys are pretty down to earth, they're from the South and I think he gets it. Not everyone can be hyper-sweet and be from Brooklyn, a land where no one talks at shows (not true).

Now is Dallas a bit indifferent or just unsure of itself at time, sure. I agree with this. I think we see it in sports, concerts, getting out in the community, urban identity and probably the fact that every single Houstonian who has a breath hates the living cuss out of all things Dallas, whereas Dallasites really have no care.


I guess I was too far to the front of the pit, or too hypnotized by the performance, to notice the bad manners which are your obsession.

As such, you don't mention that Magnum had to ask the typically comatose Dallas crowd to "please get out of your seats" before his third song.

Perhaps they, like you, thought that they were being considerate of Magnum's fragility as they respectfully sat.

You should try to relax, and not sit in judgement yourself.

Saturday was likely (and unfortunately) a once in a lifetime chance. An opportunity to witness a sonic onslaught not imagined, let alone performed since Syd Barrett was in his prime.

I am positive that Dallas will not be the least respectful crowd on NMH's world tour, nor will they be the most enthusiastic.

Your smug judgement is just as exemplary of the typical Dallas malcontents who "ruin it" for bands and the rest of us fans. I find it at least as distasteful as the individuals who you've decided to pillory.


I would say that Dalls is indifferent.


Great write up... Although, I think you're being a bit harsh on the full band. We were at both Mangum Solo and Saturdays performance and Mangums solo show was just an entirely different kind of experience - Full of fans. Fans that have loved his music and his talent and gave him the utmost respect for his craft. I still sang my face off from the balcony. Saturdays show was hyped by many publications as "THE shows to see in Dallas" and that I'm afraid brought out the Dallas douches that just wanted to be able to say "I was there!" For those of us who have missed Jeff and Co., it was an amazing show that will not soon be forgotten. Annoyances and all. The PANTERAAAAA guy really pissed me off... and I have to admit, I was the guy who said "Dallas is sorry!" and I meant that to Jeff, and was really happy to see he was just enjoying himself and it didn't bother him as much as it bothered the rest of us. Dallas gets such a bad rep for having "those people" who would effing yell out PANTERA at the freaking NMH show (A show we probably wont get to see again)... I was waiting for someone to yell "PLAY SOME SKYNYRD!" Thankfully, that didnt happen. But, I think for most of us, the honor of getting to see the entire band do what we all have missed for over a decade live in our faces was absolutely amazing. Not solo Jeff amazing, but amazing all the same.


@bryan_man_29  My wife would agree with you. She punched me when i spoke up. Otherwise, moving on from the downsides, Damn! I would be happy as I could ever be if people were yelling dumb shit between every song to just have shared the space and watched these guys play their hearts out. I hope its not the last time they do this. Elf Power was pretty fantastic, NMH destroyed it. It will not be a night I will ever forget... and the Pantera guy will not be a part of the memory. All the singing voices around me will.

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