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Review: Jeff Mangum at the Southern Theatre

Briana Henry Briana Henry Review: Jeff Mangum at the Southern Theatre
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Amongst the ornate ceilings and Grecian murals depicting the luxuries of the theatre, Jeff Mangum played to a sold out audience last night with support from Briars of North America and Tall Firs. Admitting to be a bit under the weather, Mangum projected his voice confidently through the ears of the audience. After the first song, Mangum invited the audience to come closer, and without hesitation, members of the audience moved to be up and personal with the artist. The picture above looks nothing like Mangum looks today. He walked onto the stage in a brown sweater and somehow pants of the exact color. His hair is longer and he wore his long, scruffy beard well.

In my opinion, the most haunting and goosebump-creating moment was during “The King of Carrot Flowers, parts 2 and 3” where the audience repeatedly sang with Mangum the lyrics, “I love you Jesus Christ/Jesus Christ I love you…”

The show ended at 10:35 to roaring crowd. After only two minutes, Mangum came back out with the horn player that played previously only during the first song. His encore lasted one song, before the singer/ song-writer left the stage.

Jeff Mangum is indie rock done the right way. It is hard enough to entertain anyone with just a guitar and a voice, but Mangum had every audience member, and at times, myself, in a trance while singing along to songs written by his hand. My only wish was for the show to be outdoors on a summer night. For the majority of the songs, he ended them with just a “Thanks” before tuning his guitar and belting out another. There were a few tonal issues to some songs, and Mangum even apologized for all of his “little fuck-ups” and even said at one point, “I don’t know why my voice kept shredding on that high note”. Fortunately, the gallery disagreed and begged the singer to play it again. There was a lot of annoying yelling and chatter from the audience. But one comment from an audience member turned the zeal of the crowd into a somber one, even if momentarily. Someone questioned Mangum about a new album, and he simply and directly stated that he feels, “in some ways I’ve said what I wanted to say”. He also remained humble and said, “I still can’t believe how many people have come out to see me. I really appreciate it”.

Feeling like indie music’s grave was next on the list to be dug, Jeff Mangum revived my feeling that a dude on a stage with just his voice and a guitar still has the ability to sell out shows just as much as those who need a gimmick just to get asses in seats. There were no gimmicks last night.

Mangum continues his tour tonight in Bloomington, IN and will not stop until February.

Photo by Corey Greenwell.

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