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Pitchfork Music Festival 2014: 10 Most Memorable Sets + Photos

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05. Neutral Milk Hotel

parishilton neutral Pitchfork Music Festival 2014: 10 Most Memorable Sets + PhotosJeff Mangum is a curious, uncommon sort of troubadour. His moving tributes to muses like Anne Frank and themes of youthful innocence push warm feelings along the notches of your spine. His cryptic obscurity and sojourns to record Bulgarian folk music, plus a total absence from social media, made Saturday’s headlining performance a jubilee. The video screens were switched off, cameras put away. Nothing onstage but the performers and 18 songs bathed in magenta and baby blue lights. The numbers sauntered between On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. But there were also cuts off the Live at Jittery Joe’s solo record, plus compilation releases. Mangum started the evening with a wondrous rendition of “I Will Bury You in Time”. Julian Koster, Scott Spillan, and the rest of the band then hurried out to deliver an uncoiled “Holland 1945”. It was a treat to watch the instrument swapping — be it banjo, accordion, or handsaw — as well as the rich segues between tracks like “Two Headed Boy” and “The Fool”, which paid tribute to a sleeper discography that everyone still managed to sing along to. The crispness of the sound made it feel as though the band had emerged from a time capsule rather than returning from a near-decade-long hiatus. The rare inclusion of “Little Birds” — one of only two tracks recorded since 1998 — was also a feel-good moment that hushed a swelling crowd of onlookers who basked in a gentle breeze. Mangum, reticent to say much, admitted he was nervous and didn’t know what to expect from the night. But the teary eyes and uproarious applause during set closer “Oh Comely” proved that he had plenty of friends, fans, and allies at hand. – Dan Pfleegor

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