Jeff Mangum Plays Neutral Milk Hotel's "Engine" in Pittsburgh and Columbus

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A MySpace friend made an excited post yesterday, with the curious headline "I saw Neutral Milk Hotel last night!" Considering the fact that NMH is a cult indie band that's been in suspended animation for years -- and that leader Jeff Mangum is notoriously reclusive -- I clicked on her bulletin with curiosity.

Turns out, she went to the Pittsburgh stop of the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise show, and Mangum (who had popped up here and there on the trek doing some singing) performed NMH's "Engine" with Julian Koster playing singing saw accompaniment. She was this close to him:

Video from that stop is loud and noisy, but footage of last night's version of "Engine" in Columbus is already up on YouTube. I find it entirely appropriate that this video is so shadowy; Mangum's voice dominates, and it sounds from beyond the grave in this context. I've never been a huge NMH fan, but this performance is haunting. Video after the jump.

-- Annie Zaleski

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