A Recluse and Famous Faces

Neutral Milk Hotel, Francis Black, Dennis Quaid, and Jeff Bridges

Jeff Mangum, the former Neutral Milk Hotel frontman, stops by the Lobero Theatre March 25 as part of his acoustic tour of the States.

HARDLY NEUTRAL: When we talk about big concert “gets,” few things trump the appearance of a musical recluse. You know the type: They’re prolific, scarce, and they don’t do interviews; they put out an album every 10 years (maybe), rarely tour, and attract the kind of followers that get lyric tattoos. Lots of ’em.

This Monday, Santa Barbara scores its big “get” of the season when Jeff Mangum makes a stop at the Lobero Theatre. The former Neutral Milk Hotel frontman heads to town as part of a lengthy acoustic tour of the States. Rumor had it that this might be Mangum’s last outing, but we’ve since learned that is not exactly the case. As he states on his website, this jaunt is his “one last U.S. acoustic tour, giving him the chance to play to all the silver citizens dwelling in cities that he has yet to sing in.” Fair enough.

Farewell tour or no, Monday’s show is guaranteed to be the last time you can catch Mangum anywhere near the 805 for a long while. If you need more motivation, though, take it from the fanboys and girls and revisit 1998’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The album is, and will likely remain, Mangum’s most prolific outpouring, chock-full of the quirky, heart-on-your-sleeve lyricism that’s spawned as many imitators as it has disciples.

Better still, Aeroplane is one of those rare rock ’n’ roll records that stands the test of time. On it, the band’s signature lo-fi orchestrations get decorated with triumphant brass flourishes, nervous singing saw tremors, and big bagpipe drones. And then there’s Mangum, whose warbled, impassioned cries about young, desperate love make him sound like the first person to ever broach the subject.

That Aeroplane marked the beginning of Neutral Milk Hotel’s breakthrough success is no real surprise, looking back. But few would have guessed that that success would have also meant the end of the band for Mangum. It was a move that exiled Neutral Milk Hotel to that rare cultural recess I like to call “the ones that got away,” a special place that spawns all the good reclusive creators. Lucky for us, sometimes those recluses come out of hiding, launch all-acoustic tours, and take the helm of some good old eyes-closed, top-of-the-lungs sing-alongs. Want in?

Jeff Mangum plays the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Monday, March 25, at 8 p.m. Call (805) 963-0761 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets and info.

LONE PIXIE: Speaking of prolific, this week also brings Pixies frontman Frank Black back to town in solo mode as Black Francis. He’ll play an all-ages show in support of his sexed-up 2011 rocker, NonStopErotik, at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Wednesday, March 27, at 8 p.m. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets and info.

FAMOUS FACES: Also this week, actor Dennis Quaid dons his rock ’n’ roller duds for a gig at SOhO with his band The Sharks. While I’d shell out the dough just to see Quaid in the flesh, rumor has it the guy’s got some chops (and can shred a mean cover of “Spill the Wine”). The show takes place Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. The vaguely curious and hopelessly devoted Quaid fanatics among us can call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for info.

And the A-listers just keep on coming. Next Thursday, March 28, The Dude himself returns to the stage at the Lobero with his house band, the adorably dubbed Jeff Bridges & The Abiders. Proceeds from the show benefit the Lobero’s ongoing restoration project. Call (805) 963-0761 or visit lobero.com for info.


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