Jeff Mangum Pt 2: The 40 Watt (340th new thing).

November 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

On Day Three Hundred Forty Patrick and I drove to Athens, GA to see Jeff Mangum play at the 40 Watt. While this was not the first time watching Mangum’s live performance (see Day 330), it was the first time seeing him in Athens. And I drank a super high gravity 11% alcohol beer.

Once we’d arrived and checked in to the glamorous Holiday Inn, Patrick, our friend Mark, and I cleaned up and headed out for some grub. On the way out we noticed a few groups of family football fans gathered around the TVs in the lounge downstairs. Day Three Hundred Forty will also be memorialized as the day Whitney Houston died (cue minute of silence with “I Will Always Love You” softly playing in the background).

We headed out on the college town and after stopping for a quick bite at a trendy looking taco place headed into a craft beer bar/restaurant. It was super crowded. With the show down the road coupled with a frigid Friday night in Athens, people and thick coats lined the bar, the booths, and flowed into any open space. I ordered the highest gravity beer that I’d ever drank: an 11% alcoholic brew. I could definitely taste the kick, and it began a long conversation in the back of my mind about whether high gravity beer was any better than regular gravity beer. I guess it depends on your beer drinking aim.

After we’d warmed up significantly, I layered back on my sweater, gloves, scarf, and big puffy down coat to head to the venue. “Andrew, Scott and Laura” from Elf Power were the opening act. They should have re-arranged their name order to Laura Scott and Andrew. Or just dropped Andrew altogether, simply because I’ve always wanted to see my name on a giant marquee.

The 40 Watt holds about two hundred fewer people than Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse, where I had seen Jeff Mangum play ten days earlier. I was curious to see how different the audience would be, especially since Athens is the hometown of Neutral Milk Hotel. I wasn’t disappointed.

The crowd moved as one throughout the entire show, falling silent between songs and singing along loudly when prompted. I joined in. I think part of the difference between the Atlanta and Athens shows for me had to do with my position in the audience and the preparations beforehand. In Atlanta, I had rushed straight from work and missed the build up of the opener. However, I also believe that the college town enjoyed a sort of homecoming atmosphere. It may well have been the 11% beer that loosened me up, too. Either way, it was a great show, and I can’t wait to head to Charleston in January to complete my trifecta of Jeff Mangum shows (buy your tickets here).

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