A lesson in collective nostalgic hysteria

I started this post on BART on my way home from a Jeff Mangum concert and it was definitely an experience.

The concert itself was good. Honestly, having never heard Jeff Mangum/Neutral Milk Hotel before I started dating B, it wasn’t on my radar. The band is good, not necessarily my cup of tea though…

What I was more interested in was the fact that there was such hysteria over this concert. Apparently, Jeff Mangum is notoriously reclusive, so he rarely goes out and does promos/concerts/tours. To have him do a tour, especially years after the band broke up, was a big deal.

I started reading some stuff about the shows, and lots of people were discussing how emotional it was and how they or others at the show, started crying. I was shocked…I don’t think I’ve ever been this emotionally invested in one band/musician….EVER. Maybe I’m just not the right person to enjoy this music. Maybe it just never hit an emotional note for me.

Whatever it is, it was definitely some sort of nostalgic hysteria going on. The people around me, more than at any other concert I have been to, where in a state of ecstasy, singing along to songs I’ve never heard, and songs that probably they have never heard before in person, and writhing and dancing to a melody I wasn’t familiar with.

I felt like an impostor, attending because I could. If anything, it was kind of a great sociological experience – witnessing these people listen enraptured by this musician they haven’t seen live before, listening to songs from the late 90s.

Nostalgia has always been one of those things that I’ve been fascinated by, maybe I’ll work on a project related to it sometime…

Until then, I’ll look back 40 years past to see if anything inspires me.


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