With Tall Firs, 8 p.m. Monday, January 21, at Wortham Center (Cullen Theatre), 501 Texas. Tickets available at pegstar.net.
For indie-rock fans, particularly aficionados of '90s lo-fi, an in-the-flesh audience with Jeff Mangum is something akin to a chance to pet a unicorn. With a loose collection of associates known as Neutral Milk Hotel, the Louisiana native made two albums, 1996's Avery Island and 1998's In the Aeroplane over the Sea, using little more than an acoustic guitar, a slight drone, a lingering heartache and a lot of fantastical imagery. Aeroplane in particular struck a chord with fans, thanks to its dream-haunting melodies that have been often imitated but never duplicated. Mangum effectively disappeared from sight shortly after its release and sporadically returned to the stage about five years ago; this outing that brings him to the Wortham Monday may be the first full-scale proper tour of his career, or at least in a very long time.