Saturday, January 25, 2014

Neutral Milk Hotel played Brooklyn Academy of Music



"This is a long way from Grandma's basement" uttered Julian Koster midway through the second night of Neutral Milk Hotel's run through New York City. For the past fifteen years fans have been waiting for this moment when the famed indie band would revive their landmark recordings and share them on tour. Finally, the days have come. Jeff Mangum entered a barren stage as he began "Two Headed Boy Pt. 1" to thundering applause from the crowd. The spell binding moment was all too real as the song came to life. As the band took to the stage and gorgeously flowed into "Fool", a presence filled the room. This was a real moment, this was actually happening. Everything swelled with such motion and growth that by the time "Holland, 1945" rang out, the crowd was in rapture. Acting in time with Jeff, everyone sang directly along with each song creating a unity unlike anything I've ever seen or heard. Hundreds of people singing along to songs that thought they'd never hear in a live setting was suddenly happening in full force. When Jeff Mangum first inched back into the spotlight a few years back on his solo tour, the audience was treated to an intimate evening of Jeff sitting alone with his guitars showcasing these songs in such a beautiful way that it seemed a full blown reunion was not necessary. Watching the group perform together transported these songs to a state one would never believe possible. Everything from an incredibly haunting performance of "Oh Comely" to the hysteric breakdown of "King of Carrot Flowers, Parts 2 & 3" were not only monumental, but life affirming as well. Songs from On Avery Island especially were played with such energy and intensity that the floor boards began to shake and the raw tendencies were brought to new heights. Unsurprisingly it was "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" and the encore of the back half of the record of the same name that garnered an electric response. The mesmerizing magical moments of Jeff bouncing and bopping alongside Julian's dazzling accordion and saw skills, while Scott Spillane chanted along with every word, and Jeremy Barns kept impeccable time, made for such meaningful memories that will be cherished for quite some time. For many, these songs can have such a nostalgic value and recollect key moments in life that hearing them in the flesh can be tremendously overwhelming. But in the best possible way. After being convinced for years that seeing this band live would never be an option, being able to witness these songs be played at levels that exceed the records is a time and place I wish I could wait in for the rest of my life.

Setlist:
"Two Headed Boy Pt. 1"
"The Fool"
"Holland, 1945"
" A Baby for Pree / Glow Into You"
"Gardenhead / Leave Me Alone"
"Everything Is"
"The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1"
"The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 2 & 3"
"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"
"Naomi"
"Ferris Wheel on Fire"
"Oh Comely"
"Song Against Sex"
"Ruby Bulbs"
"Snow Song, Part One"
--
"Ghost"
"untitled"
"Two Headed Boy Pt. 2"
"Engine"

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