Posted in music on January 23, 2014

by Andrew Sacher

photo via BrooklynVegan Instagram
NMH

"Thanks so much for coming to the show. Thanks so much for listening to our music," said Jeff Mangum at Neutral Milk Hotel's Capitol Theatre show last night (1/22) as he stood on stage alone, about to launch into opening song "Two Headed Boy Pt. 1." It could be an oddly humble thing for a veteran band playing their first of six sold out shows in and around the same city to say, but you got the feeling Jeff wasn't being insincere. This is a band who ceased activity after releasing two indie records in the '90s, a time when indie bands didn't win Grammys. He probably never thought Neutral Milk Hotel would be on a tour at all in 16 years, let alone one this massive, and I think just about everyone in that room felt the same way. This didn't look like a crowd casually checking out a show, these were die-hard fans who probably couldn't believe they were seeing this band here, now.

I never saw Neutral Milk Hotel the first time around so I can't say how this compares to seeing them back then, but last night's show felt way too full of life to come off as a band having some fun for old time's sake, or worse, cashing in on a past success. He sang these 15-year-old songs with the urgency of a band getting out of the basement and onto the touring circuit for the very first time, not to mention that also says something of how timeless they are. The rest of the band were ace performers too, all of them multi-instrumentalists. With only five constant members and a few guests here and there (one of which was in openers/fellow Elephant 6 band Elf Power), NMH managed to get the show sounding as detailed as the record, switching between guitars, bass guitars, accordions, horns, saws, banjos and more in the middle of songs without missing a beat. All excellent players (the drummer was especially flawless), and these guys were into it. In a time where certain indie bands are taking the "slacker" thing a bit too far, it's nice to have a band we can almost all agree are indie legends come back and remind us how it's done.

As for the set, they gave us almost the entirety of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea mixed in with cuts from its predecessor On Avery Island and various tracks from their demos, EPs, and compilations. It was split up nicely too, never staying in one part of their discography for too long. So whether or not you were just all about the In the Aeroplane Over the Sea stuff or you prefer their deeper cuts, it was never long until you got catered to. And of course if you just love it all, there was just about no way you were walking out of that venue disappointed.

Neutral Milk Hotel's tour begins its 5-night run in NYC proper tonight with three shows at BAM (1/23, 24 & 25) and then two at Webster Hall (1/27 & 28), all sold out. Check out the setlist from last night's show below...

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Neutral Milk Hotel at Capitol Theatre - 1/22/14 Setlist: (via)
Two Headed Boy Part 1
The Fool
Holland 1945
A Baby for Pree / Glow Into You
Gardenhead / Leave Me Alone
Everything Is
The King of Carrot Flowers, Part One
The King of Carrot Flowers, Parts Two & Three
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Naomi
Ferris Wheel on Fire
Oh Comely
Song Against Sex
Ruby Bulbs
Snow Song, Part One

Encore:
Ghost
[untitled]
Two Headed Boy Pt. 2
Engine

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Comments (53)

Thanks Andrew.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:39 AM

Anyone have pics of merch? Prices for those? Thank you!

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:40 AM

shitty setlist. oh, wait ...

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:42 AM

I want crowd pics! I gotta see these weeping hipsters hugging each other.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:43 AM

What was the set times like last night?

8-840 elf power?
915-1045-nmh?

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:43 AM

Agree, thought it was a lot more lively than last week's show in Jersey City. I was up in the balcony, so got to look down at a 2014-style mosh pit, which I haven't seen since the mid 80s. Plus weak attempts at crowd surfing.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:44 AM

The setlist hasn't varied too much between shows on this tour. I bought Aeroplane when it was released and I never understood all of the hype behind NHM. Maybe when you write moody, weird lyrics that make little sense, you earn more street cred among the erudite crowd. Hey, it worked for Michael Stipe 30 years ago.

That being said, I still decided to see the band last week at the Loews in Jersey City and it was great watching the guys in NMH beaming and expressing excitement to be playing in front of an audience that was even more happy and excited (and singing along). I'm glad I attended.

Posted by Molly the Dog | January 23, 2014 9:46 AM

tonight @ BAM
doors 7:30
Elf 8:00
NMH 9:00

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:48 AM

Westchester mosh pits are so lame because that's the most exercise those kids have seen since their parents made them go jetskiing with the family at the Vineyard last summer

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:50 AM

Elf Power were awful to stand through last night; boring, mediocre, pointless drivel; a band that, at this point, probably should just hang it the fuck up.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:50 AM

I was hoping to hear King of Carrot Flowers pt 2 and walk out, now I have to wait 6 songs?

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:51 AM

midnight rambler band

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:54 AM

You know what's going to be fun tonight? Standing out in the 20 deg windy chill waiting to get in, that's what. Dress warmly kiddos ;)

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 9:58 AM

Elf Power was great at Jersey City!!

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:06 AM

hummus

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:10 AM

Are nmh fans as hardcore as radiohead fans? should i be there at 5pm to get front row seats?

how will late seating work at this show?

ps why didn't wordless assign seats!

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:10 AM

I'm going tonight!!

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:10 AM

Have fun with shit selections for seats tonight.. At least the Loews had assigned seating. That show was wonderful.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:15 AM

Merch was ok. Would've bought a print if it listed the venue and date.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:23 AM

A lot of new arrangements on these songs, too. Jeremy seemed kind of bored, though

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:40 AM

I plan to show up late - the bam is gonna be a shiiiiiiit show tonight

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:51 AM

not sure what possessed them to do GA seating but who cares, it's fucking NMH

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 10:59 AM

Who is the fifth member? And is Jeremy Barnes not on drums?

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 11:11 AM

these guys must all be junkies with the paydays headed their ways

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 11:19 AM

Thought the JC show was great and I am sure the other nights will be of the same caliber. But god the crowd at these shows are pretty hilarious--especially the 40 year olds that have been waiting almost 20 years to have their high school selves validated.

Also, I should note tissues and make tampons are not avail at merch stand.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 11:20 AM

Last night was assigned seats upstairs, GA floor. I was able to look down on the huddled hipsters in more ways than one.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 11:25 AM

11:20 yes, god forbid people be moved by music. they should just sit there and ironically deconstruct their emotions with their arms folded. get bent loser

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 11:34 AM

If you are a man who is "moved" by this music, just go ahead and cut your dick off.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 11:55 AM

11:20 40 year olds that were 20-something in high school? Is the typical NMH just that dumb to be left back that many times? Serious question.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 12:06 PM

no thanks loser

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 12:07 PM

Capitol newbies: the floor is always GA, upstairs is always assigned seating.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 12:07 PM

Yes, Jeremy Barnes is playing drums. Writer is just too lazy to name the band members

Posted by ben | January 23, 2014 12:31 PM

Looking to sell 4 tickets to tonight's (Thurs) Neutral Milk show at BAM. Friends bailed on tickets last minute. Tix are willcall but BAM box office said as long as I forward along the confirmation email it's all good. Asking $40 a ticket. Can't split up tix because seats are together and there is only 1 confirmation email for all 4. If interested, email me at jv.neutralmilk.jan22 AT gmail dot com. Once I read your email and see you're legit. I'll respond via my real email address and we can talk over the phone if needed. Thanks. -JV

Posted by JV | January 23, 2014 12:34 PM

12:07 is incorrect. Cap does seated floor/orchestra for some shows.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 12:55 PM

who was the long-haired hottie who came out and played accordion on like two songs ????

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 12:55 PM

12:31 - thanks... the review makes it seem like Jeff Mangum recruited a bunch of sessions musicians, which I knew not to be the case, but a little alarming that every member of Neutral Milk Hotel has their own respective (and very active) bands and not a single name mentioned.

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 12:59 PM

who was the long-haired hottie who came out and played accordion on like two songs ????

>> Jeff's wife... I'd be a recluse too if I was him!

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 1:15 PM

are the bam shows general admission?

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 1:47 PM

i heard of these guys on "parks and recreation" should i get tix?

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 2:14 PM

12:55 80/20 baby 80/20

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 2:14 PM

PLEASE TAKE MY TICKETS! Looking to sell 4 tickets to tonight's (Thurs) Neutral Milk show at BAM. Friends bailed on tickets last minute. Tix are willcall but BAM box office said as long as I forward along the confirmation email it's all good. Asking $20 a ticket [way less than face value]. Can't split up tix because seats are together and there is only 1 confirmation email for all 4. If interested, email me at jv.neutralmilk.jan22 AT gmail dot com Once I read your email and see you're legit. I'll respond via my real email address and we can talk over the phone if needed. Thanks. -JV

Posted by JV | January 23, 2014 4:24 PM

some choice comments on here

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 6:19 PM

some choice cuts of meat on my neighbor's cow, if I'm not back tomorrow then I got caught

Posted by Anonymous | January 23, 2014 6:31 PM

Whoever said Elf Power blew dead donkey dicks wasn't kidding. just plain not good music.

Posted by Anonymous | January 24, 2014 12:17 AM

@ 1:15, Jeff's wife? Or Jeremy's? How the f would you know??

Posted by Anonymous | January 26, 2014 12:34 PM

On Gayvery Island

Posted by Anonymous | January 26, 2014 1:49 PM

In the Gayeroplane over the Sea

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2014 9:49 PM

Sorry, no.

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2014 10:27 PM

Wow, they didnt play Smile Like You Mean It

Posted by Anonymous | January 27, 2014 10:48 PM

12:34 - 90% sure it was Jeff's wife, saw them in Philly and she looked near identical to a photo of his wife that was bouncing around some fan sites a few years ago.

Posted by Anonymous | January 31, 2014 2:56 PM

WAIT WAIT WAIT!!!

12:34, Jeremy has a wife? I mean not just gender identification, but anatomically correct FEMALE FEMALE wife?

I don't believe it

Posted by Anonymous | January 31, 2014 3:25 PM

Oh that was me that posted about them, hey.

Posted by Pannell | February 26, 2014 5:15 AM

It's Heather Trost from A Hawk and a Hacksaw. She is Jermey's wife.

Posted by kptron | April 1, 2014 11:22 AM

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