By Nikki Hager
In Oct. 2013, Neutral Milk Hotel began its first tour since a “temporary hiatus” that began in 1999.
Fortunately, for Tulsa fans, the reunion tour included a Valentine’s Day stop at Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom on Friday, Feb. 14.
When I first started listening to Neutral Milk Hotel, the band had already been disbanded for seven or so years, leading me to the conclusion that I would never have the opportunity to see them play live.
I have been an avid fan since I was in middle school; I remember my meta 13-year-old-self listening to its album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” literally in an aeroplane over the sea. It has since become the most listened to album on my iTunes library.
I am not alone in my obsession. Neutral Milk Hotel has a cult following that has been snowballing since its largely commercial and unsuccessful release of two studio albums and an EP in the 1990s (the band also released a new EP in 2011 after reuniting).
Led by frontman Jeff Mangum, its music, “stayed unkempt enough to deter most casual listeners and profound enough to reward its serious fans,” according to a January New York Times article.
Hard-strung chords and raw vocals are enveloped in beautiful brass ballads and smeared by a cacophony of distortion, to create an exquisite musical labyrinth.
The band played a majority of its slim discography, and to the delight of the audience, kept the music largely recognizable.
At times up to seven musicians, shuffling through a hosts of musical instruments, filled the stage, while during others Mangum played alone.
Mangum’s lyrics explore profound and complex subjects such as God, death, hate, sex and existence.
The “high-concept” album “In An Aeroplane Over the Sea,” is based of off the “Diary of Anne Frank” and the atrocities committed during World War II. Magnum is unafraid to delve into such topics with absolute honesty and frankness.
After waiting around eight years to see Neutral Milk Hotel, I had high expectations for the show. The band did not disappoint.
Despite little acknowledgement from Mangum and the rest of the band members, the audience was engrossed and engaged in the music they have come to know and love.
“Neutral Milk Hotel completely melted my face off,” said junior Haley Strizel.
It is safe to say my face was melted off as well.