Show Review: Neutral Milk Hotel At Kool Haus

By Erik Masson

For those misfortunately uninformed souls (such as myself) who were too late to catch the Neutral Milk Hotel bandwagon before their breakup, their announcement in April 2013 of a reunion tour was a dream come true. When my friend and omniscient editor told me she had procured us tickets, I felt like a kid skipping off to Wonka’s factory, except with less exclusivity, and more fuzz pedals. Jeff and his band of merry minstrels did not fail to deliver.

Album Art for Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Album Art for Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

The set was a well-balanced mixture of material from both studio albums, playing most of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and almost half of On Avery Island, as well as some EP material such as Bomb Drop and Engine. During the softer acoustic numbers, Jeff gazed steadily at the audience through a haze of smoke as he crooned the words some people had waited fifteen years to hear, his voice sounding better than ever. The rest of the band frequently alternated instruments, with Julian Koster, Scott Spillane, and Jeremy Barnes playing their signature musical saws, fuzz-laden guitars, and horns (and in Jeremy’s case, drums). Their joy was palpable as Julian leapt around the stage, and they enveloped the audience with a few fuzz-laden, saw-whirring jams, my favourite being Bomb Drop. Kool Haus served as a great venue for this band; even if you were in the back, you were close enough to see the sweat on their faces (presumably due to their sweaters, which were almost as fuzzy as their guitars).

To Neutral Milk Hotel, I would say thank you, it was worth the wait (although I didn’t have to wait fifteen years), and I think I can speak for many Toronto-dwellers when I say we hope to see you again soon.

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