Neutral Milk Hotel's Triumphant Return to St. Louis at the Pageant, 2/5/14: Recap and Setlist

Categories: Last Night

Press Photo
NMH was not allowing photography on this tour, so here is a handout photo.

Neutral Milk Hotel | Elf Power
The Pageant, 2/5/14

It's been a long time since Neutral Milk Hotel's last St. Louis show. Specifically, the group last played here in 1998 at the Galaxy Bar, with Superchunk. Lead singer Jeff Mangum did play a solo show at the Sheldon Concert Hall in January of 2013; it was an excellent opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with some classic songs and their seldom-seen songwriter. In the interim, the revived Neutral Milk Hotel -- currently in the midst of a worldwide tour -- got no closer than Columbia, MO. Last night, however, Mangum and company finally returned to St. Louis, with a show that could only be described as "triumphant."

As he did at the Blue Note last October, Mangum started the show by himself, strumming the chords to "The King of Carrot Flowers, Part One." Slowly, the rest of the band filed onstage, adding color to the song before kicking in for good in the middle of "The King of Carrot Flowers, Part Two." From there it was a sprint through the small Neutral Milk Hotel catalog, featuring almost all of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (except "Communist Daughter," which has yet to make a setlist), the more tuneful portions of On Avery Island, both sides of their first seven-inch single and the odd rarity ("Ruby Bulbs" and "Ferris Wheel on Fire").

NMH performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in January.

In general, this set was not terribly different from the Blue Note show. Julian Koster again jumped around like a mad elf, alternating between singing saw, Moog and banjo. Scott Spillane was the main conduit between band and crowd, singing along to every song when not leading a mini-horn section. Jeremy Barnes played drums in a loose way that suggested Keith Moon meets free jazz. At times, there were up to seven people onstage playing various instruments. In particular, Mangum seemed to be enjoying himself more. Whereas he stood stock-still at the Blue Note, often vanishing into the wings during instrumental passages, last night he jumped around like in the band's early days.

This was an immensely satisfying show, one that did not feel nostalgic or retro in the slightest. Given that the band is going to be touring these songs for the next several months, though, is it too much to hope for its members to start working in some new material?

Continue to page two for critic's notebook and the setlist.

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Nicholas Goldschmidt
Nicholas Goldschmidt

Pageant ripped the underage kids off. They banned us from the floor even the though the tickets were supposed to be GA. Does anybody know why they did this? I (and 80% of the kids there) had a horrible spot soundwise. I left infuriated that my experience was ruined due to my age.

Christopher Catalano
Christopher Catalano

Do you want to #bee #Famous? If you do you should hangout with famous people and #ALL famous people live in #NYC. Now if you get here and you can't become friends with any famous people then become friends with people who know famous people.... so unless you get really obnoxious when you drink, spit when you talk or smell really bad you should have no problem doing one or the other... So there you go there's the secret step that passes all those other steps that dr phil tells all his wanna bee celebs to take.... #Really this is your golden ticket to easy street.... O i almost forgot you need to have some kind of talent .... you don't have to be great just get kindda good at something's #TRUE there are many pinhead moviestars doing very well... and I'm not hating because I'm not naming anyone specific, know the difference...I can already feel those 2 smart for themselve gurus cursing me up and sideways... LESSON NUMBER 2. The #LIE that their are so many people trying to be movie stars is just so half truth...the truth is that their are so many people trying to be movies stars in the wrong place... ..................So if you wanna bee famous and you're listening to the wrong people GET OFF that LIE highway to nowhere and get on the L.I.E....... P.S Remember, in the words of Alanzo from TRAINING DAY "it's not what you know its who you know"

Dan Buck
Dan Buck

It was all i hoped it would be.

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