Neutral Milk Hotel delivers “neutral” show at Hollywood Bowl


Credit: Mehgan Schuyler/The Foothill Dragon Press

Meghan Schuyler

The vibe at the Hollywood Bowl on Thursday evening was one of mellow anticipation. A diverse mix of people waited patiently under the stars for Neutral Milk Hotel to take the stage, many with bottles of wine and small picnics.

When the opening acts Daniel Johnston and The Breeders concluded at 9:30 pm, a short intermission ensued, heightening the current of anticipation.

When the band finally emerged on stage, a low cheer erupted.

The band requested that their performance not be shown on the screens, and asked audience members to refrain from taking pictures and videos. This left the sole focus on the stage, where the members could be seen jumping and spinning around during the more upbeat songs, mostly from their first album “On Avery Island.”

Band members and audience members alike, however, regained a more somber atmosphere when songs from their second album, “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea” were played.


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Neutral Milk Hotel, is an American indie folk-rock band that formed in 1989. The band produced their first album “On Avery Island” in 1996, a rather obscure album that did not receive much notice.

Their second album, “On the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” released in 1998, received more notice and was the sixth-best-selling vinyl album in 2008. This album is highly speculated to be about Anne Frank, due primarily to the song “Holland, 1945,” and many other references to a girl named “Anna,” and mentions of her birth and death years, that can be heard in songs throughout the album.

The band is noted for their experimental sound, and emotionally raw, and somewhat bizarre, lyricism. The use of unique instruments such as bagpipes, the accordion, and even the musical saw, also add to the essence of the band. They were not short to deliver such distinctive sounds on Thursday evening.

Neutral Milk Hotel is considered one of the most influential bands of this generation that has shaped the modern-day indie genre. Toni Del Sorbo, an audience member describes them as “one of those bands that was under the radar.”

“They influenced the bands that influenced me, without me necessarily knowing it,” she said.

The band played many of their more popular songs, such as “Two-Headed Boy,” but kept the audience on their toes by singing some of their older, less known music as well.

Overall the crowd seemed pleased with the performance, and Del Sorbo summed it up by saying “they were emotional, they were experimentative, and they were honest.”

Background Photo Credit: Meghan Schuyler/The Foothill Dragon Press

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