Chunky Sweaters and Musical Saws

Oh my, Neutral Milk Hotel, you can do no wrong.

Wednesday night was one of our first perfect fall nights; warm air, cool breeze, nearly full moon–the whole thing. And also, consequently, the perfect night for seeing one of indie rock’s universally favorite bands, Neutral Milk Hotel. The opportunity to see them live is an especially huge treat since the band hardly ever tours, so the fact that they stayed in Burlington for two nights was extraordinary.

The ballroom was packed to the brim. but with the sort of folks who aren’t pushy or obnoxious at concerts, but are instead able to fill up a whole room without creating claustrophobia or frustration with too many sweaty elbows in your face. Everyone was calm and happy as we waited for the band to appear, but the anticipation in the audience was tangible, and when Neutral Milk Hotel finally made their first appearance, they were greeted by an extremely enthusiastic roar from the crowd.

Jeff Mangum, the lead vocalist and guitarist, opened the show with a few solo songs, some of the classics which the whole crowd was able to sing along to, imitating Jeff’s unique vocals. Everyone particularly loved Jeff’s alpaca sweater, which, although it looked broiling up on the lighted stage, would’ve easily fit in on the streets of Burlington. After a few songs, the rest of the band humbly took to the stage to help Jeff finish out the repeat chorus as a whole group. Though they were met with huge rounds of applause and eager cheers, the band stayed quiet and serene throughout the show.

Overall, it was an incredibly gorgeous night. The whole concert, although it was clearly a performance, had a definitively intimate feeling, as though we were all good friends listening to a little jam session on an early autumn night. If they EVER come around again, Neutral Milk Hotel is absolutely a must-see, but for now, here’s a little sampler of one of their most popular songs to help you finish out this chilly week. Happy listening!

Also, check out the rest of Higher Ground’s calendar here: