Indie’s celebrated Neutral Milk Hotel has announced a reunion but it’s not just a quick, Coachella-like reunion. No. It appears to be a full-fledged, back-in-action reunion and Pollstar has the info.
If there ever was a music documentary that never was, it would be about Neutral Milk Hotel and its singer/songwriter, Jeff Mangum. The band disbanded in the late ’90s after critical acclaim, and after Mangum grew tired of touring and the music press. It came after the release of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, considered to be a quirky masterpiece that only raised in stature over the years.
But there wasn’t really a breakup, and Mangum disappeared a la Eddie Wilson, adding to the band’s mystique.
“While the record sells better today than ever, you won't see Neutral Milk Hotel onstage anytime soon because, for all intents and purposes, they've vanished into thin air,” Slate wrote in 2008. “There was no breakup announcement, no reason given for the radio silence—[Mangum] just faded out. After a decade of speculation, sightings, and hoaxes, his story remains a mystery:”
He became one of those elusive figures, like Daniel Johnston – who did get an amazing documentary treatment. Like Mangum, Johnston’s career began with music on self-made recordings, followed by critical acclaim, followed by some seclusion and a reemergence. In fact, Johnston, Neutral Milk Hotel and Half Japanese will play at the Mountain Oasis Festival in Asheville, N.C. Half Japanese, which opens for Neutral Milk Hotel at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Ga., also has a documentary.
So, with the old lineup back, the band should definitely have packed houses on the few shows announced (the festival, two in Athens, and two in Asia). Which got us to thinking: why these dates? And although it’s common for artists to announce preliminary performances, these may be the only ones, ever. Mangum has done solo performances over the years, but has not shown a revived lust for touring, although he had an extended tour this year that showed what the reunion could be like.
Back in the day, the band was booked by Jim Romeo from Ground Control Touring, and the agent booked the dates that were announced. So we asked with him why these were the dates booked.
“The festival in Asheville was set to announce on April 30 and we wanted to make sure we'd announce some headline shows at the same time,” Romeo said. “Being that Athens, Ga., was their hometown when they were active, the 40 Watt just felt right to announce first.
“Everyone is very excited which is great. People should know that they shouldn't get discouraged if they don't get tickets to these few shows, there will be some more fall shows announced soon and a much longer and fuller tour planned for 2014 that will span the globe.”
To repeat: they will be spanning the globe in 2014. Don’t bands release new material when they do global tours? No, that’s not a hint. We have no idea. But it’s fun to speculate.
And because we cannot locate a performance by Neutral Milk Hotel, we’ll end this post with The Avett Brothers doing Mangum’s best known tune: