13. bend all your notes for me

a few months ago, i got sophia and i tickets to see jeff magnum (of neutral milk hotel) at the fox theater in oakland.  i’ve been an enormous fan of neutral milk hotel since i was in high school.  the band was formed in the early ’90s and had broken up in ’99, shortly after releasing one of my favorite albums of all time: in the aeroplane over the sea.  the album is largely inspired by the life and death of anne frank (“the only girl i’ve ever loved/was born with roses in her eyes/but then they buried her alive, one evening 1945”).  check out the wonder that is the eight-minute “oh comely”…

magnum, their lead singer and guitarist, is a notorious recluse and had reportedly had a “nervous breakdown” in the late ’90s, making it even more exciting that he had begun touring again.  a friend of mine had seen magnum play at this tiny church venue in baltimore about a year ago, and i was totally surprised that he was playing two(!) back-to-back, sold out shows at a venue as large as the fox.

holy crap, he was phenomenal.  he played every song (except for “communist daughter”) from in the aeroplane over the sea, including “the fool”, which i was surprised about.  “the fool” is entirely instrumental, and since magnum was playing a solo show, i didn’t expect him to play a song that involved at least 4 instruments.  as he played the opening notes, 3 other musicians came out, one playing the french horn, the other the bass trumpet, and the other a drum.  fucking wonderful.  it was amazing to hear the crowd (including myself) singing most of the lyrics to everything he played…you could tell that the audience was a bunch of die-hard fans that have his lyrics permanently imprinted in their brains.  the crowd was also extremely polite (another bonus!), most of them seeming to be 5ish years older than soph and me.

i don’t have the best photos from the show because we were way up in the balcony area, but you get the idea.

magnum & friends