Ten years ago last week, Neutral Milk Hotel released In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Widely recognized as one of the most influential albums of the past decade -- critics tend to invoke Bright Eyes, the Decemberists, Beirut, and any number of mystical folk outfits as being influenced by NMH -- Aeroplane featured ragtag orchestration, cryptic nonlinear poetry and vocalist Jeff Mangum's quavering voice, which trembled with insecurity, isolation and the transformative, near-religious power of his lyrics.
Mangum's reclusive nature -- he doesn't perform live anymore, and NMH just sort of stopped existing, but never formally broke up -- adds to the myth. But the reality is just as fascinating: Aeroplane has inspired an amazing 33 1/3 book, while recollections abound about the album's lingering influence.
One of the best live documents of the band's live shows happens to be the May 5, 1997 show at the Side Door in St. Louis. Was anyone there? According to this site, the band played the Lou three times in three years.
Here's the show; the files are in .wav form and it's a soundboard recording. (Found on dimeadozen.org.)
-- Annie Zaleski