Review: Neutral Uke Hotel @ Schuba’s

Instrumental number The Fool rang like a funeral procession of mournful horns and melodica woes. The Fool marched right into the countdown to Holland, 1945, an upbeat haunt that beckoned many of those in the venue to sing and dance in fervent admiration.

By the time the band reached Oh, Comely Fogel was left alone on stage to croon and strum to a chilling silence that embraced the room. For the first time fans silently swayed in place until the song reached the bridge at “Know all your enemies…” In the height of intensity the musicians began to stomp out a beat around Fogel’s strumming. Soon the audience joined suit and stomped along and for 30 seconds the room was wrapped up in a unique experience of intensity, forming a strange a bond with the band. By the end of the journey the audience erupted in appreciation.

Fogel himself was nearly speechless, “That was, I don’t have a word for that,” he said. “We are the first to admit on paper this read like a horrible idea. But it came together, you came together, you get it, thank you.”

Neutral Uke Hotel played a three-song encore and invited the “librarians” of the opening band Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library to stage, all armed with ukuleles. “We are officially a full fledge army of tiny instruments,” Fogel said. The encore highlighted one original song by each band represented on stage. The evening officially ended with Song Against Sex, one final Neutral Milk Hotel tune for the road.

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