What a weekend of music in Pittsburgh.
I went to see Squonk Opera's mesmerizing "Astro-Rama" in Schenley Plaza Saturday night, and then went home to watch the Rays and Red Sox -- a decision I'll be kicking myself for for years to come (not that it was a bad game).
I should have gone to the Brillobox, where the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour was making a stop.
The surprise, to the elation of the sold-out crowd, was an appearance by reclusive Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum. The Saturday before, he turned up at the New York show and joined in on an Olivia Tremor Control song.
At the Brillobox, he actually did the Neutral Milk Hotel song "Engine" (a B side) in the middle of the crowd and sang backup on OTC's "The Bark and Below It," ending with instruments being tossed around. As someone posted on a local message board, "i'm pretty sure this is probably the best show i have seen or ever will ever see in my life."
There is video here -- sort of.
And pics here by Hugh Twyman, who also took the photo on the right.
If you're unfamiliar with Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel, the band's 1998 album "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" is rightly considered one of the greatest indie-rock albums of all time. Mangum fled the spotlight shortly after, playing his last show with the band in 1998 and a solo show in 2001.
The Wikipedia entry for Neutral Milk Hotel already mentions the Pittsburgh appearance and the promise of more to come.