Neutral Uke Hotel

You would think that one man strumming out every song from In the Aeroplane over the Sea on a ukulele would be a bad idea. For one, there's the trouble of stripping Neutral Milk Hotel bare. Even though Shawn Fogel, the man behind the cleverly-named Neutral Uke Hotel, has some back-up instrumentation while he sings and strums, the layers of Neutral Milk's 1998 masterpiece—organs and trumpets and accordions and elements of psych rock—just aren't there. And Fogel's voice is sweet and on-key, but it lacks the straining, emotive character of Jeff Mangum's. Yet despite these flaws, Neutral Uke Hotel does something wonderful: offer Neutral Milk Hotel fans the chance to hear the band's songs live again. YouTube videos of Fogel's performances depict free-for-all, enthusiastic sing-a-longs. Plus, there's something appropriately sad about that tiny ukulele: it struggles, admirably, the same way Mangum did. PAIGE RICHMOND

Tue., Aug. 31, 9 p.m., 2010

 
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