"The Traveling Imaginary came to New York City for a few nights in September and for a few hours the third story of a chapel became a gateway to another world. A place somewhere in the imagination of Julian Koster and The Music Tapes crew, outside of space and reality, where time stood still. A carnival full of games and cookies and music and recordings and fantastical characters and magic tricks and stories and dreams.

No matter the form the concert takes, the singing saw, light-up decorations and wondrous robots are always part of the set. Even just their “regular” stage show for more conventional tours includes theatrical elements of story and skits, as well as characters like the “7-Foot Tall Metronome,” the “Mechanized Organ Playing Tower,” and “Static,” the singing television."

-The Bomber Jacket

Though what happened can probably be explained logically, it was still awe-inspiring. The feeling of delight that had been created by a simple story and its little wonders was incredible.

- The Purchase Beat


When I first was let in the doors of The Space’s “Blank Canvas,” an empty warehouse across the street from the familiar Hamden music venue, I was not sure what to expect. I knew The Music Tapes were playing, a long established artistic facet of the Neutral Milk Hotel member Julian Koster, and I knew that there was something to do with a carnival tent. I knew that it was called the “Traveling Imaginary” tour, and that this was their second trial show. But other than that, I had no idea.

Once I entered the venue, I realized that The Music Tapes had completely transformed the area into their own. There was a brightly colored, carnival tent, illuminated from the inside with strung lights, a record of Classical Indian music spinning in the corner. As the crowd filtered in, about 75 of us, we were greeted by the band, and Koster, who invited us to play a bean bag toss game with him.

As the concert started, the crowd sat cross-legged in the tent, and Koster queued up an old whimsical film, and then made his way through the audience to the little stage at the front of the tent. As he did so, he reminded us that The Music Tapes is a band that breaks the fourth wall. And this turned out to be wonderfully, and completely true.

- CHS Rampage 







Direction by:

Ellie Heyman

Production Design:

Paul Tate dePoo III

Lighting Design:

Mary Ellen Stebbins


* One of the "top five shows of the year" (Bob Boilen, NPR) and a Time Out New York "Critic's Pick,"  

The Traveling Imaginary is an immersive, internationally touring, theatrical rock show.