We traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to see Neutral Milk Hotel at Hal and Mal's on May 1st. We had planned to buy tickets closer to our home in SC as a birthday for our 24 year old son, but they were sold out. THANK GOODNESS! After studying the tour schedule, we decided to cast our fate to the wind and drive 11 hours to this brick warehouse called Hal and Mal's. Before our trip, we went to Hal and MAL's website and looked around, trying to wrap our head around what kind of place this was exactly. Part Restaurant, part concert venue. Something similar to House of Blues, we decided. NOT! It's indescribable really, as we would soon find out. I called before we left our Hotel, Hampton Inn- Jackson Coliseum (see my review for that also) and were informed that they have a limited menu on show nights, but we decided to eat there anyway because the hotel staff assured us the food was good, and because we wanted to be there early to get into the venue to see the band. We called for a cab (shout out to Orlando at Veteran's cab) and arrived at our destination in mere minutes. We walked in and were casually told to grab a table wherever we wanted. There was memorabilia everywhere you looked, which lent itself to the laid back, nostalgic atmosphere. Our waiter stopped by quickly to get our order, brought our drinks to us in record time, with our food following closely behind. My husband and I both ordered Gumbo and Tamales, which were very tasty! Our son ordered the Mississippi Catfish Po-Boy, and despite our food being very good, my husband and I found ourselves lusting after his sandwich. He was kind enough to let us have a bite and omg that was good catfish! I mean really, really good. The staff was very casual and friendly, from the manager to the waitstaff and bartenders.....even the security police! We felt like we were visiting with friends! After dinner, the "door people" took their places and began checking tickets and letting the concert goers through the music venue doors. Entering, there was dark and cavernous feeling because they keep most of the lights off until the band starts, which actually adds an element of excitement and anticipation. We grabbed a beer from the venue bar (there are several for your convenience) and quickly took our places close to the stage. (All tickets are general admission) What ensued was a surreal experience, as the stage lights came on and the band started playing. It sunk in that we were experiencing up close and personal this big name band who had been playing at arenas for thousands upon thousands, performing their hearts out to a small group of possibly 1000-1500 people of all ages, and we were almost close enough to the band to reach out and touch them! It felt like a show in your favorite hometown venue! The sound was good and the show was great. I highly suggest you check your favorite band's schedule to see if they are playing at Hal and Mal's and take the road trip. I promise you won't regret it. I'm sorry this review is so long, but I felt it necessary to expand on all of the things that make Hal and Mal's such a unique concert experience that you "have to be there to understand"! :)
Liked: A crazy, chaotic, awesome little slice of "have to be there to understand" fun!
Disliked: Limited menu on show nights, but eat there anyway because the food they do serve is very tasty, and you'll be one of the first in line when the show doors open!