King Richard: Richard Edwards of Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s
photo by the author
|It was just a few years ago that Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s performed at Spaceland to a partially filled room with an even smaller attentive audience. Perhaps it was weariness from their dogged touring schedule, but though emphatically delivered, their set was a strained and awkward affair at best. After the show, dour and scruffy bandleader Richard Edwards was seen standing alone on a dark corner outside the club, looking more than a little lost.|
How times have changed.
After rolling up to the Echo in a converted school bus painted Death Black, the group found themselves playing to a devoted, packed room Saturday night. Though the business of music might be damned, the internet in its unbridled glory has allowed vital groups like Margot to develop and be discovered by an audience they deserve, even in a haven for the jaded like L.A.
The octet (an anchor of guitars, bass, drums and keyboards supplemented by a troika of multi-instrumentalists adding violin, lap steel guitar, trumpet, trombone, French horn, miscellaneous percussion and other weirdness) delivered on all expectations, running through the bulk of their full-length debut, The Dust of Retreat, as well as several vinyl-only sides, internet favorites and songs from their upcoming (and hard-earned) Epic Records offering.
Starting the set with a haunting and immediately essential affair we can only assume is called “Carnival,” Edwards and company won the crowd instantly. After Edwards apologized for doing so, they played through two additional unfamiliar but equally compelling numbers before launching into “Vampires in Blue Dresses” for what would be the first of several crowd sing-a-longs. Other highlights included the one-two punch of “Skeleton Key” and “Quiet as a Mouse” as well as a mini-acoustic set featuring just Edwards and keyboardist/merch-bait Emily Watkins, performing the Indianapolis-specific-yet-oddly universal “Broadripple is Burning,” among others. Whether in the midst of cacophony or intimacy, Edwards and Watkins demonstrated proof of the best boy/girl vocals this side of the Pixies and Broken Social Scene throughout the night.
When the band started to wander off stage, clearly leaving the crowd wanting more, Edwards stopped and wryly offered: “I’m not going to leave and then come back on stage. That would make me feel ridiculous,” before leading the charge into a finale wherein he managed to spontaneously smile in spite of himself, as if were possible that he might actually be having fun.
If there was previously any doubt, an overrun merch table and fans lingering after the show must have signaled to Edwards and company that from now on, they have a home in Los Angeles.