LIVE REVIEW: Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s, The Echo, May 24

Richard Edwards of Margot and the Nuclear So & So's
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.

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5 comments to LIVE REVIEW: Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s, The Echo, May 24

  • Curt Turner

    I was not at that show, I live in Indiana near where Margot is from, and reading this though makes me realize the Broadripple thing. Being from around here I have been to Broadripple many times and know what the little city is like and to me it is hard to imagine hearing that song without ever being there, or to even hear Margot without having been from where they are and having met Richard and couple others along their lineup and going to their hometown shows. I wish I could experiance what that would be like to be from somewhere else and to have such and appreciation for them and their music.

  • I saw the show in Seattle. Absolutely brilliant! I have to agree that the awkwardness of the first shows is indeed present, but it adds to the bands mystifying appeal. I was initially weary about Margot’s new songs. I mean, what could top the dust of retreat album? But I was not disappointed. The new songs are as sophisticated as they are deep and catchy.

    I spent some time with a few of the band members after the show. What beautiful and humble people. If you have not caught this band yet download any one of their songs. You will fall in love.

  • Mikkele

    I agree with Curt. I discovered Margot a few years ago when I was living in Chicago. I saw them numerous times in Chicago and Indianapolis, and then saw them at this show in LA and again in San Diego two nights later. It was weird to see them playing to a crowd that didn’t know the city they were from and the places they were singing about. Margot will forever be a Midwest band in my mind.

  • Fantastic Mr. Cox

    I absolutely agree that Margot are a midwest band. Despite that, I believe everyone should realize that the emotions they are singing about are universal. I may not be privy to all of the sites they reference, but Broadripple still means a deal to me. And I can’t wait for “Music is an English Dictionary (Let’s Kick it!)”, because it seems its going to come out before “Animal”. Either way, I loved the show, and enjoyed wearing a ridiculous kitty mask to show off my Margot colors.

    But don’t forget, it doesn’t matter if Rivers is alluding to Madaam Butterfly, if K Barnes sings about a girl from Canada, or if Richard pours his heart about Chicago streets, the feelings are still the same.

  • Jay

    margot is a band that if you dont know about them from the midwest or a friend, then you may be thrown off b/c of A. their name, B. being from indy,C. being from indy… but they are by far the best thing EVER come out of indy, I hope they stay around and make more albums. I would love to see a show in LA and be there singing along w/ all to all the songs all while everyone else is getting there first treat of sweet nectar. since I live here I may be a bit biased, but Rolling stones and Spin mag. seem to agree w/ me that these guys are just about to burst out BIG timE…

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