I went to Thursday night's show at Crowbar to see the headliner, Margot and The Nuclear So and So's, a band whose newest release Buzzard I listened to and enjoyed. I was interested how the band's line up change would affect their sound — with their addition of more guitarists and subtraction of their cellist and trumpeter.
I was not disappointed.
Margot and the Nuclear So and So's began their set with the quiet atmospherics of "Will You Love Me Forever?" a cut from Buzzard. Though the sound was weaker than the studio version, it was still a strong track, with the band showing off their more rock-based riffs. The band then led into "Never Gonna Break Your Heart" and "Claws Off," both songs from the new album. Both were serviceable, even if the band played a watered-down riff at the beginning of "Claws Off."
It was around this point I heard someone say, with an irritated tone in their voice. "They ever gonna play the old stuff?" Luckily for this concertgoer, the band did soon after tackle material from their previous albums and EPs. The first being "A Children's Crusade On Acid" from 2008's Not Animal and "Quiet as a Mouse" from the 2006 EP The Dust of Retreat.
"Broadripple is Burning," a sensitive track Not Animal had the crowd enraptured, especially the young women in the front row who mouthed "And darling I'm drunk/And everything I that I have loved has turned to stone/So pack your bags/And come back home."
Around this point, the band had played 12 songs, a decent amount for a national touring act. But, due to cries of "One more song!" from the audience, Margot frontman Richard Edwards came back on stage with an acoustic guitar to play "(My Baby) Shoots Her Mouth Off." The track again showed off how the band can play when pared to its simplest form. And, even though he came on for one more song, Edwards wound up playing two more with the band. He prefaced the final numbers "Dress Me Like A Clown" and "Bookworm" with appreciation for Tampa's hospitality. "I know we've said it before, but Tampa's always a highlight for us."
(Setlist follows review of opening acts)
Tampa's own sextet opened the night with enthusiasm that matched their band name. The indie shoegazers Sleepy Vikings played the part well, looking listless and preoccupied with their instruments. The music was both dark, with its brooding licks, and light, with Tessa McKenna's sprightly vocals. The band's cover of Broken Social Scene's "Anthems for a 17- Year-Old Girl" was a treat, and showed off McKenna's lilting voice.
The next act was Chicago's Cameron McGill and What Army. The band's namesake is also the keyboardist for Margot and The Nuclear So and So's. The music was as strange as the lead singer was enigmatic; that is to say, not too much, but enough to be noticeable. The best sonic comparison would be to Los Angeles indie-rock band The Elected. Both acts have delicate and rocking iterations. (And both acts have lead singers with impressive bangs.)
The final act before Margot didn't send me. Washington State's The Lonely Forest played some indie rock in the same vein of a punkier Death Cab for Cutie. It was strange I didn't dig it, because I liked the music on their website. Perhaps it was just an off night...
All in all, Margot and The Nuclear So and So's showed that, despite a sonic shift, they can still play old tracks just as well as the new stuff.
Margot and The Nuclear So and So's Setlist
Will You Love Me Forever?
New York City Hotel Blues
A Children's Crusade On Acid
Quiet As A Mouse
Tiny Vampire Robot
Broadripple Is Burning
Freak Flight Speed
Talking In Code
As Tall As Cliffs
My Baby (Shoots Her Mouth Off)
Dress Me Like A Clown