I had been mildly impressed by Margot’s previous work, but I think they are really starting to hit their stride with the new album Buzzard, and the live show is definitely worth it. The intensity of the songs are magnified even further, and watching lead singer and guitarist Richard Edwards on stage singing his lyrics is a great visual of the emotion that words carry. Basically, their live show is exactly how music should translate on stage.
They at first took the stage so subtly that I had a delayed reaction in realizing their set started. Maybe it was the fact that Webster Hall’s ballroom is so spacious, but the room seemed relatively empty to me until I went up to the stage and realized that there was already a thick layer of fans at the front. It only took a few songs for hardcore fans to make themselves known. And yes, it appears that Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s have some very fervent fans. I didn’t realize they had so much of a following already, but fans were screaming at the top of their lungs to express their love for the band.
The band projected a laid-back demeanor between songs, many of them only slightly smiling at the clamoring in front of them, and focusing more on communicating the next song. Erik Kang was most busy with this, switching between guitar, lap steel, and violin. He made what could have been excessive instrumentation sound absolutely necessary. Cameron McGill also played his parts well, providing backup vocals while playing keyboards, and at times chiming in with a harmonica. Edwards all the while had great command of the stage, storytelling in a scratchy, road-wearing sounding voice. He has a nice blues element to his voice that becomes captivating when amplified in a live setting.
I can see these guys reaching the status of, say, Thursday or Taking Back Sunday in the late 90s/early 2000s. With Edwards’ lyrics about love and loss, with some strange but fresh perspectives on life and it’s obstacles combined with thoughtful instrumentation, they’ve got the elements for big potential. Their songs possess the kind of words where at first you might be thinking, ok where is this going, But then you start to let the words really sink in from this unfolding story until it’s like reading a book that you were skeptical about at first but suddenly you can’t put it down, and you have to read straight through until you finish. “Quiet as a Mouse” and “Talking in Code” were two crowd pleasers that got the biggest responses from the audience.
Of course, a big part of the crowd was there for The Twilight Singers, and by the time they took the stage the place looked sold out. There’s not much I can say to really do them justice, but Greg Dulli’s brilliance spoke for itself all through their set. He played guitar for most songs while singing in his raspy growl, but switched to piano for the beautiful “She Was Stolen.” Next, they played their kick ass cover of Martina Topley-Bird’s “Too Tough to Die.”
“We’re gonna take you down to New Orleans,” Dulli introduced “Decatur,” named after a downtown street there. Later, “Teenage Wristband” got the most obvious cheers. At one point in the set, a woman in the audience handed Dulli a bouquet of white roses, something she previously told me she had been doing for the past 11 years. It takes a truly amazing band to have a following like that, with fans dedicated enough to not only frequent their shows for over a decade, but also to adhere to a ritual that really means something to them. Later, Dulli pulled a single rose out and placed it delicately on top of the piano he was playing. That was probably the classiest move I’ve ever seen at a rock show. Leave it to Dulli to be so suave. He also took notice of another fan who clearly knew every word to every song, and was obviously elated to be at the show. He dedicated the next song to her, saying “This one goes out to you, little sister.” This, I’m sure, made that girl’s night.
Kang from Margot came back on stage to join the band on violin for the last couple songs, as well as the extended encore. They included a haunting cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’” and effectively made it into Dulli’s own; just like every other cover they have ever done. Dulli has such a distinct style, that everything he touches becomes his. “Ladies and Gentlemen, ‘The Killer’,” was an amazing closer.
Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos will continue to support The Twilight Singers through the beginning of June, where they end in New Orleans, LA. Buzzard is currently available in retail stores and at their merch table. Also, if you haven’t already grabbed The Twilight Singer’s newest release, “Dynamite Steps,” please treat yourself to this completely solid album.