Friday, April 14, 2006

Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos

Note: This is the debut column of my music editor "The Kid".

I like the show Family Guy. For those of you who in the age of day-light savings time who have not grown addicted to the late night programing of the Cartoon Network, Family Guy is an animated show about a family's misadventures in Rhode Island. It is also famously the only show in television history that was both cancelled and then brought back by the same network. After two years of strong ratings and DVD sales, Fox brought back the show to prime-time this past year. On its first episode after the two year hiatus, the main character and patriarch, Peter Griffin, makes a speech. In his speech he mockingly names all the shows Fox had cancelled in the two years since the last original airing of Family Guy. I couldn't help but to think of that scene last night as I found myself at the Vogue watching the latest Hoosier contribution to the national music scene, the memorably titled Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos. In my head I listed all these bands- The Why Store, Old Pyke, Transamatic, Wonderdrug- whose base was Indiana but whose nationally released albums were met with minimal or little success.

In the past twenty years, it isn't like Indiana hasn't contributed to the national rock landscape. There is a picture of Axl Rose up at the Indiana State Museum for Christ's sake. And one can't forget that the too soon departed Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon was from Lafayette. But most of our very own who have made it have played down their connection to Indiana or like Rose or Hoon got their start and break outside the Hoosier State. The reality is except for some guy named Mellencamp, an Indiana based music artist hasn't produced a song that made its way to America's conscience since the Reagan era. Henry Lee Summer, where are you?

Indianapolis based Margot seem cognizant of this sorry fact and have done their best to escape it. While reading their official bio on their web site I was struck that the band indicated their origin began with the innocuous "somewhere in the Mid-West". I forgave them for this little misstep when Torpor's own and myself found ourself at the Vogue for what was billed as Margot's coming home show.

For those out there who haven't heard of Margot, here's the brief story. Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos are an eight member band consisting of seven men and one woman. They got their unique name, in part, from a character on Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums. Their music probably would fit in the category of chamber pop, a la Sufjan Stevens or Matt Pond PA, where in addition to the standard guitars and bass their group includes a trumpet and a cello. New York based Artemis Records re-released their debut album "The Dust of Retreat" in a re-mixed form last month that had been previously released by Indianapolis based Standard.

Anyway, back to the show. After the opening act LA based Something for Rockets and England's South (who Torpor and I came to the conclusion are actually the headliner but stepped aside in deference to Margot's homecoming), Margot took the stage and began what would be a 75 minute set.

Their set actually consisted mostly of songs off of "Dust" with a few songs from a second album in the works (and also to be released on Artemis). Titles of songs, like people's names, I too soon forget and these new songs are no exception, sans one and certainly a highlight of the night-"Broad Ripple is Burning". This song seemed to get a rise out of the local crowd with excitement similar to seeing a local landmark on televison while traveling out of State. Torpor himself could not contain his excitement when he heard Margot sing in the same song about Fountain Square, a local neighborhood with an odd combination of mullets, art, hamburgs and duckpin bowling.

Their new work sounded great but being more familiar with their work on "Dust", I looked forward to hearing how these songs played live and seeing how all eight could coordinate together. Front and center of the band was the 21 year old lead singer and chief song writer, Richard Edwards. Immediately behind Edwards was one of their two drummers. On either side of the lead singer were the remaining six members of the band, with three on either side. I was not disappointed with how each song was presented nor the energy the band brought to the performance. In fact I was impressed and a little surprised by how animated the band was. The most animated member had to be Casey Tennis, who when not beating the second set of cymbals moved from one side of the stage to the other moving to beat of each song. The whole band seemed energized by the local crowd who knew who they were to begin with. This seemed to free up the band's creative energy to completely focus on entertaining the crowd as it was not concerned with winning then over
The other highlights of the set are two of my favorite songs off of "Dust". The first was "Skeleton Key". "Skeleton Key's" lyrics are indicative of Edwards' abilities as a song writer. Each one of Margot's songs are finely crafted pieces of melancholy that hit an emotional chord but do not reach the level of whining. The "Skeleton Key" played last night sounded more like the version (which I prefer) found on their Standard release. The other personal highlight was the standout song on "Dust"- "Quiet as a Mouse" that happens to their first single. Those mildly familiar with Margot may have heard "Quiet..." in heavy rotation on Sirius' Left of Center. "Quiet..." was one of the few songs of the night that all eight members appear actively involved in the song (someone give the trumpeter something to do). It's also the song that could likely bring Margot the national attention that this talented and entertaining band from "somewhere in the Mid-West" should receive.

The band concluded the night with all three bands on the bill playing on the stage simultaneously. It also was the only song I have every seen live where some body played the underused musical instrument, the hula hoop. I am not sure what that clown was accomplishing from a musical standpoint by pumping the hula hoop in the air. But I am going to lay this out there in case some one on the tour finds themself reading this article and feel they want to go in another direction with their hula hoop section. This writer plays the hula hoop and would welcome the opportunity to tour (assuming he could get out of his demanding duties as Torporindy’s music editor).

A local writer summed it up best recently about Margot, they're not good for Indiana they're just good. If you didn't make it out to the Vogue last night, you may have missed the chance to see some locals before they make it on the national scene. Still I felt the same about local legends The Why Store, but somehow, it just feels different this time.

Pick up Margot's The Dust of Retreat at Luna or

--The Kid


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the show as well. All three bands were kickass. Thanks for your review.


April 15, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

Great review, Kid.

April 15, 2006  
Blogger Kaj said...

I'm so bummed that I missed this show... it sounds like it was awesome.

April 15, 2006  
Blogger 1973rocky said...

Hey Kid....I hope you can land a gig as a hula hoop player, but in the meantime, keep writing reviews. This article made me feel like I was back at the Vogue again for this awesome show.... can't wait to see this group again. My son has been singing "Paper Kitten Nightmare" since Friday morning.

April 16, 2006  
Blogger indymtgpro77 said...

why didnt you invite me? psshthbbba!

April 17, 2006  
Blogger torporific said...

Next time, man.

April 17, 2006  
Blogger lemming said...

Well done, well done.

On another note, I love family guy.

April 17, 2006  
Blogger Smartypants said...

Again, I feel like the only one not living in Indiana.

; )

April 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great review of what sounds like a great show. Cant wait for The Kid to review more.

April 20, 2006  

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