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Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Skeleton Key
Dec 03, 2010
Total plays:
4 times
Why do we like this?
I'm going to be completely honest with you guys. I first heard (and subsequently fell in love with) Margot and the Nuclear So and So's my junior year in high school. Their first album, The Dust of Retreat was a beautiful piece of indie music that had all the orchestration of a act much older than the Indianapolis-based band was.

Fast forward to today -- I still have Margot on my iPod, and still can be caught lip-syncing to their teen-angst-but-in-love tracks every now and again. When I saw they'd be playing one of my favorite venues in San Francisco, the Great American Music Hall, I knew I had to relive some of my adolescence (oh, all ages shows). Plus, they have a new album out, Buzzard, so why not?

Frontman Richard Edwards delivered his usual dynamic-filled vocals without a hitch, but lacked the energy he had when I saw them at the same venue a year ago. Usually filled with as many members they can fit onstage, that night there were only six people, a conservative number for the group.

One thing I noticed right away was the lack of Edward's female counterpart Emily Watkins, something those of us in the audience who were over 14 years old were well aware of. Nonetheless, the band played through a mixed set, alternating between their four albums every few songs.

Now a classic, "Skeleton Key" reminded the crowd the band still had the ability to create some beautiful, haunting melodies. However, the varied instrumentation that made me fall in love with them five years ago was noticeably absent. No cello, no tambourine, no horns. New keyboardist/former strings-player Erik Kang did his best to play cello parts on his violin, and it helped, but was not the same. With that, Edwards owes a lot to the rest of the band, of which there are three new members, as they really kept the show moving.

Now, I'm well aware the transition from in-studio to live can be a precarious one. Songs from Not Animal like "A Children's Crusade On Acid" and "As Tall As Cliffs" reminded the audience that indeed, these guys can write some pretty good songs. Even more so, Animal (the band's preferred album to the studio-chosen-and-released Not Animal), has truly heartfelt and artistically-sound tracks like "Mariel's Brazen Overture" and "My Baby (Shoots her Mouth Off)." Yet, the feel and ambiance of these albums was not present at the show.

Having played through a wide array of songs, the set began to drag. But when they started the opening chords of "Broadripple Is Burning," it was like the crowd received a dose of adrenaline. Perhaps it was the nostalgia for when the band could barely fit all its members on stage, or maybe it was Edwards' crooning of the crowd's favorite song about being drunk at a club. Either way, the crowd had one more dose off excitement left to give the band, and Margot took it graciously.

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Photos courtesy of Erick Andino
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