TVD Live: Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s, Empires, Kate Myers at the Grog Shop, 4/27

PHOTOS: JARED PERRY | On a show where the majority of the acts provide a quiet, more introspective journey into a songwriter’s mind, it takes a complicit audience to make the experience perfect.

While all three acts on Sunday night’s bill showcased great material, and played it well, the entire audience wasn’t fully along for the ride.

Let’s start with singer/songwriter, Kate Myers. I really felt awful for the amount of noise she put up with during her set. I wasn’t familiar with her work before the show, but she has an incredible voice and some really interesting songs to put with them. However, she was put in the shitty spot of being an opening act (as a solo singer/guitarist) on a show with three bands. First acts have a long illustrious history of being pissed on by inattentive audiences, but she didn’t deserve this.

The middle act on this tour, Empires, didn’t really have this problem because they were a full on rock outfit and never really took things down a notch. Kind of a later era Killers meets early Coldplay thing happening. I wasn’t really feeling their stuff, but I could understand why people would. It was cool and I’m not mad at them. Do your thing, Empires.

Now, Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s set leaned heavily on material off their excellent new record Slingshot to Heaven. The first four songs of their set were the first four tracks off the record, in sequence, and over half the songs from the set list pulled from the new material. It was pretty badass stuff.

The new music is moody, dark and mellow, so in a live setting the sparse arrangements shine, with small flourishes like Kate Myers’ backing vocals/harmonies (yes THAT Kate Myers… she’s touring as a member of The Nukes) or a backing electric guitar cutting through Richard Edwards’ acoustic guitar and vocals like a knife. The new stuff, in addition to some of the old songs with newer/mellow arrangements like “On a Freezing Chicago Street,” demanded the audience’s full attention.

Sadly, the band didn’t have that attention from a quarter of the room.

I was standing center stage, about three-quarters of the way to the back of the club. Everyone in front of me? Completely transfixed on the stage. Awesome!

Behind me? Fuck if I know what people were talking about and doing. Like who the hell pays money for a show and then talks all the way through it? Through the headlining act! The band you presumably came to see!

Even couples were torn apart by this lack of show decorum. The following exchange was overheard by yours truly:

Girl: “Blah blah blah, something something something… do you know what song this is?”

This girl’s bro boyfriend/companion: “This song is called SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

Alright look, I do not endorse this as a method to communicate displeasure to your significant other, but every song at a show should be titled “Shut the Fuck Up.” A rock concert clearly isn’t church, but don’t be a dumb fuck and talk through the whole show. I thought the Cleveland crowd kind of sucked, but some cursory Google searching showed the Columbus, Ohio show last night was even worse. Strange.

Anyway, Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s also mixed in some rocking tracks off Buzzard and Rot Gut, Domestic like “Fisher of Men” and “New York City Hotel Blues.” These songs picked the energy up at certain points, which got the crowd bouncing and nodding their heads.Your humble reviewer would argue this is far from their finest work, but the songs were well performed and were strategically placed in the set list to break up some of the bleaker preceding and subsequent music.

The Nukes closed with two old fan favorites “Broadripple is Burning” and “Barfight Revolution, Power Violence.” I’ve seen this band play five times, dating back to 2006, and both are great songs but it’s interesting the dichotomy between how they’re now performed. “Broadripple” used to be a rousing Dust of Retreat-era b-side that was filled with tension and energy. Now? Kind of a bland sing along that ended up on Not Animal. “Barfight Revolution, Power Violence” on the other hand, has maintained its wild nature after all these years as a coiled spring that releases and tightens at will.

Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s aren’t really the same band they were in 2006 when I first came across them at Wilbert’s in downtown Cleveland. But what band is? It would be completely unfair for me to hold them to the high standard I have for how I remember them performing in the past. Their sound has evolved to be something completely different and their live show reflects that. They’ve got cool new songs for people to hear, if audience members would just shut the fuck up and listen.


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