Friday, August 8th, 2008
The Dust Of Retreat
Photo by Frank Yang
Since they cancelled their last scheduled Toronto show – also their first – back in Spring of 2006, I’ve been waiting for Margot & The Nuclear So And Sos to set a make-up date. Their debut The Dust Of Retreat was one of my favourites of that year and while the album has fallen out of rotation somewhat since then (though not completely) and I’d seen them last year at SxSW as part of the inaugural Hot Freaks, the fact that they had unfinished business here has always been in the back of my mind.
And so while it was great that they finally made a date to come visit this past Wednesday, the timing was a bit odd. Sure they were on the road anyways, having played Lollapalooza this past weekend, but with their new albums Animal and Not Animal not due out till October 7, I’d have figured they’d save any border-crossing for when they had the records to flog. But I’m not complaining.
Support for this night was Ruby Coast, whom I’d seen not even two weeks ago at the last show I was at. Usually I wouldn’t expect to have a significantly different opinion after such a short interval – it wouldn’t be unreasonable if the band played the same set – but such was not the case. Well, maybe they played the same songs – I’m not familiar enough with their material to say either way – but for whatever reason, the delivery was more impressive this time out. The negatives that I took particular note of last time – their penchant for cribbing from their contemporaries – stood out less and their positives – the fact that they definitely know their way around a melody and have great presence onstage without necessarily trying – were more evident. It’s obvious they’ve got a lot of upside and as they inevitably develop and discover their own identity, they could do something really interesting. Keeping an eye out.
As for Margot, it may have been an odd time for them to visit what with them being between albums, but it also made it interesting. The Indianapolis eight-piece has obviously been playing from the Dust songbook for so long that the live arrangements on some of the songs were beginning to mutate as the band tried to keep it interesting for themselves, and the Animal material is also probably still fresh enough that it’s still finding its form onstage. It was difficult to gauge the new stuff from just a listen (I haven’t had time to acquaint myself with the Daytrotter recordings), but it seemed to be a bit more sprawling than the older stuff, less immediate. Which makes sense – with two LPs worth coming out of the recording sessions, concise pop is probably not going to be the elevator pitch, but fans will be pleased to note that their melancholic streak seems to be running as deep as ever.
Performance-wise, the band got off to a bit of a slow start but when frontman Richard Edwards commented on how much he liked Toronto and how much he didn’t like Vancouver – much to the modest crowd’s approval – things seemed to find a new gear. Buoyed, I guess, by performer and audience bonding in distaste for the left coast, the show had a good build-up from that point with the band walking the fine line between intricate orchestration and all-out cacophony. Though their set was rather short – maybe an hour including one-song encore – it was a worthy Toronto debut with hopefully more to come soon after Animal/Not Animal is finally unleashed.
Photos: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s, Ruby Coast @ The Horseshoe – August 6, 2008
MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “Skeleton Key”
MP3: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “Barfight Revolution, Power Violence”
MP3: Ruby Coast – “Brittle Bones”
Video: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – “Quiet As A Mouse”
MySpace: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s
Though they were just here on Tuesday as part of the The Go! Team/CSS show, too-happy-for-words Brooklyn drum-and-keys duo Matt & Kim are coming back on November 8 for a show at the Whipper Snapper Gallery with Texans Best Fwends. Their matinee show as part of Over The Top last year was one of the most enjoyable things ever. Very much looking forward to seeing them again.
Further to the news yesterday of the new Dears album Missiles, due out October 21, Chart points to a MySpace blog post from Murray Lightburn that confirms the rumours that had been circulating about some shuffles in the Dears lineup… namely, that everyone who’s not married to himself or Natalia Yanchack is no longer in the band.