I really wanted to like Indianapolis' very own Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos more than I did. They have a real feline and feminine quality to them. On songs like “Skeleton Key” and “Vampires in Blue Dresses,” a lovely sing songy pop sensibility is touched on. On stage headlining the second night of the Tomorrow Never Knows Music Festival, they were also a large full ensemble, the highlights being the violin and pedal steel playing to help alleviate the fact of an antisocial Margot (who, just to make matters even more confusing is actually named Emily Watkins).
Yet, no matter how hard I tried to get into Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos, I just couldn’t manage it, even though they seemed to have all the right elements working in their favor. Emily Watson’s vocals were lovely (though she unfortunately stayed firmly on the other side of the stage throughout the set) and I liked the softness of Richard Edwards. It seemed like something I might really love when I was younger, perhaps at the end of my high school years. Undoubtedly, quite a few of their songs would fit well on the My So Called Life soundtrack, memorized by heart by Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano admirers everywhere. But there were a couple of hazard signs in the road that barred me from really enjoying myself or making a substantial emotional connection. The first, although the band isn’t to blame really was the fawning adoration of female groupies that seemed to regard Richard Edwards as something akin to the lead singer of My Morning Jacket. It was distracting to the music up front and it was more than a little irritating. Though, I guess he can’t help if women find him attractive…it just drew the attention away from the actual music.
The second is the band’s fault, specifically Richard Edwards. Prior to their set, The Bees had done a cover of a Chicago song with the idea that all touring bands must do this. (For the record, I can’t recall when I last heard a Chicago cover and if I have in the past five years of going to shows in this city, it’s likely I’ve blocked it out.) In the spirit of covers, Edwards decided later on in the set that he would do one himself. Several song titles were tossed about until one that, being a big fan of Bowie (I can even love him in Labyrinth!) perked me up instantly. It was “Life on Mars,” which is really quintessential David Bowie at his best…Yet, after receiving applause when Richard Edwards announced it was his favorite song, he backpedaled and actually admitted he didn’t know the chords or how to play it. After a week has passed, I’m still perseverating on this a bit…I mean, he’s a singer and a guitar player. It doesn’t make any sense to me that he wouldn’t know how to play his favorite song. Isn’t the first thing musicians want to do when they learn how to play or sing is learn their favorite song? In any case, it prevented me from hearing anything else in my head the rest of the night. “It’s on America’s tortured brow…”
Watch: "Quiet As A Mouse"