From the campus of Michigan State University

Concert Review: Margot & the Nuclear So and Soʼs at the Blind Pig

Having previously seen Margot in Grand Rapids, I was ready for an excellent concert. Iʼve been a fan since their first release, Dust of Retreat, and have praised every demo, single, session, and album theyʼve followed up with. Buzzard is no exception. Buzzard explores the rougher side of what the sextet can create. Margot has always been dark, but their latest effort combines Richard Edwardsʼ haunting lyrics with an energy that used to exist only in their live shows.

Seeing that the new album is dark, rough, and a bit perverse, the Blind Pig perfectly suited the atmosphere for the albumʼs release show. Perpendicular to railroad tracks, graffiti littered alleys, and dumpsters displaying such life lessons as “Fuck It,” one could imagine the band crafting tunes like “Freak Flight Speed” and “I Do” on the gravel beside the basement door. Once inside, The Blind Pig is a seedy dive bar, pure and simple. Black walls. Dull brass railings. Pictures of Mick Jagger and Elvis hang above the bar. The staff have scraggly facial hair and beer bellies. But it is friendly enough.

Soon I begin to wiggle my way through the fairly full audience and wonder what Margot will open with. Something older and familiar? Maybe. A single from Buzzard? Seems likely. Sure enough it’s the new single “Will You Love Me Forever” – incidentally we got a private acoustic set before the show featuring this very song, typical of Margot, they love to strip songs down to just Rich and his acoustic guitar, and both versions of “Will You Love Me Forever” are fantastic.

They continue to rip into new songs: “Freak Flight Speed,” “Birds,” and “New York City Hotel Blues.” The new songs sound amazing live. Peppered throughout the set are favorites and a few surprises off older records. “Dress Me Like A Clown” and “Skeleton Key” are rockers from the early Dust of Retreat. The catchy and just-plain-damn-cool “A Childrenʼs Crusade on Acid” keeps the audience screaming and clapping well after the last chord has been bashed out. “Hello Vagina” is a bit of a shocker, but nonetheless it finds its niche. And then “Broadripple is Burning”; it is simply one of the saddest and greatest acoustic songs written in the past decade. Everyone sings along.

During the course of the show beer bottles are drained; Bellʼs Two-Hearted Ale and Jameson are swigged and passed around like a communal canteen. As the beer stacks up and the whiskey level gets lower, one can gauge that the show is coming to a close. Sure enough the band exits with the slow and satisfying “Bookworm,” off of Dust of Retreat. But everyone knows it is only a quick cigarette and piss until they return to churn out a few more before they leave us for good. The encore consists of the weird and heartfelt “Tiny Vampire Robots” (Buzzard) and the classic “Quiet As A Mouse” (Dust of Retreat). And thus ends another Margot show. If you ever have the opportunity, go. Go and see a great band performing honest and honestly-great songs.

Ian Heslip