Concerts Concerts Margot Behaving Badly

Margot Behaving Badly

Margot And The Nuclear So and Sos at The Garrison
Margot & The Nuclear So and So's
The Garrison
April 5, 2012

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

A story of how things shouldn't have gone.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's

Margot & The Nuclear So And So's have some history. With five full-lengths and a fistful of EP's in their catalogue, the group's spent the last six years polishing their chamber pop sound that's come to a head in their recent Rot Gut Domestic. To support this release, the shaggy six-piece recently crammed onto the small stage of The Garrison, drawing a floorful of excited fans who'd been waiting a decidedly long time for the band to make their rounds to Toronto.

Lit by their own warm set-up of string lights and pedaled bulbs, Margot's set came loudly, but with absolutely no sacrifice to quality. Performances of tracks like "Claws Off" and the crowd favourite "The Ocean" came together on all fronts to form renditions of their work that easily rivaled the studio recordings - no small feat, considering the limitations of the venue. Sadly, aside from some snarky quips about song requests, most of the members were quiet, straight-faced, and stiff, but poor engagement was able to be overlooked when the band played so stunningly (for an audience full of die-hards singing along with every word).

That is, until things completely came apart. You see, just like any typical standing room show, no matter how excited the stage-front fans might be, there's always the contingent hovering at the back near the bar, chatting about God knows what for God knows why. Of course, with the first half of the set reaching dangerously high volumes, nobody really noticed. However, eight songs in, the majority of the band stepped off-stage to leave lead Richard Edwards largely to himself (joined only by keys) for what could have been a touching acoustic performance of "A Journalist Falls In Love With Death Row Inmate 16". As the din of the crowd became noticeable, Edwards stopped mid-song and, without a word, left the stage to gather the band. Upon returning, he stated without explanation, "We're gonna do a couple more and wrap it up early," (accompanied by a barely audible "Fuck 'em" coming from another member), and mumbled snidely about cell phone conversations when scores of fans begged him to change his mind. And, though the band performed a surprising six more songs as flawlessly as the earlier tunes, it was through gritted teeth and dead faces (reaching an awkward pinnacle when a very stubborn crowd forced a very reluctant encore that came with visible anger and not a word spoken).

This may all read as a "He said, she said" story, but there are some stories that just need to be told. In an effort keep the tale short, there's a certain vibe felt by many that might be lost in its telling - a feeling of massive disappointment in an otherwise powerful performance, with the cost paid by curt comments and unprofessional behaviour. There's no denying that this is a frustrating situation for any performer that faces it (and all performers face it at some point, even the grand Jeff Tweedy, who's famously captured here on video handling the problem with candor). But, when artists do so little to command respect, it's difficult to see them in a good light, no matter how softly those Christmas lights are shining from their mic stands. And, when your level of success is riding on fan-bases barely filling small spaces like The Garrison, you should maybe consider being grateful for those thirty kids at the front, singing along with every word.

This was a poor outcome from a band that had started out offering one of the best shows of the spring.

 

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