Anna Marketti ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Kate Myers, guitarist and keyboardist from Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s, was the first to take the stage at the Middle East last week as she played some soft melodies as a solo act. Her sweet voice was sadly overshadowed by the much too talkative crowd getting restless only ten minutes into her set. She sang acoustic ballads with folk overtones, alternating between her acoustic guitar and her keyboard.
The basement club quieted down a bit as she softly began strumming the opening chords to “Untitled,”calling out in a thin whisper, “Hush your mouth.”The song builds to some powerful belting to juxtapose her thin singing, creating an exciting climax for the song. She shyly crept offstage as the next band began setting up.
Bringing a completely different flavor, Chicago natives Empires took the stage. The redheaded guitarist Max Steger twisted his face as his bushy curls flew all around his head, bopping up and down as he launched into their first song. Singer Sean Van Vleet propped his leg up on an amp, leaning into each note and dancing wildly around the stage. This energy got the crowd going, but it verged on a little too much at times, making the band come across as a little self-indulgent and cheesy. Sounding like a cross between U2 and The Killers, with Bono’s attitude and Brandon Flowers catchy, pop powerhouse lyrics, Empires are by far the most energetic group to ever grace the Middle East.
Finally, Richard Edwards slinked out on stage, placing a black milk crate near the microphone, slinging his guitar over his head, nodding as the other members took to the stage. Bursting into their first tune off their newest album, “Hello, San Francisco,” he defined what chill is. Looking completely serene and one with his music, Edwards crooned about California with his eyes closed, as the rest of the band channeled the good vibes. For the first half of the set, they mainly played tunes off the new record, despite fans constantly calling out the names of earlier, more obscure songs.
They played some familiar, popular songs, like “On A Freezing Chicago Street”and “Skeleton Key.” Suddenly, most of the band retreated from the stage, leaving Myers and Edwards alone in dim lighting. The crowd launched into a frenzy when the opening notes for “Jen Is Bringin’The Drugs”were heard. The band has not played that one live in nearly four years, so fans were more than eager to hear it. Turning away from the microphone and smiling, Edwards admitted he’d forgotten some of the words. The crowd cheered him on anyways, and he continued, more strongly than before. A sense of unity washed over the crowd, as often happens when a rare old favorite is played by a band. They chanted along, filling in the words Edward couldn’t. The emotion in his voice was almost overwhelming, further drawing the crowd even closer.
The crowd was still flinging a barrage of suggestions. “Quiet As A Mouse!”some shouted. Edwards laughed saying, “Maybe in the future we’ll play some of the more obscure ones for you. But for now, I’m gonna play you one of the songs I’m used to being shouted at me.”He began confidently strumming his guitar, turning the show into the biggest sing-along the Middle East has ever seen. In unison, every single person in the room began shouting (singing would be too kind), “Children, Broadripple is burning…” following along with the rest of the band’s most popular song. The low-fi, low energy song ironically stirred up the most energy in the crowd. Still, it was surprising that the crowd was more willing to hear their more obscure tunes rather than their most popular. That’s dedication.
Edwards and Myer created velvety smooth harmonies, overlaying paced drums. The band stuck mostly to their softer songs, though brought out some of the more aggressive ones to get the crowd dancing. But Edwards kept his almost surreal calm throughout the entire show. They returned for two encore songs, one being the lullaby of sorts, “Go To Sleep You Little Creep,” an adage to Edwards’new parenthood. This was no doubt the most energetic yet composed crowd I’ve ever been in, which is a perfect homage to Margot’s signature sound.
Before the band made their way on stage, Emertainment Monthly had the pleasure of sitting down with the bassist of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s Tyler Watkins. He talked about the new album, the band name, and sock puppets.
Emertainment Monthly: So, I’ve been wondering for years. Why “Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s? There is not Margot in the band.
Tyler Watkins: It’s kind of an anti-name. You know, like Mott the Hoople? There’s no Mott. Richard wanted something that wasn’t really anything. He didn’t wanna be “Richard and the Whatevers.” It just kind of happened. People will always come up to us after shows and be like, “It’s so sad Margot couldn’t play with you guys tonight!”And we just kind of nod and go, “Yeah…we’re so heartbroken.”You just have to play along with it.
In your entire history of performing, what’s your favorite moment?
I remember this one show, where were we? Connecticut? It was at a college. It was a college show. We got there and they didn’t have any mics set up for us, so we had to entertain the crowd still somehow. And we had all these socks, because the girl I’d started dating had given me a tour gift of a bunch of socks, and we had no idea what to do with all of them so we made puppets and put on a puppet show! We made a little makeshift stage and everything.
Do you still have the puppets?
They’re somewhere. I’d have to look for them. But I know we kept them somewhere.
It’s been a few years since you guys last released an album. What happened in the time between then?
Well, while one record is being made, we’re writing so many songs. Basically, by the time we’re done touring for one album, we’re ready to start working on another. So this has been in the works for a while.