Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Disapointed in Margot

Sorry about the 3 Margot posts in a row...

Sunday night at the Mohawk Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos played their second Austin show of 2008. As is to be expected from a band that just released a new album (2 new albums actually) the set was filled mostly with new songs (I didn't write down the set list but off the top of my head I can think of 4 old songs that they played: Skeleton Key, On a Freezing Chicago Street, Vampires in Blue Dresses, and Quiet as a Mouse). Overall, the band played well and sounded fine. They actually had 2 additional strings players (from the fantastic opening band Judgement Day) on stage for the show bringing the total number of musicians to 10. The sight of all of those people crammed onto the stage combined with their chic homemade lighting made for quite a spectacle. But somehow the band, specifically singer Richard Edwards, was able to ruin the show for me despite my unhealthy excitement and love for Margot's music.

Let me start with May 30 at Emo's. Margot played to a room full of people, many of which were admittedly a little rude to the band…involved in conversations that drowned out the quieter parts of the songs. After about 35 minutes Richard Edwards announced that the next song would be their last, adding a snide comment about how people were more concerned about what "Suzy was doing later" than listening to music. Fortunately, the band decided to come back out to play another 8 songs or so, but Edwards' attitude made the rest of the show difficult to enjoy for those of us who were there to listen to music.

Fast forward to Tuesday, October 7, release date for Margot's new albums Animal! and Not Animal. Of course, we've already discussed the conflict between the band and their label that ultimately resulted in there being 2 albums released. But I couldn't help but be a little put off by the fact that the band aired their dirty laundry in public. To me it seemed like a typical major label situation that certainly didn't warrant the bands public rebellion against the company that paid to make the record that Margot couldn't afford to finish on their own. Did they not realize that by signing with a major label they'd be relinquishing a great deal of control over their releases? I'm not supportive of the way major record labels do business but it is pretty obvious in 2008 that they are not interested in the artistic value of what they release. Ultimately though, the real loser in this situation is the fan who happens to enjoy Not Animal, the "label compiled collection of songs." We're now made to feel guilty about enjoying Broadripple is Burning and The Ocean because we know that the band disapproves of those songs being on the album.

So now let's get back to Sunday night at the Mohawk. It was obvious from the beginning that the band has been getting a little heat about playing so many new songs. Richard Edwards came into the show with a chip on his shoulder about it. He mentioned after 5 or 6 songs that they'd be playing a lot of new songs tonight because "that's what a band does when they release a new record." At that point someone shouted that they should just "break the rules" by playing old songs. Edwards' response: "fuck you." I couldn't tell if that "fuck you" came with a smile or not, I'm hoping it did. They labored through a few more songs, obviously reluctant to pepper in the few older songs that they actually did play and then decided to let everyone know that this was the last Margot tour ever. I have no idea whether that's true, but my gut tells me it was just Richard Edwards being a prima donna once again and trying for a cheap joke that simultaneously reminds people that he is in control and that he's not happy playing for those fans that came out to support him. After Margot took their encore break they came back to play the most uninspired version of Quiet as a Mouse I've ever heard. I remember seeing them play this song in 2006 and getting goosebumps when Edwards strained to scream "when I woke my back was broke from lying on the floor, sunlight poured through all the cracks in my front door" while pounding the muted guitar strings while I waited in nervous anticipation for the band to kick in at full volume. But on Sunday it was obvious he couldn't wait to just get through the song, barely mumbling the words over a guitar tone that should be embarrassing for a professional musician. If this is the treatment they're going to give to the older songs, I'm glad they don't play them anymore. But once again the attitude ruined another Margot show for me. And once again I'm made to feel guilty, this time for liking the old songs...apparently it's not okay with Richard Edwards that I'm a fan of Dust of Retreat.

The days of rock stars are over. And if there was to be a rock star in 2008 it surely wouldn't be Richard Edwards of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's. Today, bands are lucky when they're able to reach enough people in this fragmented market to be able to make albums and tour for a living. For most bands that I see live these days, a certain degree of humility and appreciation is expressed for the position that they are in. But not Margot. I'm not saying they shouldn't be frustrated that people only want to hear old songs or that they have problems with their label or that they don't have any money. But when that frustration is so obvious that it alienates fans, that's a problem.

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's are one of my favorite bands. I love every one of their 3 albums. But at this point, I hope this is their last tour because I'm sick of Richard Edwards doing everything in his power to convince me that I shouldn't like his band. If the stress and frustration of being in this band are too much to handle, for the love of God, please just quit if that's what you want to do. No one has a gun to your head (well maybe Epic does now...I think it's a 2 album contract). But I guess no one is forcing me to go to the shows either...so it looks like I should probably excuse myself from attending Margot shows from this point forward.

One more thing...Andy Fry, Casey Tennis, and most of the rest of the band look like they're having a great time on stage. I wonder if they stand by Richard Edwards and support the way that he behaves?


Lizzie said...

Man, that sucks. I can't believe how prima donna some people become.

Anonymous said...

love the music. Always will. Not planning on attending any more shows. I'm not paying money to have that little fucker talk shit all night for a third time.

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