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Over the Weekend: Margot and the Nuclear So & So's, Telekinesis, and Everything, Now! at Hailey's

Margot and the Nuclear So & So's, Telekinesis, and Everything, Now!
Hailey's Club, Denton
May 22, 2009

Better than: Sitting at home trying to come up with a more ridiculous band name than Margot and the Nuclear So and So's.

There's a popular old saying, "Less is more."

On Friday night at Hailey's, Margot and the Nuclear So & So's forcibly flipped that saying on its head and proved that more is less.

With eight people onstage, two of whom are simultaneously playing the tambourine as a third hits a trash can, it might be time for the band to tap the brakes and rethink some of its song arrangements.

It's not hard to see what Margot is going for: Arcade Fire has nine people in the band; The Polyphonic Spree weighs in at around 25. Heck, The Flaming Lips sometimes have more than 50 people onstage.

But, unfortunately for Margot, the band's self-described "chamber pop" was lost in a flurry of too much going on. Seriously, at one point the percussionist was tearing shreds of duct tape into the microphone.

But all was not lost. Buried deep beneath the layers of trumpets, violins, and odd-ball percussion sat some terrific, well-written songs. The band's most recent record double-release Animal and Not Animal showcases these songs quite nicely, too. But the performance came off as extremely bombastic.

The first song of the concert, "A Children's Crusade On Acid," was melancholy and sweet, while lead singer Richard Edwards' vocals came across thin and raspy. "German Motorcar" stayed the course, but was refreshingly simple and subtle. In fact, most of Margot's good musical moments took place when half of the band was standing around waiting for their parts to begin. However, the overly melancholy set drudged on as the songs began to run together. Other songs like "Holy Cow" sounded a bit more organic and gypsy inspired, almost like a tip of the hat to yet another large band Beirut.

About an hour into the performance--and not a moment too soon--things started to pick up with the four-on-the-floor drum beat of "Quiet as a Mouse," from the band's first record The Dust of Retreat. When the band began to play this older material, there was a noticeable change in the audience, which shouted and waved fists high in the air.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's ended the set with a surprisingly subtle and beautiful rendition of "As Tall As Cliffs," featuring the members of both opening bands playing various percussion instruments. In the midst of its frailty, it looked like a George Clinton concert--except everyone was a nerdy white kid.

But the real surprise of the night was the freewheelin' psychedelic band Everything, Now!, which sounded like an even more jangly version of Dr. Dog. "Oh Yeah" was a soulful jam that oozed verve and excitement as the band members jumped around on the stage like a bunch of bearded grasshoppers. They even threw in a cover of Buck Owens' "Act Naturally."

Telekinesis' energetic performance of its brand of smart indie pop, meanwhile, was arguably the tightest set of the night. Lead singer Michael Lerner did an impressive job singing from the drumset.

Makes sense. Because, after all, less is more.

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Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:

Hailey's is an electric venue. You'd be hard-pressed to see a bad show here. I think that, when bands play here, they are at their best, which makes me wonder what I'd think of Margot at Club Dada...

By The Way: When asking for a place to stay for the night, the lead singer of Everything, Now! gave the disclaimer "We do drugs."

Random Note: If you got to the show late and were wondering what a bunch of guys were doing walking around barefoot, don't fret, it was just Everything, Now!

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