As they have throughout the past year, Margot stuck to their guns on Friday night at the Murat, opening with the three songs from their latest, Animal! — “There’s Talk of Mines,” “At The Carnival” and “My Baby Shoots Her Mouth Off” — which were as yet unfamiliar to a crowd clutching LPs of the vinyl-only album, and shrugging off requests to play fan favourites from their first album, Dust of Retreat. But they relented eventually (or more likely, stuck to the set list), giving the audience both a mix of their new, more complex, often darker material, as well as refreshed versions of what have now become their classics, including a probing “Skeleton Key” that was much more dynamic than the album version and a sing-along on “Broadripple is Burning.”
With two strings (the cellist and violinist from opening band Judgement Day) along to bring the on-stage count to 10 musicians for the nearly two hour show, Margot flawlessly executed what seems the most difficult arrangement on Animal (“There’s Talk of Mineshafts”) and generally created a sound at least as full and textured as that on their latest record.
Excellent versions of “German Motor Car” and “Quiet as a Mouse” closed the night, the latter performed with a growing, plodding, brooding intensity that made it the best song of the night.
Ever the fascinating frontman, Richard Edwards both told off the more vocal people in crowd— saying that if they request a song so insistently, the band will be less likely to play — and closed out the night with a plea to vote to make Indianapolis a blue city.
The band entered the stage wearing animal masks — a cat, koala, elephant and wolf among them — in front of a forest backdrop taken from the album art to their latest album.
With a central dancefloor and faux stars on the ceiling, the Arabian Room looked like a perfect place for prom, and indeed, Emily Watkins admitted that several years earlier, it was where she accompanied Richards as his prom date.
David Vandervelde and company remind me of their Secretly Canadian labelmates Catfish Haven: both are tight garage rock three-pieces that add occasional country rock flourishes, and have a generally unerring skill in writing a catchy chorus. Both bands my be just skewed enough to find their way to an “indie” label, but they are, at heart, solid rock bands in a ‘70s AM radio style. Vandervelde has more range than Haven’s George Hunter, though, with a sweet, mellow voice that belies his appearance, long-haired and wearing a big, funky hat that blocked his eyes from the audience. The band took the time to solo on the 10-plus minute “Lyin’ In Bed,” sounding a bit like the Allman Brothers, and then turn around the for the compact and infectious rocker “Fuckin’ Around,” which conjured early Neil Young.
I wanted to be impressed by Judgement Day, because after all, how often do you see a violin-cello-drums trio at a rock show? But while the strings in the band brought energy and nuance to Margot’s show, their solo work sounded a bit too much like a mini Trans-Siberian Orchestra, insisting on big, continuously-building major chords that never end up going everywhere. I liked watching a somewhat boring duet between the two brothers on violin and cello in that kind of way that some people enjoy watching the Osmonds — there’s just something kind of cute about a family band — but that charm wore off by the next iteration of the same song.