BY PELLE GUNTHER After about an hour of driving around a rainy Philadelphia in a desperate effort to find affordable parking, I finally found a spot and ran several blocks through the pouring rain to the First Unitarian Church. Walking into the basement of the chapel I fully expected to be greeted by Margot’s traditional chamber pop line-up. Instead, a whole new Margot awaited inside. After starting their career as an orchestral chamber pop group with The Dust of Retreat, then wandering through some folksy melodies on Animal and Not Animal, the band who showed up last night were completely reinvented once again. For his new album Buzzard, front man Richard Edwards completely deconstructed the former Margot, turning the melancholic folksy chamber pop group of eight, into a rock band of six with only three of the original members. While not necessarily better or worse than the old band, this new group’s songs were heavier, more electric, and quite far from the sounds of their earlier albums, yet still steeped in the melancholy that makes Margot who they are.
The openers were both quite talented, the first, Cameron McGill and What Army despite only playing 5 songs gave us our moneys worth for the night, wandering their way through beautiful psychedelic folk music. The other group was much less impressive, known as The Lonely Forest. The sound technician must have been on break during their set as the music was unbelievably deafening and terribly mixed. All was right however when Margot took the stage. With their brave new rock persona Margot started the night with several tracks from their new album. Although a few caught my eye such as Birds and Tiny Vampire Robot, I found most of the new songs to be lacking in the soft melodious tunes that I had fallen in love with in the first place. We were waiting, waiting for Margot to break out their old standbys, and when they came, the whole venue erupted in drunken voices, sloshing the lyrics along to Edwards’ honeyed tones.
The band played beautifully, Broadripple is Burning being so heart-wrenchingly sad I would have cried if I’d slept just an hour less the night before. Skeleton Key and A Children’s Crusade on Acid definitely have it for the best songs of the night, and despite their bands drastic changes, they pulled both off as though they were at full strength. After they left the stage, the crowds chants made it clear that an encore was in the works. But the band didn’t come out right away. Instead the lap steel player taunted the crowd, slowly extending a hand from behind the wall to massive cheers from the audience, only to take it quickly away. He continued to play this silly game of peek-a-boo for a good while before the rest of the band were ready to return. They ended the night with a track from the first album called Bookworm, which left everyone in a good mood, ready to go face an inevitable drenching in the dark Philly outdoors.