NUCLEAR SO & SO’S AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER (LOS ANGELES, CA)
Rushing to the show after work, I’m finding myself in a very secluded part of town that must only exist to be a home for this venue. The streets are dark and empty except for an open door, with a few people standing outside. When I approach the little door of the theater, I’m greeted by the warmth and light of about a couple hundred people. The Bootleg is a pretty tiny venue, with one smaller stage in the front, and one larger stage in the theater. I grab a drink and follow the music into the the back.
I walk in while Dinosaur Feathers is on stage. The crowd, while clearly unfamiliar with this up and coming Brooklyn quartet, are paying attention. This is my first time both hearing about and seeing Dinosaur Feathers, and I am pleasantly surprised. They have perfected the art of making beachy, chill pop intriguingly funky and energetic. Along with the music, the vocalist and guitarist, Greg Sullo, switches back and forth from smooth melodies to a more aggressive sound. They have been compared to a cross between The Beach Boys and Vampire Weekend, and I can immediately see why. After a while, as they bounced around on the stage, the crowd slowly started to bounce along with them. By the end of the set, the crowd was dancing.
Later on, I meet with them and ask about how their tour has been so far. It’s not until I later go home and listen to their new album Whistle Tips that I am able to really appreciate what they said to me. There’s a slight tinge of homesickness apparent in both the band and the album. They’ve been on the move for years, and aren’t expecting it to end anytime soon. Although while it’s been exhausting, they haven’t lost their spunk or optimism. Greg says that while he doesn’t have his own place back home anymore, he has got people all around that are there for him and that’s all that matters. He mentions seeing his girlfriend in Oakland when they played in San Francisco only a couple days prior, and staying with his parents when visiting Brooklyn. They’ve definitely got a good group of fans. After having almost all of their equipment stolen out of their van in January, they released a digital benefit mix tape, created a kickstarter, and played a benefit show. They raised all the money they needed and were able to release their album and go on tour.
As an Indianapolis native, it was a sort of surreal experience to see Margot And The Nuclear So & So’s for the first time since I moved to Los Angeles. It was a good reunion of friends who were traveling with them, and nice to see some old, familiar faces. While their tour is supporting their recent album release of Rot Gut, Domestic, they’ve also got all previous albums for sale at their merch booth. This even includes Archer Avenue (Richard Edwards band prior to Margot).
By the time Margot takes the stage, the room is absolutely packed. Much like their merch table, their set included a little bit of everything. They played newer songs like “Disease Tobacco Free”, “Shannon”, and “Claws Off”, as well as “A Children’s Crusade On Acid”, “Skeleton Key”, and “Quiet As A Mouse” from their first albums. What was interesting to see was everyone’s reaction to “Broadripple Is Burning”. It’s an old song filled with hometown references; an anthem for the twenty-somethings in Indianapolis, IN. However, it was still the crowd favorite, all the way out here. The second it started, the cameras went up to record. They went back to The Dust Of Retreat again for their encore and played “Talking In Code”. They sound better than ever. Despite the small venue, Richard’s haunting vocals and Erik’s violin rang out perfectly.
Margot And The Nuclear So & So’s is definitely a band that deserves to play on a larger stage and honestly, I’m surprised that they aren’t yet. Despite some rough changes over the years, they have managed to successfully evolve. Each of their five full-length albums is unique and just as good as the last. They continue to test the line between familiar and beautifully strange, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.