Live Review

Merchandise, Islington Assembly Hall, London

10th June 2014

It feels like something special occurred in Islington tonight.

From the moment Merchandise step on stage, Carson Cox is like a hyperactive child, slinging his acoustic guitar on and announcing that he “loves London”. This is a rare UK appearance from the somewhat elusive band. Originally emerging from a hardcore/punk scene in their native Tampa, FL, they’ve previously been compared to bands such as The Smiths and New Order, and in Cox’s melancholy, baritone vocals there is a hint of Morrissey, but they are a much more complex outfit, especially live.

Whether the frontman’s enthusiasm and erratic between-song chatter is aided by intoxication at tonight’s gig it doesn’t affect Cox’s ability to deliver his textured croon faultlessly during every song. His presence as a frontman is engaging and addictive, not least during his impassioned tambourine bashing. At one point he even tries to use the mic lead to lasso the front row. The sarcastic quips make way for genuine appreciation midway through “I’m gonna say something sincere now, thanks for coming out, it means a lot to us rednecks”.

Merchandise, Islington Assembly Hall, London

Lead guitarist Dave Vasalotti shows he’s a hero in the making, his solo outputs tonight offer swirling licks and repetitive sounds, shining on their longer tracks such as 'Anxiety’s Door' and 'Totale Nite'; dropping to the ground to thrash out riffs as if his life depends on it. Merchandise have the ability to switch between the extended ten minute long shoegazey numbers to the shorter bursts such as 'Little Killer' where their post-punk roots still bubble at the surface.

Second encores are usually reserved for a sold out arena show in front of thousands not the remaining few of an under-capacity crowd but that doesn’t stop Merchandise. Coming back on after the haunting 'No You And Me', Cox gets everyone to wish his Mother happy birthday via video message before launching into one final song. The excitement’s all too much for one young fan who lands up on the stage trying to hug the frontman, Cox politely encourages him back into the crowd before announcing “It looks more fun, I’m gonna join you down there”. As the crowd hold him aloft it feels like something special occurred in Islington tonight. Being almost impossible to define only makes Merchandise an even more intriguing band.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY