Live Review: Merchandise / Eagulls, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham (20/08/13)


One of the most exciting bands of the moment, Merchandise, arrived in Birmingham as part of their first full UK tour.

‘Where do you think we’re from?’ asks Carson Cox, lead singer of Florida’s Merchandise, as the band tune between songs. This Birmingham suburb, King’s Heath, must be somewhat different to the band’s native Florida, but they look happy enough to be here and perform an impressive set to a surprisingly small Birminghan crowd.

Before Merchandise take to the stage, Leeds’ finest punks, Eagulls, storm through an exhilarating half hour of dark, aggressive punk. Set opener, ‘Moulting’ is particularly impressive, as is new single, ‘Nerve Endings’. With an album aimed for release in early 2014, Eagulls certainly deserve more coverage than they currently receive. They play loud, sing about meaningful subjects and are nice blokes to boot. What more could you want?

Running only slightly late, Merchandise took to the stage. The now quartet, having ditched the drum machine and found a drummer, played a set that sampled mainly from last year’s Children Of Desire EP (mini album) and this year’s Totale Night EP. They’re an impressive bunch, a well-oiled machine if you like, and it’s certainly great to hear these songs live.

However, there just seems to be something missing tonight. The reaction of the crowd is a little subdued, and the venue is perhaps only half full, but there’s something else too. In their current guise, having left their hardcore punk roots behind, Merchandise’s work relies heavily on excellent production, which both EPs to date have received. When transferring this to a live environment, what makes the EPs so special is lost a little. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a sensational gig, just not quite the flawless exhibition I had maybe expected. I wonder if the sound could be improved…?

Merchandise are certainly very 80s-inspired. Think the gloom of The Smiths, the driving drums of The Jesus and Mary Chain and the sparse landscapes of Joy Division. They’re a great band, with a great set of influences. They deserve a bigger crowd and need to find a better way of translating their recorded work to a live setting.

Impact will catch Eagulls and Merchandise again on Monday 26th August at Bedford’s Esquires.

Alex Neely

…Alex is listening to The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy


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