Live Review: Merchandise, The Haunt, Brighton (06/09/13)


Impact caught Florida’s Merchandise for the final time on this UK tour, and we’d say it’s their best yet.

Since rock n roll began over half a century ago, history has seen bands interpret the blues in as many ways as imaginable; from the neat two minute pop of Beatlemania, through to punk’s heavy riffs and all the way through to the expansive, distorted vision of shoegaze bands. Merchandise are by no means unique, but their interpretation of the blues is unlike anything else around at the moment.

In contrast to the Birmingham and Bedford gigs where there were problems (sound troubles and a poor crowd respectively), tonight was faultless. Carson’s vocals, although rarely audible, hold Merchandise’s mystery within them. With a history as a hardcore punk band, the guitars are loud, yet packed tightly with sweet Mary Chain-esque riffs, while the rhythm section pounds away, holding things together in the mesmerising manner of Joy Division.

With such a pristine performance, it’s only natural that the crowd reacts. And boy do they react. Following dancing from the word ‘go’, the set ends in a chaotic stage invasion during the band’s signature song, ‘Become What You Are’, which is given a rare outing. ‘Time’ holds the best riff of the night and even the older, more obscure songs receive a warm reception.

This really was a case of saving the best till last. Over the course of the past few weeks, it has been a pleasure to watch Merchandise grow into the live band that we all know they can be, from the reluctant performance in Birmingham and the awkward Bedford show to the exceeding confidence, almost arrogance, shown in Brighton. When they return to the UK, which we hope is sooner rather than later, we will be first in line for one of the best bands on the circuit. Where they take their sound next is one of the most intriguing questions in rock right now.

Alex Neely

…Alex is listening to Bloody Knees – ‘Dead’…


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