Born out of the Tampa, Florida hardcore scene Merchandise has come a long way, and now three records down the line make their first visit to Glasgow with their music still as far removed from that scene now as it was at their emergence in 2008, these guys display a sound that is difficult to pin down further backed by how genre wary they seem to be in interview.
Opening proceedings though are local pop punk trio Baby Strange, who I only manage to catch for the last coupe of songs.
However, these boys are building a name for themselves with their energetic and exuberant live performances, a couple of brilliant singles in ‘Friend’ and ‘Pure Evil’ in the bag along, an impressive list of support slots, a showing at T in the Park and the NME seemingly along for the ride; everything looks rosy.
From what I see tonight is no different, Baby Strange has a charismatic frontman and the right amount of snarl, hooks and youth to go a very long way.
Following them are Leeds’ angsty punk rockers Eagulls, who share the energy and hooks of Baby Strange but lean more towards the surf rock of other local boys PAWS, who there guys have shared stages with down south a few times, albeit a touch more shouty.
With a frontman who maintains a constant swagger and image befitting of a slimline 80s action villain Eagulls engage the healthy but by no means packed Broadcast confidently and leave with a sneer that will have those in attendance happily coming back for more.
Before the gig I had to describe what Merchandise are like, I felt slightly lost for words and found myself describing them as “post-punky shoegaze”, genres which have become the standards, along side noise pop, for attempts to describe them – following the gig I received a tweet stating “that was not shoegaze”, and I agree, but equally it doesn’t fit with noise pop, and post punk is such a vast and encompassing term these days it’s barely worth using.
Live they’re a flamboyant and engaging act as vocalist Carson Cox appears lip sticked up and ready to put on a show, Cox’s crooning vocals have been compared stylistically to iconic frontmen like Morrissey and Edwyn Collins and live he does seem to channel Moz’s flippant persona, but don’t let that lead you on they sound nothing alike.
Musically there are clear influences coming from punk and krautrock and a hint of jazz, which the band feel is where the shoegaze tag has come from, but none of these pin Merchandise down, they’re an ambitious trio whose music drips with emotion coated in sweet reverb.
Tracks like ‘Time’ and ‘Anxiety’s Door’ displays a knack for lyrical content with themes of loss, desire and love seemingly ever present.
Tonight they’re addictive and glistening; epic 10-minute burners play alongside more tightened up material but nothing feels lacklustre, Merchandise sure know how to build a song.
While it may be difficult to label this talented trio it is clear they have plenty to offer, Glasgow, and in particular the couple of rowdy guys down the front who while clearly enjoy the show do detriment everyone else’s enjoyment, will welcome them back eagerly; five year was a bit of a wait but it was worth it.
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Kate Sam