“This is a band that emits a hypnotic aura, their laidback demeanour astounds you as they craft with such ease a blend of romanticist melodies with punk-pop beats. “
I was having one of those days… having got on the wrong bus and ended up in the middle of Toxteh, with the harsh bleakness that winter had indeed descended upon us, the light at the end of the tunnel emanated in the form of an industrial venue of established legacy. I was about to break my ‘Kaz’ virginity. The theatre-cum-experimental club space-cum-film site lived up to all expectations, its monochrome décor the perfect setting for an intimate gig. Tonight saw the official return of Merchandise to Liverpool, a band hailing from Tampa, Florida, that refuse to assign themselves to any genre defining labels, their music in a constant state of reinvention and reformulation. With support from Shopping, a trio that ooze post-punk from every pore, I was set for an evening of musical ingenuity.
Despite the impressive line-up, the crowd turn-out was relatively poor and left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth as to how can we get bigger crowds for talented bands. Nevertheless, the lack in numbers did not phase Shopping, a London based trio who emulate the best of post-punk from the late 70’s. They played a very tight set, guitar and bass riffs syncopated throughout, the strict drum beat adding to the choral of intricate rhythmic dimensions. With a mixture of croons and screeches, adding depth to an already industrial sound, much akin to that of The Slits, one couldn’t help but move, pushing onto the floor like that of a robotic jig. With their record ‘Consumer Complaints’ out now, you can indulge in a factory landscape, all from the comfort of your own home.
Merchandise swiftly followed, a band that have gained a somewhat cult following amongst the DIY and underground scene of the East Coast, releasing countless tracks on various independent labels and their recent signing to record label 4AD is yet another curve ball in the band’s progression. Not ones to mess about, Merchandise showcased their new record ‘After The End’ with precision and professionalism to an extraordinary degree. This is a band that emits a hypnotic aura, their laidback demeanour astounds you as they craft with such ease a blend of romanticist melodies with punk-pop beats. Frontman Carlson Cox cast an imposing figure, complete with white hoody, and yet you strongly got the impression that he, and the group as a whole are just really nice guys.
Abundant in charisma, Cox regaled the audience with comments like ‘this is not unlike the Globe Theatre, this one’s for Shakespeare, because why not?!’ and ‘you can dance at your own risk, but dancing leads to sex, just like jazz.’ Tracks such as ‘Enemy’ and ‘Green Lady’ highlight Merchandise’s Machiavellian spirit and skill at pushing the boundaries with trippy riffs, amalgamated with guitar reverb and Cox’s mesmerising lovesick warble. The grand finale of ‘Anxiety’s Door’, from their previous EP ‘Total Nite’ completed a truly impressive set, the long instrumentals playing a constant tease game with the audience until, to everyone’s disappointment, the show had come to an end.
In sum, the words of Cox following an encore I hope can resonate with us: ‘your all animals, you’re worse than Americans.’ Perhaps we are, but as plans to bulldoze the Kaz are underway, I implore residents of Liverpool to defend our musical territory and show your support for a beloved venue and gem of Liverpool, go to gigs or risk missing out on a rich musical experience.