Merchandise, Meat Market Garment Factory, 3/19/13
|Merchandise at Meat Market Garment Factory.|
Merchandise sounded great. They sounded bigger than they have before -- much bigger due in part to the addition of a new live drummer, Elsner Nino, formerly of Shoxx. Their songs hit a little harder, with guitars swirling viciously while the bass line rippled through Ronnie Carson's hushed yet demanding vocals. His voice was unrestrained, throwing in ad-libs and stretching some songs longer than their typical length. With a night filled with rushed, quick sets, theirs felt the most fulfilled. They jam-packed five songs into 30 minutes with three tracks from their upcoming record Total Nite, two of which were new, finding their way into the set, in addition to seasoned favorites "Time" and "In Nightmare Room" off last year's Children of Desire.
It was hard not to be mesmerized by Guitarist Dave Vassalotti's expressive guitar playing, with frequent jerks and animated movements that felt like he was forcibly pushing out the sound. Their merch guy and longtime band friend, Chris Horn, made a brief but welcomed cameo on "Total Nite", a song that stretch the complexities of a band that seems to be lunging for more intricate melodies with each new release
They ended their set with the foreboding, cinematic slow burner, "Winter's Dream", a track from their upcoming LP. Its fragile melody continues to find the band exploring the concept of self-identity, which is slowly becoming a major theme in their music.
An unforgettable set that felt like it ended too soon (blame it on the delayed set times) Merchandise did exactly what you'd expect them to do, they played a skilled set with songs that highlighted their abilities and brilliant song structures. The party was a great final stamp to what hopefully becomes a Phoenix tradition. When it comes to celebrations of great music, sometimes being a stop on the map to SXSW has its perks.