Monday, July 28, 2014

Merge 25 Day 4: Vertical Scratchers and The Love Language

All photos by Kevin Norris
With a giant stage positioned on the west end of the Cat’s Cradle parking lot and enough volume to be heard anywhere in Carrboro, the outdoor portion of Merge’s 25th anniversary festival, hosted by comedian Margaret Cho, definitely had the feel of a big time music fest.

Vertical Scratchers were the first band to take the stage around 1 p.m. while the crowd continued to trickle in. With the temperature climbing into the 90s and decibels punishing in close proximity, most of the early crowd gathered in shaded areas toward the back of the parking lot.

Merge 25 Night 3: Wye Oak, Destroyer

All photos by Kevin Norris
The penultimate act of night three of Merge 25 was Wye Oak, the formidable duo that just five years ago at XX Merge were relative newcomers to the Merge family and who had just released their sophomore album The Knot. The band returned to celebrate their second Merge anniversary showing off their incredible growth as songwriters and musicians.

Jenn Wasner skipped onto the stage giddily and then they launched into "Before" from their latest album and hit the crowd with one fantastic song after another. While the new music sounds incredible live, there is still the undeniable ferociousness of the song "Holy Holy" that landed in the middle of the set and followed by "Glory."

Merge 25 Night 3: David Kilgour and The Heavy Eights, The Mountain Goats

All photos by Kevin Norris
Friday night continued on with one of the heaviest bands currently on the Merge roster or, at least, that’s what they sounded like during their performance.

David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights brought a wall of sound and an aggression to their performance that was surprising and energetic. It continued the trend at Merge 25 of bands that may sound lighter on their records, but were really bringing it for the festival.

Merge 25 Night 3: Hospitality, Imperial Teen

All photos by Kevin Norris
Friday night at Merge 25 was a showcase of some of the reasons the label has been successful: variety, quality, and bands that don’t fit into a cookie cutter mold.

Hospitality kicked off the night at the Cat’s Cradle. The Brooklyn band often sounds delicate and coy on their records and was anything but on stage in Carrboro. Live, the songs had a lot of power to them, but didn’t lose any of the catchiness that has made the band a critical darling.

Merge 25 live on the Dinner Party Download

Friday’s Merge 25 activities kicked off with something unique: the world’s sweatiest live podcast taping.

Dinner Party Download hosts Rico Gagliano and Brendan Newnam arrived on-stage to an unexpectedly large crowd at the Nightlight in Chapel Hill. Originally, the plan was to have a seated audience, but upon seeing the long line of fans stretching down the alley, the chairs were removed and the taping took on the feeling of an indie rock show. The air was thick and the heat constantly built up, but the show’s humor was not stifled.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Merge 25 Night 2: Reigning Sound, Superchunk

All photos by Kevin Norris
The Reigning Sound were the penultimate band to hit the Cradle stage on night two of Merge 25 and even though they had a set plagued with technical issues, mostly revolving around Greg Cartwright's guitar, they still rock and rolled.

The band opened with "North Cackalacky Girl" from their new album Shattered. They also played "Never Coming Home" and "Falling Rain" the album. They also played an awesome version of "Stop and Think It Over" from Cartwright's old band Compulsive Gamblers. The band sounded great even if Cartwright did say at one point during the set, "Seriously, we're a pretty good band. Check us out next time."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Merge 25 Night 2: The Clientele, The Rock*A*Teens

All photos by Kevin Norris
As night two of Merge 25 pressed on the recently revived London band The Clientele took the stage as a trio to share their dreamy, reverb-soaked, melancholy pop with the packed Cat's Cradle crowd.

The band stuck to their first three albums for their Merge 25 set, kicking things off with "We Could Walk Together" and the always excellent "Since K Got Over Me." Though the band's music is quite mellow, some of the band's fans are pretty intense. One person in the crowd yelled out between songs, "Make more records." The band sounded as solid as ever as they rolled through their set with seeming ease as if their four-year hiatus had never been.