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.

The early lineup on Saturday showcased the various colors of rock and roll on Merge. Vertical Scratchers’ loud, uptempo and jagged rock was in its element on a big, outdoor stage. They wasted little time transitioning from one song to the next. The drum fill that led into “Way Out” was particularly clever.

The highlight of their set was a rocking cover of The Magnetic Fields “I Don't Want To Get Over You.” They gave the song so much of their own style, it could have easily been mistaken for a Vertical Scratchers song.

The Love Language continued the day with a set mixed between fan favorites from the band’s pop days and a few songs off of the more progressive Ruby Red. Based on the crowd’s reactions to “Heart To Tell,” “Sparxx,” and “Lolita,” it was easy to tell which music their fans still prefer.

However, songs with extended bridges like “Calm Down” benefited in the open festival setting. For the first time personally, I found myself enjoying the newer tunes and wanting to hear a bit more. The band did play a new song that seemed to be a better balance of their melodic excellence and new interest in more improvisation which piqued my interest in what The Love Language may have coming in the future.

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