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.
The show started off with an ice breaker joke from Lambchop’s own Kurt Wagner and moved quickly through a few segments that included Mount Moriah’s Heather McEntire explaining the signature cocktail she created for the afternoon’s event, a humorous history of Merge Records, and the first (“Ping Pong” by Stereolab) of three songs from Teenage Fanclub’s dinner party playlist performed by the band.
The meat of the podcast was made up of Gagliano and Newnam interviewing label founders and owners Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance. The hosts tried to get McCaughan and Ballance to spill some dirt on bands and each other, but Ballance politely brushed them off in her typical shy fashion. The highlight of the interview were some of the fun facts that arose when McCaughan and Ballance were asked to free associate when hearing the titles of some of the records they have put out.
The final major segment before the taping closed out with Teenage Fanclub playing their own lovely “Everything Flows” was a Q&A on etiquette with John Wurster, drummer for Superchunk, Bob Mould, and The Mountain Goats. Wurster’s previous radio experience came into play and he was the funniest guest of the day, particularly when telling stories about working in record shops in Greensboro.
While hot and crowded, the idea of live podcast and talk show tapings at music festivals seems like a winning idea, especially at festivals with a strong community like Merge 25. Getting to see and know a different side of a few Merge artists only added to the weekend’s good vibes.
The Merge 25 episode of Dinner Party Download will air sometime in the next month (we'll keep you posted) and will be available for download shortly after.