Monday, July 28, 2014

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.

Lead singer Amber Papini’s vocals were slurred, stretched and deep, but it was a captivating effect. The band closed their set with booming version of “I Miss Your Bones” where Papini’s vocal style is in full effect and perfect for the repeating chorus. Her tone shifting and slurring give the melody line direction and character.

A band like Hospitality can easily be overshadowed on a label with so many beloved bands, but Hospitality is proof that there’s a lot of depth in the Merge catalog.

Similarly, Imperial Teen took the stage and reminded everyone that they’re one of Merge’s hidden gems. They made a claim for most fun band on the label.

The San Francisco power poppers unleashed irresistible renditions of “I Don’t Know How You Do It” and “No Matter What You Say” that got the crowd dancing and bouncing. The band was feeling the energy as well. When the crowd got silent between songs, they were surprised at how “mesmerized” the crowd was and joked that this crowd-controlling talent was going to make them “drunk with power.”

Imperial Teen closed out the set with a one-two punch of “Runaway”, their pop masterpiece from their last album Feel The Sound, and “Water Boy,” a punky, gritty track off 1996’s Seasick. The latter’s “Bow down to me!” chorus was a fitting finish to their set as they made a strong claim for best set of the festival.

Hospitality set list
Friends of Friends
Going Out
The Right Profession
Rockets and Jets
The Birthday
Last Words
All Day Today
I Miss Your Bones

Imperial Teen set list
Don’t Know How You Do It
Million $ Man
No Matter What You Say
Our Time
Yoo Hoo
Room With a View
You’re One
Water Boy

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