I've always felt at home seeing bands play in Ybor City's Crowbar, and Tampa's indie-rock foursome Merchandise appeared to feel the same way. Merchandise was playing back in their hometown to celebrate the release of their brand new album, A Corpse Wired For Sound. While the show was centered around the new LP, they still managed to give the fans some of their classics.
After opening bands Naga, Sleeping Pills and the very cool Public Memory set the mood, Merchandise's set began at 11:25 p.m.. In front of many childhood friends and long time fans, Cox and crew quickly got into their groove and had the crowd head nodding. Cox was setup center stage, but was hardly stationary. He danced the stage with confidence and interacted with the crowd often; especially with a group of close friends and fans to the left of the stage. You even saw Cox him grab a friends phone out of her hands and take selfies with his band on stage, all while they were playing. You can clearly see they were having fun.
“We’re Merchandise, from Valrico, West Tampa, Plant City and let’s say New Tampa,” lead man Carson Cox of Tampa's very own Merchandise said on behalf of his bandmates. Hearing that statement and just noticing a more enjoyable approach to their performance seemed as if there wasn't ever any love lost with the very talented rockers. See, for whatever reason Tampa has never fully embraced Merchandise, but that's the same story with any of the bands that call Tampa Bay their home. I'm not sure if that lack of support has ever really bothered them, but tonight it didn't matter. Merchandise represented Tampa to the fullest. Cox talked of several Ybor bars and clubs as if they were still regulars there.
Musically their sound was tight and rich. Guitarist David Vassolatti was amazing on guitar all night. Bassist Patrick Brady plucked the bass with precision. Leo Suarez was on point with his drums, and Carson showcased his unique crooning vocals that sometimes blend into their shoegazed rock. Seeing all this come together on stage and hearing their new record was a real treat, but more importantly you see clearer than ever that this band is damn talented. The show concluded with a 60-minute set list.
A Corpse Wired For Sound exhibits more sheen and gloss than any of their previous material and that was the highlight of the night for me. The new record carries that sound proudly and they displayed that on stage. "Flowers of Sex," "Green Lady," and "Little Killer" were highlights for me, but the show overall was excellent.
The only complaint I have, I left wanting so much more and hoped for more than just an hour of music. Merchandise better be prepared for some new fans and bigger stages, because they're a fine band and the world is starting to take notice. I'm proud to tell people Merchandise is from the city I reside in.