Show Pics: Merchandise @ Strange Matter (10/23)

MerchandiseI missed my Austin, but Cleveland was pretty cool and I ended up getting an Austin vibe from Richmond, Y2K Austin vibe. It is a smaller place, college town, passed over by national tours and a filler stop for guys in vans.

ATH on the road checked in at Strange Matter. It is a venue that again reminds me of the old Emo’s inside, only with a full kitchen that can satisfy your burger cravings while you girlfriend gnoshes on Vegan faire. Playing at Strange Matter was Merchandise. Italy’s Ninos Du Brasil are on the road with Merch and locals Dead Fame and Bermuda Triangles rounded out the bill.

Click through for a few thoughts and plenty of pics…

The lineup jumped at the start. You see, Bermuda Triangles sets up three drumkits, in a circle, and to be interesting and polite to the stage manager, they did so on the floor to let the next band put their gear in place on stage. It ended up being a really cool choice because the early show-goers then surrounded the band and were pulled into their psych-percussion vibe. The drums were supplemented by a single saxophone, putting down wall-sized notes through a few effects pedals, fuzzy and sustained. Hey, Austin Psych Fest, early tent band…

Next up was a Dead Fame. Man, I wanted to like this band and I don’t know if it was me getting grumpy (drank a Red Bull later and made like Stella), or if I was insightfully observant in not getting a good vibe from the front man that was absent during sound check, that had to be summoned to the stage and eventually asked all the lights on him to be turned off despite having the look and all the moves of a proper frontman. Which is it? Own it or hide? The darkly tinged 80’s pop/post-punk synthy goodness, but my laser focus on the lyrics got me in trouble; it was a bit shallow. I usually can zone past simple lyrical structure in favor of dancing to the beats and vibes, but I couldn’t in this case because of the shens with the invite and lights. I apologize, I promise to give you a listen and be nice.

Next up, Ninos Du Brasil are Italy’s blend of the first two bands. ENERGY!!! They have rather dark synth backing tracks and loops while pummeling their drums, a two-man drum circle at Burning Man’s danciest party. So much fog, they need to use flavored smoke machine cartridges. White face-paint, cool hats, appreciative banter, I like these guys very much. Merchandise’s drummer joinedthem for late-set songs and added a beautiful layer of drum-pad goodness.

Finally, Merchandise had the stage and took things right back to a straight up rock show. A real, straight up rock show. That is high praise. Sweaty, interactive, accessible, lightly pompous – just go see them. The set was new stuff heavy, which was fine by me. The tour merch is green vinyl, FWIW.

Props to DJ Ben Speed for providing the between band soundtrack of gothy goodness. Echo and the Bunnymen to Bauhaus to Sisters of Mercy – yes, please.