Merchandise got its start on the Tampa punk and hardcore scene, then got weirder as artier influences like krautrock took hold. As its sound became harder to pin down, the band inspired an 18-month bidding war between record labels: This year, Merchandise finally signed with 4AD, and adventurous new material has begun to trickle out.
A new album arrives later this year, but Merchandise was already previewing it at SXSW last month. As part of their appearance at the festival, singer Carson Cox and guitarist Dave Vassalotti — a configuration Cox describes as "some component of Merchandise" — held court for an informal session at Friends & Neighbors, a backyard venue in east Austin.
Though it usually keeps its songs to reasonable lengths, Merchandise also knows how to sprawl out: Its new single, "Begging for Your Life/In the City Light," spans a whopping 14 minutes. So it's no surprise that even a truncated version of the group would be capable of wringing an epic out of such a casual environment. Here, Cox and Vassalotti perform "Become What You Are" before an intimate and easy-going crowd, letting the song unfurl for nearly nine minutes.
"Become What You Are"
Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Saidah Blount; Director: A.J. Wilhelm; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Saidah Blount, Becky Harlan, Olivia Merrion, A.J. Wilhelm; Production Coordinator: Kate Kittredge; Special Thanks: Friends & Neighbors; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann