Merchandise Parts & Labour, Toronto ON, June 12

Merchandise Parts & Labour, Toronto ON, June 12
Photo: Ian Gormely
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Merchandise were the unknown "special guest" headliners on this night, giving fans a chance to see the Tampa quartet in a much smaller venue than they'd normally play. Yet it was apparent from the get go that Merchandise did their time playing basement shows, quickly adapting to the cavernous venue. After singer-guitarist Carson Cox announced it was his birthday, he implored the crowd to "show me what you've got" before the group ripped into "Anxiety's Door." The band's relatively slick construction on record was stripped away revealing an incredibly lean and muscular sound anchored by their ace drummer. Yet as the crowd grew more unruly (in the best sense of the term) Cox slowly abandoned all hope of playing a "professional" set, abandoning his guitar half-way through in order to wade into the audience — even crowd surfing at one point — who responded in kind. Milk Music's Alex Coxen was visible egging his friend on as the band blasted through the remainder of their set, with most fans unable to tell which song was being played due to the missing guitar and a PA system that was in constant danger of being knocked to the ground. It might not have been the most perfectly executed gig, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.