Entries tagged with: xx merge

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by Andrew Frisicano

Mac and Britt embrace (Triangle Music)
Mac and Britt

The much anticipated XX Merge Festival took place last week in North Carolina with a five-day (July 22-July 26), Wednesday to Sunday run of shows. Last night (Sunday)'s show with She & Him, American Music Club and Wye Oak was the only fully announced lineup. The other four nights (and one day) were a grab bag of any number of Merge bands past and present. Did you go? What were the highlights?

Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band, who recently played a pair of big NY shows, headlined the fest's first night (which also included Magnetic Fields). Superchunk, which features Merge founders Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan, topped the bill of the second night. The third night included the reformed/reunited lineups of Spent, Polvo and Pipe.

Mac McCaughan came out on stage before [Pipe] instead of the night's emcee and announced that there was a lone protester outside. He invited him up on stage and it was Jon Wurster decked out in Phillies gear as Philly Boy Roy. He was holding a sign that said "Boycot MERGE." He complained that Merge didn't have any Philly bands on their roster and Mac said that they have bands from Jersey, which is close to Philly. You never compare Jersey to Philly in front of Philly Boy Roy. It was hilarious.

All of this led to the introduction of New Jersey punks Pipe. As soon as they kicked into their first song, beer cans and plastic bottles started flying. Frontman Ron Liberti ate it up and even put himself in the line of fire, headbutting some of the cans while kicking some back into the crowd. Liberti bounded around the stage, essentially taunting the crowd. The crowd loved the band's antics as did I (but that may have been different if I hadn't managed to stay dry). [triangle music]

You can see the partial setlist from Spoon, who headlined that night, below.

In addition to the Cat's Cradle shows (the venue for 4/5 of the night shows), Saturday featured a day show that included Julian Koster solo as Music Tapes and Mac McCaughan with violin accompaniment as Portastatic. A few videos from that set, below.

M. Ward, who's playing the Central Park Summerstage this Saturday (August 1st), played at the fest's Saturday night showcase. Zooey Deschanel joined him for a cover of the Beatles' "Birthday." Not too big of a surprise considering She & Him headlined the Sunday night show.

Other XX Merge artists who recently stopped in NYC include The Clientele and Richard Buckner (they played Music Hall of Williamsburg last Sunday), Versus and Superchunk (they played South Street Seaport last Friday), and Spent (they played Coco 66). Spoon didn't play a NYC show, but they were spotted in the audience of Paul McCartney's third of three shows at Citi Field in Queens. Destroyer is on his way up. He plays Bowery Ballroom on Thursday. Mark Eitzel (as American Music Club) played Le Poisson Rouge and Maxwell's before XX Merge, and now he's on his way back for a show at The Bell House.

Lineups for each night of XX Merge, with videos, and a bunch of setlists, below...

Continue reading "Merge celebrated their 20th w/ 5 days of shows in North Carolina (lineups, reviews, pics, video setlists...)"


Spent was an American Indie Rock band from Jersey City, New Jersey consisting of singer/guitarist John King, guitarist/occasional vocalist/keyboardist Annie Hayden, bassist/occasional vocalist Joe Weston and drummer Ed Radich.

Spent formed in the early 1990's in Jersey City, New Jersey. After releasing several EP's under various independent labels the band released their first full album. Songs of Drinking and Rebellion was released in March of 1995 on Merge Records, a indie label formed by Superchunk's Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance and a band that Spent toured with extensively throughout their career. In September of 1996 the band released an Ep entitled Umbrella Wars, which included a cover of Joe Walsh's A Life of Illusion. Umbrella Wars served as a teaser for their next album released a month later in October of 1996 entitled A Seat Beneath the Chairs. In 1997 John King joined Superchunk lead guitarist Joe Wilbur in a side project called Humidifier releasing the album Nothing Changes on Link Records. On July 21, 1997 the band officially split. In 1999 their last song "(I'll Clean Up) The Mess That You Are" appeared on the 10 year anniversary album of Merge Records called Oh, Merge. The band never received much attention outside of the 90's indie rock world. [Wiki]

As previously noted, Spent are reuniting for the XX Merge Records festival happening in North Carolina in July, but first the band will play a single show, presumably as a warm-up for the festival, and it will take place at Coco66 in Brooklyn on June 29th. Also on the bill at that show is Heather Duby, whose credits include albums released by Sub Pop, Suicide Squeeze, and Sonic Boom.

Coco66 is killing it with the reunion booking lately. The Van Pelt just played a show there too.

Other bands playing XX Merge with upcoming NYC shows include Richard Buckner, The Clientele, Versus, Destroyer, Conor Oberst, Polvo, M Ward, and Mark Eitzel (as American Music Club).

Speaking of Mark Eitzel, his tour dates have actually been updated some since we last spoke. You can check them out below...

Continue reading "Spent playing NYC b4 XX Merge ++ updated Mark Eitzel dates "

DOWNLOAD: The Clean - In Dreamlife You Definitely Need Rubber Soul (MP3)

Polvo (above) & The Clean (below)
The Clean

This September Merge Records will be releasing new albums by both The Clean and Polvo.

Polvo's new disc, In Prism, their first in 12 years, will come out September 8th. The band's upcoming shows in June and July include a free Friday, July 31th gig at South Street Seaport with the Obits. A few days before that, the band plays the XX Merge celebration. More tour dates for the fall are on the way.

The Clean's new record, Mister Pop, also comes out September 8th. That'll be that band's first record in eight years. Check out a track from the new disc, above. In 2003, Merge put out a retrospective of the band called Anthology. In 2007, the band played some NYC shows. I'm sure there will be more with the new album, though none are scheduled that we know of at the moment.

Hamish Kilgour of The Clean is also on The Mad Scene who play with Times New Viking at The Bell House this Saturday, June 13th. Tickets are still on sale.

Polvo tour dates and track list below...

Continue reading "Merge releasing new albums by Polvo & The Clean (MP3)"

Mark Eitzel

XX Merge, the label's 20th anniversary festival taking place in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, NC from July 22nd to 26th, is nearly sold out. The only show with tickets still available is the July 26th closing gig with She & Him, American Music Club and Wye Oak.

Before and after that fest, American Music Club's Mark Eitzel has scheduled NYC-area shows billed as "Mark Eitzel plays American Music Club." He comes to Maxwell's Monday, July 20th and the Bell House on Wednesday, July 29th. Tickets to the Bell House, and tickets to the Maxwell's show are both now on sale.

UPDATE: Mark is also doing this same show on July 18th at Le Poisson Rouge, and tickets are also on sale for that.

A video of Eitzel performing AMC song "The Decibels & The Little Pills" at Noise Pop 2009, which took place earlier this year in his hometown of San Francisco, below...

Continue reading "Mark Eitzel as American Music Club twice in NYC + XX Merge"

She and him

As previously warned, single day XX Merge festival tickets went on sale today, and like the five-day passes did before them, they sold right out. At the moment, there are only still tickets for the Sunday show with She & Him, American Music Club, and Wye Oak.

Speaking of Wye Oak, they have a new album coming out soon

Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack came together to make their sophomore record, The Knot, with a whole new set of challenges and expectations than they had when they made If Children. In the past, songs were written separately and they came together to work on arrangements. That method changed after the release of If Children. Jenn & Andy loaded up the mini-van and toured the US and Europe for nearly a solid year. When they returned to their shared house, the luxury of privacy was gone, but a new musical closeness was formed. "Musically, we were finishing each other's thoughts," says Jenn.

Andy says, "Having the chance to play these songs live for a year or so before going to record them gave us the chance to really explore them and tighten them up. On If Children, it felt like our default solution to any problem was to layer and layer more parts on top of one another. We made a conscious effort to temper that impulse this time around, also as a result of feeling more comfortable with our live duo setup. Of course, in certain songs, we couldn't help ourselves and just had to pile it on!"

The Knot will be released on June 21st (on Merge of course).

Wye Oak are currently on on tour with Pomegranates. Their NYC show happens tonight, May 13th, at Mercury Lounge, AND Winter Gloves are also on the bill. Dates and videos below...

Continue reading "XX Merge (mostly) sold out, Wye Oak (new album info) here "

by Bill Pearis

The Clientele

Wispy Brits The Clientele play Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on July 19 with Richard Buckner opening. Tickets are on sale. It's a quick stop in NYC for both artists who will be on their way to the Merge Twentieth Anniversary Music Festival which happens in Carboro, North Carolina from July 22-26.

Superchunk and Versus have a similar pre-XX Merge stop planned in NYC at South Street Seaport on July 17.

The Clientele have also finished recording their new album for Merge which is titled Bonfires on the Heath and should be out in October. Frontman Alasdair MacLean recently talked with Pitchfork about what we can expect. In addition to relating a story of getting dosed with LSD and its affect on the album, he implies Bonfires may be, just maybe, The Clientele's last...

Continue reading "the Clientele & Richard Buckner in Brooklyn before XX Merge "


Indie rock nostalgia continues this summer at South Street Seaport. The band Versus have been added to the free show schedule that already includes Polvo and Superchunk (who Versus are opening for on July 17th). Superchunk and Versus are also playing the XX Merge Festival in July. And...

"Versus still continued to tour occasionally but began a recording hiatus in 2001 after it broke up for a short period and Richard Baluyut relocated to San Francisco. The members afterwards moved on to other bands - James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos formed +/-, Fontaine Toups formed The Fontaine Toups and Richard Baluyut converted his solo acoustic project Whysall Lane into a full band. [Wikipedia]
...Plus/Minus are playing Mercury Lounge on June 18th. Versus are opening for them! Mascott and Gramercy Arms, who Mascott also plays with, are both also on the bill. Tickets are on sale.

All dates below...

Continue reading "Versus playing Seaport & Mercury Lounge with Plus/Minus"

Julian Koster says 'Go to XX Merge' (more from the Bell House by Tim Griffin)
The Music Tapes

Merge Records has updated the lineup for its 20th anniversary festival, XX Merge, taking place Wednesday, July 22 to Sunday, July 26 at North Carolina's Cat's Cradle and UNC's Memorial Hall. Five-day passes for the fest are sold out, but Merge will be releasing individual night tickets on Wednesday, May 13th at 10am.

Ticket info and XX Merge's updated lineup (with the Music Tapes and others) below...

Continue reading "updated XX Merge festival lineup & single day tickets"

DOWNLOAD: Guv'ner - Bay's Way Cruel (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Guv'ner - Help Me (MP3)


In celebration of our 20th anniversary, Merge bands of the past and present will converge for 5 days of live music, July 22-26th in the heat of the sunny North Carolina summer. We are calling these 5 days of live music and mayhem, XX Merge.

XX Merge Wednesday, July 22nd - Sunday, July 26th
4 nights at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC
1 night at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, NC on UNC Campus Details of additional music & bedlam yet to come!

GuvnerFeaturing over 25 of your favorite Merge artists including...Superchunk, Spoon, Conor Oberst, Spent, M. Ward, The Rosebuds, Destroyer, Guv'ner, Polvo, Pipe & The Broken West. Many more bands both expected and unexpected still to-be-announced!

5-Day Passes are $150 and will get you in to all XX Merge festivities. Passes will go on sale on Wednesday, April 8th at 10 AM EST via catscradle.com and mergerecords.com. 5-day passes are nontransferable. A limited number of tickets for individual Cradle shows and the Memorial Hall show will be made available at a later date.

And this interesting tidbit from their FAQ's: "We will announce a (nearly) complete list of Merge bands who will be playing prior to the festival, but you will have to come to each show to find out who is playing on which night. We think it's more fun that way!"

The Rosebuds are now in the midst of their April tour that brings them back to NYC for two shows soon.

M Ward is also playing Coachella and Central Park Summerstage this year. All dates below.

Check out the video for Spent's "Umbrella Wars", below...

Continue reading "XX Merge - ticket info & initial festival lineup announced (Guv'ner, Spent, Pipe, Spoon, Conor & M Ward included)"


Merge Records started 20 years ago in Chapel Hill, NC with some 4-track recordings, a couple cassette tapes, and some hand-stuffed 7" vinyl. Many singles, albums, and late nights later we're happy to be here and happy that you're still here for us! All year we'll be celebrating the past, present, and future of Merge but this summer we're throwing a party to mark this anniversary: XX Merge, five days of music by Merge artists past and present in the summer heat of sunny North Carolina. July 22-26, 2009.

Put it on your calendar now! Lineup and ticket information to be announced soon!

Subscriptions to SCORE! Merge Records: The First 20 Years have been extended to January 11th. This is your last chance to receive a year of Merge goodies delivered to your door and computer all year long!

I wonder who they'll get to reunite. I think it goes without saying that Portastatic and Superchunk will be on the bill. Arcade Fire are on Merge. So were Neutral Milk Hotel. The Clean, Big Dipper, Dinosaur Jr, Polvo, Spoon, She & Him, Conor Oberst, Versus....All Merge bands, past and present, listed below...

Continue reading "XX Merge Festival: July 22-26, 2009 in NC"