Live Review: Merchandise at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Merchandise

Merchandise frontman Carson Cox stepped onto the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage Tuesday night right out of central casting, it would appear, for a remake of a Brando or Dean flick celebrating men of a different era blessed with a certain je ne sais quoi. His sandy blond hair shaded his sculpted jaw, his T-shirt rolled above his bicep like some neo-greaser, his voice toed an androgynous line both sensual and aggressive. An overhead green stage light highlighted his mysterious, effervescent cool.

He screamed without screaming: “I am here. Watch me.”

Hailing from Tampa, Fla., a bay city not renowned for its effervescent cool, the quintet Merchandise plays lush rock-n-roll that lingers in the air, searching, yearning, driving toward something unknown. They started out playing DIY shows in the Sunshine state, and have since evolved to a sound classicists would not label punk. They’ve released three solid records, the most recent of which, After the End, dropped earlier this year on 4AD. Oh, and there are the Morrissey comparisons vis a vis the aching, feminine air to Cox’s croon.

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Arcade Fire Barclays Center Show Awakens Nostalgia, Erases Regret

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Among the retired jerseys of Kidd, Williams, and Petrovic I took my seat above the snow line inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch Montreal art-rock ensemble Arcade Fire wrap up their three-night residency two weekends ago. I purchased the ticket at a discount on Groupon the week before as a means of (hopefully) closing a nine-year-old wound incurred when I skipped an Arcade Fire show, for which I had tickets, because I did not want to drive alone to New Orleans. Just typing that sentence makes me shake my head.

Seeing Arcade Fire four albums and 10 years into their career at the Brooklyn Nets basketball arena, as opposed to on the floor performing their first album at the House of Blues in New Orleans, would need to suffice on this August night. Alas, when I arrived at my section, seated parallel to the left of the stage, I couldn’t help but feel a wee bit of regret. There were seats, for one. And they were a football field from the stage. I held a $5 cup of Coke in one hand and a $7 bucket of cheese popcorn in the other. The two combined accounted for the price of one beer, enough to make any concert a sober experience.

Credit Arcade Fire and their tremendous songbook for erasing my outrage at beer prices and disappointment at my seat location. They are an arena band now. Connecting with the back row is, in many ways, as important as connecting with the front. And from where I was standing – closer to the heavens than ever before at a concert – I’d say Win Butler and Co. did a damn good job, leaving me enthused about the Arcade Fire “experience” even if the conditions I experienced them in were less than my ideal. Dare I say next time Arcade Fire comes to town I would spring for $80 floor tickets? Yes, yes I would.

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Y’All Gingers Move That Dope, Spanish Harlem Edition

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 45 is in honor of Labor Day and answers the question of how this ginger would launder his money if he were moving dope in Spanish Harlem.

“Y’all gingers move that dope. Move that dope, move that dope, move that dope.”

In a parallel universe where redheads are crime kingpins Atlanta alleged rapper Future’s summer smash “Move That Dope” would be centered around the illegal exploits of ginger gringos putting in work in Spanish Harlem. And in this same parallel universe said ginger gringos (i.e., yours truly) would need to wash some of their money clean, in order to evade the corrupt, ginger-profiling police. Fortunately, this parallel El Barrio offers a wide variety of money laundering opportunities from potential moneymakers to well, uh, money giveaways.

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Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition)

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen's set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen’s set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

It’s the first day of August, and 2014 is either moving like molasses or like a rapid. I am having trouble deciding. I just awoke from my World Cup coma, and found myself disturbingly close to 30 – the year when my red hairs on my chin are contractually obligated to turn white. Alas, 2014 has yet to produce many visible white hairs. It also hasn’t produced an album that hammered me over the head with its greatness.

Individual songs are a different animal. I’ve loved and fallen out of love and then loved some more so many songs this year that it only seemed right that I choose 25 for this list. This list is a snapshot of how I felt about songs during the year’s first half. I expect my top 25 (or top 50) songs will look (somewhat) different at year’s end. It’s worth noting this list features songs that were released in 2014 as singles or on albums this year. If they were released in 2013 on an album then released in 2014 as a single I included them. I also limited myself to one song per artist.

Here’s to 30 and all the jams that will come! Rock, dance, croon on! Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition) commence!

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How To Grab A Cab In New York City

Boro taxis stalk me everywhere I go in Spanish Harlem.

Boro taxis stalk me everywhere I go in Spanish Harlem.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 44 is titled How To Grab A Cab In New York City.

Imagine yellow, green, and black middle fingers on four wheels, unbeholden to the laws of traffic or human decency, and you have an entry point into the world of New York City cabs. The sleep-deprived, eternally slighted conductors of these death-defying chariots of status and convenience give zero fucks about other motorists, pedestrians, or unlucky schmucks unable to hail them. Inside this orbit where no fucks are given lies a microcosm of everything that is cutthroat and unholy about this garbage-strewn metropolis.

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Survival Tips For 2014 Journalism Graduates

A beautiful day at the office with the Louisiana State Police.

A beautiful day at the office with the Louisiana State Police.

Congratulations! You are a 2014 journalism graduate!

You ignored the tea leaves and followed your heart straight to a degree as worthless as pigeon shit. Let that sink in. Or don’t. It’s kind of sad in a way that Lindsay Lohan’s career trajectory is sad, and your career hasn’t even started. The best you can hope for is to keep your nose clean from booga suga and maybe, if you’re lucky, have a seamless transition into the world of public relations.

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Co-Ed Dressing Room Sparks Protestant Guilt

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 43 recaps my first time attending a sample sale.

Her flesh-colored bra and neon thong’s seeming indifference toward concealing her rounded, sun-baked T&A triggered the part of my lizard brain where lust and Protestant guilt intersect. And yet I wasn’t mad at the brunette stranger standing before me or myself, truth be told. We were not Adam and Eve in the garden. We were just two lost souls in a co-ed dressing room on a Friday afternoon searching for bargains at a sample sale.

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Experiencing Purgatory At Hellgate Station, NYC

The wait is real, Washington Heights edition.

The wait is real, Washington Heights edition.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 42 examines one of the most unpleasant experiences you can have in New York City – going to the post office to pick-up a package.

Call it belief in American Exceptionalism or whatever but every weekday afternoon around 2 I walk down five flights of stairs to my building’s mail box hoping this will be the day the mail informs me, generally speaking, I’ve won life. What comes instead are letters from credit card companies inquiring whether I would enjoy tearing up an envelope and piece of paper (Yes, yes I would). There’s only one thing worse than receiving a credit card invitation: a missed delivery notice from the post office.

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Top 10 Anecdotes From Attending Late Show With David Letterman

I stared at this sign for a half-hour. I don't recommend following my example.

I stared at this sign for a half-hour. I don’t recommend following my example.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 41 recaps my first trip to see the Late Show with David Letterman.

Here are 10 things I learned about the CBS Late Show with David Letterman when I attended the show on a whim last Monday. Earlier this month Letterman announced his retirement effective 2015 from the Late Show.

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Bill Gates’s Cousin At The Spanish Harlem Popeyes

Inside this box is 1440 calories of everything great about America.

Inside this box is 1440 calories of everything great about America.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 40 focuses on a case of mistaken identity at Popeyes in Spanish Harlem.

A pregnant, prolonged craving for biscuits – buttery, artery-clogging biscuits – motivated me to ride the subway two stops north earlier this week into the heart of Harlem to find Louisiana’s Kitchen. In the process of satisfying my Nickelback palate I became known as Bill Gates’s cousin at the Spanish Harlem Popeyes.

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Observations of a Cajun living in NYC