Take a look back at photos and videos from the festival this past July and celebrate all over again.

A Heartfelt Thanks

We cannot thank you enough for attending Merge 25 last week to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary. To us, it felt like a big family gathering. Telekinesis backed Eleanor Friedberger on “Roosevelt Island.” Performances from Vertical Scratchers and The Mountain Goats included covers of The Magnetic Fields and American Music Club, respectively. Mikal Cronin invited Christian Peslak from Saint Rich onstage to sing “Am I Wrong.” Many of our artists extended their stays in order to catch up with their labelmates. The crowd was filled with attentive and appreciative people. These are all good things, and we are so grateful.

Merge 25 was an immense undertaking, and we couldn’t have made it happen without the generous help of SquarespacePabst Blue Ribbon,Cat’s Cradlethe Town of Carrboro300 East MainMailChimpCounter Culture Coffee,Classic GraphicsCarolina BreweryTicketflyDuke PerformancesOrange County Social ClubC&C Custom Drums, and Carr Amps.

Also, we want to send special shoutouts to Margaret Cho for emceeing our Saturday outdoor show; Tricia and OCSC for hosting our terrific day parties; Motorco for providing a venue for our opening night after-party; The Dinner Party Download for dedicating an entire episode to Merge; Nightlight for hosting the DPD taping; LIGHT Art+Design for exhibiting the Unbelievable Things collection; Bowbarr for the art show opening after-party; Squarespace for creating a comfortable lounge with a fun photo booth and lathe-cut vinyl demonstrations by Wesley Wolfe of Tangible Formats; Crazy/Dancing Tony for organizing the Kicknic (and, along with Saleen, providing much-needed mobile misting services on Saturday); Orange County Solid Waste Management for all recycling services; and the many awesome volunteers who donated their time and energy to help make our festival run as smoothly as possible.

And last but not least, thank you, dear fans, for your love and support over the last quarter-century. You are what keeps us going.

Laura, Mac & all of us at Merge

The Dinner Party Download joins the Merge 25 Festival

We are excited to welcome The Dinner Party Download, one of our favorite public-radio programs, to North Carolina on the Friday of our festival for a live taping of their show to celebrate 25 years of Merge music and culture. 

On Friday, July 25, from 3–5 p.m., Dinner Party Download hosts Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam will join Mac and Laura from Merge, “house band” Teenage Fanclub, etiquette expert Jon Wurster (Superchunk, The Mountain Goats, Bob Mould band, The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling), Mount Moriah songstress and bartender Heather McEntire who will prepare a special cocktail, and a surprise guest or two at Nightlight in Chapel Hill for an afternoon of humor and unconventional wisdom from “public radio’s arts & leisure section.” 

This event is free, all-ages, and open to the public. RSVP at our Facebook event, and bring your friends!

The Dinner Party Download is a fast and funny hour of culture, food, and conversation. Produced by American Public Media, the show airs on more than 130 public radio stations, including our own WUNC.

Opening Night After-Party with Flesh Wounds and DJ set by Reigning Sound’s Greg Cartwright

We can’t wait to kick off the Merge 25 Festival with Lambchop, Mount Moriah, and William Tyler on July 23 at Baldwin Auditorium in Durham—but we couldn’t let the night end there! Please join us for our Opening Night After-Party at Motorco. Local badasses and Merge 7-inch rockers Flesh Wounds will hit the stage at 11pm, followed by a DJ set from Greg Cartwright, frontman of Reigning Sound and garage-rock legend, to round out the night. Doors will open at 10:30pm.

Merge 25 passholders get in free while space allows, and tickets to the general public are $5 at the door. Please come hang out, rock out, and celebrate the first night of Merge 25 with us in Durham!

Unbelievable Things: 25 Years of Art on Merge Records

In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are bringing to life iconic album covers from the label’s history. From July 18 through August 9, the original artwork from seminal albums by Superchunk, Lambchop, Arcade Fire, Spoon, and over 40 others will be displayed at LIGHT Art + Design in Chapel Hill, NC.

The exhibit aims to unite art and music fans by taking them beyond the static dimensions of CDs and vinyl and showing them how artwork remains an integral part of the album-making process. Those familiar with Merge Records will be able to personally experience images they know and love in their original format, while new fans will have a chance to view works by well-known artists such as Kara Walker, Dan Graham, and Wayne White, among others.

Merge co-founder Mac McCaughan shared the inspiration behind the show:

Every five years we throw a big party and lots of bands play and people come from all over to join us, and every five years we like to change it up a little or add new elements to the experience.

Inspired both by the community we live in—where you can see incredible art at numerous museums and galleries—and by the artists we work with every day, we decided to populate a great local space with some of the original art that’s made it onto the covers of Merge releases over the last 25 years.

It’s great to see these images, some of them iconic by now, in their original state and scale and in a different context than they’ve been seen before (that is, in the company of each other, and not in a record store).

An opening reception will be held on Friday, July 18, from 6–9 p.m. at LIGHT Art + Design and will include a performance by Merge artists Shark Quest. This event is free and open to the public.

Following the opening event, one of our favorite watering holes, Bowbarr, is hosting an after-party. Fellow musician and artist Harrison Haynes will be DJ-ing along with STRIDER + MARIE, and art by silkscreen artist Ron Liberti (of Pipe) and photography by Soleil Konkel will be on display.

Unbelievable Things: 25 Years of Art on Merge Records will be on exhibit through August 9, including art by:

John Austin * Laura Ballance * Ted Bois * Jeff Brouws * Brian Calvin * Ashley North Compton * Count de Buffon * Ian Dingman * Beverly Dixon * Laird Shropshire Dixon * Marcel Dzama * Jason Evans * Neil Farber * Dan Graham * Harrison Haynes * Maya Hayuk * Sydney Hermant * Hamish Kilgour * Tracy Maurice * Mac McCaughan * Wendy Moore * Phil Morrison * Kristin Oppenheim * Shaun Richards * Michael Rubenstein * Chris Verene * Kurt Wagner * Kara Walker * Daryl Waller * Steven Walls * Marci Washington * Wayne White * Andrea Zittel

Merge 25 Festival: now with day parties!

As we all prep for the Merge 25 Festival on July 23–26, there are still plenty of truly awesome surprises to share in the coming month!

Let’s begin with two day parties occurring on Thursday and Friday at Orange County Social Club. Both are free and open to the public (until we’re at capacity), and both will have beverages on-site for purchase. Think of these events as tasty appetizers before each evening’s six-course meal inside Cat’s Cradle:
Thursday, July 24, 4–6pm
Orange County Social Club, Carrboro, NC
(FREE & open to public)
Amor de Días
Hiss Golden Messenger
Friday, July 25, 4–6pm 
Orange County Social Club, Carrboro, NC
(FREE & open to public)
Radar Brothers
Saint Rich
Thursday and Friday’s shows inside Cat’s Cradle are sold out, but there are a few tickets still available for Wednesday’s show at Baldwin Auditorium in Durham and Saturday’s big outdoor blowout in Carrboro, the latter hosted by Margaret Cho!

That’s all for now, but we have a few other tricks up our sleeves. Come see these great Merge artists in North Carolina this summer and celebrate 25 years with us!