RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 3/5-3/11

Posted by: Necci – Mar 05, 2014


Friday, March 7, 7 PM
Friday Mindgrind Freakfestivalis Part Two feat. Psalm Zero, Pyrrhon, Guerilla Toss (Photo by Mona Tracy Maruyama, Cloud Becomes Your Hand, Navi, R-Complex @ Strange Matter - $8

One thing we have to give Strange Matter--they always keep it interesting. In fact, there are times when it can be a struggle to avoid listing 7 Strange Matter shows in this column and calling it good. There are lots of amazing things happening all around RVA every week, though, which is why we didn't end up featuring the first of the two Friday Mindgrind Freakfestivalis dates, which happened last Friday. We couldn't possibly neglect this one, though, as its smorgasbord of experimental postpunk sounds from RVA and beyond is too awesome to miss. At the top of the bill is Psalm Zero, a duo that brings together one member each from Castevet and the Dirty Projectors to create dark, industrial metal sounds that occupy a terrain somewhere between Sisters Of Mercy and Neurosis, perhaps with a bit of Killing Joke thrown in. Their hypnotic sounds will enrapture the Strange Matter audience, while tourmates Pyrrhon will obliterate the senses of all present with a solid wall of technical death metal sounds--the sorts they will be exploring further on their upcoming Relapse Records release, The Mother Of Virtues.

Guerilla Toss will also be on the bill. This hyperactive crew of clattering noisepunk maniacs won us over a while back with their excellent EP, Gay Disco, as well as their memorable performance last December at Gallery 5. ( Singer Kassie Carlson's energetic stage performance and jubilant yowls and screams mix with a percussion-heavy assault, harsh blasts of synth noise, and surprisingly funky grooves to create a No Wave throwback that simultaneously sounds fresh and unique. Their set should be the weirdest dance party of the month, at least. Rounding out the out-of-town portion of this bill will be Cloud Becomes Your Hand, easily the most mellow of the groups on this bill, who are on tour behind their brand new album, Rocks Or Cakes. Their spacey, psychedelic sounds are simultaneously beautiful and bizarre, with odd sounds intruding on the pleasant guitar/keyboard riffs and vocal melodies just when you least expect it.

Manic RVA punk experimentalists Navi will also be performing, and by now I think we all know to expect greatness when Jon and Kyle take the stage (or the floor), so make sure you get to this show on time. The evening opens up with a set by mysterious experimental noise act R-Complex, who will have Strange Matter vibrating to the sounds of synth noise drones. DJ sets and even possibly more performers have been promised, so even this embarrassment of riches may not be all you get if you show up at Strange Matter on Friday night. So be smart, and celebrate the end of the work week in fine style at the most consistently interesting music venue in town.

Wednesday, March 5, 9 PM
Miniature Tigers, Bear Hands, Total Slacker @ Strange Matter - $12

It's been a while since Brooklyn indie-synth pop crew Miniature Tigers came through town, so this overdue return is truly a welcome occasion. Carrying the torch for buzzworthy indie microgenres like chillwave and indie-dance, Miniature Tigers are nonetheless worlds beyond all the Rapture and Washed Out clones you had to wade through several years ago--it's true quality in songwriting that sets this quartet apart, and has led to their longevity (they've been around a lot longer than Washed Out, for starters). They've got a new album, Cruel Runnings, which isn't out but is in the final stages before its release, and while we haven't heard any full songs from it yet, the 75-second trailer they've made available on youtube is more than enough to whet your appetite.

Bear Hands are on tour with Miniature Tigers, and while this group has plentiful punk rock roots, they've taken the Minus The Bear route on their brand new album, Distraction, which was released last month. Shiny guitar hooks, washes of synthesizer atmosphere, and killer pop choruses are all enhanced by a glittering production sound that makes the album sound just as big, loud, and impossible to ignore as their live performances. Their technicolor pop songs have plenty to sink your teeth into--or perhaps claws would be the more appropriate metaphor here. Either way, expect great things from this Brooklyn crew.

Total Slacker open up this all-Brooklyn pop extravaganza, and this appropriately named band has the most straightforward rockin' sound of any of the groups on this bill. Cranking the guitars and letting the riffs loose is their policy, but they do so in a loose, informal manner that makes it clear just how much fun they're having. Expect influences from Hum to Ty Segall to show through in Total Slacker's raw, loud opening set.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: the Heavy Midgets video release show we told you about a few weeks ago, the one that snow ended up cancelling, is rescheduled and is happening tonight at Balliceaux, so keep that in mind as well!]

Thursday, March 6, 9 PM
The Ar-Kaics, Atlantic Thrills, Dirty Fences, Nancy, Christi @ Strange Matter - $7

Where The Ar-Kaics are concerned, one thing is certain: they love old-fashioned rock n' roll. With a sound that seemingly incorporates no influences more recent than 1966, this crew of troublemaking reprobates is clearly spending all their spare time listening to Back From The Grave comps and beat-up copies of ? And The Mysterians singles. And speaking as a dude who subscribes to Ugly Things, I think that rules. What rules even harder is the forthcoming Ar-Kaics LP on Windian Records. OK, I haven't heard it all, but I've been digging the songs they posted from it on Bandcamp, and I'm sure they'll be unleashing these tunes and more on a hungry Strange Matter crowd tomorrow night. If you dig stripped-down, back-to-basics, garage-powered rock n' roll, you can't miss this show!

And there'll be plenty more garage-rockin' sounds on this show for you to enjoy as well! Atlantic Thrills will be coming through from Providence, RI, but rather than bringing Lightning Bolt-style noise chaos, they'll be serenading RVA with catchy, twangy tunes about hangin' at the beach. Where Rhode Island surfing is concerned, it's definitely the off-season right now, but I guess that's why these folks are on tour in (relatively) warmer climes. Dirty Fences are coming through from Brooklyn as well, and these boys have more of a Ramones-y punk n' roll swagger, so expect speedy riffing, overdriven amps, and plenty of leather jackets onstage. Nancy is another New York rock n' roll band that we expect good things from, and local all-female crew Christi will open things up with what is sure to be an entertaining twist on a traditionally testosterone-heavy scene.

Friday, March 7, 9 PM
Cut The Architect's Hand CD Release Show with Strike The Chord And Burn, 45 AD @ McCormack's Irish Pub - $5

Cut The Architect's Hand are a long-running local metalcore band who've never quite gotten the recognition they deserve from RVA's metal and hardcore scenes. If anything, though, this speaks well for them, as a big part of what's kept them from blowing up at any one moment is their refusal to jump on trends in the local or national scenes. You won't hear deathcore growls or brown-note breakdowns from these guys--they're still cranking out the same Coalesce-influenced heavy midtempo riffs they've always dealt in, and their new album, Blood Eagle, proves that they're only getting better at all this as they go on. While Blood Eagle's been available online in digital form for a couple of months now, this show marks its physical release on CD, and you certainly would be well advised to show up at McCormack's this Friday night and get yourself a copy. Don't continue to sleep on this band.

Strike The Chord And Burn are another band that's been floating around the edges of the RVA metalcore scene for a long time, though their stock in trade is a bit different than that of Cut The Architect's Hand. To wit, these guys are a neck-snapping mosh riff machine, introducing the occasional clean vocal to vary things up a bit but otherwise keeping it brutal. In lesser hands, their approach could get monotonous, but instead, these guys show the same single-mindedness of purpose that made Will Haven such a thrill to listen to back in the 90s (if I may date myself a bit, like I always end up doing). 45 AD opens this whole thing up with some Tragedy-influenced blackened hardcore biker rock sounds that are sure to get heads banging.

Saturday, March 8, 8 PM
Spirit Caravan, Pilgrim, Serpent Throne, Beelzefuzz, Sinister Haze @ Strange Matter - $15 (order tickets here:

Whoa, speaking of biker rock... is it true? Is Wino back in RVA? In fact, it is true! After a Premonition 13 show in 2011, shows by Heavy Kingdom and his acoustic project with Conny Ochs in 2012, and a performance by the legendary Saint Vitus last October, Strange Matter will be the beneficiaries of a fifth appearance by Scott "Wino" Weinrich in less than four years. And from a fifth project of his, no less! This is a truly glorious occurrence, and every doom metal fan in town will be the beneficiary. Spirit Caravan released two albums and several EPs back at the beginning of the last decade, but have been off the radar for quite a while. With the doom metal scene growing healthier and more populous by the year, the time is ripe for their return, and Strange Matter is fortunate to have the opportunity to host Wino and company yet again. Don't miss this one!

There'll be plenty of other doom action on this bill as well. Pilgrim is a New England band who've previously toured Europe with Windhand, so they've got RVA doom scene cred for sure. With their new album, Void Worship, coming next month, we can expect some new jams as well as the loud, brutal grooves they've been known for all along. Philadelphia instrumental doom band Serpent Throne will be on the bill as well, setting the proper mood with their gloomy funeral dirges. With Beelzefuzz, who certainly have an amazing name, and locals Sinister Haze, featuring members of Cough going for a more old-school doom feel, rounding out the bill, this will be a night of killer riffs and slo-mo headbangs for sure.

Sunday, March 8, 7 PM
We Were Promised Jetpacks, Honeyblood @ The Camel - $13 advance/$15 at the door (order tickets here:

Get ready to rock, folks! We Were Promised Jetpacks is a five-piece Scottish guitar-rock band who've been quietly building support Stateside for several years now, and if the quality of their music is any indication, it's only a matter of time before these guys are huge. The glittering twin-guitar sound generated by Adam Thompson and Michael Palmer is well complimented by the atmospheric keyboards of Stuart McGachan and the sure-handed backbeat of the rhythm section. The overall result is somewhere between the upbeat postpunk grooves of prime Bloc Party material and the epic melodrama of Mogwai's best material. This band is capable of filling much bigger venues than The Camel with their dramatic sound, but we're lucky enough to receive the opportunity to see them in such an intimate venue. So don't blow it--come check out We Were Promised Jetpacks, and find out what every alt-rock fan in Scotland already knows. Fellow Glaswegians Honeyblood will open the show with a classic blast of top quality jangly-guitar twee pop of the sort Glasgow has been producing steadily since the early days of the legendary Vaselines.

Monday, March 10, 9 PM
Japanther, Tiny Moving Parts, Hot Dolphin, Whoa @ Strange Matter - $10 (order tickets here:

Everybody's been crazy about Japanther for a long time, but that doesn't mean they've gotten any less awesome. Their 12th (!) album, Instant Money Magic, will be out next month, and from what we've heard, these lo-fi noise punks remain experts at gunky pop hooks backed by overdriven drum machine noise. They'll surely deliver their new sounds in fine fashion when they hit Strange Matter's stage this Monday, as they have many times in the past at that exact same location, so come out and see these veterans do their thing as only they can do. Minnesota's Tiny Moving Parts will be joining the fray with a much cleaner guitar-driven emo sound, and as a dude who's been listening to a lot of this kind of thing lately, I can tell you that their soul-baring vocals and intricate arpeggiated guitar melodies are as good as anything you'll hear in the style. It may not pair all that obviously with Japanther, but the contrast should keep the acts on this bill distinctive.

The local openers on this bill will at least fit with Japanther in one respect--they're gonna get crazy onstage. Hot Dolphin is an overcaffeinated rock n' roll frenzy that derives much of its energy from the unmistakable presence of singer Lindsey Spurrier. Expect her to fire up not only the band but the whole venue with her hyperactive vocal talents. Meanwhile, Whoa!--which is, as far as we know, the energetic local alt-pop band and not the also-local rapper--will kick things off in their inimitable fashion.

Tuesday, March 11, 7 PM
England In 1819, Herro Sugar, Spandrel @ Gallery 5 - $5

England In 1819 are an unusual phenomenon in the modern world of pop music--an electronic duo made up of former classical musicians and composers who originally began working with an extensive backing band featuring oboe, french horn, and other traditionally symphonic instruments. The fact that these guys are now mostly working with keyboards and drum machines probably indicates that their original concept was too unwieldy for touring life, but you have to give them credit for seeing their unique vision through in some fashion. Regardless of what instruments they use to carry it off, you can expect their show at Gallery 5 to be full of sweeping, grandiose pop gestures that live up to the epic nature of their music. The results promise to provide a sublime experience for all in attendance.

Herro Sugar's teenage wunderkind status has been cemented by quite a few dynamic live performances over the past couple of years, and they just continue writing incredible indie rock songs that show off world-class talent. Now that some of them are actually getting out of high school, their finely honed songcraft might seem a little less remarkable, but don't be fooled--the catchy tunes these kids crank out would be unusually good regardless of the creators' age. Fail to take these teenagers seriously and you run the risk of blowing it in a major way. Show up at Gallery 5 this Tuesday night and see how much better they've gotten since the last time you saw them. You won't regret it. Local indie-folk crew Spandrel opens things up with a pleasant mix of acoustic and electric sounds, so show up on time.


Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it's happening--email me: [email protected].

By Andrew Necci