Friday, January 19 & Saturday January 20, 7 PM both days
Be Bad Weekend @ Strange Matter
Day 1: Doll Baby, Kenneka Cook, VV, Listless, Wabeya, Magnus Lush, Madison Turner, Talk Me Off, Ice Cream Support Group DJs – $10
Day 2: Haircut, Serqet, Gumming, Dazeases, Locker Room, Liu Light, Itsy Bitsy, Butt, DJ Dogpants – $10
It’s January once again, and as I have been doing for several years now, I am pleased to give the Be Bad Weekend the top spot in this column. Once just a one-night showcase of bands featuring female members entitled Bad Girls Revue, expanded last year to multiple nights, and got better than ever in the process! This year, it seems the event will miss the annual explosion of bad weather that has caused last-minute reschedules in the past, thank goodness. So not only will attendees get the benefit of every band initially scheduled actually being able to play, but Girls Rock RVA will get the benefit of everyone being able to make it out to Strange Matter for both nights of this amazing shindig.
And if you’re not there this weekend, you really are gonna need a good excuse. The lineup this year is more musically diverse than ever, as the headlining slots on night one pair punky indie rock n’ rollers Doll Baby with soulful, jazzy vocalist extraordinaire Kenneka Cook. Meanwhile, night two finds ferocious C-ville/RVA hardcore punkers Haircut and moody, atmospheric punks Serqet heading things up. But that’s just the beginning; with 16 total bands performing over the course of two nights, a wide variety of music will be on display.
In fact, you’re going to want to make sure you’re on time, because some of the best performers are hitting the stage soon after doors open. Excellent post-hardcore rockers Magnus Lush are playing surprisingly early on night one, while night two begins with a set from the much buzzed-about local punk upstarts Butt (who, I assure you, have more to offer than a memorably amusing name). No matter what sort of sounds appeal to you, chances are you’ll find multiple things to enjoy on both nights. Hell, you might even see me onstage at some point, if you know where to look. Even if that weren’t true, though, I’d still be telling you to go to this. An outstanding Richmond tradition that’s for a good cause, Be Bad Weekend is one of the most essential live music events of the year. Don’t sleep on it.
Wednesday, January 17, 9 PM
Wyldlife, Sick Bags, Cruzer @ Flora – $7
This is going to be a ton of fun. Wyldlife, who come to RVA on tour from NYC, are the sort of band that take genres that have seemed played-out for years and inject fun, energy, and life back into them, reminding you why you loved them in the first place. In this case, we’re talking about straight-up old-school punk rock; Wyldlife come at the sound with an energy and power that bring to mind powerful pioneers like The Damned and The Dead Boys, but with a stronger melodic sense that’s reminiscent of the best power-pop–think first-LP Cheap Trick. There’s even some garage-rock swagger in there for all you Murder City Devils fans waiting to be rocked once again.
Wyldlife’s most recent release, Out On The Block, has been out for just under a year, but if you haven’t caught onto it yet, you’re certainly not too late. Meanwhile, you’re just in time to catch the debut vinyl from local trash(ed)-punk crew Sick Bags, whose “Cigarette Spit” single is officially out on Friday but will certainly be available from the band tonight, at least if this show’s flyer is any indication. The bill is rounded out by a brand new Richmond band called Cruzer, who appear to have a jangly garage sort of sound, based on the incredibly lo-fi one-song demo that’s been posted on their bandcamp. If that guess is in any way accurate, this show will be a total banger from beginning to end, so sweep off the car and head out to Strange Matter tonight!
Thursday, January 18, 7:30 PM
Secret Bonus Level presents Alfred, PT Burnem, Zhé Aqueen, Vos, Sanji the Hedgehog, Secret Bonus Band @ Strange Matter – $8
I love it when a random show on a weeknight reveals an entire local subculture that I’ve previously failed to pick up on. There’s nothing better than finding a ton of new shit to check out. In this case, it’s the Secret Bonus Level radio show, which airs on WRIR in the middle of the night on Wednesdays (or early Thursday mornings, depending on how you look at it). This show takes an exploratory approach to hip hop, seeking out what they call “strange and unusual gems,” and putting it before whoever is up that late in the middle of the week. And now they’re taking that same approach to filling a stage for a weeknight gig over at Strange Matter.
This show is headed up by Alfred, an openly queer local rapper with a unique approach to his atmospheric music and spacey lyrical flows. His songs are hypnotic and catchy, but in an unusual way–they kind of sneak up on you. Meanwhile, PT Burnem is often as subtle as an atom bomb, hitting hard with his pounding beats and confrontational, politically informed flows. Zhé Aqueen goes in a totally different direction with jazzy, soulful singing, just to keep anyone from thinking things will get predictable. And all sorts of other amazing things are scheduled for this bill as well, from appearances by current and former Secret Bonus Level hosts to an open-invite cypher over backing music provided by a trio of live musicians. All of this is the result of Secret Bonus Level’s commitment to honoring hip hop’s creative spirit with an approach that’s entirely their own. How can you resist that?
Friday, January 19, 8 PM
Ruth Good, Recluse Raccoon, Slow Clover, CGI Jesus @ Gallery 5 – $6
The city never sleeps–Citrus City, that is. 2017 saw the label cranking out releases with the kind of dedication that one would normally expect from a much bigger operation, working with everyone from local faves like Antiphons and Keep to out-of-town cult faves like Vundabar and Crumb. One of the many releases that saw the light of day over the course of the past 12 months was Ruth Good’s debut EP, Spliff. That EP had exactly the sort of stoned-immaculate sound you might expect from something with that name, though its funky indie sound still had a great deal in common with the usual slack, jangly guitar-rock that comes out of Citrus City headquarters. Considering that one of the two main members of Ruth Good, Wes Parker, also plays in Citrus City leading lights Camp Howard, that can’t be much of a surprise.
Ruth Good hitting Gallery 5 at the top of this CC-curated bill is nothing but good news for fans of the band and the label. And of course, it’s also lovely to see Recluse Raccoon bringing their mellow, melodic sound to the stage as well. These guys tend to take it pretty easy; after all, their last EP came out back in 2015. But they’ve always got some sounds with which to delight our ears, and this night at Gallery 5 promises to be no exception. Harrisonburg’s Slow Clover will bring us some jazzy, progressive rock sounds that are sure to please the plentiful Night Idea fans in the audience, while CGI Jesus will kick things off with some jazzy, mathy metal to delight all the fans of Dumb Waiter, or even the Alter Natives, who make it out. This one’s gonna be lovely.
Saturday, January 20, 6 PM
Deau Eyes Kickstarter Launch Party, feat. Deau Eyes, McKinley Dixon & Friends, Whatever Honey, Trunk Show Band, Lucky Duckiss @ TheatreLAB/The Basement – Donations accepted
To be completely real with y’all, I stopped thinking that Kickstarters were worth writing about something like five years ago. The fact that this crowdfunding model quickly became the way people did everything from putting out albums to paying medical bills certainly doesn’t say anything nice about the current state of our culture. But crowdfunding efforts have led to some very nice things (including my wedding–I promise I’ll mail out the zines and CDs to everyone who contributed soon!). And the fact that Ali Thibodeau’s Deau Eyes is not only doing a Kickstarter to release their first album but kicking off the campaign with an actual launch party is enough to make me think that the album they’re working on will be another very nice crowdfunded thing.
Now, you’d be forgiven for not knowing Deau Eyes’ music. While Ali and co. have been playing a decent amount of local shows lately, there aren’t any recordings out there online–at this point, the best way to get an idea of their music is by listening to the soundtrack on their Kickstarter video pitch. It sounds pretty great, with a spunky, upbeat approach to melodic rock n’ roll that should appeal to those out there who enjoy Speedy Ortiz and other 90s-style alt-rock types. She’s got some pretty cool friends, too, including McKinley Dixon, who’s playing the Kickstarter launch party (at TheatreLAB’s The Basement of all places–I don’t remember there being live music there ever before…). Whatever Honey and the Trunk Show Band are also on the bill, as well as someone named “Lucky Duckiss.” Hmm. Those of us who didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday can probably interpret that one accurately. The best part about this whole show is that your admission price constitutes a donation to the Kickstarter campaign; therefore, one would think that by paying 10 bucks to get in, you’d not only get to see this rad show but also get a digital download of the Deau Eyes album when it’s done. That’s what I call a deal.
Sunday, January 21, 9 PM
Rex Richardson Quintet feat. JC Kuhl, Trey Pollard, Randall Pharr, Brian Jones @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
There’s a lot going on in the jazz genre, and as someone who spends a lot of her time focusing on things like punk, metal, and emo, I don’t always have the ability to keep up with jazz as much as I want. Therefore, I imagine the jazz heads around here are shaking their heads in dismay that I’m this late at getting on the Rex Richardson train. I feel you, jazz heads, I feel you. This guy is obviously a big deal. A trumpeter who is sponsored by Yamaha and has been a prominent representative for VCU’s music department for nearly two decades, Richardson has done quite a lot in his career thus far. His achievements both as a classical soloist and a jazz bandleader are lengthier and more impressive than I could even attempt to cram into this space.
But what we should discuss is the fact that he released a collaborative album entitled Blue Shift in 2014 with saxophonist Steve Wilson. That album has a strong, swinging sound that hits hard and makes me think of prime Miles Davis and John Coltrane albums. The rhythm section that backed Richardson and Wilson on that album is the same one that fills out Richardson’s quintet for this performance, including Spacebomb arrangement guru Trey Pollard on piano. Filling in for the absent Wilson is JC Kuhl, formerly of local funk band Agents Of Good Roots, who along with drummer Brian Jones has also played with legendary avant-garde outsider musician Jandek. These are some seasoned pros at the top of their game, and with a master like Richardson at the helm, this night is sure to bring you some top-quality jazz sounds.
Monday, January 22, 8 PM
Deerhoof, Bermuda Triangles, Tavishi, COQ @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Let’s get weird. Deerhoof, noted veteran rangers of the bizarre fringes of the indie world, return to Richmond once again with the latest dose of their alternate-universe rock n’ roll. Latest album Mountain Moves, released last fall, has a strange sort of 70s soft rock vibe lurking beneath all the weird song structures and noisy guitars. It sort of reminds me of where Blonde Redhead went later in their career, when the melodies suddenly rose to the surface and changed the way one heard their music. Covers of The Staple Singers and Bob Marley show that the group’s response to the rise of Trumpism has not been one of avoidance, while the album’s extensive list of guest stars shows that they believe in working together to make things better.
Now Deerhoof is coming to RVA with a big dose of inspiration for us all. They’ll find RVA 100% prepared to meet that challenge, as they’re joined on this bill by Bermuda Triangles. Once a more conventional noise-rock sort of band, last year’s Haunted Island EP shows them slimming down to a trio and taking their percussion focus into outer space, while still remaining an incredibly funky, fun, danceable band. Tavishi’s experimental noise, meanwhile, is an intense, overwhelming experience, with a strong political viewpoint and an uncompromising approach. COQ will open the show with some strange sounds that are sure to touch a nerve for fans of the No Wave scene of the early 80s. Think of the Bush Tetras or DNA and you’re halfway there. Now go the rest of the way down to Strange Matter and see this show.
Tuesday, January 23, 7 PM
.gif From God, Cursing Method, Van Hagar, Listless, Jafar Flowers, Cell Saga @ Soft Web – $5
I’ve been seeing .gif From God play since their earliest basement blasts of metal noise hysteria and while they’ve been amazing from the jump, they only seem to get better as time goes on. Last year’s split EP with Vein saw them taking things to a higher level with longer, more complex songs, but they retained their edge. They’ve continued to incorporate the best elements of metalcore, screamo, spastic grind a la the Locust, and outright horrible noise into a potpourri of entertaining, energetic sounds that are always delivered with maximum hyperactive intensity.
Basically what I’m saying here is that it’s never a good idea to miss a .gif From God set. And there are plenty of other good reasons to catch this mid-week throwdown at Soft Web, the foremost among them being an appearance by South Carolinian grind maniacs Cursing Method, who take a feedback-destruction approach to their crunchy riffs and blasting drum attack. And then, of course, there are the many powerful locals, from rage-filled power-violence heroes Van Hagar to dark, moody hardcore ragers Listless. The evening’s dead spaces will be filled in with DJ sets from Ice Cream Socialites Jafar Flowers and Cell Saga, so you won’t ever have to wait for the killer sounds to start back up. What could be better?
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows (that take place after the week this column covers–this week’s column has obviously already been written): firstname.lastname@example.org [yes, my email is through GayRVA, don’t get weird about it]