Thursday, January 16, 9 PM
Hot Dolphin, ARF, Burn/Ward, Asylum, Bitchmouth @ Strange Matter – $5
The greatest thing about punk rock is the way it makes you question your assumptions about pretty much everything, and this showcase of female-fronted RVA punk bands is here to prove that all the things you ever believed about so-called “girl bands” were wrong, wrong, wrong.
Thursday, January 16, 9 PM
Hot Dolphin, ARF, Burn/Ward, Asylum, Bitchmouth @ Strange Matter – $5
The greatest thing about punk rock is the way it makes you question your assumptions about pretty much everything, and this showcase of female-fronted RVA punk bands is here to prove that all the things you ever believed about so-called “girl bands” were wrong, wrong, wrong. Headliner Hot Dolphin is the one band on this bill with a lengthy enough track record that you should know exactly what you’re getting into when you go see them, but the truth is, nothing can prepare you for the energetic live presence of vocalist Lindsey Spurrier, who is the exact sort of frontperson that any upbeat garage-punk band deserves. She writhes and screams with the best of them, and if you like the idea of a band that mixes Nuggets-style riffing with riot grrrl fury (a cliche, I know, but it’s apt in this case), you need to see this band.
From there, things get weirder. ARF is an experimental noise group featuring members of Nervous Ticks, Olde Shame, and Flesh Control, which was formed as part of that whole Food Fight thing (it was kinda like Rock Lotto, only with members drawn from the staff of various restaurants). They’ll torment your eardrums with distorted vocals, tape loops, and grungy Royal Trux-style guitarnoise. Then Burn/Ward will play eight songs in just as many minutes–or less. This brand new grindcore act does not fuck around, and you should catch them now before all your friends are wearing their t-shirts and you feel like a loser for being late to the party. Not that I’m trying to encourage that sort of cool-points mentality… anyway. Asylum is also on the bill, and this fast punk band is somewhere in the neighborhood where d-beat/crust meets old-school hardcore. Loud fast rules. All I know about opening band Bitchmouth is that it’s Strange Matter bartender Kelsey Hulvey’s band, but really, isn’t that all you need to know? They’re playing first, so hopefully Kelsey will be sober enough not to punch me in the stomach during their set–though now that I’ve written this, I’ve clearly cursed myself.
Wednesday, January 15, 9 PM
Radio Rubber Room presents The Loose Cannon, Riley Kerns @ Emilio’s Downtown – Free!
Since the demise of The Republic, we’ve found ourselves missing the Wednesday night showcases sponsored by our pals at Radio Rubber Room most of all. They were always a great opportunity to hear new up-and-coming RVA bands of every style and genre, and the complete unpretentiousness and welcoming spirit of the Radio Rubber Room crew made them some of the friendliest live music nights in town. Well thankfully, Radio Rubber Room has found a new place in which to present their live music showcases (now happening twice a month), and they’ll be welcoming all comers to Emilio’s every other Wednesday night, including tonight!
The music on offer tonight continues Radio Rubber Room’s legacy of showcasing any and all styles of music out there. The Loose Cannon are our headliners, and their three-piece rock n’ roll jams are wild and crazy, like Creedence Clearwater Revival jamming with The Cramps or The Stooges. Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Riley Kerns dishes out pop music that showcases his skills on guitar and piano, and mixes influences from 60s pop groups like the Beatles with more modern sounds reminiscent of Sublime, Jack Johnson, and Bob Marley. It’s a pretty unconventional pairing, but it sure offers the opportunity to expand one’s horizons, so head out to Emilio’s tonight, check out some new music, and make some new friends!
Friday, January 17, 6 PM
Singer Songwriter Showcase featuring Chris Kasper, Jonathan Vassar, Josh Small @ Globehopper Coffeehouse – Free (Bring Donation for Touring Musicians)
Let me start by saying I know how wack this is, BUT: I just finally made it down to Shockoe Bottom’s favorite coffee spot, Globehopper, for the first time last week. I know, I know, but I live in the fan, and my tendency is to go to Lamplighter when I’m in the mood to hang out at a coffeehouse. But that’s no excuse, because there are plenty of other reasons to go to Globehopper, and a really obvious one is happening this Friday evening, as two of the best acoustic musicians in town combine with an excellent like-minded touring musician to present an evening of solo singer-songwriter sounds.
Chris Kasper is the touring musician, and he’s headed down from Pennsylvania with some relaxed, ambling tunes packed in his traveling kit. He’ll present them to you Friday night, and from what we’ve heard on his album, we have reason to believe he’ll be breaking out banjo and mandolin as well as the standard acoustic guitar. Regardless of his choice of instrument, though, the smooth, pensive melodies will have you smiling as you sip your latte. Celebrated local musician Jonathan Vassar, who’s been returning to a higher local profile recently after several years in the shadows, will also be on hand, no doubt prepared to play all your favorite tunes from his new album, Mercy For The Undeserving. And then there’s Josh Small, an incredibly passionate performer who must be seen to be believed. Josh’s influences range from old-time country music to emotional hardcore, and he’s played with everybody from Tim Barry to Brainworms. But none of those sideman gigs will prepare you for Josh’s beautiful, heartfelt solo tunes, which must be heard in a live environment to be truly appreciated. So show up, grab some coffee, and dig some great tunes. It’s more than worth the trip to the Bottom.
Friday, January 17, 11 PM
Heavy Midgets, Roseanne?, Short Skirts @ En Su Boca – price at door
Oh hey, check this out–a show at the taco place! Combining my two favorite things in the world (music and tacos) into one lovely Friday night event? Count me the hell in! Especially since Heavy Midgets, one of my favorite local bands, will be headlining the show. Their brand new album, Super King, is in the process of coming out, and it’s their best work yet, so this performance should be crammed full of excellent guitar-driven indie rock as only the Midgets can bring it to you! Honestly, this show is just a preview for their official record release show later this month, but you should still go to it, obviously, because tacos.
AND because Roseanne?, who have a question mark at the end of their name now–which is kind of weird, but in a world of bands with exclamation points at the end or even in the middle of their names, I’m not gonna complain. This new RVA band is getting some attention with their plaintive, jangly indie rock tunes, which combine the droning rock sound of the third Velvet Underground album with the ambient slowcore of Galaxie 500. Meanwhile, Short Skirts are dishing out some strange ambient horror-synth sounds that could have been the soundtrack to an Argento movie, and suddenly your tacos are looking just slightly… off-kilter. What, you’re not gonna finish those? Well damn, pass them over here then!
Saturday, January 18, 8 PM
Au Revoir, Shy Low, Way Shape Or Form, From Fragile Seeds @ Strange Matter – $7
There’s something to be said for the idea that “post-” genres are more interesting than the genres they come after. I don’t always agree with that idea, by any means, but there are times when it has a lot of merit, and this exhibition of post-rock and post-hardcore sounds at Strange Matter on Saturday night is certainly an argument in favor. Au Revoir is an instrumental post-rock band from New Jersey, and their dark, heavy epics split the difference between Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Pelican in a fascinating and enjoyable manner. They’re touring behind their latest EP, Black Hills, a three-song, 26-minute affair on which all three songs are named for dates during 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression. In an interview with Fade To Yellow, they described the cover art as “a person (potentially) jumping out of a bell tower.” Pretty intense, right? The music’s intensity will do a great job of filling Strange Matter with a deep, moody atmosphere on Saturday night, and you’ll want to be there to check that out.
Local support is just as heavy and awesome, with our own instrumental post-rock epic heroes, Shy Low, stepping up to carry the banner for RVA. They’re on tour with Au Revoir throughout the weekend, and it’s fitting for this group, whose own 2013 release, Binary Opposition, was a two-song, 25-minute EP, to match sound and fury with Au Revoir for three nights. Way Shape Or Form will also be along, and this quartet will actually be making use of the vocal mics, as well as using both guitars and electronics to create melodic, progressive, and contemplative music that probably counts as post-hardcore (unless I’m just trying to make all of these bands fit my initial conceit. Don’t think about it too hard, OK?). Finally, From Fragile Seeds are post-hardcore for sure, bringing together arpeggiated guitar leads, a heavy rhythm section, and passionate vocals to start the evening off on a high note.
Sunday, January 19, 7:30 PM
The Low Branches, Rodney “The Soul Singer” Stith, Jonathan Vassar @ Gallery 5 – $5
It’s been a year since The Low Branches released their debut full-length, One Hundred Years Old, which was RVA Magazine contributing writer Shannon Cleary’s #4 pick for Best RVA Releases of 2013. While they don’t have another album ready for us quite yet, they have put together a new single called “Rain Song,” and this Gallery 5 show is a celebration of that single’s release. A darkly contemplative tune, driven by Christina Gleixner’s incredibly strong and assured vocal performance, it’s sweetened by Adam Tsai’s trumpet, which weaves a sadly beautiful counter-melody throughout. Guitars by Gleixner and Matt Klimas, along with bass from Josh Quarles, lay down a thick foundation for the song, which does nothing to obscure the almost total lack of percussion. It’s an unusual but riveting single, and it will be immensely interesting to see The Low Branches bring it, and the highlights from their previous material, to life in a live setting.
It will also be interesting to catch the opening set from Rodney “The Soul Singer” Stith, who appears to be a straightforward R&B vocalist in the style of R. Kelly and Babyface. Not sure what connects him to The Low Branches, but the man sure can sing, so we’ve got that to look forward to. And clearly Jonathan Vassar is back on the scene in a big way, as this will be his second show in RVA this weekend. So if you miss the first one, be sure to show up on time to this one. (But don’t miss the first one, that would be a bad idea.)
Monday, January 20, 9 PM
Raindeer, Gage, Negative Gemini, Glisper, Basmati @ Strange Matter – $5
These days there’s a strange corner of the electronic music world in which the most bizarre, experimental sounds brush right up against the world of mainstream chart-topping pop. That unexpected juxtaposition is highlighted by the majority of the bands on this bill, and especially by the two Baltimore-based headliners, Raindeer and Gage. Raindeer’s most recent album, Tattoo, made it to Baltimore City Paper’s Top 10 Local Albums of 2013 list, and its drum-machine driven indie-pop certainly does stand out as a unique contribution to the world of music in general. Its mix of catchy, danceable tunes and totally weird synth settings and vocal effects constitute a marriage of upbeat pop and fucked-up noise. If generic pop bores you, Raindeer’s non-subtle tweaking of the formula will perk you right up. Gage, meanwhile, has a pedigree that’s a bit more recognizable, in that his solo electronic compositions, over which he sings or raps, are somewhat similar to those of fellow Baltimorean Dan Deacon. However, Gage clearly has a bit more of a hip hop connection, even though his beats are nothing a typical producer would ever come up with.
Richmond’s Negative Gemini has been drawing attention on the local scene for a while. Previously fronting rap-noise group Les La Britanica, her solo work in the wake of that band’s dissolution has gone in a more ambient direction. With aspects of witch house and the most atmospheric dubstep (think Burial or James Blake, not the 8-letter S word) at play in her music, she’s also using her breathy, hypnotic vocals to get at the same territory previously mapped out by Grimes, and the result is bewitching. Glisper is apparently a local act, but they’re unfamiliar to me, and their bandcamp provides a bunch of fragments that only add up to weird. Seeing them live should be a learning experience. Basmati, who are closer to a straight-up rock band than anyone else on this bill, are still pretty weird, mixing off-kilter math-rock grooves with electronic textures. These guys are down with the Subterranea Collective, so if you enjoy Navi or Houdan The Mystic, you’ll probably find something to like in their sound too.
Tuesday, January 21, 9 PM
Singer Songwriter Showcase @ The Camel – Free!
This monthly showcase of solo performers who write their own songs has been happening at The Camel for a while now, and each month’s bill is organized and curated by Paul Willson, one of this town’s true creative forces. He’s hunting down the people in town who are coming up with excellent new original tunes so that the rest of us don’t have to! Then he presents them to us one night a month at The Camel, which provides a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and an excellent selection of food and beverages over which to enjoy Paul’s latest local discoveries. This month, he’s bringing us sets from Kevin Comly, Guy Frank, Billie Bacci, Ben White, and Joe Smith, and while I don’t know what to expect from any of these performers, I know they’ll all hit a certain level of quality which we’ve come to expect from the RVA music scene in general. So if you don’t have anything going on on a Tuesday night (and let’s face it, you probably don’t), you could do a lot worse than heading down to The Camel and enjoying a burger, a beer, and a great night of local acoustic music!
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: a[email protected]