Commonwealth Of Notions Presents: Volume Four Was A Big Hit At Strange Matter

by | Jul 29, 2014 | MUSIC

On Friday, July 18, Strange Matter was packed with fans and band members for the fourth annual WRIR and Commonwealth of Notions Presents music festival.

On Friday, July 18, Strange Matter was packed with fans and band members for the fourth annual WRIR and Commonwealth of Notions Presents music festival. As this was the second night of the festival, the excitement of the first event on Thursday had carried over to create a happy buzz of chatter and camaraderie from the audience members.


Photo by Joey Wharton

The night began with Clair Morgan, a band which features Shannon Cleary, the host of the festival and the WRIR show The Commonwealth of Notions, who had organized the entire event. Having never heard them before, I was really struck by how much the lead singer sounded exactly like James Mercer, the lead singer of The Shins. Their music was very Shins-esque as well, but had its own twist. As I listened further, I found their use of mixed meter while still keeping the music catchy and enjoyable to be impressive.


Photo by Joey Wharton

Next came Hot Dolphin, whom I’d heard a lot about around town and seen plenty of stickers for, but never had the chance to see. I was not disappointed. A punk-rock band with a female singer is always a good way to go, and it’s safe to say that nobody could keep their eyes off of her while her band was playing. With a much harder sound than the other bands involved that night, Hot Dolphin was a treat for the audience members who were fans of louder and head bang-ier music.

Following Hot Dolphin was Lightfields. The people I was there with all commented on how much they liked them, and made sure to take note of them in order to buy some of their music later. One even said they sounded a lot like Jimmy Eat World. The best part of their set had to be when they started playing a cover of Archers of Loaf’s “Web in Front” and Shannon Cleary ran up to the front and jumped on stage to assist with vocals. This band–along with all the other bands–seemed to love what they were doing the entire time, and were excited to be a part of this festival.

Unfortunately I missed the next band, Sundials, because I was standing outside. Although Strange Matter is great for intimacy of shows because of its small size, the temperature due to the pure amount of body heat involved at a more well-attended show like this one can be hard to handle at times. It was apparent that a lot of people there were thinking the same thing by going outside to enjoy the “cooler” July temperature between sets.

The last band to take the stage was Avers, and the reason for the hype they’ve been getting around town lately was immediately apparent. They were very professional while onstage, and seemed well put together as a group overall. Many hearts were broken by Alexandra Spalding, who was glowing in an all-white outfit. Their channeling some sort of 60’s vibe while also sounding a little like Radiohead added up to a type of music I can’t say I’ve heard before, but I’d love to hear more. They were somewhat psychedelic while also keeping some rock/alternative grooves going. Everybody in the audience listened to Avers intently, unwilling to miss any part of their set.

Every band which participated in Friday night’s show was a hit thanks to Cleary’s careful selection. For the price of five dollars, there is absolutely nothing bad to say about this show, and I wouldn’t miss next year’s for the world. If you did miss it, you’ve got to make it next year if you want to continue to call yourself a proud Richmond music lover.

Check back tomorrow for our review of Saturday, July 19th’s Commonwealth Of Notions show at Gallery 5!

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.




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