Iron Blossom Festival, Vocal Rest Fest & Nickelus F: this Week’s Sound Check

by | Aug 20, 2023 | MUSIC

This week it’s all about festivals y’all. The Iron Blossom Music Festival with nationally headlining acts is coming this weekend for two days absolutely stacked days with amazing acts. But, if that’s not your speed, on Saturday evening Gallery 5 will playing host to a full lineup of bands for a festival lineup of incredible local acts. Not to mention a local legend has released their wild new tunes for you, and we’ll cover it all on this week’s SOUND CHECK.

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Local & Regional Festivals

8/26 – 8/27 @ Bon Secours Training Facility
12pm – 10pm

Iron Blossom Festival is coming to Richmond this weekend, and it’s going to be a blast. There are a far too many artists to talk about them all here, but we’ll go ahead and cover the headliners, along with a few special picks that we think you should make your way to see.


Lord Huron has been kicking around for well over a decade. Known for the kind of spacey adventue-like music one might hear at the height of a coming of age drama, Lord Huron is perfect for a picturesque late Summer evening. This four piece band have four albums and as film score to their names, full of atmospheric dream pop and new age influenced folk music that could keep you entertained for days. Not only is it full of unique imagery and grand sounds, but it is unobtrosive and easy listening that can be consumed while doing anything from paying your bills to taking a hike down by the river. Regardless of what you’re doing at Iron Blossom Festival, you need to catch Lord Huron.

Noah Kahan is huge. I’m unsure how I hadn’t heard of him before researching this festival, but his music has the kind of easy going appeal that connects with the masses. This Connecticut folk artist has exactly what you want from a man with his guitar out in the sticks. You might get hooked as Autumn comes in while sitting on a front porch sipping a mint julep or hiking through the woods because the delicate but intentional voice of Kahan seemingly echoes off the walls of the tress and into your ears culminating in a beautiful self-actualized sound.

I saw Trousdale open for Cory Wong earlier this year, and was shocked by this group. The Trio out of Los Angeles is a hot new indie group with tight harmonies and a wonderful vibe reminiscent of west coast beaches. This laid back group will have you leaning back and enjoying the Summer sun like now other, so be sure not to miss them when they’re on at Day 1 of Iron Blossom.


Who doesn’t know about Hozier. In 2014 his hit single “Take Me To Church” took the world by storm making it on the Billboard Hot 100 staying there for 41 weeks where it peaked at No. 2. What followed was a string of tours and continued recording that has now produced three albums, a number of singles, and a consistent tone across all of them. Hozier’s unique style of an acoustic guitar driven sound with pop influences powered by his full baritone interpolated with an effortless falsetto. His newest work Unreal Unearth continues much of his trademarked sound full of finger style guitar playing (although fans of the heavier sound will be happy to hear some strummed electric guitar) and his powerful voice, but also featuring a lot of tense, packed harmonies providing a sense of scale, not unprecedented, but different from past endeavors. This top tier act is not one that you are going to want to miss at this year’s festivals

Some honorable mentions include local hotshot Mattew E. White, an indie style singer/songerwriter with gospel and r&b influences. Son Little is a wonderful r&b artist with a large back catalogue that you can check out while you’re waiting for the festivities.

August 26th @ Gallery 5
Doors: 5pm

It’s hard to speak to every band that’s playing this stacked festival full of local favorites, so I’ll hit some highlights really quick. Of those not mentioned specifically, you should absolutely check them out because everyone here is an absolutely stellar local act, and this is gonna be a blast of an evening.

If you frequent this magazine, then you’ve heard us talk about Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers before. Locals hot on the scene know her specific brand of swampy blues rock that still no barriers around her sound. She’s a must see any night of the week, and especially this on a Saturday chock full of local music.

You have not seen Brady Heck by himself, but you’ve probably seen him fronting one of the greatest bands in the Richmond underground Holy Roller. After they changed their name from Big Mama Shakes the band has been grinding to bring themselves back into the spotlight, but in the meantime, Heck has developed something of a successful solo act. He leans far more country than his larger band, but it is a sound that is tried and true so if you like acoustic guitars and good vibes he’s the guy for you.

You absolutely have to check out the self-titled album by The Great Beforetimes. Not only do they have a stellar name, but this group has perfected the art of armageddon folk music. Their feel-good-sounding music is dripping with themes of drug addiction, existential dread and a number of other dark undertones all while maintaining that wonderful jangling sound one could expect from a folk band.

Local & Regional Releases

The Specimen: Issue 00 (Album)

While it is surely odd, this record by sleeper legend Nickelus F is truly epic in the purest sense of the word. A grand story seemingly about a character who is cryogenically frozen and then thawed out years later into an almost apocalyptic world. The Specimen: Issue 00 merges spoken word and vast story telling with traditional rap and some old school style hip hop beats in fantastic fashion. A very polished album, The Specimen finds Nickelus F very exposed as he explores and displays his insecurities, with lines like “I was in pain calling out for help, no one cared, no one came, so I don’t care about being no hero I’ve got save me.” A wonderfully weird record that strays far from mainstream hip hop almost becoming something else entirely, perhaps verging on hip hopera. This concept album by this extraordinary talent is worth checking out for fans of the genre, or those who just like a good story.

Top photo provided by Lord Huron

Andrew Bonieskie

Andrew Bonieskie

I'm a writer and musician living in Brooklyn, NY after having served as the Associate Editor of RVA Mag from 2023 - 2024. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a minor in creative writing I have gone on to score feature and short films, released a book of poetry, recorded multiple albums of original music with my band Pebbles Palace and as a solo artist under the name Lawrence Bones.

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