Saturday, November 4, 7 PM
Ladygod, Rikki Shay, Ben Shepherd, Cool Moon @ Flora – $7
They’ve cultivated an air of mystery around themselves throughout their time in the RVA scene, which stretches back at least three years now. Releases have been few and far between, with too few songs on them. It’s always been hard to pin down who is actually in the band. And recently it’s become tough to even determine whether their band name is one or two words. But Saturday night at Flora, Ladygod (Lady God?) will finally reveal themselves with the release of their debut full-length, Rock n Roll Kaliphate.
In fairness, those who’ve seen the band have surely grasped at least a little of what was going on. The group’s hazy, “Exile-era Stones fed through a Brian Jonestown Massacre cloud of psychedelia” sound becomes clear over the course of a full set. And regardless of who is singing, it’s obvious that singer/guitarist Skye Handler is the Anton Newcomb of the group — as various talented, noteworthy members have come and gone, he’s held things together, regardless of how much of a mess he himself seems during any given performance.
These days, Handler’s band features Peace Beast frontwoman Kelly Queener as well as some other capable if slightly lesser-known players. The sound they churn out on their new LP has a stumbling, louche glamour to it, and is sure to slowly entrance you as its tendrils work their way from the Flora stage into your waiting mind. Ladygod will be joined on this bill by Rikki Shay (and the Martin Ruthless, I guess?), whose indie hipster-lounge funk sound was clarified on their own debut full-length of a few months ago, The Mixed Tapes. Opening sets will also be provided by local singer-songwriter Ben Shepherd and Houston’s Cool Moon. You won’t even dance, you’ll drift blissfully across the floor.
Wednesday, November 1, 8 PM
The American Indie, Fontaine, The Firnats, Don Fredrick @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$13 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I admit it–I’m a bit flummoxed by a band calling themselves “The American Indie.” It feels sort of like a band from Oslo calling themselves “The Norwegian Black Metal.” But hey, this is the United States, after all, where anytime we seek to give something profundity, we put the word “American” in the title (American Hustle, American Gangster, American Gigolo, American Idol, American Horror Story, American Dad, etc. ad nauseam). So hey, why not?
The American Indie have a pretty good sound, after all, with a surprising smoothness and some killer melodies that bring together power pop guitars with silky 80s synth-pop keys and killer vocal calisthenics. Their When Money Swallows Up Your Time EP is full of killer tunes that’ll have you hitting the dancefloor the way you normally only do at 80s nights. And then there’s Fontaine, the Boston band joining with Nashvillians The American Indie for this tour. In a geographic surprise, they’ve got a bit more of that heartland jangle than their Southern counterparts. But it all evens out in the end, right? Hot new locals The Firnats and Don Fredrick will get it warmed up in fine fashion, so get set for some good ol’ American Fun!
Thursday, November 2, 6 PM
Pinact, Teen Death, Carry Fisher @ Champion RVA – Free!
Another Thursday, and once again, we’re back at Champion gaining fortification for the last work day of the week with a shot of heavy-duty musical salvation for the low low price of nothing at all. There’s even beer, if that’s your kind of thing. But more importantly, there’s rad music, this week featuring a performance from touring Scottish act Pinact, who just released their second album, The Part That No One Knows. Its killer punk riffs incorporate the sorts of awesome post-Nirvana early-90s alt-rock influences that have been showing up across the indie underground for the past few years to outstanding effect. It also features some excellent choruses that will stick in your head and refuse to go away, keeping your toes tapping all night. Who can complain about that?
Pinact are excellently paired with local rockin’ punk trio Teen Death, who have been back on the radar after a relatively quiet last year or so with a bunch of local shows and a recent trip to The Fest in Gainesville, FL. These guys mix early 90s influences of their own with some crunchy garage sounds that crank up the punk quotient and give you something to snarl about. Recent Woodbridge transplants Carry Fisher kick things off with what promises to be the noisiest, sloppiest set of the night–and if you don’t think those are good qualities, I’ll have to ask you to re-evaluate what you look for in good music. Come to this one ready to rock, because the heavy jolt of energy this show is packing is sure to get you moving.
Friday, November 3, 8 PM
Chino Amobi, McKinley Dixon & Friends, Toxic Moxie, Lotus @ Strange Matter – $8
Chino Amobi has remained steadily fascinating throughout his lengthy tenure as part of the RVA music scene. Beginning in his days performing under the name Diamond Black Hearted Boy and continuing to his current solo work, Amobi’s had a constant sonic thrust paired with an intense political message, all of which added up to rejecting of current political realities through genre-spanning works of experimental gothic noise pop. Or something like that. Deep dives into his recently released album PARADISO, the sonic environments of which often give the lie to the sunny-sounding title, will yield a variety of strange electronic grooves, which sometimes bring a hypnotic funk sensibility sure to charm any listener, and other times disrupt themselves with harsh explosions of found sound. It changes from moment to moment, and while the change can wrong-foot you a bit, it’s always an engrossing experience, reflecting Amobi’s noted antipathy towards passive listening. Your listening experience at Strange Matter this Friday night will be an active one–Amobi guarantees it.
In this performance, he unites with several other Richmond artists to raise funds for Advocates For Richmond Youth, an activist group dedicated to preventing youth homelessness in our area. A worthy cause, one that it’s no surprise to see uniting POC and LGBTQ artists who themselves are members of marginalized groups more likely to encounter the grim reality of homelessness than the average person. It’s not just words on paper to them. And not only is this clear from listening to Amobi’s music, it shines through just as brightly from the music of hot local rapper McKinley Dixon, who’s brought a notable social consciousness to his meteoric rise through the ranks of Richmond musicians. Meanwhile, disco-punk ragers Toxic Moxie have always shown a dedication to moving bodies with tremendous grooves backed by sincere conviction. I’m not as familiar with newcomers Lotus, who open this night of noise for a cause, but their position on this bill alone is enough to speak well for them. Come catch this whole show, and dance your ass off for a good cause!
Saturday, November 4, 7 PM
Blitzen Trapper, Lilly Hiatt @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’ll say this for Blitzen Trapper–they haven’t settled into some sort of mid-career rut. No, the band’s recent days have seen them putting together a full-on stage production, debuted in their Portland, OR hometown earlier this year. And you can make cracks about the fact that of course it’s a band from the setting of Portlandia who are the ones to do something like this, or how go figure that a band with major Springsteen influences have finally done what Bruce’s critics always accused him of, i.e. turning rock n’ roll into a Broadway show, but the songs that are part of Wild N’ Reckless are enough to hush up any such wisecracks in a big hurry. The seven-song rock opera joins with five more songs on the band’s new album of the same name, and its title track has a real Desire-era Dylan fed through, yes, 70s Springsteen sound, but I can’t imagine why anyone would complain about that.
Make no mistake, these songs have a real darkness at their heart. Blitzen Trapper is older and wiser now, finding themselves looking back at their younger days and wondering if they can somehow recapture the energy of those days and feel truly alive again without reliving the mistakes they made back then. It’s kind of an alt-country Beach Slang move, if anything, and fans of groups from The Band to the Drive-By Truckers should find something to enjoy here, both musically and lyrically. And you know, it’s always a great to catch a band at the moment of their big statement, so if you were ever gonna go see Blitzen Trapper, you couldn’t do better than going this Saturday night. You’re sure to feel some feels.
Sunday, November 5, 6 PM
Knuckle Puck, Movements, With Confidence, Homesafe, Everview @ The Canal Club – $17 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OMG, y’all. This show almost escaped my notice, because I had forgotten to check the Canal Club’s website. Thank god I headed over there randomly this morning as I was getting this column together–I would definitely never want to miss a show by one of my favorite melodic punk bands of the past several years. If I’d missed this show I would have cried–just like I have done more than once while listening to their records. Hey, I’m not too proud to admit it. The brand new Knuckle Puck LP, Shapeshifter, was also news to me, which is if anything embarrassing in light of my long-professed fandom for this group. But if you need any reason to actually take the plunge on this show, one listen to the new album should be enough to give you plenty.
While the band has steadily grown from the rawness of their early EPs, this full-length follows on the heels of their debut LP, Copacetic, in its simultaneous leavening of the band’s harsh teenage momentum with heartfelt melody without doing anything to dull the powerful emotional punch their music packs. If there’s only one pop-punk band you’re still willing to hang with in this post-Fall Out Boy world (and who could blame you, with what that band sounds like now? We all got burned by that one), Knuckle Puck are an excellent choice. And I’m right there making it with you. Get down there early, because all-ages shows don’t observe “rock time,” and make sure you catch the excellent opening bands as well. But yeah, I admit it–this show is all about Knuckle Puck for me. If they play “No Good” I’m gonna freak out.
Monday, November 6, 8 PM
Earthling, Knight Terror, Left Cross, Lore @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
It’s a Monday night double whammy, as two local labels present two Virginia bands that just released albums on their respective labels to an always-rabid RVA metal scene. We start off with headliners Earthling, who’ve been around the scene here in the Commonwealth for years and have returned to Forcefield Records for a follow-up to their 2013 Forcefield release, Dark Path. The new record, Spinning In The Void, sees the band carrying on its tradition of epic riffs and intricate songcraft complete with an always jet-black vein of crust, doom, and black metal running through things. And really, could you expect anything less?
You’re in luck, because there’s not less but MORE! Local thrashers Left Cross have their first full-length on deck for you as well, this one coming from fellow local powerhouse label Vinyl Conflict. Chaos Ascension finds these guys continuing to ply their trade in late 80s death metal moves, channeling Scream Bloody Gore and Slowly We Rot with abandon on this brutal full-length. A special bonus appearance by Knight Terror, who hail from Brooklyn, feature members of Mutilation Rites, and are every bit as raw and ripping as these two facts would lead you to expect, is sure to thrill all assembled.
Tuesday, November 7, 8 PM
Demoncy, Crurifragium, Ululatum Tollunt, ASM, American @ Strange Matter – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I hope you didn’t think that last show is as brutal as things would get in this column. Sure, Earthling, Left Cross, and Knight Terror are all pretty blackened, but the unutterable horror of Demoncy takes things to another level entirely. Their killer 2012 album Enthroned Is the Night was released on Nuclear War Now (so you know they’re for real) and features a constant low-end pummeling rumble laden with blast beats and topped with a sinister, throaty growl that speaks of Satan and infinity with sinister intent. Halloween was last Tuesday, but this band doesn’t care for your petty holidays–they’re terrifying all the time.
Fellow Seattle-ites Crurifragium (which seems like the sort of name a band picks mainly because of the ways its letters flow together to create a totally brutal logo) bring more high-end guitar buzz than Demoncy on their most recent full-length, Beasts Of the Temple of Satan, but the result is essentially the same–and really, how could you expect anything less from an album with that title? Prepare to throw the horns and bang your head, because this show is going to bring the beast out of you.
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): [email protected] [yes, my email is through GayRVA, don’t get weird about it]