Saturday December 30 & Sunday, December 31, 8 PM
New Year’s Eve Weekend with The Southern Belles & Jackass Flats @ The Camel – Day 1: $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE); Day 2: $25 in advance/$30 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s still the holiday season, y’all–and let me tell you, it’s a little frustrating that the world still expects me to work right in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas like this. We should all take heart, though, because while last weekend was consumed by Christmas–a lovely holiday, to be sure, as long as you aren’t hoping for live music to be happening–this weekend is New Year’s Eve weekend. That means there’ll be so many amazing shows, parties, and fun activities happening this weekend, it’ll totally make up for how bored you were sitting on your parents’ couch last Saturday night, watching Fox News because your dad wouldn’t let you change the channel.
There are a ton of excellent shows out there to choose from on this lovely holiday weekend, but for our money the one you can least afford to miss is actually not one but two shows! This Saturday and Sunday night, peripatetic psychedelic rockers The Southern Belles will join up with their rootsy-Americana pals Jackass Flats to stage a two-day takeover of The Camel. And if you’re thinking this’ll just be a typical jam-band party full of Dead covers and hippie-ish pseudo-country folk jams, you clearly haven’t been keeping up with what The Southern Belles have been up to lately.
For evidence of just how excellent this band has gotten, you need look no further than their recent LP, In The Middle Of The Night, which dropped back in August. As psychedelic musical headtrips go, this one is way more Pink Floyd than Grateful Dead. While I can certainly hear some elements of Phish in their music, it’s the more organized, tuneful end of that band’s sound–and let’s be real, Phish aren’t nearly as good at actual songwriting as these guys are. They’ll spend the evening regaling you with lengthy trips through the musical astral plane. Jackass Flats will warm up on both nights, giving you a standout take on the old-time country-folk that can at times be the bane of the jam-band scene–though not when these guys are onstage. Hint: if you’re trying to pinch pennies, show up the first night, when admission is less than half what it’ll be on actual New Year’s Eve. Once you’ve seen how far out these bands can take it, the higher night 2 door price will still seem like a bargain.
Wednesday, December 27, 8 PM
People’s Blues Of Richmond, Of Good Nature, The Trillions @ The Broadberry – $13 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s always a good time to catch a show from People’s Blues of Richmond, but anyone who’s been following this band for a while knows that they really get things going around the holidays. They’ve spent the past couple of months traversing the countryside, getting wild and crazy onstage across the USA, so they’re coming back to RVA tour-tight and ready to destroy. You can tell how cranked-up this band has been in recent months from the rerecording of classic PBR track “Cocaine Powder” that premiered on New Noise a week or so ago. It’s a hooting, howling, screaming barnburner, left over from the bad old days before they realized they had to quit or die and redone with the new energy they’ve discovered on their more sober path.
And that’s what you’ll get plenty of tonight at the Broadberry! This band always gets wild n’ wooly onstage, even if they aren’t necessarily fueled by an excess of substances, and this big-time holiday bash to close out the year just means things will be even more off the hook. PBR are joined on this trip by North Carolina reggae-rockers Of Good Nature, who bring an uplifting sound full of energy that constitutes the perfect compliment to PBR’s full-throttle mania. The Trillions will throw you a bit of a curveball in their opening slot, mixing math-rock angularity with sweet, Beatlesque pop to get everyone up and dancing in spite of themselves. This show is sure to be a blast–give yourself a post-Christmas treat by making it a part of your week.
Thursday, December 28, 9 PM
Benefit for Puerto Rico Independent Musicians & Artists (PRIMA), feat. Bio Ritmo @ The Hof – $15 donation
All the legendary local vets are out on the town for this post-Christmas week of festivities, so of course it’s only appropriate for Bio Ritmo to join the fun. If you don’t know about this RVA salsa ensemble, I would have to figure you just blew into town last week–they’ve been a strong, consistent presence on the local scene for damn near three decades now. Since their landmark appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series a few years ago, they’ve been keeping a low profile as a band, but from bassist Eddie Prendergast’s steady gig leading The Mikrowaves to conga player Coco Barez’s recent solo release, El Laberinto del Coco, the group’s individual members have been staying very busy.
However, they have been spurred back into action recently by the disaster that has befallen Puerto Rico over the past several months, in the wake of Hurricane Maria and the US government’s less than ideal efforts at relief. Multiple band members have close family in Puerto Rico, so the ongoing struggle to rebuild the island has hit very close to home for the band. It’s for this reason that their appearance Thursday night at The Hof is a benefit for Puerto Rico, specifically for the PRIMA Fund, which helps out musicians and artists affected by the storm. The proceeds from the door price at this show, as well as a percentage of the bar sales, will go directly to the PRIMA Fund, and while the minimum donation charge is $15, Bio Ritmo is encouraging those with additional cash to donate whatever in excess of the door price they can. Think how good it will feel to dance your ass off to the energetic salsa sounds of Bio Ritmo, knowing that you’ve also helped bring relief to Puerto Ricans who can’t go to shows at all because there’s still no electricity in huge parts of their island. That’s what Christmas is really all about.
Friday, December 29, 9 PM
VA Goth & Industrial Showcase Vol. 1, feat. The Rain Within, Type Trauma, The Purge, DJ Karla @ Fallout – $7 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
It’s been a few days since Christmas, so we can start wearing all black again, right? I’m glad you agree, because the time has come to don a midnight-black ensemble and head down to Shockoe Bottom for a showcase of local goth and industrial bands at Fallout. This is a great chance for those who don’t normally check out spooky stuff like this to get a crash course. And of course, for the longtime fans, this is just a really great bill. The Rain Within’s presence at the top of the lineup makes a lot of sense, of course–while this group originally formed as a side project of frontman Andy Deane’s long-running goth group Bella Morte, it’s become a pretty established project in its own right over the past several years, especially since the release of debut full-length Dark Drive in 2016. The Rain Within mixes goth gloom with a subtle melodic sensibility clearly derived from early 80s New Wave, and comes up with tunes that would have made a much better Lost Boys soundtrack than that guy with the muscles and the saxophone could produce.
The other bands on this bill are a bit heavier, but no less enjoyable. There’s not much melody at all to be found in Roanoke’s Type Trauma, a three-piece industrial outfit with a Skinny Puppy/Front 242-ish pound. However, their songs still manage to get under your skin with their propulsive grooves and ominous vocals. The Purge, which is the latest project from former Gutter Gloss frontman Thomas Duerig, brings a bit more of a Robert Smith-like vibe through the vocals, but hits very hard with its electronic instrumentation to dispel any notions of a pop sensibility. DJ Karla of ongoing Williamsburg goth dance party The Witching Hour will get this whole thing started with a DJ set that should appeal to all the dark denizens of Fallout’s gothic dance parties. This evening of dark sounds might seem a bit intimidating if you aren’t already familiar with the genre, but it’s never a bad idea to try new things. You metalheads and experimental-electronic weirdos might be surprised at how much you’ll like some of this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Saturday, December 30, 7 PM
Chepang, Triac, Bandit, Hallucination Realized, Tomb Warden @ Lakeside Tavern – $8
I get a big kick out of seeing new venues come into play around town, especially when they are as random as this one. Lakeside Tavern? Really? It’s a surprise, I’ll admit, but I’m sure not complaining. Any random new venue around the metropolitan area that wants to open its doors to a grindcore show has certainly got a friend in me. Let’s just hope they still feel like doing so after this five-band bill blasts Lakeside with a steady diet of hyperspeed blastbeats. I know one thing for sure–those of us who enjoy being pummelled by 300-BPM blasts of brutality need to make the trip out to Lakeside, because it’s not every day that Nepalese noise merchants Chepang will roll through town.
Honestly, I never thought I’d hear about a ridiculously fast, heavy, and awesome grind band from the Himalayan mountain region, but I’m sure not complaining. This group’s brand new LP, Dadhelo: A Tale of Wildfire, absolutely shreds, blowing through 14 songs and a huge conglomeration of sick riffs in the space of about 20 minutes (and five of that is just the last song). I really want to see them recreate this feat live, and since they’re from literally the other side of the world, Saturday is probably the only chance I’ll get to do it. Let’s not miss out, y’all. Baltimore veterans Triac are also on this bill, joined by Philly ragers Bandit, Rochester rippers Hallucination Realized, and local brutarians Tomb Warden. It’s seriously gonna be a full night of blasting grind insanity, and seeing whether Lakeside can handle it will be almost as awesome as checking it out in the first place.
Sunday, December 31, 8 PM
Dazeases, Sammi Lanzetta, Fat Spirit, FM Skyline @ Gallery 5 – $10
What are you doing New Year’s Eve? If you’re hoping to avoid boredom and cliches this year, you might want to check out Gallery 5’s “New Year, New You” party. After all, plenty of places can do some sort of fancy-dress party complete with champagne and kisses at midnight, but only at Gallery 5 will you get the (honestly pretty excellent) recommendation to “dress as your new self.” So who do you want to be in 2018? If you said, “Someone who sees more really good shows,” then rest assured, Gallery 5 has the perfect bill through which you will be able to kick off your new year on a good foot!
This spread of local superstars from a variety of different subgenres is topped off by Dazeases, whose ambient electronic sounds and powerful vocals makes me think of Bjork if she was raised in the American south. Or something like that. Meanwhile, Sammi Lanzetta brings her own powerful voice to the table, but it’s backed by some killer power-pop tuneage. Fat Spirit puts the “rock” in indie rock, which it’s a huge relief to see someone doing in 2017, and FM Skyline finds local renaissance weirdo Pete Curry getting his vaporwave on with a collection of synths sure to put your head in a new space. Isn’t that what we should all want from a New Year’s Eve party? Seems legit to me.
Monday, January 1, 9 PM
Escuela, .gif From God, Cruelsifix @ Cary St. Cafe – $7
Only two days after the Chepang show at Lakeside Tavern, we have another instance of a grind show happening at a totally unusual place. Oh sure, Cary St. Cafe does live music regularly, but most of the time it’s rock n’ roll, jam-band stuff, or folk music. I certainly wouldn’t have expected them to kick off their year with an evening of ripping grind violence. But hey, maybe this is their new look for 2018. I must say I like it. Escuela comes to us from Ithaca, NY, and their new split with Disparo! shows them to have a monster of a sound, full of blasting speed, crust-punk rage, and metal power. Fans of Discordance Axis, Tragedy, and Nasum should all find a lot to love here.
The two local bands sharing this bill with Escuela aren’t bands you’d normally expect to play together, but in light of the out-of-town headliners, it makes perfect sense. .gif From God are bringing back that whole scene-grind thing all by themselves, but they’ve got a lot more to offer than white belts and Number 12 Looks Like You resonances–this band’s split with Vein, released almost exactly a year before this show, ranges from pedal-to-the-metal speed to neck-snapping breakdowns at the drop of a dime, keeping you guessing and your head banging. Cruelsifix is also bringing the speed and the breakdowns, but they do so in service of old-school death metal, busting out some early 90s Florida/Morrisound-style riffs to get all the denim n’ leather types stoked. None of this will make too much sense to random Deadheads wandering in on a Monday night, but who cares? Crank the amps and let it roar!
Tuesday, January 2, 7 PM
A Night of Covers Benefiting Gallery 5, feat. Night Idea, Opin, The Pyramidions, Oasis tribute band @ Gallery 5 – $5
Craig Zirpolo’s been a scene mainstay for a while now. One of the main forces behind local music-centric web publication Dust-Up, Zirpolo previously helmed The Horn RVA and has taken a ton of photos for publications all around this town and beyond. Sadly, they’re now departing our lovely river city for the greener pastures of Austin (it’s like RVA only it’s in Texas, so it’s bigger). But before they leave, they’re giving us not one but TWO nights of killer music to benefit two of the best venues in Richmond. This is just the first night–we’ll almost certainly talk about night two in next week’s column. But this show is worth exploring in and of itself, because it comes with a twist.
This Gallery 5 benefit is a tribute show, of sorts. And I say “of sorts” because the headlining act, Night Idea, is really just covering themselves. Or, I mean, I think that’s what’s up with the whole “Cold Brew Boys” thing, right? I don’t hang in the proper circles to fully plumb the depths of that particular in-joke. But I can tell you that the band will also be busting out some tunes from Ocho The Cat, their 2011 debut LP, which has long since been scrubbed from their bandcamp, so you’ve gotta figure they’re at least a little embarrassed about it. Opin and The Pyramidions will both engage in some more straightforward tribute-paying with their sets of Tears For Fears and The Birthday Party tunes, respectively. Meanwhile, the Oasis tribute band featuring members of Magnus Lush, Bad Magic, and Unmaker, which previously played an episode of Strange Matter’s 90s Prom tribute show, will reform once again to tell us what the story (morning glory) is. So yeah, this should be a blast, and it’s for a good cause! It’s not exactly tight that Craig is leaving, but for now, we should celebrate the fact that we ever had them here at all. So let’s ring in 2018 right, even if it is two days late!
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]
Top photo by Melissa Brugh, via Facebook