Friday, August 4, 8 PM
Don’t Look Back Fest, feat. Clair Morgan, Navi, Keep, Smoke Break, Good Neighbor @ The Camel – $6 in advance/$8 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The kitchen fire that closed down Don’t Look Back a month or so ago has created some awful situations. For one thing, a whole bunch of people are out of work. For another, the restaurant is faced with some pretty significant costs–and a lengthy amount of renovation time–before they can reopen. And of course, none of us have been able to enjoy the best tacos in Richmond since–though, let’s face it, that’s a pretty minor problem in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, the local musical community has banded together to try and help out those displaced by the fire and those without employment in its wake, and Friday night at The Camel is the perfect opportunity for you to help out with the cause, and to enjoy an excellent night of local music in the bargain!
Bandleader Clair Morgan has a monthly First Friday residence at The Camel, but before the fire, he was often to be found tending the bar at Don’t Look Back. A whole lot of Don’t Look Back employees were also musicians, and Mr. Morgan has gotten together with quite a few of them as well as a whole bunch of friends to present an entire weekend of music benefiting those affected by the fire. In addition to Morgan’s Friday night Camel residency show, there’s also a dance party at Flora the night before, and an acoustic show at Three Notch’d Brewing Co the night after. However, if you can only make it to one night, Friday night is the night to show up.
Not only will you get an excellent set from Clair Morgan’s eponymous band, whose New Lions And The Not-Good Night LP was one of the best local releases of the past year, you’ll hear from Smoke Break, fronted by erstwhile DLB employee Cory Chubb. The band also features members of Hold Tight and Springtime, and they crank out some speedy melodic punk in a zero-bullshit fashion, as showcased on their own 2016 LP, Everything Is Wrong (a sentiment Moby could certainly agree with). Keep is also on the bill, and while I’ve heard it said that this band is shoegaze, their brand new For Your Joy LP has a much stronger gloomy postpunk vibe to my ears, with far more resemblances to early Cure or The Sound than to anything Creation released at the turn of the 90s. Noise-core wildmen Navi, who broke up years ago but appear to be “back” in light of how many shows they’ve played recently, will be in attendance as well. They may also be playing at Gallery 5 on this night, but hey, those guys certainly have the energy to pull off two sets in the space of three hours. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Wednesday, August 2, 8 PM
Richmond Zine Fest Benefit, feat. McKinley Dixon, Listless, Castle Of Genre, Julie Karr @ Strange Matter – $5-10 donation requested
The Richmond Zine Fest has been a mainstay of our local underground culture for something like a decade now, and it’s always been very politically right-on. These days, the Zine Fest is pushing even farther with its goals of helping underrepresented people express themselves creatively, giving out print stipends to creators who are people of color and/or LGBTQ, helping pay for printing and table costs so that these creators have greater opportunity to be present and exhibit their product. Money raised at tonight’s benefit show will go towards these stipends, which is pretty amazing, and the diverse lineup of great local artists they’ve put together for this benefit is even more excellent.
Headliner McKinley Dixon has gone from a minor player to being everywhere in RVA over the past year or so, and no one deserves this kind of elevation more than he does. In a town full of talented hip hop MCs, Dixon stands out, both because of his street-level, journalistic lyrical content and his top-quality flow. The production on his excellent 2016 album Who Taught You To Hate Yourself? is pretty much perfect, but in live settings he often forgoes pre-produced beats in favor of fronting a live band, which makes for an unforgettable experience that will never be the same twice. On a sonic level, McKinley Dixon’s work stands in stark contrast to that of metallic hardcore fire-breathers Listless, but a similar political consciousness is present in this six-piece, which brings together a variety of POC/LGBTQ musicians from the local underground scene to let loose their rage. These two artists will blow you away in completely different ways, but the common factor is that they’ll knock your socks right off. Experimental alt-rock crew Castle Of Genre and veteran local dark-folk singer Julie Karr round out a bill that’ll give you a musically diverse but politically unified night of excellent tunes for a great cause.
Thursday, August 3, 8 PM
PIG, Julien K, Ghostfeeder @ Fallout – $12 in advance/$17 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Industrial music fans are surely stoked for this powerful bill coming to Fallout tomorrow night. PIG, the long-running project from industrial legend Raymond Watts, is part of a long tradition in this pounding, machine-driven genre. I of course refer to the tradition of sordid subject matter, dark sounds, and religious iconography recontextualized into sinister imagery laden with doom (some would say this is pretty much the same context religious iconography has in its original use. I remain agnostic on the matter). In recent years, PIG has been creating some dark, spellbinding works of transgressive religious imagery and pounding, ominous sounds, most recently following up their 2016 LP The Gospel with the just-released Prey & Obey EP, behind which they are currently touring.
While Raymond Watts is the only permanent member of PIG and therefore the only member we can be sure will be present at Fallout tomorrow night, recent collaborators have included industrial legends like En Esch (KMFDM), Z_Marr (Combichrist), and Ben Christo (Sisters Of Mercy), among others. So you can be sure of some excellent sounds coming from the Fallout stage tomorrow night, regardless of who’s actually up there bringing them to you. And of course, the forbidding presence of the Lord Of Lard will bring the whole thing to another level entirely. PIG tourmates Julien-K are coming from a different angle entirely, but the results will be similarly spooky, with their recent “California Noir” aesthetic bringing a dark electronic rock sound to the fore. Tampa synth-rockers Ghostfeeder will kick the night off, getting everyone in the mood while the air is still relatively clear.
Friday, August 4, 8 PM
Bit Brigade, Night Idea, Daniel_ @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Is it time for the Nintendocore revival yet? Back in the early 2000s, there were a few bands out there who recreated music from 8-bit Nintendo games using live instrumentation–The Minibosses, The Advantage, The NESkimos, etc. All of them had a bit of a metal-shredding aspect, which is unsurprising in light of how close the typical Nintendo game soundtrack is to being progressive metal any damn way. Nintendocore’s evolution led inevitably to bands who incorporated instrumentation made from 8-bit computer systems, and of course to bands who used this same instrumental palette to write original tunes. Everything from HORSE The Band to Anamanaguchi descends from this original impulse, though–the impulse to do instrumental metal covers of Nintendo game songs.
Bit Brigade takes this whole idea to a new level. The dual-guitar four-piece joins forces with actual gamer Noah McCarthy to act as a live instrumental soundtrack while McCarthy plays the game of the evening on a big screen above everyone’s heads. The band responds in real time to what is happening within the game, switching on a dime from song to song as the game progresses. If McCarthy dies, the set’s over–but he’s good enough that, chances are, you’re gonna see an epic final boss fight before the evening is over. All of this will be taking place onstage at Strange Matter this Friday night, and if you grew up playing Mega Man 2 as often as I did, you’re going to want to be there. Local math-prog-indie heroes Night Idea will act as support, as will a DJ known as Daniel_. The game and its stellar soundtrack are the star attractions here, though. Let’s get this whole Nintendocore revival started!
Saturday, August 5, 9 PM
The Southern Belles, Dalton Dash, LITZ @ The Broadberry – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There’s something beautiful about the way the Belles just keep on truckin’, year after year. This Southern-fried, vaguely jammed-out goodtime-party blues machine is always the perfect medicine when you’ve got too many troubles and you just need to push them all out of your mind and dance all night. They’ve had a lineup shakeup in recent months, but that’s in no way slowed them down, and now they’re back with a brand new album, In The Middle Of The Night. Having funded the album through the Pledge Music crowdfunding site, they’ve been in the public eye promoting this one for months now. Despite that fact, we still haven’t heard a single note from its soon-to-be-unleashed grooves.
But that’s OK, right? We all know what we’re getting with The Southern Belles. 2015’s Close To Sunrise was a strong progression from the band’s 2012 debut LP, Sharp As A Knife. And now, they’re taking this album to the next level with their first vinyl release–a real prestige move in these days where the Record Store Day-fueled saturation of pressing plants makes vinyl prohibitively slow and expensive for most DIY bands. With the sounds being embargoed from the internet as yet, the first taste of the brand new LP is gonna be available to you live on Saturday night at the Broadberry. And then you’ll pick up an LP from the merch table, carry it out to your car so it doesn’t get messed up while you dance, and throw it on first thing in the morning when you’re starting to figure out brunch. Sounds perfect if you ask me.
Sunday, August 6, 9 PM
Buck Gooter, Hallelujah, Gumming @ Bandito’s – Free!
Sunday nights are often focused on football or other sports (are there other sports? I mean, besides wrestling?) out in the main room at Bandito’s. However, if you know enough to wander through the door into the non-smoking section (because god knows the soundproofing at ye olde Burrito Lounge is so good, you’ll never have any idea a band is playing otherwise), you have a good chance of finding some pretty weird sounds getting dished out in what is quietly, strangely, one of the best-sounding live music rooms in the whole city. Shows there are always free, too, and you can even bring your tacos and drinks in from the other room. What’s not to like?
The weird sounds this Sunday night are coming from the reigning kings of VA noise freaks, Buck Gooter. It’s hard to make clear why a band bringing together a kid with a guitar and an angry older fella with a drum machine might turn out to be brilliant without hearing them, so I really recommend you just check them out for yourself. But trust me, it’s good stuff–sorta like early Royal Trux doing RL Burnside covers. Or something like that. The revived three-piece incarnation of Hallelujah are a slightly more conventional noise rock crew with a whole bunch of hectic riffage for ya. And of course there’s up-and-coming new band Gumming, which features members of Harrisonburg experimental punk quartet Whorecough doing a similar sort of thing in fine angry no-wave fashion. Don’t get too close to the stage and get your beer knocked out of your hand or anything, because this show is definitely gonna be active. But look for your mind to get expanded on this night. Not to mention your belly–have I mentioned lately how good the nachos are at Bandito’s? I wish I was eating some right now.
Monday, August 7, 8 PM
Dalton Dash, Little River Creek Police, Landon Elliott, Fallen Roads @ Strange Matter – $5
The more observant amongst you will notice that, although Dalton Dash are opening up the Southern Belles show, I didn’t mention them in the actual writeup. And this is why–because even if you miss them Saturday night, you have no cause to worry. They’ll be playing at Strange Matter a mere two nights later! This old-time hillbilly-jazz string band orchestra brings some sweet sounds that are not usually encountered in our modern world, making them therefore all the more enjoyable on the rare occasions when they show up. So give this band a chance to charm you–I guarantee they’ll make the most of it.
This latest edition of Strange Matter’s excellent Locals Only series pairs the more well-known Dalton Dash with a few other up-and-coming folk/bluegrass/Americana-type acts from around town. Little River Creek Police have a nice sound that mixes a sort of punk-n-roll sensibility with some lovely melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Plus I like their name a lot–makes me think of Barney Fife sitting on rural river bank somewhere staring intently at the water as if it’s gonna get up to some shit. Landon Elliott makes me think of Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar, which certainly makes me happy. Elliott’s Wildflowers EP from last winter gives me the a very positive impression of his songwriting ability, which he’s sure to expand on in the live environment. Fallen Roads will start the evening out with some moody, keyboard-driven rock sounds. And the Locals Only series delivers once again!
Tuesday, August 8, 8 PM
Slaughter Beach Dog, Shannen Moser, Bat Boy @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The rather goofily named Slaughter Beach, Dog (that’s how it’s officially rendered, as if it’s some goofy thing one of your friends says to you when you’re on a road trip) have a serious pedigree, making it a lot more understandable why people are so excited about a band that makes such a silly first impression. Fronted by Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald, Slaughter Beach Dog (that comma just makes the grammar weird in some situations) were originally formed as a creative outlet when Ewald couldn’t quite get comfortable with writing about his own life difficulties anymore. What Ewald came up with, once he shifted his focus to a set of fictional characters united by a loose narrative, was a set of melancholy tunes that were far more indie-informed than the emo-punk sounds of his other band. For a band with a goofy name, the sound of debut LP Welcome was surprisingly serious.
More recently, Ewald has continued his string of deceptive titles with a new EP called Motorcycle.jpg. These downcast tunes are carried by indelible melodies and a strong sense of mood–and not really a good mood, either. But it sure is relatable. Labelmate/touring companion Shannen Moser is also very good at creating relatable moods, taking a punkish approach to an acoustic, finger-picked sound much more strongly linked to the dark tradition of Appalachian folk and country music. Moser’s songs are every bit as evocative as Ewald’s, even if they take a slightly different route to get there. Local openers Bat Boy will attempt to get on the touring artists’ wavelength with some chunky, moody pop punk. Honestly, if you’re down with the other artists on this bill, this opener will be way less of a stretch than you might think. Show up on time and give em a shot!
Special for this month only! My fiancee and I are getting married on the other side of the country and we’re making a zine about it! Help us make the whole thing happen, get yourself a copy of the zine plus some other cool perks, and help our dreams come true! You can do that right here: http://igg.me/at/drew-n-saras-wedding-album We will be eternally grateful for anything you can throw our way!
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]