Sunday, August 28, 8 PM
Kidz At Play @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
As far as the youth of Richmond are concerned, the local artists with the biggest buzz are the dozen or so members of Kidz At Play, who represent themselves not as a band or a crew but a creative house. If you read our recent feature about the group, you heard all about it. You also heard about their regular live appearances at The Camel, and just how crazy they’re inclined to get. However, Kidz At Play haven’t had a big group performance since our article hit the streets, so if you haven’t seen them yet, that’s understandable. However, this Sunday night, that all changes.
Kidz At Play’s performance at The Camel this Sunday is billed as their Back To School Show. Hitting as it does the night before Richmond City Public Schools students return to class for the new year, and five days after VCU’s fall 2022 semester begins, this celebration is certainly apropos. But really, anytime Kidz At Play come together, it’s gonna be a party, so with an actual occasion for celebration, things are sure to be even more off the hook than usual.
OK, but what sort of music can we expect? And who exactly will be performing? As always with the Kidz, that’s a complicated question. Officially, there are 11 of them, but who you hear on any given single is always subject to change. Their most recent single, “Skyline,” finds Marquis Flower taking a solo turn at the mic and delivering a short but sweet R&B/pop anthem. Before that, there was “Cooloff,” a summertime party hip hop jam featuring verses from Smyth, Marquis Flower, and Quincy X. Then there’s the seven-minute “Pull Up,” which features nine of the Kidz and has a recently released video in which they basically do their riff on Odd Future’s legendary posse cut, “Oldie.” The uniting factor is major party vibes, and in a world where it feels like new types of bad shit are getting sprung on us pretty much daily, party music is pretty much what we all need right now. Kidz At Play are without question the biggest, most off-the-hook musical party happening in Richmond right now. Show up at The Camel this Sunday night and join in.
Wednesday, August 24, 7 PM
Apes Of the State, Doom Scroll, The Great Beforetimes @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you’re like me, you got to a point back toward the end of the 00s where you had pretty much had your fill of folk-punk. It felt too gimmicky, too naive, too self-congratulatory, and on top of all that, it just wasn’t loud enough. Over a decade later, though, the folk-punk scene has proven surprisingly resilient, and even seems to be having an upswing in the uncertain post-pandemic era. And you know, after over a decade of intentionally paying no mind to folk-punk, it kinda sounds fresh to me now. That’s especially true when the genre’s tropes are in capable hands, and Apes Of the State have certainly proven themselves to be talented carriers of the folk-punk torch. On 2019’s Pipe Dream, frontwoman and chief songwriter April Hartman looked at a future that was even more hopeless than she imagined at the time (the album was released six weeks before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported) and still found a way to sing hopefully.
What’s more, Apes of The State manage to write catchy songs without being cloying, to use acoustic instruments without sounding quiet and wimpy, and to retain a link to old-time American music through things like close-harmony singing and bluegrass-style song structures. For Apes Of The State, “folk-punk” isn’t just a code word for “punk played on acoustic instruments” — it’s music that clearly pulls from the punk rock tradition, but also manages to incorporate sounds most frequently heard on transfers from old scratchy 78 RPM records. You might have soured on folk-punk back in 2009 or 2012 or whenever, but if you ever thought the genre had promise — say, back in those halcyon days before Laura Jane Grace bought a distortion pedal — well, you’re gonna need to hear what Apes Of The State has to offer. It might just be enough to make you fall in love with the promise of folk-punk all over again.
Thursday, August 25, 6:30 PM
Peaches, Kalifa @ The National – $29 (order tickets HERE)
Dang, time sure flies. Here’s the latest thing inspiring me to say such a thing: Peaches is coming through town this week and playing at The National as part of her 20th anniversary tour in celebration of her debut album, The Teaches Of Peaches. That’s right, folks — it’s been 20 years since we all first heard “Fuck the Pain Away,” “Diddle My Skittle,” “Set It Off,” and all the other unabashedly horny anthems on Peaches’ debut album, a collection of dancefloor bangers that were arguably the peak of that buzzy early 00s genre known as electroclash. Back then, Peaches was a brand new phenomenon who seemingly came out of nowhere to take over the world. Since then, she’s gone on to a colorful career full of gender fluidity, unabashed debauchery, and anthems that have continued to ignite dancefloors all over the world for the past two decades.
Peaches is still rocking hard and going strong, as she will no doubt prove when she takes the stage at The National Thursday night. It’s been a few years since her last album, Rub, was released, but pandemic-era singles “Flip This” and “Pussy Mask” prove that she’s still got the power to create horny electro-disco anthems that’ll keep you dancing all night. Plus, you know it’s been too long since you went off to “Fuck The Pain Away.” Plus, you get a bonus performance from talented queer rapper Kalifa, who was previously known as Le1f and blew everyone’s mind back in 2012 with his killer single “Wut.” He’s reintroducing himself on this new tour, and you’re sure to hear some amazing new tracks as well as all-time classic bangers — not just the aforementioned “Wut,” but also underrated jams like “Boom” and “Sup” — during Kalifa’s set. You don’t just want to be at this show, you want to show up on time. If you miss Kalifa’s opening set, you’ll be missing out bigtime.
Friday, August 26, 7 PM
Monsoon, Cyber Twin, Remote Control, Gusher @ Cobra Cabana – $10
It’s always rad when there’s a cool show happening over at Cobra Cabana, and with summer drawing toward its end, it’s entirely possible that shows there will slow down or even stop entirely during the colder months. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take advantage of these shows when they happen. It’s an even better idea when the bands on this bill are this good. At the top of the lineup this time around is Monsoon, an Athens, GA-based duo who released an excellent new album, Ghost Party, back in February. Their sound incorporates a punk rock edge into upbeat, melodic indie anthems, and fans of bands like Mannequin Pussy and Speedy Ortiz are sure to find a lot to enjoy here.
Monsoon are the most important reason to show up at Cobra Cabana this Friday night, but there’s a lot to be said for the opportunity to enjoy some relative newcomers to the Richmond music scene while you’re at it. Cyber Twin have been around the longest, releasing a couple of EPs back in 2017… and, unfortunately, nothing since. Their garage-pop bangers are still an outstanding listen, five years on — and considering how long they’ve been saying they were working on a third EP, they hopefully have some new jams to kick out for us as well. Remote Control are a bit newer to the game, though their members have played in a variety of previous bands, many of which lay somewhere along the melodic punk spectrum. The brand new Remote Control EP, Anaphylaxis, just dropped on Monday, so the band are sure to be champing at the bit to unleash its three songs upon us all. Sounds like one hell of a party, if you ask me. I’m in. The bill is rounded out by Gusher, who’ve been delivering snarky electro-punk on Richmond stages for a couple years now. This whole event is gonna be outstanding. You really gotta be there.
Saturday, August 27, 8 PM
The Pauses, New Lions, Colin Phils, Midlife Pilot @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Saturday night at The Camel is pretty much always worth your time. This show is a great example of the form at its best: not only do we get sets from a trio of reliably amazing Richmond indie rock groups — specifically New Lions, Colin Phils, and Midlife Pilot — we also get a set from The Pauses, who hail from Orlando, Florida and have an intriguing sound that isn’t all that easily summed up. Not that the three local bands have easily summed-up sounds either… but let’s be real, I’ve written about all three of these bands on mulitple prior occasions. By now, if you’re looking for me to do an in-depth exploration of what any of them do, you can easily find one in the RVA Mag archives. You should if you don’t know these local combos; they’re all excellent, and you deserve to read detailed arguments as to that fact.
The Pauses, though — this is a band we’ve never covered before. And their 2018 LP, Unbuilding, is a total banger that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed ever since I discovered it (which was just last week, but hey, cut a girl some slack). The Pauses come from Orlando, Florida, and they enjoy referring to their hometown as “Mickeytown” and their music as “beep boop rock,” which should show how playful this trio is. However, they’re also serious as a heart attack, and they prove it on Unbuilding. You might think the fact that an alternative rock trio incorporates keyboard sounds and interactive light shows into their overall presentation means that they’re not trying to get heavy. Boy, do you have another think coming. This band knows exactly how to crank the distortion and rock the fuck out, and they do it on a regular basis, as you will hear if you show up at The Camel this Saturday night. So hey — don’t make any alternate plans, OK? Be there.
Sunday, August 28, 7 PM
The Mountain Goats, Garcia Peoples @ The Broadberry – $39.50 in advance, $45 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’m just gonna come out with it: I’ve been avoiding the topic of the Mountain Goats on this website for about a decade now. It’s not because I think they’re a bad band, or even because I stopped connecting as much with their music once they stopped recording everything with a boombox (though that latter thing isn’t entirely untrue). In truth, Mountain Goats leader John Darnielle and I used to post on the same message board back in the pre-social media days, and, um… suffice it to say that whole thing didn’t end well. Over the years, though, between his music and his writing, John’s slowly won me back over. Regardless of whether me and that guy get along, you just can’t get around his talent. He’s got an incredible way with words, a very particular and fascinating worldview, and a knack for melody and song structure that’s allowed him to spend 30 years being prolific as hell and releasing, depending on how you count them, at least 20 and maybe 30 or more albums over the past three decades.
The latest Mountain Goats record is called Bleed Out, and it sees Darnielle indulging in his literary tendencies, writing an entire album inspired by the specific aesthetic of action movies from the 70s and 80s. Musically, it’s probably the loudest and most rocked-out the Mountain Goats have gotten yet, which is a lot of fun to hear considering how mannered and calm so many of the Mountain Goats albums have been over the past dozen or so years. On this tour, one could not be surprised to find out that the Mountain Goats — a band that also includes Superchunk/Bob Mould drummer Jon Wurster — are doing an outright rock n’ roll show, one that will inspire hundreds of people packed inside the Broadberry to dance with delighted abandon. It’s gonna be a great night, and no matter how poorly John and I got along on a message board back in the late 00s, I owe it to all of you to make sure you don’t miss it.
Monday, August 29, 8 PM
LEGS. The Band, Saturn Death Cult, Lucekannons, Ricky Spanish @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
The idea of making the phrase “The Band” part of your band name is by no means unprecedented. Not only did Bob Dylan’s backing band in the late 60s strike out on their own under the name “The Band” (in the internet era, the SEO implications of that name are horrible), but a goofy, fun metalcore band from a decade or so ago went by “HORSE The Band.” Now we’ve got LEGS. The Band, who come from Denver, Colorado and don’t sound anything like either of those prior two examples. This alt-rock quartet came together to play a show on the night before the brewery where all of them worked permanently closed, and the bittersweet air of that initial raison d’etre carries through the music LEGS. The Band is still making today.
However, there is an undeniable positive energy to LEGS. The Band that counteracts the somewhat downbeat sound they create on new album Real Bad Things. The riffs hit hard, vocalist Marcus Macabre sings with passion and power, and their driving songs keep the entire album moving forward at a strong pace. The sound LEGS. The Band are able to create on record gives a positive impression of what this band might be like live, and indeed, it seems that their reputation as performers is very good. But you won’t really know for sure what this band has to offer unless you show up at The Camel this Monday night. With up-and-coming local openers Saturn Death Cult, Lucekannons, and Ricky Spanish rounding out the bill, there’s a lot to enjoy here — but rest assured, LEGS. The Band are the main event.
Tuesday, August 30, 7:30 PM
Shockoe Sessions presents: Ben Butterworth (Photo by Joey Wharton) @ In Your Ear Studios – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Back when the pandemic first got started, when live music was completely off the table, I found myself keeping regular track of who was playing on the Shockoe Sesssions Live series on YouTube. Being able to see great local artists like Deau Eyes, Colin Phils, Devil’s Coattails, and more play full sets in a great-sounding room over at long-running local studio In Your Ear certainly eased the pain of not being able to go anywhere and see anybody play a show. The pandemic may have been the initial inspiration for this series of performances, but thankfully, the folks at In Your Ear kept it going once the COVID-19 numbers started dropping to semi-manageable levels. Better yet, they started opening up the sessions to a small audience of paying guests. And this Tuesday, you’ve got a chance to get in on one of those, as Ben Butterworth heads out to In Your Ear to become the next performer on Shockoe Sessions Live.
Ben Butterworth has been making music around Richmond for quite a few years now, as a member of groups like The Inflatables and Captain Grandpa. However, it was with the release last fall of his long-awaited debut solo album, Purgatory Emporium, that he really stepped up into the spotlight as a songwriter of considerable talent. Incorporating soul, classic rock, Americana, country, and quite a few other genres, Butterworth demonstrated his facility with a wide variety of musical styles on Purgatory Emporium, and we can all expect that he’ll do that same thing when he performs on next week’s edition of Shockoe Sessions Live. It’s impossible to know exactly who will be backing him up for this performance, but considering that he brought in over a dozen local musicians, including scene veterans from groups like Bio Ritmo, Southern Belles, Piranha Rama, Agents Of Good Roots, and more, to play on the album, one would assume he’s got a pretty high-powered Rolodex (that’s where people kept phone numbers back before cell phones, kids). There’s every reason to expect that Ben Butterworth’s performance on Shockoe Sessions Live will be incredible, and there’s no valid reason for you to miss it. You know what to do.
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]