Saturday, December 31, 7 PM
Shotclock (Photo by Jeramie Bailey), Dead Format, Madison Turner, Cyber Twin @ Lakeside Tavern – $10
2022 is drawing to a close, and there are a lot of different ways you might feel about it. Some depressing things happened in the world of politics, but it wasn’t entirely terrible, I guess. Right? Oh, don’t ask me, I’m too tired from dragging across the finish line of a long, long year to even tell you. What I can tell you is that it’s been a good year for Richmond music, with the local scene steadily ramping up in activity throughout the past twelve months, even as different subgenres shuffled and resettled into new configurations that proved normal in the post-pandemic world was decidedly different from what it had been before we all went into quarantine back in March 2020 (nearly three years ago? Has it really been that long? Don’t answer that).
One of my personal highlights from Richmond music in 2022 was the two-song single by Shotclock, the melodic punk trio led by veteran Richmond guitar-slinger Pedro Aida. The A side, “Can’t Explain,” is one of the catchiest pop-punk tunes I’ve heard since back in the mid-90s when Down By Law was still cranking out a killer new record once every year or two. That’s not an idle comparison, either — Aida’s vocally a dead ringer for Dave Smalley circa the third Down By Law album, and he writes killer tunes that could easily stand alongside the best work that band produced back then (to be clear, this is a HUGE compliment). The B-side of the single shows off Aida and Shotclock’s excellent taste with a cover of “Molly (Sixteen Candles)” by Sponge, a true alternative-era gem from back when you could put on FM radio and frequently hear good new music. What a concept!
Anyway, Shotclock’s killer new single clearly led to a good year for the band as a whole, because they are capping off 2022 with a New Year’s party that’s perfect for all of us who don’t really see the point of a party if the music isn’t going to be perfect. We can undoubtedly expect great things from Shotclock’s headlining set over at Lakeside Tavern, but they’ve organized an incredible group of talented openers to make this a night of top-quality melodic punk from beginning to end, featuring Dead Format’s speedy yet oh-so-poppy skate rock riffage; Madison Turner’s skilled take on power pop infused with ska, folk, punk, pop, and more; and of course, Cyber Twin’s rollicking punk n’ roll chaos. The music will wrap up during the 11 o’clock hour, leading into an 80s dance party and the inevitable end-of-year countdown, by which time you should be totally rocked out. It’s a great way to start 2023.
Thursday, December 29, 7:30 PM
Joyer, Shep Treasure, Kat Nap, Emil N The Cosmonauts @ Black Iris Social Club – $8
The holiday season’s hectic even at the best of times, so I’m sure by now we’re all feeling a little bit of fatigue as we coast through the last few days of 2022 en route to New Years Eve. We’ll all party like crazy to ring in 2023, of COURSE, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a more laid-back night between now and then, at least once? You can get exactly that without failing to feed your live music addiction if you head to Black Iris Social Club on Thursday night, and that’s exactly what I’m going to recommend that you do, in order to catch the Joyer/Shep Treasure tour as it comes through RVA.
If you’re not familiar with either of those bands, it’s understandable — both of these northeastern ensembles are still building their reputations elsewhere in the country. But Joyer in particular deserves to have a significantly higher profile, as this guitar-drum duo’s 2020 LP, Sun Into Flies, is an overlooked diamond in the rough. The sort of laid-back tunes these guys bring to us on Sun Into Flies could easily be labeled “slowcore,” as they always keep the tempos lackadaisical and the riffs jangly and melancholic. However, there’s definitely a stoner-mellow undercurrent running through the entire album that keeps things from ever getting too bleak — which is nice, especially this week. Shep Treasure, meanwhile, has a quiet acoustic sound that feels more indie than folk, with some indelible melodies that’ll keep your toes tapping. This is a nice double bill, one that’s only enhanced by the addition of understated yet fascinating locals Kat Nap and Emil N The Cosmonauts. Ease into it.
Friday, December 30, 7 PM
Druglord, Thunderchief, Future Projektor, Diseased Earth @ Another Round Bar and Grill – $10
OK, now let’s go in a completely different direction, and head up to Lakeside for this gig full of loud, raging sludge at Another Round on Friday night. While it’s been a while since Druglord was regularly active — the trio’s most recent release was 2018’s New Day Dying — the members have all stayed active musically, and this is sure to be a fiery example of the live power that Druglord was always able to bring in a live environment. Will they have any new material for this set? It certainly would be cool to hear a few new songs, but honestly, at this point, everybody would be stoked if they just played the hits, so there’s really no way to lose with this one.
What’s even cooler is that Druglord frontman Tommy Hamilton’s bandmate in Omen Stones, Erik Larson, is bringing out Thunderchief, the duo featuring Larson and Rik Surly cranking out some heavy sludge that will fit in right alongside Druglord on this excellent bill. This year has seen Thunderchief bringing a series of killer cover tunes into the world on Bandcamp — word has it their versions of songs by everyone from The Who and Spooky Tooth to Dinosaur Jr and Discharge will soon be collected into a full-length covers album that’s sure to flay all our faces off. However, Thunderchief’s original material in no way pales in comparison to the quality material they’ve recently been re-interpreting, so whether they give us a slew of covers, a set consisting entirely of original material, or (most likely) some mix of the two, they’ll be sure to level the place when they take the stage. Opening sets from instrumental prog-metallers Future Projektor and doom-meisters Diseased Earth will kick this one off in fine fashion. Be there for it.
Saturday, December 31, 7 PM
Gallery 5 New Year’s Eve Celebration, feat. Ayinde Williams Trio, Classical Revolution RVA, Ms. Jaylin Brown @ Gallery 5 – $20-$100 (order tickets HERE)
This week’s featured show is for everyone out there whose idea of a great New Years Eve party is basically just a really great show. However, there are other ways to approach this important holiday — which you could easily call the Super Bowl of partying — that make music an important part of the mix while also ensuring that the most crucial element of the event is the celebration of one year ending and another kicking off. As 2022 comes to a close, Gallery 5 is proving that taking this approach is just as likely to yield significant rewards as going the “it’s mainly just a show” route. And I for one am here for it.
The main attraction of the evening, at least where music is concerned, is the Ayinde Williams Trio, a local jazz combo led by a piano playing whiz kid whose skills on the piano are not to be underestimated by any means. Williams and his band are sure to keep feet tapping, heads bobbing, and everyone circulating with pep in their step throughout the evening. Whether they’re the background to your mingling or the main focus of your attention, you’ll be equally charmed by their excellent sound. And of course, Classical Revolution RVA will be on hand for a special year-end performance as well, and they’ll be joined by soulful Richmond chanteuse Ms. Jaylin Brown to ring in the New Year. All this plus an art show to take in, photo ops, snacks and drinks, and of course a midnight champagne toast to celebrate the coming of 2023. You can’t miss with this one.
Monday, January 2, 7 PM
UDE (United Dumpster Empire), Rough Dose, False Cape @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
It’s not really any big surprise that nothing’s really going on the night of New Years Day, is it? This is traditionally the night when everyone sleeps off their first hangover of the new year, and maybe throws themselves into a dry January, or a fresh attempt at turning over a new leaf and actually using that gym membership on a regular basis this year. But once New Years Day is over and we all have to go back to work on Monday, chances are all of us will have the edges sanded off our New Year high. And as we finish the first interminable Monday work shift of the new year, we’ll all be ready for some serious rockin’ out.
This snotty punk triple bill at The Camel is a great way to blow off some steam as everyone’s workplace throws us all back into the thick of it like the holidays never even happened, and we all get left with a major post-New Years letdown. United Dumpster Empire, who are at the top of this bill, are sure to help you get through that feeling and reinvigorate you with their set of raging punk tunes, as showcased on the band’s recent home-recorded LP, Horsin’ Around. Sacrificing pristine polish for raw noise, this record is an exciting listen, and the quartet (including drummer Austin Carmony, who is celebrating his birthday at this shindig) will only kick the whole thing up quite a few notches when they bring it live and uncut onto the stage at The Camel. Richmond punk trio Rough Dose will augment the UDE set with some rockin’ punk tuneage of their own, and Virginia Beach’s False Cape will bring us a somewhat more melodic but no less energetic take on punk rock to get things rolling. It’s all gonna be a lot of fun, and by Monday, we’ll all be needing that in a big way.
Tuesday, January 3, 7 PM
Midnight Bluesmen, Space Fish, Riley Ely @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
There seems to be a trend here in VA lately of bands of young people naming themselves after grizzled elder statesmen of music. First we had Cleophus James, the combo of fresh-faced youngsters who named themselves after James Brown’s character in the Blues Brothers. And now we’ve got The Midnight Bluesmen, a group of young Christopher Newport University students whose overall vibe is nothing like the posse of middle-aged men in fedoras and shades you expect from their band name.
Is that really a big deal, though? Not after one listen to the band’s recently released debut single, “Hypnotized.” For one thing, the group’s playing on this catchy track shows some real talent, worth keeping an eye on as they mature. For another, the tune is legitimately catchy, with a, yes, bluesy vibe that creates a foggy-night-on-a-hot-city-street atmosphere that’s enough to make you think maybe Midnight Buesmen wasn’t such a bad name for this group after all. Think of it this way — if they’re this talented when they’re this young, imagine how good they’ll be in another 20 years. Maybe they’ll grow into their band name. In the meantime, they show real promise — more than enough for you to make the Tuesday night trip to The Camel to check out their whole set.
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]