Saturday, January 29, 7 PM
Last Minute Fest!, feat. The Mitras, Nancy Raygun, Halfcast, Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers, Dead Billionaires, Ten Pound Snail, Dead Rising, Big Loud Awful Sound @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Every week, no matter how much I intend not to, I end up starting the column with a disclaimer about the ongoing pandemic. So this week, let’s just lean into it. Last week’s column started with the featured show I planned getting cancelled 10 minutes before I started writing. I know of at least one show I did end up including in last week’s column that got cancelled between my writing about it and the day it was supposed to happen. And while I can’t say whether it’s got anything in particular to do with COVID, the fact that this show, now christened Last Minute Fest!, was originally promoted as an all-local three-band bill, of which two of the bands have since dropped off, makes me think that COVID may be getting its filthy paws all over this one too.
All of which is to say that any partaking of live music in the current environment requires accepting a certain amount of risk. Of course, I grew up going to shows in barely-legal basements where you were always in danger of being put in the hospital by a particularly vigorous slam dancer, and I still went, so I guess we all have to make those calculations for ourselves. And I can certainly see why the bill Last Minute Fest is offering here would lead any hale and hearty fan of local music to risk the viral version of a spinkick to the jaw. For one thing, there’s the ringleaders of this whole shindig, The Mitras, a fun local alt-rock group who recreate the best of those mid-90s post-Nirvana buzz-bin hits from bands like Local H and The Toadies, while having a ton of fun doing so. Their set alone will offer sufficient reason to dance the night away.
Oh, but there’s so much more on offer here that’ll be worth so much more than your ten measly bucks. For example, melodic psychedelia from local indie rockers Nancy Raygun, whose resemblance to a long-gone local venue is purely coincidental. Then there’s Halfcast’s chunky, borderline-metallic riff bombast, which at times resembles Queens Of The Stone Age. We also have sets from recent column mainstays like country-soul combo Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers and melodic slowcore ensemble Ten Pound Snail. That’s not to mention the jangly, ramshackle rockin’ Dead Billionaires brings to the table, and the catchy, vaguely funky, er, sound of Big Loud Awful Sound… plus whatever other than a video game Dead Rising might be. It’s a lot of local musical genius for a relatively small amount of money, so weigh the risk however you have to and get over to the Camel for an evening of excellent Richmond rock.
Wednesday, January 26, 7 PM
Orange Culture, The Flops, Ten Pound Snail, Los Malcriados @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Kids playing guitars. It’s always fun. Orange Culture will liven up your Wednesday night doldrums tonight at the Camel with the welcome sight of some barely-out-of-high-school boys jumping around with guitars. Orange Culture hails from Roanoke, they’re in their teens, and they’ve got an album called OCCO that shows off their catchy riffs, upbeat tempos, and inclinations toward psychedelic pop in fine fashion. They’re the new generation, and they’ve got something to say — you should listen to them!
Similar could be said about The Flops, another rock n’ roll combo from elsewhere in Virginia who will be sharing this bill with Orange Culture. The Flops have melody and groove to spare, and they hail from Staunton rather than Roanoke, so representation for the I-81 corridor will be strong on this bill. Richmond mainstays Ten Pound Snail will contribute a lovely dose of their slowcore mood music for those who don’t want to wait til Saturday for their escargot fix. The bill is rounded out by Los Malcriados, a dozen-piece funk ensemble featuring six horn players and a super-soulful rhythm section with a decidedly Latin flavor mixed in there. These guys will start this show off with a bang, and who doesn’t love that?
Thursday, January 27, 7 PM
Pressing Strings, The Great Beforetimes @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s been real cold outside lately, and you definitely don’t need a column for upcoming live music to tell you that. But what I can offer you is the possibility of some real musical relief, coming to the Camel this Thursday night, in the form of Annapolis, MD’s Pressing Strings. This trio’s smooth, folky rock music has the feel of someone wrapping a warm blanket around your shoulders and handing you a hot cup of chicken broth after you’ve been out in the cold for hours. And believe me, I’ve definitely wished I had something like that after my last few morning walks.
Pressing Strings were yet another band who got supremely unlucky as a result of the pandemic, releasing their most recent full-length, Settle In, during that week in March 2020 when everything shut down. They’ve since followed it up with an EP called Morning Takes, which actually dates from the same time period. There’s a very clear mood being created on both of these releases, and the best way I could describe that mood would be as: laid-back, but empathic rather than apathetic. These guys are the musical version of that friendly bartender who listens to your troubles on a slow weekday afternoon and actually has some good advice to offer. Pressing Strings don’t have any personalized advice for you, just some music. But it’s really lovely music, and that always helps.
Friday, January 28, 7 PM
Tone Redd, Noah-O, Zay, Big Sty, Unique Hustle Hard, G’z Finest; with special appearances by: Illa Styles, Ed Da Realist, Earl Wizzi, John Day @ Black Iris – $15 in advance, $20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
It’s Richmond rapper Tone Redd’s birthday, and he’s ready to party down in proper fashion at Black Iris this Friday night. Tone Redd has been locked down for the past two years just like the rest of it, but he hasn’t let it slow him down, instead using COVID-19 as creative fuel for his latest EP, The Pandemic Album. Produced by Starr Nyce, the six songs on this EP hit hard with lyrical power while also staying smooth and soulful. And of course Tone Redd will bring all that and more to his performance at Black Iris, so you’re gonna want to be there.
He’s got a whole bunch of Richmond hip hop heavy hitters that’ll be up in the place celebrating with him, too, so you know not only that Tone Redd’s for real, but that this show is going to be off the hook. Noah-O’s sets are always impressive, Zay is a young up-and-comer with some real bangers under his belt, and Big Sty is a veteran Richmond hip hop player with stacks of tracks. There’s quite a bit more to come on this stacked bill of local hip hop talent as well, from a set by G’z Finest, who partnered with Tone Redd on 2019’s 50/50 Mixtape, to “special appearances” (meaning they’re only gonna do one or two songs? Aww) by Illa Styles and Ed Da Realist, among others. Plenty of hard-hitting hip hop from right here in the RVA will be on the menu on this night, so get a plate and get ready to get served.
Saturday, January 29, 8 PM
Bandito’s Winter Fest, feat. Chupaskabra, Black Tie Society, Ice Cold Chillen, Everybody Gets One @ Bandito’s – Free!
Has the time come for a full-on ska-punk revival, y’all? I’m not necessarily the best person to ask; I kinda stayed on the sidelines for the first ska-punk revival back in the late 90s. I did see — and play — a few shows featuring bands that were part of that whole scene back in those days, though, including Richmonders Chump Change and Shmegma. Members from both of those bands are now playing in Chupaskabra, an obviously ska-loving but equally punk-as-fuck combo coming out of Richmond’s Southside. They’ve got the upstrokes and the oi-oi-oi’s, they’ve got the skankin’ and the circle pits. If you’re in any way open to bringing back those days, back when everybody had Operation Ivy and Voodoo Glow Skulls records in places of pride in their record collections, you’re gonna want to come out to Bandito’s this Saturday night and catch Chupaskabra.
These guys are being joined by Black Tie Society, who hail from Virginia Beach and land a little closer to the ska side of the ska-punk equation, while Chupaskabra are a bit closer to the punk side. They’re united on the issue of partying, though: they’re in favor. So it’s probably good that they’re at Bandito’s, especially since this event seems to have a whole bunch to do with beer, and in my experience, ska-punk bands tend to like beer. Personally I’m just here to rock out and eat nachos, but y’all have fun with that “tap takeover” or whatever, and when you’re done, let’s all have fun skanking it up in the Diablo Room. Sound good? Yup, it does to me too.
Sunday, January 30, 6:30 PM
Being As An Ocean, Capstan, Limbs, Emerald Beach @ The Canal Club – $16 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
And now for something completely different. Being As An Ocean are a band from California who originally attracted attention during that whole “emo revival” era, even though they always had a heavier, almost-hardcore sound that landed them somewhere between Pianos Become The Teeth and Modern Life Is War — at least in my humble opinion. As the emo revival waned, Being As An Ocean’s profile has slightly diminished, but they’re currently on tour to remind us all of their glory days with a tenth-anniversary celebration of Dear G-d, their 2012 debut album that drew so much attention back when it was first released.
One would therefore assume that they’ll be focusing on their earlier material for this performance, and I for one will not be bummed if so — their more recent stuff has delved into electronic textures that always feel more conceptually interesting than viscerally exciting, at least to me. That early stuff just hits harder — and since they’re doing an anniversary tour for their debut album, you gotta figure that on some level, they know it too. On this tour, Being As An Ocean are getting musical support from Florida bands Capstan and Limbs, who are very much on a similar musical wavelength. Californians Thousand Below had to drop off the tour due to a (non-COVID-related) health issue, so Virginia Beach danceable emo ensemble Emerald Beach will be filling in and getting things started on what’s sure to be an intense evening. Get ready for it.
Tuesday, February 1, 9 PM
Fast Eddy, Mel Machete, DJ Wylie Kill @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
Back when I was a kid in the late 80s, XL102 used to refer to themselves as “Richmond’s home for rock n’ roll.” That was a long time ago, and since then, they’ve been “102.1 The X,” back to being XL102 for a while, and now they’re “Alt 102.1” and they mostly play crap like Bastille and Imagine Dragons now. So is there a NEW home for rock n’ roll in Richmond? Well, it might not be a radio station, but I think Fuzzy Cactus just might fit the bill. After all, anytime there’s a show at this Northside bar, you can be sure the bands on the bill are gonna rock hard and get you all sweaty.
Denver’s Fast Eddy are at the top of this bill, and they’ve got a sound that manages to be clean and clear without coming off as polished or mannered. Singles like “Lost” and “Milwaukee” capture the rock n’ roll energy of The Hives, early AC/DC, and even the best of Chuck Berry, and as a result, their music is a blast from beginning to end. One can only imagine that their set at Fuzzy Cactus will be equally filled with high-revving, energetic fun. Richmond’s own Mel Machete are acting as local support on this gig, and they’ve got much the same fun-loving rock n’ roll energy, but they bring a strong dose of sass into the equation with the addition of frontwoman Wild Mel Medina. DJ Wylie Kill will keep the killer jams spinning before and between sets, and you better believe this will be a rock n’ roll night to remember. Or maybe forget, depending on how “in the spirit” you end up getting. You know what I’m talking about.
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): firstname.lastname@example.org