Friday, January 6, 9 PM
Ten Pound Snail, Deli Kings, Destructo Disk @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE) Photo by @noah.stpeter
Well hey, it’s the first show column of 2023! New year, new scene? No, probably not — none of the many subtle metamorphoses artistic communities go through conform that neatly to the whims of the calendar, and there’s no reason that should change now, as we enter another winter and try to push back the cold as the spectre of COVID lingers, never quite vanquished. However, one interesting thing does happen in the local live music scene as the calendar rolls over to a new year — the First Friday residence at The Camel changes hands. This year sees outgoing residents Honest Debts passing the torch to Ten Pound Snail.
This indie-psych trio has been making intriguing music here in RVA since back around the beginning of the pandemic, and are just about to follow up their enjoyable full-length debut, 2021’s Parlor Tricks, with a brand new collection called Tabula Rasa. It’s still a day away as I write this, so I haven’t heard the whole album, but my excitement for what Ten Pound Snail has in store for us has definitely been ramped up over the past year. They’ve released four advance singles for Tabula Rasa thus far, the most recent being “Glass Skin,” and all of them show off the band’s range and ability to create dynamic song structures that slowly grow and change over the course of several minutes. Plus, of course, this trio has a variety of killer riffs in their bag of (parlor) tricks, which they never shy away from deploying.
I gotta tell ya, with all of this going on in the world of Ten Pound Snail, I’m really excited not just for this first show in their year of First Friday residency shows at The Camel, but all of them to come in 2023. Too often, it feels like the bands picked for these sorts of residencies fall too closely in line with the whole “jam band” world. Ten Pound Snail have a lot of expansive song structures and flashy, technical playing to offer, but their sound is far more interesting and original than anything a jam band could really pull off in 2023. Therefore, they’ll be a great band to see, not just once, but over and over again throughout the year. Plus, it’s always a thrill to see what Holden will be wearing; they’ve got some of the best outfits in Richmond music. It’s totally OK to show up for the glam, but make sure you stick around for the killer tunes. They’re very much worth your time.
Wednesday, January 4, 7 PM
Angelica X @ Black Iris – $8 in advance, $10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Things will get interesting tonight over at Black Iris, as Angelica X shows up for an evening-long performance that might not quite be what you expect. Certainly, when I saw the band name, I was expecting something like a rapper, or a disco diva. But actually, the members of Angelica X are all male, and this quintet plays instrumental jazz. Just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover. Angelica X is led by trumpeter Will Evans, and tends to vary in lineup, but no matter who Evans is playing with, the group always features an unusual sound, one that perhaps belies the descriptor I used just a couple of sentences ago.
When you hear “instrumental jazz,” the interplay between Evans’ trumpet and the saxophone of Tim Turner probably fits right in with what you expect. But it’s Brett Jones’s guitar that adds the real X factor (no pun intended) to Angelica X’s style, interjecting crunchy, overdriven licks into a spot normally held down in a jazz combo by a keyboard player. Add in Daniel Richardson’s energetic drumming and the contributions of Spacebomb House Band member Cameron Ralston on bass, and you’ll end up with something that is perhaps unusual, but definitely excellent. Last year’s self-titled Angelica X LP demonstrated exactly that, and you can be sure that Angelica X’s performance at Black Iris tonight will only further prove what those in the know are already stoked about.
Thursday, January 5, 8 PM
Twin Films, Sheetrock, Skyler Foley @ The Camel – $8 (order tickets HERE)
This Thursday evening at The Camel promises to bring us some great tunes, and with Twin Films at the top of the bill, it seems likely that it will deliver. This duo of youthful guitar slingers, who are sometimes backed up by human rhythm sections and other times by programmed backbeats, have a breezy, melodic approach to indie rock that’s sure to warm up your dreary winter. The last Twin Films album, Pastels, came out back in 2021, and they haven’t released any new singles since that year, but they’ll apparently be bringing us some new tunes at this show, the first in a five-date tour up the east coast. So that’s worth getting excited for, especially if the sunshine thrill of recent singles like “Berlin” and “Real” spoke as strongly to you as they did to us.
As for the other two performers on the bill, Sheetrock seem to still be flying a bit under the radar here in their hometown of Richmond VA, and I for one think that’s a shame. Having listened a fair number of times to the jazzy, melodic take on complex, off-time postpunk grooves they dish out on last year’s self-titled LP, I think the Richmond scene should definitely start paying more attention to Sheetrock as soon as possible. This show is obviously a great place to start with all that. Skyler Foley is a local singer-songwriter with a quirky worldview and some catchy acoustic tunes that are given an energetic backbeat on her recent EP, Coffee Person. She’ll be opening this show at the head of a trio called Foley Artists, which… hey, I see what you did there. The bounce that a rhythm section should bring to her tunes will make this set a lot of fun, and more than enough reason for you to show up on time for this show (just as you should for every show… sayin).
Friday, January 6, 7 PM
VV, Flesh Machine, Kircher, Charger Port @ The 4 Cyber Cafe – $5
I’m always happy to see the return of a local artist or band that I was really digging back before the pandemic had its way with us all. VV had just released their most recent EP, VV III, back when the arrival of COVID-related quarantines put the kibosh on live music for over a year, and I’m sure recovering from that loss of momentum was difficult for this intense postpunk quartet. Thankfully, three years later, they are fully back in action, and are still working to bring the excellence of that three-song 2020 EP to the masses who didn’t pick up on it the first time — as well as those of us who did, but would still love to see these four raging women hit the stage with their ferocious Lydia-Lunch-meets-Bush-Tetras approach. This Friday, we’ll all get our chance.
We’ll also get to enjoy a set from local noisecore trio Flesh Machine, whose 2022 EP, Pray To The Hive, is full of chaotic uptempo riffs and wild grooves that will have you attempting to headbang along with their massively syncopated riffage. You might miss a beat here or there, but don’t worry — it’s in service of pure musical devastation, something Flesh Machine brings in massive amounts. Recent arrivals on the RVA scene Kircher are in a similar vein, at least if the single song on their Bandcamp page is anything to go by. On the evidence of “Sicko,” Kircher’s basically an rawer, angrier version of Flesh Machine. Considering how much I enjoy Flesh Machine, I will absolutely not complain about that. Charger Port open things up, and this Mechanicsville-based project take the “core” out of noise-core, and end up with straight-up harsh noise on their most recent release, Megaphone Underwater. If their entire set is as harsh and hectic as that LP, this will be an intense performance for sure.
Saturday, January 7, 8 PM
Black Button, Crawler, Cimitir, Divorce Horse, White Beast @ Bandito’s – $10
I am always stoked to go to a show at Bandito’s, because, well, I love their food. However, if I had a choice between sitting in the other room eating tacos and watching the performances of these five ripping bands, I’d probably have to bring my tacos into the live room with me (I know that wasn’t one of the choices), because the kind of raging, noisy, metallic punk that this show delivers in heaping helpings is just not the kind of thing you want to ever miss. Even if it is because you’re eating a delicious meal. Black Button are at the top of this bill, and the fact that some members have previously done time in Slump and Teenage Cenobite makes lots of sense in light of this band’s full-speed-ahead ramshackle approach to angry, sloppy hardcore punk. Their most recent EP, 2021’s I Want To Be In Control, shifts back and forth from out of control hardcore rages to unhinged midtempo punk dirges, only to plunge back into breakneck speed at the drop of a hat. This is exactly the sort of thing sure to galvanize a crowd and turn the live room at Bandito’s into one giant mosh pit. Eat your tacos quick, or you might get caught up in it.
This show will feature sets from multiple other raging groups from up and down the mid-Atlantic coast, and the first and most important of these is Crawler, a grindcore band from Baltimore who love to put the pedal to the metal with wild blast beats, but are ready, willing, and able to unleash a slow, thick neck-snapper of a mosh groove, as demonstrated on their 2019 EP, Womb. I don’t actually know too much about Cimitir, who are apparently a new band from Richmond featuring members of Asylum and NOT the dark electronic project from California that you find on the internet when you do searches. But if anyone from Asylum is involved, I figure we can safely expect good things. Internet explorations revealed that, according to their Instagram, DC’s Divorce Horse broke up two months ago. Is that a fakeout, or did they book this show and then break up after the flyers were printed? No idea, but if you do get to see them at this show, you should consider yourself fortunate. Bass/drum noise-rock duo White Beast will get this whole thing started. Don’t miss a minute of it.
Monday, January 9, 7 PM
Nuclear Deathcount, Orbweaver, Greenhead, Wrong Worshippers @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
This week stands as a great example of how important The Camel is to Richmond’s live music ecosystem. The fact that there’s no show for me to write about on the Sunday night that they’ve closed for a private holiday function is not a coincidence. Fortunately for us, their doors are open on Monday, which allows us all to enjoy this humdinger of a straight-up blazing metal extravaganza. At the top of the bill is Nuclear Deathcount, a youthful band who loves black t-shirts with cut-off sleeves, long swoopy hair held back by bandanas, and the kind of thrash metal rifforama that was at its peak in the late 80s, when legends like Exodus and Death Angel still roamed the earth in their original incarnations. If I’d once seen these guys opening for Anthrax in 1990, it would make perfect sense. As it is, I doubt any of them was alive in 1990, but they sure do carry that spirit of late 80s thrash essence forward into the new millennium on last year’s excellent debut LP, The Next Metal Attack. You can bet I am here for it.
Also on the bill are Orbweaver — not the Florida metal band whose former guitarist is currently leading Titan To Tachyons, but a completely different Orbweaver based right here in RVA. I had to do some research to figure out their deal, but it turns out that, over the past year, this band both moved from their hometown in the Carolinas to Richmond and renamed themselves from their original name, Wilma. I couldn’t find any music online under their current name, but the Wilma album May Yell, from 2020, is still on Apple Music under the old name, and it’s pretty great. There are some strong resonances with Soundgarden, Paw, Alice In Chains, and other bands from the heavier end of the early-90s grunge spectrum, so if you’re into the recent revival of that sound, spearheaded by groups like Soul Blind, you’re certainly going to want to check these guys out. DC area stoner group Greenhead are also on the bill, as are Wrong Worshippers, a bass-drum duo from here in RVA who sort of sound like Death From Above 1979 doing New Order songs (which is pretty damn cool if you ask me). This one is a great reminder of why we’re so lucky to have The Camel to bring us cool, unusual shows like this one. Take advantage of that fact, and go to this show.
Tuesday, January 10, 7 PM
Madison Turner, Brook Pridemore, Lowlife Tea Party @ Castleburg Brewery – Free!
Well now, this is exciting — yet another local performance from talented alt-punk singer-songwriter Madison Turner, who wowed the entire city with her excellent 2018 LP, A Comprehensive Guide To Burning Out, but then seemed to embody her art a little too closely by not releasing any other new material for four solid years. Thankfully, Madison reassured all her fans and friends that she hadn’t completely burned out by releasing a really killer track last fall called “Gainesville,” a love-letter to the long-running Florida-based punk music festival known as Fest, which Madison played last year. Recent Instagram updates have confirmed that she’s in the studio too, putting together an entire new LP — I’m immedately adding that one to the “most anticipated RVA albums of 2023” list. So yeah, Madison Turner is back in action!
This free Tuesday night show at Castleburg is yet another example of her return to productivity, and it sees her performing with a backing rhythm section featuring members of Night Business and Riot Queen. I’ve always thought Madison’s songs sound best with a backing band (and I’m NOT just saying that because I’ve played bass for her a few times), so this should be a great set that will hopefully give us all a preview of the new LP she’s cooking up in the studio right now. Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Brook Pridemore is also on the bill, and their recent LP, Glad To Be Alive, has a ton of great tunes on it, in Brook’s traditional mode of gloomy folk tunes fed through distortion pedals and pounding drums. You could call it stoner folk or doom-punk, but really it’s just better to say it’s good and move on from there. A set from Richmond rock n’ roll trio Lowlife Tea Party gets everything started off on an awesome note, and it’ll only get awesomer from there. Plus, it’s free! You really must attend this one. Seriously.
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]