Welcome to Pride Month, everyone! There was a time when I felt really good about where things stood, and where things were going, with the LGBTQ community. However, with authoritarian conservatism in ascent, and repressive laws coming into effect that, under some circumstances, could make the very existence of people like me (I’m transgender, ICYMI) a crime, it’s hard to feel anything but vague concern when I think about Pride-related things these days. Not that I’m entirely without hope; my wife has taken to pointing out the many ways in which positive depictions of LGBTQ people are pushing the kind of people who want to oppress and erase us all further and further to the cultural margins, and she has a good point. However, if the repressive forces continue down the path toward minority rule (which the United States Constitution not only allows but tacitly encourages), our cultural victories may not be enough.
To me, that just means we need to try that much harder to stay proud, keep fighting for our rights, and most importantly, taking care of each other, and of our allies in struggle, so that we can get through this long hard time. With that in mind, the work of Peter’s Place, a Richmond-based organization that does addiction recovery work with a focus on support for LGBTQ people, is highly essential. This fundraiser at Black Iris [NOTE: It has been moved to Ipanema -ed] is raising money for Peter’s Place, and considering how many of us struggle to find hope in the face of the terrible sociopolitical landscape we face now, we can use all the help we can get. So this show is, without a doubt, raising money for a great cause.
It’s also shining a light on several up-and-coming local and regional musical talents who absolutely deserve the shine. Harli & the House Of Jupiter are located in Richmond these days, but I first heard about them from my friends in Charlottesville, and the sound they’re bringing to RVA is absolutely worth the praise the C-ville kids gave them. With a sound that mixes heavy proto-metal riffage and a driving rock n’ roll pulse with Harli Saxon’s arresting, soulful vocals, Harli & The House Of Jupiter are worth hearing immediately if not sooner. Washington DC’s Cherub Tree have some intriguing acoustic indie sounds to offer as well, bringing a minimal, atmospheric sound to their recent singles, including the memorably titled “Maybe It’s A Stomach Bug.” Local talents Roughshod and Neurotix round out a lineup that brings great sounds for a great cause to RVA this Friday night. You know what to do.
Wednesday, June 1, 8 PM
Daniel Romano’s Outfit, Carson McHone @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Canada is an intriguing nation. We have a decent picture of what it’s like — after all, it’s just right across the border up there, basically like the northern Midwest but colder. However, there’s a lot that goes on up there, especially where culture is concerned, that we never find out about. That might be why I didn’t really know much about Daniel Romano and his Outfit, who will be bringing the power-pop sound of their latest LP, Cobra Poems, to Capital Ale House’s Richmond Music Hall tonight. I liked what I heard when I checked it out, and if you’re a fan of dudes like Ben Kweller or Paul Collins, he of the American Beat, you’ll probably find a lot to like here as well. What surprised me, though, was the extensiveness of Romano’s resume, once I started digging a little deeper. Starting as the frontman for Canadian punk group Attack In Black, he’s gone on to record over a dozen solo albums since 2010, as well as seven albums backed by the Outfit, who’ll be backing him on this trip through Richmond.
One thing Daniel Romano’s Outfit has done, which should give you an idea about where they’re coming from, is a 2020 album called Daniel Romano’s Outfit Do (What Could Have Been) Infidels by Bob Dylan and The Plugz, a full-length reimagining of Bob Dylan’s 1983 album, Infidels, as if Dylan had recorded the album with Los Angeles Chicano punk band The Plugz backing him up (as they did on a single David Letterman performance in 1983). It’s hard for me to see that level of nerdery as anything other than awesome, and considering that album followed up a full-length collaboration with Tool drummer Danny Carey, and that Daniel Romano’s Outfit have released three more albums since that Dylan covers album came out two years ago, I am also impressed by the man’s prolific nature and the impressive stylistic variety of his music. That of course also means that I have no idea what version of Daniel Romano’s Outfit we’ll get at Richmond Music Hall tonight. But whatever he chooses to lay on us, I’m sure it will be awesome.
Thursday, June 2, 8 PM
Posture & The Grizzly, Marshall’s Law @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Ever go to a show and get so blown away by some opening act you’d previously never heard of that the set by the band you came to see almost feels like an anticlimax? That happened to me back in 2014 when I caught Posture & The Grizzly second on a five-band bill at the Broadberry. The band I’d come to see was The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, and Posture & The Grizzly’s four-piece lineup that night was mostly made up of moonlighting TWIABP members. However, it was the outstanding emo-punk songs written and memorably performed with a ton of heart by frontman Jordan Chmielowski that blew me away, and it was clear that his talent would shine through no matter who was backing him up. That held true on 2017’s I Am Satan, the followup to Posture & The Grizzly’s 2014 debut, Busch Hymns — an album I played to death, just like I had with Busch Hymns before it.
In the years after I Am Satan, though, the band seemed to go dormant, and I stopped expecting new material from them. Unfortunately for me, that meant they caught me sleeping with their return to action in the form of 2021’s self-titled third album. It came out last December, but I just discovered it last month, and sure enough, I’ve been playing it to death ever since. As a longtime fan, I can tell you that the band’s songs are thicker, more muscular, sounding more rocked-out than ever — even in spite of the fact that the latest incarnation of the group has slimmed down to a trio. Regardless, they’re still outstanding, with new songs like “Red Light,” “Creepshow,” and “Promise” standing right alongside past classics like “Because I Got High” and “Kill Me.” When they bring these tunes to the stage, it’s sure to be every bit as mindblowing as it was for me to see them eight years ago. I have no idea who else is on this bill — I couldn’t find a damn thing anywhere online about mysterious openers “Marshall’s Law” — but it doesn’t matter. Posture & The Grizzly’s all you need to have a full night of great music.
Friday, June 3, 7 PM
Test Pattern 03, feat. Moor Mother, Ohbliv, Vitche-Boul Ra, justmadnice, Elijah Hall @ VCU’s Institute For Contemporary Art – Free! (Register for event HERE)
Shows at bars and clubs are cool and all, but there’s something really essential about live musical performances that take place at venues like this one — a contemporary art-focused space within an august institution of higher learning. The vibe is much more fearlessly avant-garde when live music is completely disconnected from any expectation of catchy music for bar patrons to down beers to. And if it’s avant-garde you want (and it certainly is what I want, at least some of the time), the ongoing Test Pattern series at VCU’s ICA is a great place to find it. Case in point, this third event in the ongoing series, where Moor Mother will be the headlining performer.
It’s tough to even describe Moor Mother. A project of Philadelphia-based musician/poet Camae Ayewa, Moor Mother presents a multi-disciplinary sound that mixes soul, funk, hip hop, poetry, and musical experimentation in a manner both unpredictable and tremendously pleasing. 2021’s Black Encyclopedia Of The Air is Moor Mother’s latest release, and it’s an excellent and completely unique listening experience. You can expect no less from their performance at ICA this Friday night. They’ll be joined by Ohbliv, the prolific and incredibly talented DJ, producer, and sound artist who has been creating albums of instrumental vibes, moods, and beats at a rapid rate for over a decade now. Indeed, his most recent release is a double LP called Ragged Tranquility Vols. 1 and 2, which pairs his 2009 debut cassette with a brand new selection of work on a similar theme. No matter what era Ohbliv pulls from for his set at ICA, the vibes are sure to be thick enough to spread on a bagel and have a delicious musical meal.
Saturday, June 4, 7 PM
Shehehe, Toxic Moxie, Madison Turner @ Cobra Cabana – $5
Sometimes I miss the old days, when everything surrounding the live music scene felt a little less formal, a little less polished. The days when you got handed a paper flyer outside one show that told you about another one. The days when you couldn’t buy an advance ticket online, you just had to show up and see who else made it in the door. Cobra Cabana is one of a few local venues that have been bringing that pre-social media vibe back in the post-pandemic era, and I for one love to see it. What’s more, this is the kind of show I love to see that mentality being applied to; a show featuring two great local acts you love, plus an out-of-town group you haven’t necessarily heard, but can trust to be great based on who is bringing them to you.
Shehehe, who hail from Athens, Georgia, are the out-of-town band in question for this show, and their 2020 LP Pet Songs is a great listen, full of bouncy energy, driving riffs, and an overall sound that’s somewhere right on the border of power-pop and pop-punk… always a great place to be. These guys won’t actually be headlining — if the flyer’s any indication, they’ll be the second band of three on this bill — but that way, even if you don’t listen to Shehehe’s album yourself, you know there’s something worth showing up on time for, and something else worth sticking around to the end for. Assuming you’ve been around Richmond for longer than 10 minutes, you know exactly that about opener Madison Turner, a punk/folk/indie/ska-informed singer-songwriter with a surefire knack for catchy tunes, entertaining wordplay, and expressions of everyday anxieties that are both witty and relatable. Then there’s Toxic Moxie, the long-running disco-punk quartet who’ve been bringing the maniacal glitter-everywhere party vibes for close to a decade now, and show no signs of slowing down. This is going to be an absolute ripper of a show, and you don’t want to miss a second of it.
Sunday, June 5, 7 PM
Grocer, Lobby Boy, Knifing Around, Trapcry @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $14 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Here’s something you don’t see every day: a show in which both of the top-billed bands are named after anonymous working-class occupations that most people never think about. That’s not all Grocer and Lobby Boy have in common, either. Grocer, who come from Philly, play an energetic, neurotic form of post-punk that focuses on extreme tunefulness even as its songs manage some deceptively complicated musical feats. On their brand new album, Numbers Game, Grocer express a universal lament of our modern alienated economic landscape on single “Calling Out,” declaring, “What’s the point? I don’t wanna fucking do this. I’m calling out!” What’s not to love about that?
Lobby Boy’s own brand new album, Pretty Songs/Pursuits Of Personhood, also brings a strong sense of melody as a primary ingredient of their own postpunk musical melange. Where Grocer are a bit more about guitars, amps, and acoustic drums, Lobby Boy are more likely to mix synths, electro effects, and programmed beats into their sound. Despite — or perhaps even because of — the ways these two groups are sonically distinct from one another, they actually fit together perfectly on this Sunday night bill at The Camel. Both of these groups are going to keep you dancing throughout the evening, and you’ll probably find some opportunities to vent against the many day-to-day stresses that fill all our lives, to boot.
Monday, June 6, 7 PM
Fortezza, TVLPA, Magic Wand @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Mondays are tough, always. The end of the weekend, the beginning of another slog through the week… it’s a bummer. Even if you have the day off. So it’s a lovely development that The Camel is bringing us an excellent show this Monday night, so you can shake the blues off and rock the hell out. Asheville’s Fortezza have a ton of energy and a loose, scratchy punk sound that makes them the perfect band to help chase your cares away. On last year’s Windmill, the group bashed through 14 songs in about 40 minutes, never letting the energy level flag or the mood drop. Isn’t that exactly what we need on a Monday? Rest assured, it’s what Fortezza’s gonna bring.
They’ll be joined on this bill by TVLPA, a band named after the stylized spelling of an occult term meaning “physical being created through spiritual or mental powers.” And if that doesn’t tell you where this band is coming from, the fact that their new album, Walk With Me, features songs like “The Dreamer,” “The Lodge,” and “The Woman With No Face” should certainly offer further hints. Musically, they occupy territory covered by everything from black metal to screamo to post-rock to prog-metal, and their new album is a dynamic and riveting listening experience. So yeah, if you’re as new to TVLPA as I am, now seems like a good time to get familiar with what these folks are up to. Show up on time and catch a set of energetic punk rock from Magic Wand as well — it’ll do you no harm.
Tuesday, June 7, 7:30 PM
Beabadoobee, Drook @ The National – $22.50 (order tickets HERE)
Somehow, it seems, I have gotten through the past three years without writing about Beabadoobee on the RVA Mag website. I don’t know how I managed that, considering how much I’ve loved the last few releases, going back to 2019’s Space Cadet EP, which knocked me out with the lead single, “She Plays Bass.” A tribute to the band’s bassist, Eliana Sewell, who really is as talented as the song implies, it was the first Beabadoobee release which featured bandleader Beatrice Laus backed by a full band, rather than just doing the singer-songwriter thing on her own. That EP and the group’s debut LP, Fake It Flowers, found Beabadoobee doing that sort of guitar-driven alt-rock revival sound that has been in vogue for the past few years (a sound I’m just as much a sucker for this time as I was when it first came around back in the 90s).
It’s been a couple of years since then, and the Beabadoobee sound has diversified on more recent releases. A distinct element from The 1975’s baroque emotional pop seeped into the sound of 2021’s Our Extended Play. Meanwhile, recent single “Talk” has a bit of a shoegaze vibe, and brand-new track “Lovesong” is a moody acoustic ballad with an understated yet devastating emotional tone. These last two are previews for Beabadoobee’s upcoming second LP, Beatopia, and this show will offer fans the chance to get to know all the rest of the new songs before they come to a streaming platform near you. I, for one, am excited.
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]