Sunday, July 1, 12 PM
Williamsfest (In Memory of Kyle Trax), feat. Earthling, Gnarcave, Slump, Cruzer, Nightcreature, Naked Baby, Weird Tears, Big No, Craig Perry, Mindy Alexander, Matt Carter, Buttafly Vazquez @ En Su Boca – Free!
All-day music fests are always a great time, but sometimes they are bittersweet. Such is the case with this one celebrating the life of Kyle Trax, who passed away a couple of months ago due to complications from Type 1 diabetes. Kyle worked at En Su Boca, played drums in local rock n’ roll groups The Cherry Pits and Benderheads among others, and had a ton of friends around town. I didn’t know him well, but he was always nice to me, and I had a blast when his band played my living room for a Valentine’s Day party a few years ago. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
Kyle loved music, and this all-day outdoor festival in his memory is an appropriate occasion on which to celebrate his life. Earthling are the headliners, and this VA metal band has grabbed a lot of attention with their Spinning In The Void LP, released last year on Forcefield Records. If brutal metal crunch mingled with blazing solos and thrashing riffage sounds like fun to you, you need to get on this band’s level. Also on the bill is Gnarcave, an atmospheric black metal band that Kyle was in years ago. Co-founder Craig Perry, now a classical guitarist, will join up with Earthling bassist Sean Weber and Kyle’s childhood friend Ryan Nottingham (filling in for Kyle on drums) to recreate Gnarcave’s ripping black metal rage one last time. Perry will also perform one of his classical guitar compositions as an introduction to Gnarcave’s set — so you fans of technical guitar playing should get up front for this one.
A ton of other things will be happening as part of this all-day festival; performances from a ton of local hardcore, punk, and garage-rock bands including Slump, Cruzer, Nightcreature, Naked Baby, and a bunch more. There will be acoustic sets from several of Kyle’s friends, including local soul singer Buttafly Vasquez (Crucial Elements/Flavor Project). You’ll also get to see the premiere of a Cherry Pits video, indulge in some delicious En Su Boca tacos, and more! The whole thing is free to attend, but Kyle’s family is currently collecting donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, so if you have cash to spare, please donate to help find a cure. And then come rock out in memory of an awesome dude who left this world way too soon.
Thursday, June 28, 8 PM
Blac Rabbit, Sun Parade @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Here’s an interesting gig for y’all to check out, especially if you’ve seen these guys on Ellen. Yeah, seriously, twin brothers Amiri and Rahiem Taylor, who founded Blac Rabbit, got onto Ellen due to their day job of sorts, busking on New York subways with some killer Beatles covers. This is a pretty excellent story, but it might sound like nothing more than a novelty to you — until you hear the originals Blac Rabbit create when they’re not busking for cash in Times Square.
Their self-titled debut EP, released late last year, brings together psych-rock touchstones from past eras, including The Beatles and Love, as well as modern groups like Tame Impala and MGMT. On songs like “Closer To The Sun,” the group paints hazy dayglo mind pictures that will be a big hit with fans of Dungen or Unknown Mortal Orchestra. It’s really incredible stuff, and it’s sure to shine that much brighter in the live setting. You’ll have a blast when these guys take the stage, even if they don’t play a single Beatles cover. And while Massachusetts’ Sun Parade has a somewhat different sound, they’re still an apt pairing for Blac Rabbit due to the group’s similar origins as buskers. These days they’re making colorful pop music that brings in equal influence from folk music and psychedelia, to excellent effect. These two groups will be the perfect vehicle with which to drift away across the stratosphere… at least for a few hours.
Friday, June 29, 9 PM
Imaginary Sons, Leach @ City Dogs – Free!
Damn — in certain segments of the local scene, this is bound to be the news of the year. Not only are the Imaginary Sons back for a one-time-only reunion show, they’ve reunited the original four-piece lineup that brought us all the irreverent, excellent Let It Beer LP back in 2015. With a ridiculous Beatles parody cover and some truly unforgettable costumes, these guys led with goofy spirit, then pulled you in with the absolute power of their rock n’ roll tunes. Equal parts Cheap Trick and Weezer, plus a dose of AC/DC for sheer power, the Imaginary Sons were a band you weren’t going to overlook.
First slimming down to a trio lineup, then breaking up in early 2017, Imaginary Sons left a gaping void in the RVA music scene. It’s no surprise that, when they announced this reunion earlier this year, people were stoked. And now the payoff to all that anticipation will finally arrive this Friday night when Imaginary Sons rage at City Dogs once again. They’ll be joined by Leach, the current project of former Sons Mike Cruz and Russell Redmond, and DJ Frontyard will be spinning tunes to kick off the night, but we all know the main attraction: the opportunity to hear all the hits — “Kicking The Cup,” “Never There,” etc — in a live environment once again. Eat your hot dogs early, because the mustard’s gonna fly when these guys take the stage.
Saturday, June 30, 7 PM
RVA Lyricist Lounge, Episode 5; feat. Nickelus F, Cole Hicks, IGB vs Swerve 360, Robalu vs Leek Bucks, Southpaw Battle Coalition cypher, and more @ Strange Matter – $15
There is, as always, a lot of great hip hop happening in this town, and you sleep on any of it at your peril. However, I must urge you to make specific effort to be at RVA Lyricist Lounge Saturday at Strange Matter if you care about hip hop at all. These ongoing events, presented by Southpaw Battle Coalition, have been putting cyphers and battles back into the scene in a big way over the past year or two, and are pushing the local scene forward in obvious ways. Most importantly this time around, though, is that Nickelus F will be performing his newest album, Stuck. Nick F shouldn’t need any introduction to hip hop fans around here by now — his 15 years of consistently excellent releases proves the quality he’ll deliver every single time you hand him a mic, and we’re seeing that same quality on his latest release. The sluggish beats and dazed lyrical flow that set the mood on the album help bring the title to life, and the man also known as Sweet Petey will make it hit hard when he hits the Strange Matter stage Saturday night.
But that’s just the beginning of what this show has to offer. Also on tap is a performance from up-and-coming local rapper Cole Hicks, who’ll be bringing us selections from her buzzworthy new release, May Day. Then there are the two battles on the card, pitting IGB against Swerve 360 and Robalu against Leek Bucks. Southpaw Battle Coalition will hit us with a cypher, as will a variety of local MCs you know and love. Plus, there’ll be room for new faces — 30 open cypher slots means that if you feel like you’ve got rhymes to deliver, there’s room for you to get on the mic and show your stuff. And if you just want to see some high-quality rhyming and keep up with the genre as it moves forward here in RVA, you’re definitely going to want to be here to watch. Mark your calendar.
Sunday, July 1, 8 PM
To Live And Shave In LA, New Ting Ting Loft, Oozing Meat, Fuk U / Idiot, DJ Rat Ward @ Strange Matter – $5
This one’s gonna be weird — and a whole lot of fun. To Live And Shave In LA, whose name certainly appears to be a joking reference to a William Friedkin movie, have a 25 year career behind them and are still going strong. The group primarily arises out of the collaboration between early Pussy Galore member Tom Smith and Florida noise legend Rat Bastard — though it’s involved a ton of other people over the years, from Thurston Moore to Andrew WK. Listening to To Live And Shave In LA is a challenging experience. Beginning from the proposition that “genre is obsolete,” Messrs. Smith, Bastard, and co. combine all sorts of experimental insanity, from ambient tape loops to metal-bashing harsh noise and untraceable electronic weirdness.
How does that translate live? Hard to say… a quick spin through their extensive discography will demonstrate to you that it’s pretty much different every time. But it’ll certainly be worth seeing, even if you have no idea what you’ll get — if there’s one term that does not describe To Live And Shave In LA, it’s “boring.” The local acts on this bill will keep things interesting as well; New Ting Ting Loft is a totally maniacal improvised-music ensemble who takes experimental jazz as a point of departure and ends up in all kinds of ludicrous places. The results are always fascinating. Oozing Meat is a collaboration between Eric Tomillon (Fake Object) and Jason Hodges (Suppression/Bermuda Triangles/etc) that, at least on last year’s Splatter High, leaps dramatically from ambient noise weirdness to shit-fi grindcore, then back again. Who knows how that’ll translate live, but it’s sure to keep your attention. Which is really the story for this entire show — there’s no way to know exactly what you’re gonna get, but you can be sure that it won’t bore you.
Monday, July 2, 8 PM
Late Bloomer, Lovelorn, Teen Death, Sea of Storms @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Here we are at the end of a trio of Strange Matter shows, all completely different, and all completely awesome. This one’s for the fans of straight-up rock n’ roll with a melodic edge and some killer hooks; Late Bloomer brings all of that to us with their brand new LP Waiting, out on 6131 Records this Friday. It’s so brand new, it isn’t even out yet — but it will be on Monday night, so bring some cash and pick yourself up a copy! Then enjoy the bushel of killer tunes this North Carolina trio will be bringing with them, both from their latest ripper and excellent earlier LPs, such as 2014’s Things Change.
They’ll also be bringing Lovelorn with them, and if you’re a little unfamiliar with this Philadelphia trio — who’ve only released one song so far — it might help you recognize them if I tell you that they are three of the four members of the unfortunately departed Philly psych project Creepoid. That band was really hitting their peak with their third and final LP, 2015’s Cemetery Highrise Slum. Lovelorn’s sole demo release thus far has more of an ominous, spaced-out vibe reminiscent of Mazzy Star than the fuzzy, garage-damaged sound Creepoid were perfecting towards the end, but it’s close enough to make it really incredible in its own right. And hey, it’s only one song — getting to hear a full set is sure to leave us with a much stronger impression of where these excellent musicians are taking things next. Opening sets from awesome locals, including hard-rockin’ punk n’ rollers Teen Death and melodic, emotionally-driven rockers Sea Of Storms, will make for a bill full of highlights. Don’t miss a moment.
Tuesday, July 3, 6:30 PM
Have Mercy, Kississippi, Super American, Downhaul, Warrington @ The Camel – $14 in advance/$16 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Here’s something I didn’t expect at all; directly on the heels of their third LP, 2017’s excellent Make The Best Of It, Have Mercy are returning to town with a tour celebrating the five-year anniversary of their debut LP, 2013’s The Earth Pushed Back. What makes this unexpected is the fact that frontman Brian Swindle pretty much acquired a completely new backing band around the time of Make The Best Of It. This means the band that’ll be celebrating the anniversary of their debut album is mostly made up of members who weren’t in the band at the time of its release.
That’s all right, though; if there’s one thing Make The Best Of It proved, it’s that Swindle’s current compatriots are totally capable of delivering top-quality Have Mercy material that is capable of standing alongside the best work of their original lineup. And since The Earth Pushed Back is every bit as good as their latest album, the current incarnation of Have Mercy should have no problem doing it justice. I can’t help but hope they’ll play at least one or two new songs, though. They’ll be ably accompanied by Kississippi, a goofily named but excellent emo-pop group from Philly whose latest LP, Sunset Blush, is a real standout in the world of passionate melodies and evocative lyrics from which they ascend. Upbeat pop-rockers Super American will round out the trio of touring groups on this bill, which will be joined by locals Downhaul and Warrington. This is one to look forward to.
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] [and yeah, in case you’re wondering, more awesomeness from my cracked and bleeding fingertips is available at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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