Friday, May 25, 6 PM
RVA Music Night, feat. Butcher Brown, Dharma Bombs, Piranha Rama @ Friday Cheers – $5 (order tickets HERE)
Friday Cheers is a great thing. When the summer weather hits, it offers us all a chance to get out of the dark clubs where the best live music is usually found to go cavort in a beautiful outdoor setting and see a band for the kind of bargain prices we usually only find in the subterranean musical underground. Now, if you ask me, the music on offer doesn’t always entirely live up to the promising circumstances Friday Cheers offers. However, an RVA Music Night featuring three excellent local acts from three entirely different genres, all coming together for one night to present some of the best sounds the Richmond music scene has to offer? That’s a sure thing right there.
Butcher Brown are at the top of the bill, and this soul-jazz-funk instrumental quintet has only increased their prowess over their years as a band, most recently proving it with a killer live LP named after the downtown club where it was recorded — Live At Vagabond. These five musicians have powers undreamed of by many who wield instruments, and their credits with a variety of other projects, from Marcus Tenney’s work with No BS! Brass Band to DJ Harrison’s solo project on Stone’s Throw Records, are more than sufficient to demonstrate that fact. This Friday Cheers show will see them departing the intriguing atmosphere of jazz clubs for a performance under the sky, but their gorgeous, fun music is sure to thrive with the change of environments.
The Dharma Bombs have some jazz influence as well, but this acoustic ensemble mainly draws inspiration from old-time string-band sounds of the Appalachian mountains — which they brought into the 21st century with aplomb on 2017 LP Old Time Romance. If Butcher Brown will get you moving and grooving, these guys are more likely to have you dancing a jig to their bluegrassy tunes. One thing’s for sure — you won’t be able to stand still. The garage rock sounds of relative newcomers Piranha Rama, who just released debut EP Beach Body last month, are a great way to start off the evening. This whole show is basically perfect, so arm up with your citronella bracelets and head down to Brown’s Island for a night of great tunes under the setting summer sun!
Wednesday, May 23, 9 PM
Chico, Silver Twin, Black Plastic, Space Koi @ Flora – $5
It’s the middle of the week, and you need a pick-me-up to make it to Friday night. We all know how this goes — I’m in a similar situation myself, if I’m honest. Here’s one potential solution: head out to Flora tonight and catch Nashville rockers Chico doing their thing. This quartet’s just released their latest album, Ballet For Bastards, on which they display their intriguing musical melange of spaced-out prog guitars, catchy alt-rock melodies, and psychedelic atmosphere. It’s the sort of thing that will really kill when given the space to get loud — and Flora’s back room has a pretty perfect space in which that can happen, so you’re gonna want to come watch the musical fireworks.
There are some pretty great local bands on this bill too, starting with Silver Twin, who’ve been dishing out their catchy, poppy rock n’ roll around town for a while now. Their debut EP, Jaw, came out last fall and is still a really fun listen — chances are that by now, they’ve got some new stuff for us that’s even better. Newcomers Black Plastic are bringing sounds in a similar vein, though with a bit more of a mysterious presentation on the whole. And of course, Space Koi will round out the entire evening with a unique slice of dubwise psychedelia that splits the difference between the Grateful Dead and King Tubby. It’s just what you need to carry you through the remainder of the work week.
Thursday, May 24, 6 PM
Bloodlet, Sinister Purpose, Unmaker @ Champion RVA – Free!
The eternal return of 90s bands continues apace, and I for one am not complaining. After all, while Bloodlet often got lumped into that whole mid-90s mosh-metal thing due to their being signed to Victory Records, they were really doing their own thing entirely, something never truly recognized or given its due at the time. They were definitely a heavy, pounding band with relentless midtempo grooves and terrifyingly harsh vocals. But unlike the mid-tempo straight edge chug-monsters of the era — most prominently Earth Crisis — Bloodlet used subtle musical complexities to create a deeper, darker atmosphere within their music.
Their classic 1995 album, Entheogen, was finally reissued a couple of years ago by A389 Records, and it’s held up incredibly well over the years. Indeed, it’s impossible to avoid the Southern darkness that infects this Florida band’s music in much the same manner as NOLA legends Eyehategod. Forget all the straight edge associations and get ready for some spooky, metallic sludge from these returning heroes. Granted, they haven’t made a new album in over 15 years, but based on some intense footage from their performance at last year’s This Is Hardcore Fest, it seems they haven’t lost a single step. The more straightforward — but still a bit spooky — hardcore of Sinister Purpose, and the metallic goth-punk of Unmaker, will get things started at this show, which is unbelievably free. Do not miss out on this incredibly rare opportunity! Be there.
Friday, May 25, 9 PM
The Prabir Trio, The Flavor Project, Deau Eyes, Kenneka Cook @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$8 day of show (order tickets HERE)
So what’s up with Prabir these days? Having been a local music scene fixture for over a decade, first with Prabir and the Substitutes, and then with Goldrush, these days it seems this singer-songwriter with a taste for science, the Beatles, and killer power-pop has started up yet another project. While it may have started as more of a solo thing (social media sites know the project as merely “Prabir”), recent performances have been billed as The Prabir Trio, with final Goldrush drummer Kelli Strawbridge and bassist/producer extraordinaire Russell Lacy rounding out the lineup.
They’ve been cooking up some new tunes that fit right in with Prabir’s previous work, and this show is apparently the release celebration for The Prabir Trio’s first EP, so fans of the scientific power-pop genius should definitely be stoked for this one. The Flavor Project, an ever-growing soul/funk musical ensemble masterminded by bass whiz Gabriel Santamaria, may actually be headlining over the Prabir Trio at this show — I can’t entirely be certain. Either way, the fact that this gig will also feature sets from Deau Eyes and Kenneka Cook should be enough to get anyone paying attention to what’s awesome in the RVA music scene down to the Camel, ready to get rocked.
Saturday, May 26, 4 PM
Abuse Of Power, Wise, Red Vision, Flatline, Outsider @ Strange Matter – $10
Hardcore matinees are a vanishing breed today — not like 20 years ago when there was at least one every week. However, they do still happen, and while these all-ages shows tend to get going at a time that’ll seem ridiculously early to anyone over 21 and used to staying at the bar til 1:45 AM in order to see the headlining band’s entire set, they’re important avenues guiding the next generation into the music scene — and therefore, still pretty essential even for the old heads to pay attention to.
This one is bringing a couple of killer modern hardcore bands to town. Abuse To Power hail from Atlanta and have that same midtempo groove, complete with subtle melodic elements, that made bands like Outspoken and Mean Season such essential listens a quarter-century ago. With them on this jaunt is Cali crew Wise, who take things in a heavier direction but still have a bit of that 25-years-ago vibe, reminding me of Turning Point at some moments and Sick Of It All at others. These rad hardcore groups will join Negative Approach-style VB ragers Flatline and local up-and-comers Red Vision and Outsider, both of whom come with a tough, aggressive sound that’s sure to get the mosh pit moving. Come out and see what the kids are up to — you can go get Taco Bell afterwards, just like the old days.
Sunday, May 27, 7 PM
Cognizant, The Human Race Is Filth, Burn/Ward, Van Hagar, Swamp Nuts @ Lakeside Tavern – $8
I have to say, I fucking love that Lakeside Tavern has become a somewhat reliable spot at which to catch grindcore shows. I never would have predicted that in a million years, and yet it has come to pass, and I couldn’t be happier. This weekend, it’s Dallas grinders Cognizant who’ll be coming through for a blastbeat-heavy rager at Lakeside Tavern, and they’ll bring a really intriguing sound along with them. On their recently released split with Bad Rites, this group veers between full-on metallic grind destruction a la Assuck and some mathematical complexities that’d be more at home on a prime Cryptopsy record. All of this plus vague hints at a psychedelic atmosphere — which might be more apparent if these songs weren’t blowing by you at a million miles an hour — makes for one of the more interesting and original grind sounds I’ve heard in recent memory.
They’ll be joined on this bill by Pennsylvanians The Human Race Is Filth, who’ve come through in the recent past with their metallic crust sound, and are certainly welcome back anytime! This band has some definite hints of Tragedy in their sound, but a more prominent influence seems to derive from Harmony Corruption-era Napalm Death — and that’s never a bad thing. Three Richmond locals will bring us a well-rounded evening of hyperspeed metal destruction. Burn/Ward, who kind of disappeared for a while, will hit you with enough excellent blackened power-violence rage to make you glad they’ve returned. Van Hagar’s chunky, punky take on grindcore definitely emphasizes the core, to brilliant effect. And rural goregrinders Swamp Nuts will get things started off right with some super-deep vocals and super-heavy breakdowns. Get stoked.
Monday, May 28, 8 PM
Petrification, Funeral Chic, Deathcrown, Shark Eyes @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
The Maryland Deathfest tour-overspill brings its bounties to Richmond once again, as Strange Matter is fortunate enough to play host to Portland death-metallers Prosthetic and North Carolina’s Funeral Chic as they begin the trek home from the biggest metal show of the year. Petrification has risen to fame and glory on the back of their debut EP, 2017’s Summon Horrendous Destruction, which finds this quintet channeling the brutal, trudging glories of early 90s death metal pioneers like Autopsy and Incantation. Songs like “The Headless One” and “Stagnation of Transmigration” offer plentiful opportunities for headbanging, over which their vocalist delivers guttural tones that can only be called sepulchral in effect. So yeah, basically it rules.
Funeral Chic are more inclined toward raw, thrashing speed than the gloomy sludge of Petrification; they’ll offer a nice contrast to the Pacific Northwest death-doom crew with the sort of blackened metallic hardcore they deliver on 2016 slab Hatred Swarm. As far as local support, we’ll be graced with a performance from Deathcrown, a ripping American death metal quintet with members who’ve done time in a variety of Virginia metal mainstays over the years. Opening up the whole evening will be Shark Eyes, a new project from former KEN Mode bassist Andrew LaCour and members of Revocation that goes hard with the speedy metal riffage, at least from what little I’ve heard (less than a minute, total). I will say, though… I’m intrigued. The total effect should be one of complete pulverization. And who doesn’t love that?
Tuesday, May 29, 9 PM
Deeper, Basmati, Ashes @ Flora – $5
Let’s end the week where we began — over at Flora, catching a killer mid-week bill of indie rock bands with first-rate songwriting chops and the skills needed to deliver them to us in excellent fashion. Our headliner for this show is Chicago group Deeper, who mix math-rock and complex art-pop into a pleasing and memorable witches’ brew on their brand new, self-titled LP.
They’ll be joined on this bill by local alt-rockers Basmati, who’ve been plying their trade locally for damn near a decade now, and only getting better as they go. Expect some slacker vibes and some killer melodies from this talented trio. And of course, we’ll have Ashes to kick things off with some noisy indie tunes that are sure to get your blood pumping and your body moving. What more could you want?
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.]
Top Image by Vivienne Lee
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