RVA Shows You Must See This Week: November 30 – December 6

by | Nov 30, 2022 | MUSIC

Saturday, December 3, 7 PM
Alabama Thunderpussy, Suplecs, Loud Night @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $20 in advance, $25 day of show (order tickets )
I must admit, I never thought this day would come. Then again, I never thought I’d see Erik Larson’s other famous former project, Avail, reunite either, and we all know how that one turned out. Alabama Thunderpussy, in which Mr. Larson trades his drum kit for an electric guitar powered by a cranked-up amp stack, is a totally different animal than Avail, and if you were around fifteen years ago, the last time ATP were dominating the Richmond scene, you surely remember the rollicking metal fury they unleashed on their most recent LP, 2007’s Open Fire. That album introduced vocalist Kyle Thomas to the band’s lineup. Thomas is best known as the singer for early 90s thrash legends Exhorder, but he did a great job with ATP as well, making Open Fire one of the band’s best and most memorable releases in a pretty extensive discography.

The kind of stoner-boogie groove metal that ATP played was having a big, big moment in Richmond’s heavy music scene back in 2007, and ATP rode that wave to glory. A cult favorite around Richmond was the video for Open Fire’s big single, “Words Of A Dying Man.” Filmed in a beat-up house in north Church Hill that was then a house show spot occupied by crust punks (and is now probably renovated, gentrified, and renting for $1500 a month… ugh), the video featured cameos by members of bands like Lord By Fire, Municipal Waste, Inter Arma, and even a memorable appearance by GWAR’s Balzac the Jaws Of Death. I have no idea how that video was received in the wider world, but for a while I got to see it at pretty much every house party I went to. Watching it now, it reminds me of a truly great era in the storied history of the Richmond music scene.

You can relive that history at Richmond Music Hall this weekend, as Alabama Thunderpussy returns to action for their first show in fifteen years. The lineup that is reuniting is the Open Fire lineup, featuring Kyle Thomas on vocals, Erik Larson on guitar, and the legendary Bryan “Big Shirley” Cox on drums. It’ll remind us all of an era when backpatch-bedecked jean vests, long scraggly beards, and big black boots were the showgoing uniform of choice, an era when stoner-metal titans ruled this city, and an era when you could pay rent on a house where you could throw house shows on the weekend, even on a barback’s paycheck. If you miss those days as much as I do, show up at this one and bang your head for old time’s sake.

Wednesday, November 30, 7 PM
Hotel Neon, Lowercase Noises, Slow Meadow, Benjamin Mauch @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Normally when you see a trio headlining a show, you expect them to be taking on the role of the standard rock power trio — guitar, bass, drums, all combining to create some loud riffage. It’s cool — sometimes extremely cool — but it’s generally predictable and easy to see coming. That is not true of Hotel Neon. This Philadelphia trio is made up of three guitarists, none of whom sing, all of whom combine the powers of their amps, pedals, and stringed instruments in order to create an all-consuming atmosphere that it’s easy for listeners to get lost inside.

Yes, Hotel Neon is an ambient, experimental combo. There music doesn’t feature conventional riffs, and it doesn’t move to a particular tempo. Instead it evolves across epic soundscapes that will make you think of wind skating across the surface of a desert at 2 AM on a starry night, or waves rolling in and crashing on a beach as you stand atop a distant dune, close enough to see the ocean but only barely able to hear it. All of these soundscapes and many others are evoked on Hotel Neon’s 2021 LP, All Is Memory, and they’ll be conjured up to powerful effect when these three guitar-slingers from Philly take the stage at the Camel tonight. You might not get a chance to dance, or bang your head, but if you open your mind to this cleansing, heavenly drone, you’re sure to head home feeling a lot better regardless.

Thursday, December 1, 7 PM
Local H @ The Canal Club – $17 (order tickets HERE)
Yeah, you know Local H. We all know Local H. Well, to be exact, we all know one song by Local H. “Just don’t get it, keep it copacetic…” That one. “Bound For The Floor” is pretty good, and the annual streaming payouts surely keep the members of Local H from having to get day jobs, but if that song is all you know about this band, your knowledge is sorely lacking. Because you see, singer-guitarist Scott Lucas and a succession of drummers (since 2013, it’s been Ryan Harding) have continued making excellent alternative rock anthems throughout the 26 years since they had their brief moment at the top of the charts. Indeed, they’re coming through the Canal Club as a celebration of 2002’s Here Comes The Zoo, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. If you do the math, that means it came two albums AFTER their big hit.

What you should guess by now (and you did, right? You read this column, so I assume you’re a pretty smart cookie) is that Here Comes The Zoo is every bit the bonanza of killer alt-rock tuneage that As Good As Dead, which gave us “Bound For The Floor,” was. The big single from this album — Local H’s last radio hit, a full 20 years ago, and how depressing is that? — is “Half-Life,” a killer uptempo jam that’ll certainly be the highlight of the set dedicated to Here Comes The Zoo that one can certainly assume Local H will be gracing us with at this show. Other killer jams from this album, like “Hands On The Bible” and “Rock N’ Roll Professionals,” are also sure to delight. And of course, Local H is the only group on the bill this evening, which means they’ll be doing two sets. Therefore you can assume both “Bound For The Floor” and more recent killer tunes like 2015’s “Mansplainer” and 2020’s “Hold That Thought” will get their time in the spotlight as well. If you, like me, already celebrate this band’s entire catalog, this show’s sure to delight you throughout. And if you only know one or two songs, you’ll get an excellent, extensive intro to the Local H phenomenon. You won’t soon forget it.

Friday, December 2, 7 PM
Bit Brigade @ Richmond Music Hall At Capital Ale House – $15 (order tickets )
Younger readers among you might be surprised to hear about this, but there was actually a vogue in the indie scene around 2005 or so for bands that covered the soundtracks to 8-bit Nintendo games. Unlike the genre eventually known as chiptune, these bands were recreating the classic four-track compositions all us 80s kids played along to in our youth without a synth in sight — two guitars, bass, and drums, the classic rock n’ roll package. Out of all those bands, Bit Brigade soon rose to the top of the heap, performing as they did in conjunction with a gamer, who actually speedruns the Nintendo games they play the soundtracks for, live and in the middle of the stage, as they perform. The band takes the challenge of creating the musical soundtrack for his game play exactly — stopping on a dime to play the stage-ending music or the you-just-died sting if that becomes necessary. It’s an exciting performance, due both to the thrill of watching a player trying to defeat a classic Nintendo game in as little time as possible and the contrasting thrill of watching the band attempt to play along with the game in real time.

At Capital Ale House this Friday night, it’s going to be a full-on 8-bit extravaganza, as Bit Brigade will play two sets. In one, they’ll re-enact the Nintendo game that made them famous — the legendary Mega Man II. Thrill as Mega Man attempts to defeat foes like Crash Man, Bubble Man, and of course, Dr. Wily himself. Then stick around for the second set, in which Bit Brigade will perform the soundtrack that makes up their latest album: Ducktales. Like the TV show it’s based on, the Nintendo game is an enduring cult classic — and as with the TV show, the excellent soundtrack is a big part of what made it that way. Even if you aren’t old enough to have stayed up with the sound turned all the way down to play an original Nintendo game system in your room while you were supposed to be asleep, you’re sure to get a big thrill out of watching Bit Brigade and their resident gamer take on and conquer both of these 8-bit classics.

Saturday, December 3, 7 PM
Archers Of Loaf, Truth Club @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets )
It sure is great to have Archers Of Loaf back among the living. Being a Woman Of A Certain Age, I have fond memories of the 90s days when I was still in or freshly dropped out of college, when this North Carolina quartet would come through town and play killer shows at Twisters (later known as Strange Matter), in support of 90s indie classics like 1993’s Icky Mettle and 1996’s All The Nation’s Airports. Archers leader Eric Bachmann had an undeniable way with words, and the tunes he set his insightful lyrics to were always brilliant pop gems. That’s why it was too bad when, after four albums in five years, Archers Of Loaf called it quits in 1998. It was understandable — life was starting to get in the way. Viable careers and carpal tunnel syndrome eventually spelled the end of these indie rock legends. Bachmann went on to front the alt-country group Crooked Fingers, and they were good too, but it wasn’t the same.

Thankfully, Archers Of Loaf started playing together again about a decade ago, doing a reunion tour that saw them getting more attention than they’d ever gotten the first time around. And then, this summer, they followed up 2020 reunion single “Raleigh Days” with a brand new album, Reason In Decline — their first in nearly a quarter-century. It doesn’t sound exactly like their early material, but then, would you want it to? What’s more important is that it proves the band still has an active imagination, a creative approach to songwriting, and a ton of great tunes to unleash upon us all, whenever they decide to do so. And if the album isn’t enough, you’re in luck — Archers Of Loaf will be rolling through town this Saturday night to take the Richmond Music Hall stage and prove to us all that they’ve still got the knack, and can still kick out the jams as hard as they ever did back in the day. Get your tickets now, because you’ll definitely want to be there when they do. Trust me.

Sunday, December 4, 8 PM
Kidz At Play @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
By now if you don’t know that Kidz At Play are the biggest thing happening in Richmond hip hop in 2022, you must truly be living under a rock. This crew of young rappers, producers, designers, and assorted creative people (“not a band or a crew but a creative house,” as this magazine learned back in August) has generated an energized fanbase through their tireless promotion, creative visuals, memorable songs, and most importantly, their incredible live performances. And now they’ve taken things to a new level, releasing a brand new album called Mike Tyson Jab last month. Over the course of its 11 songs, this album shows the variety a group featuring nearly a dozen members is able to harness; from song to song, you’ll hear different production techniques, different rap flows, and different genres — hip hop, techno, EDM, R&B, etc. All of it adds up to a listen that doesn’t get boring for a second. Indeed, these songs are so catchy and memorable, they could release ALL of them as singles if they felt like it.

If I haven’t made it clear already, I’m just gonna say it straight up: Mike Tyson Jab is the work of a huge group of talented people operating at the peak of their power. It’s a culmination of every bit of hype the Kidz have generated over the past year, and it proves that all of that hype was 100% real. And now? Get this: the Kidz are taking over The Camel this Sunday night to perform Mike Tyson Jab in full for the first time. If you’ve already been initiated into the strong community surrounding this group, you know how off the chain this evening is going to be. And if you haven’t been, well… you won’t get a better opportunity to see what Kidz At Play are all about than this show. So what are you waiting for? Hit that ticket link up above, cancel any other plans you might have made for Sunday night, and forget petty concerns like getting to work on time Monday morning. Surrender yourself completely to the Kidz At Play experience. You’ll never regret it for a second.

Monday, December 5, 7 PM
Floor Space, Lowlife Tea Party, Camp Werewolf @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s tough to google a band called Floor Space without getting a whole ton of hits related to construction and stuff like that. Therefore, I can’t say I know everything about this Allentown, Pennsylvania-based trio. But I can tell you that I found their Bandcamp page, and I gave a listen to their latest release (at eight songs and 19 minutes, it’s right on the EP-LP borderline, so let’s just go with “release”), Nothing Makes Sense. Once I heard what this band had to offer, I frankly didn’t need to know any more. I was like, “Yup, that’s Monday taken care of.” And when you listen to it, you’ll probably find yourself saying the same thing, and picking up a ticket to this killer start-of-week gig at The Camel.

Because look, Floor Space are extremely talented. They’re the sort of rock n’ roll trio when you see three guys in a band with guitars — they’ve got killer riffs, excellent choruses, memorable melodies, and fun, snarky lyrics — like on “Long Way Up,” in which vocalist Charlie Bruno worries that if he doesn’t change his circumstances, he’ll become “the whiny alley 40 who can’t stop talking shit.” Relatable fears set to excellent emotional pop-punk tunes — who can complain about that? Not me! In fact, I’m celebrating this band, with their SEO-unfriendly name and their incredibly catchy songcraft. Dancing around the Camel on a Monday night is never a bad idea, and this week Floor Space will provide the perfect soundtrack. You know what to do.

Tuesday, December 6, 7 PM
State Champs, Hunny, Between You & Me, Save Face @ The National – $27 (order tickets HERE)
One good start-of-week pop-punk show deserves another, and if you ask me, State Champs is just what the doctor ordered where that’s concerned. I was super into this band’s 2013 sophomore LP, The Finer Things, and considering just how busted up the inside of my brain was at that time (I was about six months from finally admitting to myself that I’m transgender), its songs full of angst and anxiety, set to incredibly catchy and energetic tunes, were a soothing balm to my mental state. They probably also contributed to at least a little bit of annoyance for my downstairs neighbors — I lived on the third floor back then, and I definitely jumped around my living room playing air guitar along with State Champs on quite a few afternoons back then.

I haven’t kept as close track of this band in the years since, but I did dip back in to give a listen to their latest album, this summer’s Kings Of The New Age. I’ve grown up over the past decade (a good thing, considering I’m close to 47 years old), and State Champs have matured as well, but luckily this time that’s NOT a code word for “they got boring.” Their latest album is still full of energetic, emotional pop-punk anthems that it’s impossible to sit still for. I imagine the National will be full of sweaty pogoing twenty-somethings during this set, and if you’re feeling the impulse to throw yourself into the pit and bounce around with the emo kids, I highly recommend doing exactly that. This is fun music for people who need to forget their troubles for a little while — and it’s tough to find a band in today’s music scene who fulfills that mission more completely than State Champs. Let’s all hit the pit and sing along.

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): drew@gayrva.com

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.

more in music

Spotlight on Luxxienne: A New Wave of Photography in Richmond

Say hello to Lucienne Nghiem, known in the digital world as luxxienne, a Richmond-based photographer, whose artistry is painting the town in shades of dream-pop and disco. Lucienne has transformed her passion into a full-time endeavor, infusing her work with a...

From Band Life to Big Dreams: Wes Parker’s Solo Journey

The name Wes Parker had been appearing on my radar for many weeks, and he seemed like the new kid on the block to talk to. Parker in 2024 alone had released two new singles, the second one by the name “Annie Moore” with a video to accompany it, and then with another...

The Kids Are Alright: Cristian Espinoza’s Street Life Photos

Cristian Espinoza has been capturing the essence of youth street life for some time, and his film photography provides a raw, authentic look into the underground and art culture of the DMV area. We had the opportunity to send him a few questions. R. Anthony Harris:...

Golden Shoals, Ten Pound Snail & Kidz At Play: Sound Check

Friday Cheers may be taking a bye week, but that doesn't mean that there's any shortage of music in our fair city. This weekend Golden Shoals take over Get Tight Lounge for a wonderful outdoor evening of string band music, Ten Pound Snail are loading up the Broadberry...