Saturday, December 13, 4 PM
River City Barn Dance Holiday Hoedown, feat. Andy Vaughan & the Driveline, Loversville, Cary Street Ramblers @ Hardywood – Free!
I’m late to the party on this one, folks–River City Barn Dance is a monthly event that Andy Vaughan has been putting on around Richmond for something like two years now (maybe longer? Two years ago was when I first heard about it). It brings together the finest country sounds coming out of RVA right now with some old-time square-dancing fun, and mixes the whole thing with the excellent craft beer always on tap at Hardywood.
Saturday, December 13, 4 PM
River City Barn Dance Holiday Hoedown, feat. Andy Vaughan & the Driveline, Loversville, Cary Street Ramblers @ Hardywood – Free!
I’m late to the party on this one, folks–River City Barn Dance is a monthly event that Andy Vaughan has been putting on around Richmond for something like two years now (maybe longer? Two years ago was when I first heard about it). It brings together the finest country sounds coming out of RVA right now with some old-time square-dancing fun, and mixes the whole thing with the excellent craft beer always on tap at Hardywood. The River City Barn Dance is guaranteed to be a super-fun way to spend your Saturday night, and that’s especially true for this yuletide edition, which will feature the introduction of Hardywood’s new Christmas Morning Gingerbread Stout, which adds Brazilian and Sumatran coffee beans, courtesy of Black Hand Coffee, to a classic Christmas brew.
Or so they tell me–I don’t go in for all that beer business. But I do love music, and even if I’m too anxious to dance in public, I’m sure those of you less afflicted will have a blast cutting a rug to the sounds of the Cary Street Ramblers. They’ll kick off the afternoon’s musical festivities by backing up RVA Squares as they lead the assembly in a real live square dance. If you’ve forgotten all the moves since third grade music class, never fear, RVA Squares will be explaining it all, and once you get it down pat, you’ll get to enjoy the same sort of Saturday evening entertainment that used to delight our grandparents (or, well, those of us whose families are from tiny rural towns in the South…)
Once the square-dance portion of the evening is complete, there’ll be a double bill of fine country sounds to keep you dancing all night long. Andy Vaughan & The Driveline are Richmond’s foremost torch-bearers of that old-school Nashville sound–the kind that dominated country radio in decades past, before glitzed-up hat acts turned country into some weird hybrid of glam metal and Billy Joel (sung with a twang, of course). Vaughan & co. released their latest album, Sinners & Saints, earlier this year, and they’ll surely have some lovely tunes from that album and their extensive back catalog to bring to you. Loversville will assist in the Nashville revival, with singer Cassandra Cossitt doing her best Patsy Cline over some prime pedal steel licks from Mike Tighe. It’s gonna be a great evening, so bust out that Western shirt you bought at the thrift store and leave all your usual indie hipster haunts behind for just one night!
Wednesday, December 10, 6 PM
Modern Baseball, Knuckle Puck, Cayetana, Crying, Somos @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
God knows I’ve told you enough about this show and this band, but people, if you’ve been hiding under a rock or something, crawl out and brush the dirt off your shoulders, because Modern Baseball is bringing the next wave of melodic punk rock to RVA tonight and you need to be there! These adorable nerds are singing about all the time-honored pop-punk subjects–awkward dates, being broke, learning how to be an adult, eating pizza–and doing so overtop of some super-catchy and slightly jangly riffs that will run through your head long after you’ve made the drive home. Tickets are still available, so go grab one and show up at the Broadberry tonight ready to dance!
There’s a ton of other awesome music in store for you on this bill as well. Knuckle Puck hail from Chicago and have an energetic and memorable take on that whole hardcore-influenced pop-punk/updated-easycore sound that you’ve come to know and love from bands like The Story So Far and State Champs (personally, I’m way into it). Meanwhile, Cayetana are following Hop Along’s lead into the world of pop-punk/alt-country hybrids, and Crying get at least an honorable mention on my ever-growing list of ungoogleable band names. Musically, they’re full-on Nintendocore, only with sweetly melodic vocals and a real live human drummer, which leads to a sound that at least seems unprecedented, and is certainly creative. Somos opens things up with a similar sound to that of Modern Baseball, only with a bit less Weakerthans, a bit more Smoking Popes. Awesome–just like this entire bill.
Thursday, December 11, 9 PM
The Blow, Nelly Kate, Nu Depth, Merrin Karas @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$13 day of show (order tickets here: https://theblowrva.eventbrite.com/)
Wow, it’s good to hear from The Blow again! Back around the middle of the last decade, these minimalist electro-poppers scored a big hit, at least amongst my circle of friends, with a lovelorn slice of heaven called “Hey Boy.” They followed up that single with a great LP called Paper Television in 2006, but after that, I didn’t hear anything about them for a long time, and had kind of assumed they broke up. Apparently not, though, as they’ll be hitting Strange Matter this Thursday night! Now consisting of singer/sole constant member Khaela Maricich and synth/sampler controller Melissa Dyne, the reincarnated version of The Blow actually released a new self-titled LP last year, which I somehow completely missed (there I go blowing it again). My frantic attempts at make-up work have revealed what might be their best music yet, combining Maricich’s always gorgeous vocals with some extremely melodic dance grooves that are impossible not to dance to. The final result almost makes me think of Amnesiac-era Radiohead if they were way more into making pop hits. I’ll bet Grimes is way into this band–and you should be too!
The Blow’s RVA performance sees them matched up with Nelly Kate, who is probably the closest local counterpart to Khaela Maricich that we’ve got. Granted, Nelly Kate’s a lot less interested in off-kilter pop and much more in tune with the idea of creating atmospheres out of multilayered tape loops and haunting, wordless vocal cries. But her solo symphonies of electronic sound are similarly all-encompassing, and rise up from similarly minimal origins. So really, if you’re interested in either one of these acts (and I know a lot of you RVA locals love Nelly Kate–for good reason), you should definitely check out the other. Charlottesville-based sound-experimentalist Nu Depth and RVA rock n’ rollers Merrin Karas get things rolling with a study in contrasts, so you’ve got that to look forward to as well!
Friday, December 12, 6 PM
Madball, Turnstile, Death Before Dishonor, Take Offense, Downpresser @ The Broadberry – $20 in advance/$23 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Hardcore kids of all ages–it’s time to get back to your roots! NYHC legends Madball are on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1994 classic Set It Off, and it is your duty to come out and mosh it up! Look, I’ll be real with you–I’m not gonna get into the pit. Last time I saw Madball was on one of those Stillborn Fest tours Hatebreed used to do, and I was up in the balcony with a bird’s-eye view of the carnage happening below. No thank you, I will watch from a safe spot. But one listen to classic tunes like “New York City,” the title track, and “Spit On Your Grave” is enough to understand exactly why those guys in the pit go so crazy for this stuff. The early 90s was the golden era of tough-guy mosh, and Madball were at the pinnacle of that whole movement. So even if you don’t want to get into the floorpunching and spin-kicking that will surely go on at the Broadberry this Friday night, you’re sure to enjoy the classic riffs that Freddy and the boys will be dishing out.
They’ve got a whole crew of heavyweight support acts with them on this tour, too. Legendary Boston band Death Before Dishonor will be there, rolling out some super-heavy riffs that’ll probably be the trigger for some serious violence in the pit as well (I’m expecting that to be a theme of the entire show, to be honest). Then Turnstile will represent for today’s youth by showing that they can do the early 90s sound with just as much energy and originality as the bands who came up with the whole thing. Take Offense and Downpresser will start things off in fired-up fashion and kick off an evening of moshcore glory. So whether you’re a longtime hardcore vet reliving your youth, or an energetic youngster paying respects to the godfathers who started it all, come have some (hopefully not too violent) fun with Madball this Friday night.
Saturday, December 13, 9 PM
Sabor Revolution with Bio Ritmo @ The Camel – $7/$8 (order tickets HERE)
Bio Ritmo are the sort of band who can take over an entire club and make it their own for a night. Witness what they are up to at The Camel this Saturday. No opening bands, no DJ sets, just an entire evening of music from the Richmond salsa legends. They’re calling it “Sabor Revolution,” which for those who do not speak Spanish means “Flavor Revolution,” and sure enough, this evening will be every bit as delicious as a heaping bowl of salsa (the food). Bio Ritmo released their latest album (which is, what, their eighth?), Puerta Del Sur, earlier this year, and it proved that after 20-plus years, this dozen-or-so member band can still kick out the jams with the best of them. It may not be hot outside on Saturday, considering this is December and all, but Bio Ritmo will warm you up with some funky, jazzy grooves to get you dancing all night!
And if you’re thinking “this event is way too close to Christmas for it not to be holiday-themed,” well, you’re sort of right, because there’s definitely a pre-show Christmas lights tour you can take if you come out to the Camel a bit early on Saturday. The price for the tour includes a ticket to the Bio Ritmo show, and the bus leaves at 5 PM. After the light tour, you’ll be stopping by American Tap Room for some craft brews and delicious eats, then heading back to the Camel prepared to get down! The tour is sponsored by New Belgium and Foothills and all proceeds will go to benefit Sportable Adaptive Sports & Recreation, so if you’re up for a full evening’s experience that will benefit a good cause, click here to check out the light tour! But even if you just want to dance to some swinging beats, make sure you show up at The Camel, because this is gonna be one tasty salsa party!
Sunday, December 14, 9 PM
Red States, Hot Air Affair, The Moonbees, Don Babylon @ Strange Matter – $5
Yes, I admit it, I did just finish telling you about a Red States show a couple weeks ago. These guys are doing a lot on the local scene right now, getting their name out there and rocking the local music fans with their power-pop sound, and you should certainly enjoy that by heading out to Strange Matter Sunday night, even if you have caught these guys recently. It’s not like they’ll be any less fun the second time around!
But there’s a lot of other great music on this bill that’s just as worth your time, and it starts with The Moonbees, who just released their latest album, Ready For The Shit (I fully approve of that name). They’ll be celebrating its release at this show, and will have CD copies available for you to purchase–and if you dig bouncy rock n’ roll with a strange flavor combo of jazz, folk, and indie quirkiness poured overtop, you’d be well advised to grab one! Don Babylon, who’ve got a bit of a garage-rock Weezer/Strokes sound, will also be performing, and these guys are a lot of fun live, so make sure to catch their set! Hot Air Affair, a seven-piece pop/rock group incorporating sax and cello (but who sadly don’t appear to have any music online) will round out this evening of fun local jams.
Monday, December 15, 8 PM
Au Revoir (photo by Freddie Ross), Shy Low, Bears @ The Camel – $5 (order tickets HERE)
Finally Au Revoir has come back to Richmond! This instrumental New Jersey post-rock group last came through a year or so ago, hooking up with Shy Low on that trip as well. With their wall of amps and moody, epic instrumentals, they fit right in with Richmond’s own moody instrumental quartet, and I’m sure these two bands will once again combine to create an all-pervading atmosphere of ominous, dynamic melody and noise when they join forces at The Camel next Monday night. Au Revoir last came through town supporting their Great Depression-themed EP Black Hills. That record came out over a year ago, but considering that this band has pretty much been on tour ever since, it’s no surprise that they don’t have anything new for you this time around. Regardless, getting rolled over by the waves of loud, beautiful noise they’ve got in store should be reward enough.
Shy Low is working on a new album, and we’ll have some details about it for you in our next print issue. For now, it’s enough to say that they have half a dozen new songs in store for you, and while they may not be able to recreate the string arrangements they’ve been augmenting their new material with in-studio, they can certainly give all of us a preview of the tunes they’ve been preparing. Hopefully they will do exactly that! Bears, who open this evening’s festivities, will definitely do one thing that neither Au Revoir nor Shy Low plan to do–sing. This downtuned, bass-heavy rock n’ roll band from Brooklyn has an unmistakable resemblance to Weezer, and also reminds me of Harvey Danger and The Toadies–so, 90s alternative rock? Yeah, that’s a pretty good description of their sound. They’ll definitely be the most immediate and danceable band on this bill, and should help ease you into the epic atmospheres to follow.
Tuesday, December 16, 9 PM
The Dickies, Bottle Babies @ Bandito’s – Free!
Oh my goodness, this is going to be so much fun! People often forget about The Dickies, since they had a goofier, less menacing vibe than all the other first-wave punk bands, but they were on the scene from the beginning, and undoubtedly had a lot to do with inspiring the earliest pop-punk bands. Their early albums, such as Incredible Shrinking Dickies and Dawn Of The Dickies (both released by A&M in 1979), mixed original gems like “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)” and “Manny Moe And Jack” with sped-up, silly covers of bloated 60s rock epics like “Nights In White Satin” and “Eve Of Destruction.” Sure, what they did may not have been as politically-charged and musically important as bands like The Clash or The Ramones, but The Dickies were always so much fun to listen to.
Some drug problems slowed these guys down for a while in the 80s, but singer Leonard Graves Phillips and guitarist Stan Lee are still going strong, and they’ll be bringing their bubblegum punk funtimes to Bandito’s next Tuesday. They’ve got a huge catalog of great songs, and I’m sure everyone’s got their personal favorites (I really want to hear them do their version of the Banana Splits theme), but you can be assured regardless of what they play that it’ll be catchy, fun, and upbeat as hell. Norfolk punks the Bottle Babies will open up this show, and like every Bandito’s show, admission for this event is free, so there’s really no reason for you not to be here. Make sure to show up early for delicious nachos/tacos/etc–but be careful not to eat too much, because the Dickies will definitely make you want to pogo, and too much of that on a full stomach might make you puke. Nobody wants that to happen.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]