Thursday, October 9, 9 PM
Bad Grrrl Records Birthday Party, feat. White Laces, Heavy Midgets, New Turks, Tungs @ Strange Matter – $5
If you genuinely care about the Richmond music scene–and I assume you do if you’re bothering to read this–you definitely need to be at Strange Matter tomorrow. This isn’t just the show of the week but clearly the show of the month, and possibly the show of the year.
Thursday, October 9, 9 PM
Bad Grrrl Records Birthday Party, feat. White Laces, Heavy Midgets, New Turks, Tungs @ Strange Matter – $5
If you genuinely care about the Richmond music scene–and I assume you do if you’re bothering to read this–you definitely need to be at Strange Matter tomorrow. This isn’t just the show of the week but clearly the show of the month, and possibly the show of the year. Bad Grrrl Records has existed for three years now, and in that time, label proprietor Ben Miller has worked tirelessly to document the RVA alternative rock scene–and by that, I mean the real alternative, as opposed to the many bands who see the “indie” sound as a path to major label contracts and headlining slots at massive music festivals. In the space of three years, he’s released 19 albums by nearly a dozen local bands, many on cassette. He’s ensured that both up-and-coming young bands on their way to overtaking the scene and short-lived local phenomena were captured and recorded as evidence of what the truly independent thinkers and creative types around town were up to over the past few years.
We should all be thanking Ben for his efforts. And you can do so by showing up at Strange Matter tomorrow night and celebrating Bad Grrrl’s birthday. At this party, the gifts are for you–not only will there be some great bands taking the stage over the course of the evening, your paid admission to the show gets you a free copy of the latest Bad Grrrl Mixtape, which will feature an overview of the label’s latest releases, plus a few old favorites from their earlier work. If you’re new to Bad Grrrl, you’ll definitely want to place an order from the label’s catalog after hearing this tape.
Even if you are new to this label’s efforts, the bill should be plenty enticing if you follow local music at all. White Laces are the most successful Bad Grrrl alumnus, with their new album coming out this week on Egghunt/Happenin’ Records, but they remember their roots and will be playing a headlining set of great new tunes for all assembled. Heavy Midgets are still riding high on their excellent album from earlier this year, Super King, and also have some new material that’s been getting an airing at recent shows, so that’ll be worth catching for sure. New Turks have some heavy bass-drum duo jams in store for you from their latest EP, Hot Leather. And modestly occupying the opening slot of the evening will be Mr. Miller’s own band, Tungs, who recently released their third full-length, Not For Grandma, and will be making a whole lot of related noise to kick the evening off. So come out, enjoy some jams, buy some Bad Grrrl merch, and wish this amazing local label many happy returns of the day, as my grandfather used to say.
Wednesday, October 8, 6 PM
Chiodos, Motionless In White @ The Canal Club – $16 in advance/$18 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I’m very excited about this. Chiodos captured the imaginations of many with their first album, All’s Well That Ends Well, a decade ago, ushering in the era of epic emotional metalcore (or whatever you want to call it) that also featured the best work of Thrice, Coheed And Cambria, and quite a few other great bands. The band started on a long, slow downhill slide after their second album, Bone Palace Ballet, losing mercurial founding vocalist Craig Owens and releasing a somewhat lackluster followup to their excellent first two albums. Thankfully, they righted the ship this year and returned to action with Owens back in the fold on Devil. Their fourth album marks a return to form musically, with some really kickass metal moments that mark some of their heaviest work yet, as well as the beautiful epic melodies they’ve always had such a way with. I seriously can’t wait to see these guys.
Motionless In White are also on the show, and while this band does a completely different sort of thing than Chiodos, they’re just as inventive and interesting. With a tendency towards Marilyn Manson-style makeup and industrial textures that underpin their melodic metalcore tunes, these guys are blending two styles that previously seemed miles apart. Their latest album, Reincarnate, has only been out for a couple of weeks now, and they’ll surely be laying down all the best new jams from it during their set. Word also has it that there are two local openers on this show, but I have no idea who they are, so show up early and find out for yourself, or be fashionably late and just catch the out-of-town bands (you hipster).
Thursday, October 9, 9 PM
JEFF The Brotherhood, Diarrhea Planet, The Milkstains @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Finally JEFF The Brotherhood has come back to Richmond! This kickass rock n’ roll duo, made up of brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, has been cranking out the hits for years and years now, ever sicne the boys were in high school. After gaining a small bit of attention for their brief membership in Be Your Own Pet, the two started making a lot of noise on their own with their fifth album, Heavy Days, released in 2009 on their own label, Infinity Cat. Both band and label’s profiles have steadily grown over the past five years, as JEFF The Brotherhood became one of the first names in heavy, stripped-down rock n’ roll of the 420-friendly variety, and Infinity Cat released records by pretty much all the other bands you know from that scene.
These days, JEFF The Brotherhood are just about to drop an all-covers EP called Dig The Classics, featuring tunes by My Bloody Valentine, The Wipers, the Pixies, and more. They may even have it with them on tour, but one thing I know for sure is that they’ve got those tunes in their repertoire and could potentially be talked into breaking them out. So come holler requests for their version of “Gouge Away”–or just rock out to the many original riff monsters they’ll be breaking out for you. You also will want to catch Diarrhea Planet, who stand in contrast to JEFF The Brotherhood’s bassless minimalist lineup with four guitarists all wailing away simultaneously. Diarrhea Planet (whose very name gives me a stomachache to think about) have a more melodic sound–with all those guitarists, there’s a ton of room for leads–but are working from the same riff-centric stoned-out rock n’ roll perspective as the Orrall brothers. And for that matter, so are The Milkstains, who’ll be offering local support on this bill of longhaired guitar-slingers.
Friday, October 10, 5 PM
Beartooth, Vanna, Sirens And Sailors, Sylar, Alive Like Me @ The Canal Club – $13 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Dudes, to be completely honest, I think we all know that metalcore’s been getting a little silly for a while now. All the keyboards and vocal effects and silly synchronized dances are directly antithetical to the hybrid of awesomely heavy music metalcore was always supposed to be. Therefore it’s a little surprising to me that newcomers Beartooth are as good as they are. After all, singer Caleb Shlomo was previously in Attack Attack, the poster band for metalcore’s silliest tendencies (the term “crabcore” was coined to describe them, after all). I guess maybe the dude was sick of hearing everybody make fun of how ridiculous his band was, and decided he was going to get serious with his new project. Whatever the motivation was, I’ve found Beartooth’s debut album, Disgusting, to be quite the grower–the sort of record you aren’t that impressed with at first, but for some reason keep putting on again, until one day you’re like, “Fuck it, I love this.” Their mix of driving, heavy hardcore and somewhat melodic choruses with a greater resemblance to those of Drowningman or Poison The Well than Bring Me The Horizon and crap like that is not perfect, but so far it’s working for me, and in a live environment I can imagine that it’ll hit hard as fuck.
I never previously gave Vanna a chance simply because their name made me think of Wheel Of Fortune, which never seemed like a good sign. I expected more silliness, but surprise surprise, Vanna are actually pretty heavy in their own right. Singer Davey Muise sounds like he’s shredding his vocal chords every time he screams, and his band lays down some thick, chugging riffs behind him to maximize the menace. Yeah, I like this a lot too. I know a lot less about Sirens And Sailors, Sylar, and Alive Like Me, who are all also on tour with Beartooth and Vanna (package tours are getting a little out of control, y’all), but the headliners will be worth the price of admission on their own, and if you dig metalcore that is heavy, not silly, chances are you’ll dig everyone on this bill.
Saturday, October 11, 5 PM
Koji, Lee Corey Oswald, Chris Farren, The Weak Days @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Where pop-punk is concerned, there’s always a distinct possibility that things are gonna head in an acoustic direction. After all, these guys are writing really catchy hooks, usually with exactly the sort of wistful undertone that is the hallmark of all good yearning unrequited love songs. Acoustic Basement tour veteran Koji is no stranger to solo performances, and he’ll be taking the Strange Matter stage with the kind of musical equipment that’s stripped-down enough to allow you to tour on a Greyhound bus (I’m sure he has more luxurious accomodations on this tour, though). He’ll be dishing out the same sorts of yearning, wistful tunes I mentioned above, perhaps not always about lost love (though I wouldn’t rule it out, either). If you’re a fan of what Into It. Over It.’s Evan Weiss gets up to when he’s playing by himself, chances are you’ll love Koji’s set as well. Just remember to be very, very quiet.
You won’t have to be as quiet during Lee Corey Oswald’s set. Koji’s tour buddies and No Sleep labelmates will be performing as a full band, rolling out a set of catchy rock n’ roll tunes that might make you think of Ted Leo’s best tunes at times, but will drift more towards Transit territory at others. Chris Farren of Fake Problems will also be along on this tour, which I’m guessing will involve him doing a set of stripped-down Fake Problems tunes–and that sounds pretty cool to me. Local support will be provided by The Weak Days, a new guitar-driven emo band from here in RVA who display a pretty intriguing sound on their debut EP. It should be cool to see these guys live, and it’ll be even cooler to see all the other bands on this bill, so make the most of your Saturday afternoon and head over to Strange Matter for an early acoustic show that’s guaranteed to make you feel feelings.
Sunday, October 12, 4 PM
Twitching Tongues, Bracewar, Tough Luck, Code Orange, Soul Search, Friend Or Foe @ Strange Matter – $12
Things will be getting an early start over at Strange Matter on Sunday, too, for a jam-packed lineup of hardcore greatness. And this lineup begs a particular question that I’ve been asking a lot lately. You guys, how back are the 90s? So back that there are young hardcore bands who show a huge Life Of Agony influence, apparently. Which brings me to Twitching Tongues, a metallic hardcore band from California who are heavy as fuck and even capable of breaking out blast beats on occasion, but definitely feature reverb-laden production, blazing metal lead guitar parts, and most importantly, the same sort of baritone operatic vocals that made me go “WTF?” when I first heard Life Of Agony 20 years ago. But you know, I got used to Life Of Agony, and now Twitching Tongues just sounds dope to me. As does Code Orange, for that matter, a Pennsylvania hardcore band whose early associations with emo bands kept me from noticing how heavy and moshy they were until the recent release of their second album, I Am King. That album puts the mosh right up front, combined with strange effects and dark, rumbling riffs that make me think of classic 90s heavy hardcore band Disembodied. So yeah, if this is what the 90s being back can bring to me, I’m sure as hell not complaining.
I’m sure a lot of Richmond hardcore kids are complaining, though, about the fact that this is Tough Luck’s last show. This local hardcore band dishes out the sort of meat n’ potatoes hardcore sound that has been very popular amongst the United Blood crowd around here for several years now, and their last EP, Heavy Fortune, certainly had plenty of great riffs with which to inspire stagediving. So come leap off the stage into the waiting arms of your friends one last time for Tough Luck’s last show, and catch a rare and highly sought-after performance by locals Bracewar as well. These guys have an angry vibe and aren’t afraid to pick up the pace, but are also proficient with what the kids call “beatdown parts” (I’m still trying to figure that one out), so they should get the pit moving for sure. I was under the impression that they were winding down, as it has been a while since they did much more than play the occasional show, but they recently tweeted that a new EP is coming in 2015, so you’ve got that to look forward to. Starting the whole day off and taking things to the level of a one-day mini festival are Cali’s Soul Search and locals Friend Or Foe. There don’t appear to be advance tickets being sold for this show, and with word of people driving in from other states, it probably would not be a good idea to show up fashionably late. My advice is to head straight over from brunch and get ready to spend some time in line. Don’t worry, it’ll be worth it.
Monday, October 13, 7 PM
Bishop Allen, The Mad Extras @ The Camel – $5
Details are sketchy on this one, but I found a listing for the show on Bishop Allen’s website so it’s definitely happening, and I can’t let a lack of online info keep me from writing about this event. Bishop Allen started out as part of that whole hipster indie explosion coming out of Brooklyn in the years after Y2K, but that makes it sound like they are a bad band, and nothing could be further from the truth. I first heard their music when I saw Andrew Bujalski’s film Mutual Appreciation, which stars Bishop Allen singer Justin Rice and features him playing a real Bishop Allen song as part of a fictional band. Like pretty much everything Bishop Allen do, that song had a really catchy, memorable indie-pop sound, and I was definitely intrigued.
The real Bishop Allen augments Rice’s vocals and guitar parts with electronic textures, synths, and an adroit rhythm section. This results in eminently danceable tunes that resembles some kind of weird cross between the Magnetic Fields and the Pixies. Or maybe I’m insane–check out their latest album, Lights Out, and see for yourself. But do it before Monday night, because I have a feeling that once you hear these dudes, you’re gonna want to see them play. Local support on this show will be provided by The Mad Extras, who have some catchy, rhythmically oriented tunes of their own for you, and possibly some other bands…? Like I said, info is sketchy. Also, The Camel’s listed price of $5 on their website seems impossibly generous, so maybe you should show up prepared to pay a few bucks more than that. You won’t regret it, I can promise you that much.
Tuesday, October 14, 9 PM
Roman Gabriel Todd One Man Band, The Nervous Ticks, Skirts, Among The Rocks And Roots @ 25 Watt – $5
If you’ve caught Roman Gabriel Todd on his previous trips through Richmond, accompanied by his usual backing band, The Beast Rising Up Out Of the Sea, you know just how weird–and how awesome–his usual trip is. I’ve heard it described as black metal, but it seems to me to be creepier and far more bass-heavy than that genre usually comes anywhere near. Maybe on a spiritual level, Todd has something in common with black metal, but musically, I’d say he’s more on some kind of Captain Beefheart trip–only a lot darker. And that’s when he has a backing band; this show will feature the Roman Gabriel Todd One Man Band, which is just Todd and a drum machine, rumbling and clattering his way into the depths of your soul and freaking you the fuck out. This show might not be for the faint-hearted, but those made of sterner stuff will not want to miss it.
Todd will be joined by a few different Richmond bands, none of which have much of anything in common beyond their awesomeness. I feel like I tell you guys about the Nervous Ticks all the damn time, and if by now you still haven’t managed to make it out to see them, maybe you should just go ahead and make an appointment to have your head examined, because you are tripping. Their primitive rock n’ roll is the absolute bees’ knees–quit fucking around and go see it. Skirts, which I’m pretty sure is the artist formerly known as Short Skirts, will deliver a set of solo electronic weirdness as well. Then Among The Rocks And Roots will unleash their own brand of guitarless duo rumbles, which should definitely twist the brain stems of anyone who digs early Swans or GodheadSilo. What better activity could you have planned for a Tuesday evening than this? Answer: none.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]