Monday, December 14, 7 PM
Speedy Ortiz (Photo by Amazon Music), Aye Nako, Atta Girl @ The Camel – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Christmas is coming a little early for showgoers here in Richmond–and the bumper crop of touring bands coming to town over the next seven days make it seem like the holiday’s gonna last an entire week for clued-in locals!
Monday, December 14, 7 PM
Speedy Ortiz (Photo by Amazon Music), Aye Nako, Atta Girl @ The Camel – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Christmas is coming a little early for showgoers here in Richmond–and the bumper crop of touring bands coming to town over the next seven days make it seem like the holiday’s gonna last an entire week for clued-in locals! So get excited–and save your biggest thrills for next Monday evening, when an amazing double-bill of melodic punk bands will hit the stage at The Camel, preceded by one of the best up-and-coming local bands to show up on the scene this year!
Speedy Ortiz has been getting tons of shout-outs ever since their 2012 single “Taylor Swift” got everyone talking. This year, they released their third album, Foil Deer, on Carpark Records, and it’s noticeably their best work yet, featuring an amazing musical mix of 90s post-grunge bands like Belly and The Breeders and the catchy punk spirit of ragers like the Fastbacks. Plus, Speedy Ortiz has wasted no time using their increased visibility to shine a light on political causes near and dear to their hearts–this show, for example, is a benefit for Girls Rock Camp Foundation, and if you tack on a $5, $10, or $30 donation to your ticket price, you can get some lovely extra merch–including nail stickers and prints–thrown in with your ticket!
Aye Nako, the other excellent touring on the bill, is sure to thrill anyone who cares about catchy melodic alt-rock with a political conscience. This multi-racial, multi-gender band strikes a blow for representation in the sometimes-way-too-white/male pop-punk world, and they do it with some of the best songs being made in the genre today. Their latest EP, The Blackest Eye, is a significant improvement on their already-incredible 2013 debut, Unleash Yourself. If Superchunk and Fugazi are faves of yours, you need to hear this band! And by the way you need to hear Atta Girl too if you haven’t already. This band has turned a lot of heads by mixing K Records-style indie pop with a scrappy punk sound and vision, and having just recorded their debut EP, they’re set to take things to the next level with the quickness! Get on the bandwagon now, and dig the radness of this entire show–it’s gonna rule.
Wednesday, December 9, 8 PM
Ex Hex, Mac McCaughan & The Non-Believers, The Ar-Kaics @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets here: https://exhex.eventbrite.com/)
I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been hyped on Ex Hex since they hit the scene a couple years ago. This power-trio has inherited the fiery toughness of such classic rock n’ roll bands as the Shangri-La’s and the Runaways, and brought it into the 21st century with a complex, talented punk vision courtesy of former Helium/Wild Flag frontwoman Mary Timony. Their debut album, Rips, was one of the best of 2014, and when I saw them at Macrock that year, they were one of the obvious highlights. Expect their high-energy stage show and killer tunes to get you dancing with a big smile on your face.
Mac McCaughan’s latest project, The Non-Believers, will also be playing on this bill–and if you’re thinking that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you know one of his other justly-celebrated projects. Superchunk, Portastatic, Merge Records… the guy’s done a lot, and he’s had the Midas touch throughout. He’s touring behind his solo debut, Non-Believers (thus the band name), and it’s just as excellent as his previous work, so get ready to thrill to some excellent pop tunes from a talented guy with an outstanding track record. Local garage-punkers The Ar-Kaics are opening this shindig up with some 60s-style rockin’ that’ll fit right in on this excellent bill.
Thursday, December 10, 9 PM
Des Ark, Lucy Dacus, Doll Baby @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://desark.eventbrite.com/)
Oh my goodness, this is exciting! I’ve been a fan of Des Ark for a solid decade now, ever since singer/stringed-instrument-player Aimee Argote used to travel down from DC every few months and play living room shows by herself on a five-string acoustic guitar. Her dark, hypnotic tunes sucked you into her world, and made me a lifelong fan. So when she revived the electric version of Des Ark for 2011’s Don’t Rock The Boat, Sink The Fucker, I was doubly thrilled. Now, a few years after the hype for that album died down and I was starting to think Aimee had bowed out of the music game, she’s back in town with a new backing band and a new album, Everything Dies, out fresh from Graveface Records. Her complex, melancholy post-hardcore sound is still intact from everything I’ve heard, and I’m sure she’ll play a few classic Des Ark tunes to make all us longtime fans smile. So yeah, basically I can’t wait for this!
I’m pretty excited for the local bands on the bill too. Lucy Dacus, who is both a young woman with a guitar and some rad songs, and a four-piece band in which the aforementioned young woman is backed by some capable instrumentalist dudes, will be on hand to play some tunes from her/their soon-to-be-released Egghunt Records debut, No Burden. A bunch of my friends have adopted her advance single, “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” as their jam/theme song, and once you hear it, you’ll want it playing near you at all times too. Doll Baby is a newer group, but they’ve got a pedigree that should grab people’s interest. Former Haints In The Holler frontwoman Julie Storey has gone electric with this project, and she and one of her former Haints bandmates are joined by Hold Tight guitarist Eric Kelly in this rad new band that’s sure to impress any fans of their former work.
Friday, December 11, 9 PM
The Saddest Landscape, Vattnet Viskar, Salvaticus, Ostraca @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://saddest.eventbrite.com/)
This is going to rule. That is equally true whether you’re a dirty metalhead or a swoopy-haired screamo kid–though honestly, people from both of those categories should enjoy both of the touring bands on this bill if they’re in any way open-minded. After all, The Saddest Landscape, who were pretty closely associated with bands like Pianos Become The Teeth and La Dispute at one time, have only gotten heavier on their more recent work. Darkness Forgives, the brand new album on Topshelf, is pretty fucking powerful–full of screaming rage and heavy riffs. It may not be quite metal, but it’s brushing right up against it.
This probably explains why they’re on tour with Vattnet Viskar, a full-on black metal band who pull surprising influences from post-rock symphonics and post-hardcore melodies to put them a lot closer to the heavier end of screamo than their most tr00 kvlt fans might want to admit. They’ll bust out some blast beats and raging screams to keep your head banging, rest assured of that–but you might find yourself picking up some heavy emotion off these guys as well. Nothing wrong with that, right? With Charlottesville black-metallers Salvaticus and RVA metallic-screamo rage demons Ostraca opening up this show, it’s going to be a great opportunity for the screamo kids and the metalheads to unite! Hopefully they don’t just stand on opposite sides of the room glaring balefully at each other… but you know what? The music will rule regardless, so don’t even worry about all that melodrama.
Saturday, December 12, 9 PM
Fuck The Facts, Scuzz, Bottomfeeder, Left Cross, DJ Bobby Egger (art by Adam Juresko) @ Strange Matter – $8
Some seriously blazing grind action happening this Saturday night at Smatter, courtesy of awesomely-named long-running Canadian metal heroes Fuck The Facts. This sick, technical grindcore band have been hard at work for the better part of 20 years now, and released their tenth full-length, Desire Will Rot, earlier this year. Fans of Nasum, Creation Is Crucifixion, and Circle Of Dead Children will find a lot to love in this wire-tight festival of ripping thrash complete with blast beats aplenty.
Meanwhile, New York rippers Scuzz are far looser than Fuck The Facts. However, their speedcore rage should keep fans of the headliners very satisfied as they unleash it all over everyone during their set. Norfolk/RVA lo-fi noiseniks Bottomfeeder are the loosest yet where the bands on this bill are concerned, and should definitely make things interesting with their wall of fast, angry noise. Left Cross starts the whole evening off with some metallic punk crossover styles, which will please any fans of Celtic Frost or Death in the house (so, everybody I guess). Vinyl Conflict’s head impresario, Bobby Egger, will kick things off with a DJ set to get everyone warmed up, so get stoked for that! And limber up your neck, because heads will be banging!
Sunday, December 13, 8 PM
Silent Music Revival, holiday edition, feat. Antiphons @ Gallery 5 – Donations encouraged
In need of a pleasant holiday interlude this weekend that doesn’t involve some overcommercialized spectacle that’s been done to death? Silent Music Revival’s got just the ticket for you. This Sunday evening, they’ll be presenting four different short silent films with Christmas as the subject matter. The program will begin with 1912 short film A Christmas Accident, which is a relatively typical American silent film of the era. The Insects’ Christmas is a pre-Soviet animated film from Russia in 1913, just before the outbreak of World War I and several years before the downfall of the Russian Monarchy. Then there’s Soviet Toys (1924), the first animated cartoon to come from the Soviet Union, and finally animated silent UK TV special The Snowman, which dates from 1982.
The off-the-beaten-path charm of this entire program will be enhanced by musical accompaniment provided by Antiphons, the local indie-folk group led by Brian William Dove and featuring an unusual sensibility that gives their music a unique edge. Improvising music to films they have not seen before, while out of view of the screen, the band will attempt to provide a fascinating soundtrack entirely by working with the vibe of the room. You can never predict what sort of experience you’ll get from an episode of the Silent Music Revival, but it’s always fascinating. Come out, see what Antiphons and Silent Music Revival founder Jameson Price have in store for you, and bring some donation cash–because it’d be cool to see more of these continue on into the future!
Monday, December 14. 8 PM
Intronaut, Venomspitter, Doubtfire, Affasia @ Strange Matter – $12
That last one was a bit out of the ordinary for this week’s edition of the column–homegrown, cheap, featuring no touring bands–but let’s get back into the flow of things with yet another in the bonanza of great bands coming to RVA this week! I don’t know whether it’s more appropriate at this point to call Intronaut epic metal, post-metal, or something else entirely, but I do know that for the past decade or so, they’ve been carving out a niche in the technical, progressive end of the metal genre for their particular brand of powerful, space-faring epics. The latest in a series of amazing albums from this band is The Direction Of Last Things, out earlier this year on Century Media. Anyone who is fascinated by the sonic explorations of bands like Isis, Baroness, or Mastodon is well advised to check this band out. And bring earplugs–it’s going to get loud.
There’s a pretty solid lineup of up-and-coming local metal bands opening for Intronaut on this bill as well. Venomspitter have done a lot to let RVA and the world know about their brand of fast, angry, blackened hardcore, but I am getting the distinct feeling that too many local kids are not picking up what they’re putting down. Now’s the time to end your ignorance where this band is concerned–you will never regret it once you hear their harsh, raging music. As for Doubtfire, they’re a pretty new band on the scene, but they carry on the legacy of drummer/vocalist Matt Wild’s former band, Hellbear, in fine fashion, and feature some remarkable string-bending talent in the form of Night Idea’s Joey Anderson and Dumb Waiter’s Nick Crider–so you know they’re gonna rule. Brand new local metal band Affasia make their live debut to start this show out, so don’t miss that–or anything else happening on this night of incredible metal sounds.
Tuesday, December 15, 6 PM
Sleepwave, Que Sera, Set For Tomorrow, Two If By Sea @ The Canal Club – $12 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I think I’m probably supposed to hate Sleepwave. As a person people see as having “good taste” and being “cool” or whatever, the heavy-rock new band from the former singer of a high-selling Christian screamo band is supposed to be absolute kryptonite to me. But whatever for all that–judge me if you must, I’m too old to give a shit. The truth is, Sleepwave are a solid successor to Underoath, and reflect Spencer Chamberlain’s continued talent as a singer and songwriter. It’s not quite Define The Great Line, so if you need it to be that heavy, you might be bummed. However, if you can appreciate the dude bringing his ear for pop hooks (he briefly filled in on vocals for Taking Back Sunday, after all) to the kind of powerful guitar riffs he’s always been backed by, you should be able to dig the hell out of Sleepwave, just like I do.
And that right there is why you should go see them Tuesday night at the Canal Club–because they’re gonna rule. This is the kind of music that’s always heavier live, once the guitars can really get cranked up to head-crushing volume. Plus, anyone who ever saw Underoath knows that Spencer is a very active and energetic frontman who’s going to keep you entertained throughout their set. Finally, there are some pretty great bands on the bill as openers too. Que Sera are a solid melodic-screamo band who will satisfy everyone who misses Spencer’s screams from the Underoath days, while local support bands Set For Tomorrow and Two If By Sea will show off their stuff to start things out. It’s gonna be a pretty rad night, no matter what the haters might think.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected] (I gotta do something about this goddamn email address…)