RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 2/12-2/18

by | Feb 12, 2014 | SHOW PICKS

Sunday, February 16, 7 PM
Into It. Over It., The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, Sundials @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets here: https://intoit.eventbrite.com)

If you’re not yet on the “emo revival” bandwagon, this show should be enough to convince you.

Sunday, February 16, 7 PM
Into It. Over It., The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, Sundials @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets here: https://intoit.eventbrite.com)

If you’re not yet on the “emo revival” bandwagon, this show should be enough to convince you. This Sunday, Richmond will be graced with the presence of three of the best and most well-loved bands in the modern emo scene, and it has the potential to be a transcendental musical experience. Into It. Over It. are a band in the vein of Kind Of Like Spitting–melodic, guitar-driven post-hardcore rock music that is sometimes delivered by a full band, and at other times a solo vehicle for bandleader Evan Weiss. Not every Into It. Over It. tour features a full backing band, but RVA is in luck, because Weiss is coming to Strange Matter this Sunday with a full lineup backing him. As cool as the acoustic stuff sometimes is, you’ll only get the full impact of Into It. Over It.’s music if you see the full band, so Richmond is privileged to have that opportunity.

Meanwhile, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die could headline this show in their own right. The Connecticut octet has a lineup as expansive as their name, and their song titles are also often complex sentences. But what are these kids really about? Well, the emotional drama of their music pulls cues from both dramatic emotional hardcore bands of the mid-90s (think Indian Summer or later Moss Icon) and movie soundtrack post-rock of the early 00s (Sigur Ros, Explosions In The Sky), mixing in some classic catchy riffs to give the atmospherics a solid foundation. Their 2013 album, Whenever If Ever, was roundly praised, and for good reason. Seeing this crew unleash their full complement of not only guitars and drums but cellos and trumpets on the sure-to-be-cramped Strange Matter stage is sure to be a sight, but once they get going, we expect everyone to be too caught up in the emotion of it all to even think about such things.

A Great Big Pile Of Leaves don’t quite have as high a profile as their tourmates, but they’ve established themselves as solid practitioners of the Southern Illinois style of brainy post-hardcore emo (even though they’re actually from Brooklyn). Their sinuous arpeggiated guitar lines and undistorted riffs combine with melodic vocals to create a similar impression to that of Braid at their most mellow, or The Dismemberment Plan at their least goofy. Their album You’re Always On My Mind, released recently on Topshelf, may have nothing to do with Willie Nelson, but its songs will definitely stick in your head nonetheless. With one of Richmond’s top melodic punk bands, Sundials, tacked onto this bill as the local opener, this show will really be an embarrassment of musical riches. Make sure you order your advance tickets now, using the link up above, because we can guarantee you this show will sell out, and you don’t wanna be standing around outside Strange Matter crying by yourself as you listen to TWIABP playing “Picture Of A Tree That Doesn’t Look Okay” through the front window. You wanna be inside, crying with everybody else!

Wednesday, February 12, 9 PM
Heavy Midgets Video Release Party @ Balliceaux – $5

Snow schmow! Look, I’ve heard the weather forecast too, but if you spend tonight holed up in your kitchen with 14 loves of bread and three gallons of milk when you could be saying “Damn the torpedoes” and heading over to Balliceaux to get snowed in with Heavy Midgets, you’re officially blowing it. This talented young RVA indie band has been making waves around town for years, but their newest release and debut full-length, Super King, takes things to a whole new level and is already the album to beat for best RVA album of 2014. That’s just one reporter’s opinion, but if you listen, you’ll know I’m right–Heavy Midgets pull together a lot of great elements from the past 40 years of alternative, indie, and punk sounds, and combine them with the just the right level of talent and down-to-earth sincerity to create the kind of music we’ll all still be listening to in 20 years. From dark, ominous tunes like “Furry Thing” to pensive, insightful ballads like “Dynasty,” singer-songwriters John Graham and Charlanne McCarthy demonstrate their ability across a variety of sounds, which is all tied together by the instrumental prowess of the band as a whole.

Heavy Midgets recently celebrated the release of their incredible new album at Gallery 5; now they’re inaugurating two new videos for album highlights “Laundry” and “Daylight Savings” with a public screening taking place at Balliceaux tonight. Fear not, though–this isn’t just a video premiere but an entire evening of Heavy Midgets tunes. The band will begin with a brief preview set before pausing the action to show both videos on Balliceaux’s big screen before taking up their instruments once again and rocking you into the night. So ignore the weather report–because after all, this being Richmond, chances are it’s a false alarm anyway–throw your snow shovel in the trunk of your car, and head on down to Balliceaux tonight to hear plenty of music from one of the best bands this town has to offer.

[EDIT: I must have jinxed it–this show has been postponed until an as-yet-unspecified later date. Sorry folks! Go buy the Midgets album from Bandcamp anyway!]

Thursday, February 13, 5 PM
Bleeding Rainbow, Hunters, Positive No, The Loose Cannon @ Strange Matter – $7

Bleeding Rainbow started out as a band called Reading Rainbow, but I guess PBS put a stop to that–which is really OK, because Bleeding Rainbow is a better name for them anyway. Led by singer Sarah Everton and guitarist Rob Garcia, this Philly quartet released a hell of an album last year; Yeah Right, their third album overall and first on Kanine Records, had a great shoegaze-influenced upbeat indie/alt-rock sound, and it definitely won me over. Now they’re poised to release a follow-up, Interrupt, which is due out on February 25. They’ve already previewed a couple of the songs from that album on their website, and they sound every bit as great as Yeah Right did, so be prepared for this show to be a rainbow of overdriven-guitar awesomeness featuring a bunch of great new tracks.

New York’s Hunters are also on this bill, and while we were previously unfamiliar with this band, their psychedelic noise-rock style, as displayed on their self-titled debut that came out last fall, definitely won us over. Expect plenty of loud guitar drones and high-energy dual male/female vocals from this band. Meanwhile, Positive No are a new RVA band getting to their 90s-revival sound the old-fashioned way; which is to say, members of this band have been playing this style of music since the 90s. In particular, vocalist Tracy Wilson summons up the spirit of her criminally underrated 90s post-hardcore group, Dahlia Seed, while guitarist Kenneth Close’s shimmering leads provide the perfect melodic counterpoint to Wilson’s excellent voice. Positive No only have an EP out so far, but if its glittering gorgeousness is any indication, they’ll be taking over the RVA indie-rock scene in 2014. Local garage-rockers The Loose Cannon kick off this excellent matinee show, so make sure you head straight over once you’re off work (or start digging out your car early in the afternoon… assuming the much-vaunted snowpocalypse actually happens), because you don’t want to miss this.

Friday, February 14, 10 PM
Mekong Xpress, Chelsea Temple @ Cary St. Cafe – Free!

If you’re familiar with the work of Mekong Xpress, it’s almost certainly because you hang out over at America’s Best Beer Bar, Mekong Restaurant, on Monday nights. Every Monday evening, a shifting cast of great local musicians, which tends to include members of Modern Groove Syndicate, Former Champions, The Big Payback, The DJ Williams Projekt, and many more, gets together to jam out on some great funk and soul covers for the assembled Mekong regulars and whoever else enjoys starting their week with some great tunes. But Mekong Xpress is not bound, through Disney-style wicked-queen enchantment or any other force, to remain within the boundaries of Mekong itself–which is indeed fortunate for the RVA live music scene as a whole.

This Friday, the crew will be celebrating Valentine’s Day by taking their act on the road. They aren’t going too far–Cary Street Cafe is only three or four miles east of Mekong, after all–but it’ll be a nice change of scene, and it is a special occasion. Friday being Valentine’s Day, it’s only appropriate that Mekong Xpress present a special Valentine’s Day Heartbreaker. We don’t know the exact details of the set they have prepared, but we expect plenty of passionate soul jams about lost love and begging for your baby to return. “Unchained Melody,” anyone? Chelsea Temple, a local singer-songwriter with connections to the same circle of musicians that the membership of Mekong Xpress is drawn from, will open up the show. Bring your date for a night of slow-dancing, or come alone and spend the evening crying into your beer. Either way, Cary Street Cafe and the Mekong Xpress will welcome you.

Saturday, February 15, 10 PM
Black Girls, The Awesome Few, visuals by Natural Science Productions @ Balliceaux – $5

Care for a bit of blue-eyed soul in your indie rock? Look no further than RVA’s favorite band of deceptively named white men, who are gearing up to release their third album, Claire SinClaire, next month. This show is guaranteed to get you even more excited for its release than that video they released last month where they set an organ on fire. As we noted when we saw that video, it seems that Black Girls may be moving in a bit more of a 70s bluesy hard-rock direction (possibly influenced by having J. Roddy Walston hanging around RVA…), but there’s no way such influences will do anything other than make Black Girls’ already-potent brand of funky indie rock even better. So come hear them lay waste to Balliceaux with their new material and their best old stuff, and get psyched for the new album!

Plus, you’ll get a chance to dig on the rock n’ roll stylings of The Awesome Few. This project, fronted by local musician Marshall Costan and featuring Joe Ferguson of The Trillions on drums, has been quietly existing in the background of the local scene for years now, but is finally starting to become more active and visible in the last few months. And they deserve your attention, as their catchy tunes are a great showcase for Costan’s songwriting talents. With Todd Raviotta of Natural Science Productions providing audio-visual imagery for these performances, this show will be more than just a feast for your ears, so come entertain all of your senses at Balliceaux this Saturday night, and shed those Valentine’s Day blues.

Saturday, February 15, 10 PM
Full Of Hell, Mutilation Rites, Humungus, Hoboknife @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets here: https://fullofhell.eventbrite.com/)

Or, alternately, rage the Valentine’s Day blues away with this metallic hardcore show at Strange Matter. Full Of Hell, Maryland’s holy terror hatecore crew par excellence, totally took shit to the next level with their second album, Rudiments Of Mutilation, released last year by the legendary Baltimore label, A389 Recordings. Mingling brutal grinding blastbeats with crawling, anguished sludge riffs and snarling, growling vocals that sound dredged up from Satan’s fiery pits themselves, this band lends new meaning to terms like “intense” and “brutal.” When they hit the Strange Matter stage, you best be prepared to move, because if you’re not moshing, you’ll need to get out of the way, and quick.

Continuing with the “mutilation” theme, Brooklyn black metallers Mutilation Rites will also be on this show. And while these guys might not be as scary as Full Of Hell, the darkness of their black metal sound is undeniable. Their despairing lyrical themes are reflected in song titles like “A Season Of Grey Rain” and “Fogwarning,” while their speedy riffs, blast beats, and tortured screams summon the classic black metal sound despite their having no roots in Scandinavia. These dudes may not inspire an insane mosh pit, but they’ll certainly get heads banging.

Local support will be provided by Humungus, who have similar headbanging tendencies, but coming from a different direction. These 80s thrash revivalists have kept things kinda quiet since last year’s excellent “Drinking A Beer” single, but they’re currently hard at work on a new record, so we can look forward to more blazing thrash metal from this group in the near future. With Hoboknife kicking off the show in their fine blackened rock n’ roll style, this will be a fine way to spend your Saturday night!

Monday, February 17, 8 PM
Black Joe Lewis, Pickwick, People’s Blues Of Richmond @ Strange Matter – $14 in advance/$16 at the door (order tickets here: http://blackjoelewis.eventbrite.com/)

Time to dance! Black Joe Lewis is a guitar-slingin’ wildman in the tradition of The Gories, The Black Keys, and King Khan–not to mention Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker–and he’ll tear things up at Strange Matter this Monday night with a night of wild blues-rockin’ numbers from his latest album, Electric Slave. Titled in reference to people’s always-increasing dependence on iPhones, laptops, and other electronic devices, this is an album and a band who seek to get things back to the analog roots of soulful rock music, complete with horn sections and undeniable blues grooves. So if you want to spend your winter Monday night getting sweaty on the dance floor, look no further than Black Joe Lewis.

Seattle’s Pickwick is joining Black Joe Lewis on this tour, and they’ll be bringing plenty of soulful, swingin’ rock sounds of their own during this show. Their brand new debut album, Can’t Talk Medicine, has a less swampy but no less groovy sound to that of Black Joe Lewis’s new album, so these guys are perfect on warmup duty for a headliner sure to bring the place down around everyone’s ears. Finally, local stalwarts People’s Blues Of Richmond are opening up, and as we’ve seen over the last year or so, they have plenty of swamp grit to spare for audiences here in Richmond and beyond. Expect a dark, heavy, and very groovy set from these guys to get things rolling.

Tuesday, February 18, 7 PM
Acoustic Basement Tour featuring Transit, Hit The Lights, Brian Marquis, Front Porch Step @ The Camel – $13 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)

The Acoustic Basement Tour is sort of a Warped Tour spinoff–during the winter, when no one’s throwing giant skatepark shows at fairground-style venues, Brian Marquis takes bands that would have played Warped Tour’s Acoustic Basement stage on tour with him as a way to keep the music going all year. This winter’s Acoustic Basement tour features the sounds of Transit, and while this Boston band may at one time have counted as pop-punk, the sound of their latest LP, Young New England, certainly makes them an appropriate headliner for any tour with “acoustic” in the title. These guys have definitely mellowed in the decade or so since they started, and their wistful, pensive sounds are mainly acoustic in nature these days–though they’ve lost none of their anthemic qualities. So be prepared to hoist a beer and sing along with Transit, whose acoustic set will probably be pretty much the same as any set they’d do at this point in their career.

On the other hand, Hit The Lights are going to have to change it up a bit to present their songs in an acoustic environment. While singer/guitarist Nick Thompson does have an acoustic side project called Thief Club, he and the rest of Hit The Lights will be focusing on that band’s chunky easycore tunes for their sets on this tour, and without the ability to bust out killer palm-mutes (or synth-based melody lines, for that matter), it makes sense that the stripped-down versions of these songs will go through a significant transition before you hear them at the Camel–which just makes catching their set that much more worth it.

Brian Marquis, who runs this whole show, will also be playing a set on this tour. Since the breakup of his band, Therefore I Am, he’s been operating as an acoustic solo artist, and while the man doesn’t appear to have released much of anything since his 2011 solo EP, Snow Damage (which may be an appropriate name for the Richmond landscape by Tuesday), he’s surely got a full set of gorgeous acoustic emo-pop tunes in store. Meanwhile, Front Porch Step is a solo acoustic project by Jake Mcelfresh, and his passionate delivery is really something you must see in person to fully understand. So forget all that loud amplified noise you saw for the rest of the week and come get rocked by a bunch of dudes who won’t wreck your hearing.


Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: andrew@rvamag.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.

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