Sunday, February 22, 9 PM
Humungus, Budd Dwyer, Led To the Grave, Vorator, Mower @ Strange Matter – $7
Metal. Strange Matter has been the place for it, for quite a while now, and I’m sure all the fans of this most glorious and triumphant musical genre know to check their upcoming show listings first when you want your live metal fix. But just in case this one got past you, I want to make sure to throw a spotlight on it.
Sunday, February 22, 9 PM
Humungus, Budd Dwyer, Led To the Grave, Vorator, Mower @ Strange Matter – $7
Metal. Strange Matter has been the place for it, for quite a while now, and I’m sure all the fans of this most glorious and triumphant musical genre know to check their upcoming show listings first when you want your live metal fix. But just in case this one got past you, I want to make sure to throw a spotlight on it. Humungus are heading up a fantastic bill of local and touring metal bands on Sunday night at Strange Matter, and all the true-blue denim n’ leather hessians are gonna want to be up in the place banging their heads.
The last couple of years have been a bit choppy for Humungus–it’s been a couple years since they were the full-time touring act they were at full strength, and they sadly have not brought us any new material since the “Shark Castle”/”Drinkin’ a Beer” 7 inch came out on Forcefield back in 2012. However, these metal soldiers are bloody but unbowed, and they’re ready to come back at you with some raging riffs, galloping guitars, and outstanding vocal high notes Sunday night to wrap up your weekend on a (very) high note.
The touring acts on this bill are coming from a bit of a different place than Humungus. While Humungus is straight up no-subgenre-needed METAAAAAL!, Budd Dwyer are coming at you from a gnarly, brutal world of grinding power-violence. Expect growls, screams, blastbeats, and tempo change-ups galore from these guys. Massachusetts ragers Led To The Grave bring more of a thrash/death attack, with a sound somewhere between Slayer and Morbid Angel. Gotta love that. Vorator’s a new local band that lands somewhere between the two touring bands–kinda grindy, kinda deathy, kinda thrashy–very heavy and brutal. Finally, Pittsburgh’s Mower will kick off the evening with some prime early black metal-sounding stuff–think Venom or Celtic Frost with a touch of Motorhead thrown in there. This whole night is gonna blow your hair back.
Wednesday, February 18, 10 PM
The Flavor Project, Mcrvwvs, Russell Lacy @ The Camel – $5
OK, so let’s be real–there’s a whole bunch of snow on the ground out there, at least by RVA standards, and that might keep some of you from getting out of the house. But I know there are at least a few of you road warriors who’ll find a way to leave the house no matter what the conditions are outside. This one’s for you. The Flavor Project is a rather large funk/soul/hip-hop group that has grown out of late-night jams at various clubs around town over the past couple of years. Gabriel Santamaria and Armando Munoz are the ringleaders, but they’ve got a lot of talented compatriots along for the ride, and they recently made a record over at Virginia Moonwalker studios, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary. So not only will The Flavor Project be giving you a sneak peek at what their recorded debut has in store, they’ll also be joining up with Moonwalker head honcho Russell Lacy to celebrate the studio’s first year of operation.
Russell Lacy will also be performing on this bill, opening things up with a prime set of his country-laced acoustic tunes. He’s apparently got some surprises in store as well–should we expect guests? Seems like a relatively safe bet. Meanwhile, the meat in this live music sandwich will be the one and only Mcrvwvs, who seem to have replaced all the vowels in their name with an extra v, but I am guessing are pronounced “Microwaves.” If you’re sitting there wondering who the heck these guys are, let me drop some names for you: Edward Prendergast. Kelli Strawbridge. John Lilley. Bob Miller. Toby Whitaker. Oh, you’re paying attention now, aren’t you? The latest project from these members of Amazing Ghost, Bio Ritmo, Glows In The Dark, The Big Payback, and more is sure to be worth digging your car out of a snowbank all by itself–and as we’ve already discussed, there’s plenty more where that came from.
[Seriously though–shows may or may not be happening as scheduled during this time of crappy weather. Call venues before you leave the house to make sure everything’s going down as planned.]
Thursday, February 19, 7:30 PM
Basmati, Young Scum (photo by David Pala), Romantic States @ Gallery 5 – price at door
RVA’s young indie rock scene keeps rolling full speed ahead, and I love it. With each passing month, there are more cool new bands popping up, more awesome shows happening, and tons of inspiring things going on all around town. Basmati is a band I’ve known about for a while, so there’s really no big surprises in store from them–just more of their weirdly compelling mathy indie rock, as shown off on their recently released full-length cassette, BAZ. But if you don’t have that tape, you’re definitely gonna want to grab yourself a copy at this show–then stick around and watch Basmati work their live magic. It’s gonna be sweet.
I’m actually a bit more excited about Young Scum. My roommate has been hyping this new local indie-pop group to me for a while, and I kept saying “but the demo on their bandcamp page sounds bad!” She swore they were way better live, and then they played my house last weekend and I learned how right she was. Seriously, the single-mic live recording they have online does them no justice at all. You truly must see this band to understand what they are about–i.e. some absolutely gorgeous tunes. Seeing is believing. You’re in for a treat. And of course, let’s not forget Baltimore’s Romantic States, the touring band on this bill, who will be bringing their own minimal yet lovely tunes to you. Despite their tiny two-piece lineup, this duo is capable of making plenty of noise, and they’ll show it when they hit the Gallery 5 stage. Get ready to dance and smile.
Friday, February 20, 9 PM
Nuclear Santa Claust, Animal Planet, Cherry Pits @ Wonderland – $5
Wonderland is the place to go to see old school beer-swillin’ punk rock bands–this is a thing we have learned over the past year or so. And Friday night, they’re joining forces with Vinyl Conflict, the record store to hit up when you wanna buy albums by those same bands, to bring RVA a big ol’ dose of raging, antisocial punk rock from none other than Brooklyn’s Nuclear Santa Claust. That gloriously silly band name heralds a crew of speedy, note-bending rock n’ rollers who know how to keep the spirit of first-wave punk rock alive. Fans of the Ramones, DOA, and the Adolescents are gonna get a big kick out of this show.
There are a couple of local punk rock groups on this bill who are just as worth your time. Animal Planet apparently hail from Charlottesville, and have a downright primitive version of old-school hardcore to lay on y’all. I find myself thinking of Gang Green or Negative Approach at points during their demo, but sometimes they have much more of a dawn of rock n’ roll feel, like something unearthed from the darkest depths of Lux Interior’s record collection. Either way, I’m into it. And I’m definitely gonna tell you to go see local power-poppers The Cherry Pits, even though I still haven’t made it out to see them myself and therefore still don’t quite know the details on what they sound like. Between the ex-member cred and the plentiful cosigns from local music fans whose opinions I trust, I’m endorsing these guys sound unheard. By the way, get to Wonderland early–that place packs out quick, and you don’t wanna hear this show from a snowy Shockoe Bottom sidewalk.
Saturday, February 21, 7 PM
Infernal Stronghold, Bastard Sapling, Unsacred, Battlemaster @ Strange Matter – $10
More metal from Strange Matter–though I am once again going the Pulp Fiction route and telling you later about a show that’s happening earlier. That’s right, due to the vagaries of the “shows you must see” column structure, Infernal Stronghold will actually be at Strange Matter the day BEFORE the Humungus show. Don’t think about it too hard. Anyway, if you like your black metal so raw it’s bleeding, Philadelphia’s Infernal Stronghold is the band for you! Six years ago, they released an LP called Godless Noise on RVA’s own Forcefield Records, which used unrelenting blastbeats and ridiculously guttural vocals to take you straight to hell, musically speaking. To avoid misconceptions, I’m saying it ruled. Anyway, these guys haven’t been up to much for the last few years, but they’re back in action and planning a new album for 2015, so come see what they’ve cooked up for us all this time around.
They’ll be joined by Bastard Sapling, the first name in RVA black metal, who blew everyone away with last year’s Instinct Is Forever. They took things to a whole new level on their second album, and you can expect a new level of ferocious brutality from their live performance as well. Unsacred just dropped a new LP of their own, on Forcefield Records no less, and you can prepare for some serious headbangs from these former metallic hardcore turned full-on metal dudes. Finally, Battlemaster continues their decade-plus reign of death metal terror over the Richmond metal scene. Every minute of this show is gonna be sick as hell. Plus, it’s a benefit to help Direct Control drummer Mike Scibetta deal with costs after going through some pretty serious back surgeries–which sucks for him to even have to deal with, so come help out, and enjoy an evening of serious headbangs in the bargain!
Sunday, February 22, 7 PM
New Madrid, Night Idea, Big Fifty @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I don’t know how this band pronounces their name, but I always think of the accent being on the first syllable of the second word, like how Jeff Tweedy sings it on that old Uncle Tupelo song. And I know that seems like an irrelevant thing for me to bring up, but if you’re thinking about Uncle Tupelo, you’re actually getting a pretty good idea of what New Madrid have to offer, so it’s not as random as it seems. New Madrid don’t quite have the twang and folk instrumentation that Uncle Tupelo acquired later in their career, and they’re a bit more psychedelic than that band’s country-punk early days, but still, there’s a definite spiritual kinship there. Their most recent album, Sunswimmer, was produced by David Barbe, whose done a lot of great work down there in his Athens, GA studio–plus, these guys hail from towns like Nashville and Chattanooga as well as Athens. So yeah, catchy alt-rock with a Southern psychedelic soul–that’s what you can expect from New Madrid. Regardless of how they pronounce their band name.
Night Idea will also be on this bill, and by now you should know what you’re getting from these guys. In case you’re not sure, here’s a spoiler alert–pure math-rock excellence. I’m not sure if these dudes practice 20 hours a week or are just natural-born instrumental geniuses, but their capability to bust out extremely complex yet catchy and toe-tapping alt-prog riffage is flawless, both in the studio and live. So get ready for some tunes you’ll have to use a slide rule to decode–or you could just not worry about it, and nod your head to the sweet grooves. That’s my advice. Locals Big Fifty will start this whole shindig off with some rockin’ tunes.
Monday, February 23, 8 PM
Diamond Heist, MNMC @ The Camel – Free!
OK, all you Red Sox fans, you ready for the seventh-inning stretch? And I’m not just talking about “Sweet Caroline,” either–that’s right, Diamond Heist is a full-on Neil Diamond tribute band, and if you didn’t feel like RVA had a particular need for such a thing, perhaps you just haven’t listened to “Cherry Cherry” often enough. Or “Kentucky Woman”? No, that’s NOT a Deep Purple original!
Sure, the guy made some schmaltzy tunes in his time (“They’re Coming To America,” anyone?) but Neil Diamond could definitely be awesome when he wanted to be, and Diamond Heist will stick to the awesomeness and show you a better time than you ever thought you could have on a Monday night watching a tribute act. Plus, 103.7 morning show host Melissa Chase’s band, MNMC, will open things up. I have no idea what they sound like (they have no online presence at all, at least that I can find), but they should be interesting if nothing else.
Tuesday, February 24, 8 PM
Chain And The Gang (photo by Greg Neate), The Ar-Kaics @ Black Iris – $6
Now this is a rare treat! DC’s amazing postpunk/R&B/garage rock force of nature, Chain And The Gang, showing up in Richmond on a random Tuesday night? Count me in! Led by the legendary Ian Svenonius, frontman for such classic DC punk bands as Nation Of Ulysses and The Make-Up, Chain And The Gang also features a rotating cast of tough female punk rockers including members of Ex Hex, Dudes, and more. Sonically, they explore territory adjacent to The Make-Up’s overwrought gospel/R&B hybrid, with kind of a juvenile-delinquent early-60s rock n’ roll thing going on. However, they’ve also got a minimalist postpunk flavor that’s impossible to deny. It all adds up to something weird, wonderful, and totally rockin’.
The Ar-Kaics are the perfect RVA group to open this show–their perfect execution of a 60s garage-rock throwback sound is a total delight whenever they perform, and their self-titled LP from last year has a lot to recommend it. These guys will make you wanna do the twist, so don’t resist–give in to your urges and dance the night away! Steady Sounds are bringing this awesome rock n’ roll double bill to us, and the owners of that fine record store will start the evening out with a fine DJ set to get you in the mood.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]