Saturday, March 1, 8 PM
Long Arms CD Release Show with Long Arms, Hypercolor, Mayfair, The Story Changes @ The Camel – $7
Where veteran songwriters of the RVA scene are concerned, James Menefee is an overlooked but essential part of the equation.
Saturday, March 1, 8 PM
Long Arms CD Release Show with Long Arms, Hypercolor, Mayfair, The Story Changes @ The Camel – $7
Where veteran songwriters of the RVA scene are concerned, James Menefee is an overlooked but essential part of the equation. Since his mid-90s days as a teenager fronting Fun Size, he’s been writing heartfelt pop tunes about love and life for appreciative audiences across the city–and the world. After taking his best shot at the big time with River City High during the middle years of the last decade, James returned home to the city that’s always had his back, and began the phase of his career that’s ultimately been the most fruitful. Between his brief sojourn on bass for reunited pop-punkers Race The Sun, the reformation of Fun Size, and the adventures of his latest project, Long Arms, he’s been delighting this city for the past half-decade with his best work yet. And now, we’re about to get another installment with the release of Long Arms’ second CD, Constant Comment.
While even the reunited version of Fun Size has still contained a big dose of the fun-loving spirit that guided the band’s early works, Long Arms is the venue in which Menefee has really showcased his maturity as a songwriter and a person. While his ability to write a catchy, memorable song has not diminished one iota over the past two decades, the experiences he’s had show through in the country and classic rock influences that weave through Long Arms’ music. The best adjective to describe the band’s current sound is Westerbergian, which is to say it has much the same feel that comes through in later Replacements albums and the best of Paul Westerberg’s post-Mats solo work. That yearning, wistful feel that Westerberg is such a champ at evoking is also ably brought to life by Menefee, and you can hear it especially in Constant Comment’s first single, “The Motorcycle Boy Reigns.” Stream it below, and get a preview of what you’ll be hearing at The Camel on Saturday.
But don’t miss the great bands Menefee and co. have selected to open this show, either! Hypercolor appeared on the scene about a year ago and have grabbed a lot of attention in their time as an RVA band; the folk, country, and psychedelic influences they blend together are simultaneously reminiscent of Mazzy Star and The Cowboy Junkies. Then there’s Mayfair, the current project of former Race The Sun singer Daniel Long, in which Long proves that he’s still got the voice of an angel. While Mayfair are less likely to go into some fast, punky riff than Race The Sun ever were, this more emo-oriented project is nonetheless a clear and obvious continuation of Long’s previous work, and if you liked Race The Sun, or alternately, are a fan of Jimmy Eat World and The Juliana Theory, this band will make you very happy. The evening begins with a set from The Story Changes, a Dayton, OH duo who will probably have the most distorted guitar sound on this entire bill. Their Hum/Quicksand-influenced sound is definitely worth your time, as is every other band on this bill. So make sure you’re there!
Wednesday, February 26, 9 PM
Iron Chic, Family Cat, Sundials, Sea Of Storms @ Strange Matter – $10
If anthemic punk rock is something that matters to you–and it should be–you have no excuse not to be at Strange Matter tonight. Iron Chic is coming to town. This Long Island crew has some incredible singalong tunes in their repertoire, and they’re gonna get this whole town to sing with them. Their latest album, The Constant One, released in December, really takes things to the next level for this band, showing that they have not only heart and passion but a sense of humor as well (see song titles like “A Serious House On Serious Earth” and “Castle Numbskull”). This show will be a blast, so come sing along with Iron Chic and wave your beers in the air.
And while you’re at it, get stoked on a rare live appearance by Family Cat! This RVA band have been keeping it low-key since singer/guitarist Tyler Walker moved to Texas, but they still exist and have plans to follow up their excellent full-length debut, Dealing With Depression, with another LP sometime in 2014. Before that happens, they’ll be playing this show, and you don’t want to miss them, because who knows when they’ll be back? Sundials are a more reliably appearing local band, and their consistently great live performances have made them a mainstay of the RVA scene. Sundials are on more of the pop-punk side of the whole emo sound, but openers Sea Of Storms have more of a post-hardcore feel to their epic emotionally-driven tunes, and that will no doubt be reflected in the volume at which they play them. All three of these RVA bands should deliver excellent sets, though, and this show will be a heartfelt good time from beginning to end.
Thursday, February 27, 10 PM
I Am Heresy, Brief Lives @ Empire – $5
Here’s an unexpected treat. Boy Sets Fire were one of the best post-hardcore bands of the 90s, incorporating heavy, powerful hardcore and metal influences with a well-developed melodic sense. The whole thing was driven by the excellent vocals of Nathan Gray, who was equally capable of delivering brutal screams and beautiful melodies. After Boy Sets Fire broke up, Gray fronted a band called The Casting Out, whose straightforward pop presentation left a lot of fans missing Boy Sets Fire’s heavier elements. Well, for those fans, I Am Heresy will be delightful. In this band, Nathan Gray has returned to heavy music in a big way, doing a complete 180 from The Casting Out by forsaking almost all of his melodic tendencies to focus on screaming his head off. There are some even more interesting developments here, for while Gray is the only former member of Boy Sets Fire in I Am Heresy, the band features two SONS of Boy Sets Fire members. Gray’s own son, Simon, is one of the band’s three guitarists, while another, Jonah Latshaw, is the son of BSF guitarist Joshua Latshaw. With these younger men handling the instrumental duties, it is perhaps no surprise that I Am Heresy is focused on brutal, black metal-influenced hardcore sounds, but Nathan Gray rises to the occasion, and his vocals sound as ferocious as ever. From this rare show at Empire, we can expect some powerful sounds.
In an extremely appropriate choice of opening act, Brief Lives will kick off this show. This 90s style hardcore band would have been right at home on Dischord Records 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean their Jawbox/Bluetip-style sound is in any way dated. This band rocks hard, mingling the sort of midtempo guitar riffs you sometimes will hear called “angular” (as if that means anything) with a driving rhythm section. Word has it these guys are currently without a permanent vocalist, but with Springtime’s Marshall Hawthorne filling in on vocals for this show, we can be assured that the microphone is in good hands for now.
Friday, February 28, 10 PM
Black Girls, Bryan Elijah Smith And The Wild Hearts, Big Mama Shakes @ The Camel – $5
Are you ready for the new Black Girls album? Well, don’t get too excited, because it’s not quite that time–Claire Sinclaire won’t be out for another week yet. However, that’s no reason why you can’t head down to The Camel and hang out with Black Girls on this final day of February. By now, we can’t imagine they haven’t added some tunes from the new album to their set list, and we all know any Black Girls live show is going to be a party.
Plus, this show has some great sounds from all over VA to offer you. Bryan Elijah Smith and his band, The Wild Hearts, will be along. Smith and co. come to us from Dayton, VA, a small town just outside of Harrisonburg, and they bring the sounds of old Virginia with them. Their old-time Americana sounds have the sort of mournful longing you hear in a lot of folk music from music of the Appalachian mountains–but they can also get down with the more rockin’ alt-country sounds of bands like Drive-By Truckers and Wilco at times, so this group will keep you guessing even as they keep your feet tapping. Finally, Big Mama Shakes, out of Williamsburg, will be opening the show, and while we can’t find any of their music online, we know enough to expect some rockin’ sounds out of this quintet.
Saturday, March 1, 9 PM
Fight Cloud, From Fragile Seeds, Boatrocker, Parentheses @ Strange Matter – $5
Well folks, if you’ve been paying attention to these columns for a while, I have to assume you’ve already picked up on a lot of what I’m going to tell you about this show. Obviously there’s a pretty healthy post-hardcore scene bubbling just under the surface here in RVA, and whether the bands involved are math-rock, post-rock, emo, some combination of the three, or even dabbling in genres completely outside those circles, the important thing is that all of them are showing serious promise. Fight Cloud is one of the stars of that particular crowd–their progressive, structurally complex music indicates a great deal of talent, and even if they don’t ever get all that loud, their interlocking guitar parts and subtly gorgeous choruses are more than enough to make them stand out. In contrast, there’s From Fragile Seeds, whose tendency towards passionate vocals and loud crescendos put them on more of the frantic-yet-epic 90s emo end of the spectrum. These two bands have formed a bit of an alliance recently, perhaps due to their alphabetical proximity (even if there aren’t many record stores left to have both bands’ CDs back to back in the locals section), and the complementary contrast created by a Fight Cloud/From Fragile Seeds double bill is surely one that will be pleasing to fans of one, the other, or both bands.
Delaware’s Boatrocker are the unfamiliar element on this bill, and these guys tend more towards the From Fragile Seeds end of the spectrum. Their brand new full-length, Antagonize, features epic choruses full of harsh screams and emotional freakouts, but they also are capable of long tension-building quiet parts driven by instrumental guitar melodies. Basically, if the local bands on this bill are your kind of thing, you’ll love Boatrocker. So come make these Delawarians feel welcome in our city, and pick up their new album while you’re at it. Locals Parentheses kick things off with a midwestern emo sound that will certainly sound familiar to Into It. Over It. fans, though these young musicians do the style well enough to escape any tendencies towards derivativeness. Emo kids, math-rockers, and post-rock fans will all find something to love at this show.
Sunday, March 2, 10 PM
Live At Ipanema Presents The Dimmer Twins @ Ipanema – Free!
This week marks the return of Ipanema’s all-too-infrequent concert series, Live At Ipanema. Ideally this showcase at the subterranean vegetarian cafe would happen once a month, but it’s been more like every other month lately–so you better make sure you get there this weekend, or who knows how long you’ll have to wait for it to come back around. Equally seldom seen are this month’s performers, The Dimmer Twins. This duo consists of Horsehead leaders Jon C. Brown and Kevin Wade Inge, and their name is a pun on the legendary duo of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, often known by the 70s rock press as The Glimmer Twins.
When Brown and Inge are separate from their Horsehead bandmates, you never know exactly what’s going to go down–acoustic versions of Horsehead songs are to be expected of course, and the transformation of these tunes from Americana-inflected classic rock to straight up old-time country is always interesting to experience. But things can get much farther out than that, and from what we hear, the boys have a couple of tricks up their sleeves for this particular showcase. This is the time to bust them out, too, because with each Live At Ipanema set preserved in high-quality photos and audio recording by PJ Sykes and Allen Bergendahl, respectively, we can expect a record of the evening’s events to be hosted on Ipanema’s website for a long time to come. There’s no substitute for being there live and in person, though, so don’t miss this rare occasion for musical glory!
Monday, March 3, 7 PM
The Midnight Suggestion presents Chris Brokaw, The English Majors @ Steady Sounds – $6 suggested donation
Chris Brokaw is quite the indie-rock renaissance man. Originally attaining fame in the early 90s as the drummer for pioneering slowcore trio Codeine and the guitarist for Thalia Zedek’s legendary blues-noise project Come, Brokaw has continued to participate in a variety of noteworthy musical projects ever since. Currently a member of such diverse groups as The Lemonheads, The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries, and The Catamites (which also features Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley), Brokaw has a prolific solo career as well. From classic indie-rock tunes to abstract noise experiments, Brokaw has released all sorts of projects under his own name, and there’s really no way to know which side of his music we’ll get to hear when he plays this intimate solo gig in the loft at Steady Sounds. Considering this is one of his last gigs before he heads out on tour opening for Bob Mould’s Workbook 25th anniversary tour, though, this really is a special occasion.
In honor of that occasion, the opening band on this gig will be equally special. Performing as The English Majors, this one-off project is actually a collaboration between PJ Sykes (Hoax Hunters) and Matt Klimas (Snowy Owls). Considering that their bands recently split an EP together, and that, when both bands started, they were basically just solo vehicles for Sykes and Klimas respectively, this is the sort of collaboration that seems a long time coming once you consider it. So what sort of work will these two dynamic songwriters come up with once they’re brought together? You’ll have to make it over to Steady Sounds on Monday night to find out.
Tuesday, March 4, 8 PM
The Trigger System presents Weekend, Nothing, Dead Fame @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets here: http://ticketf.ly/1kf0g8z)
To quote another RVA Magazine writer: SHOEGAZE. That’s what will be going down at The Camel next Tuesday night. Weekend (not to be confused with R&B hipster The Weeknd) are a San Francisco-by-way-of-Brooklyn trio who unleash the same sort of noisy yet strangely catchy brand of fuzz-guitar alt-pop that so many bands from the UK two decades ago had down to a science. Don’t expect My Bloody Valentine, though–these Slumberland recording artists are way closer to The Jesus And Mary Chain, with perhaps a slight tinge of The Chameleons (though not, as one might think from looking at their promo photos, Joy Division). Their arpeggiated guitar lines and melodic vocals are undergirded by a wall of pounding drums and distortion, which is exactly how it should be. If their live set is anywhere near as loud as it seems like it should be based on the recordings, Camel staff members worried about their permit status will have plentiful reason to nervously tug at their collars.
Meanwhile, Nothing, who both started in and currently occupy the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, have a past that might be a bit shocking for a similarly shoegaze-y band. Back when he was in the hardcore band Horror Show, singer/guitarist Domenic “Nicky Money” Palermo did some time in jail for stabbing someone. Clearly having had enough of the thug life, Palermo turned over a new leaf upon achieving his freedom, and these days he’s playing music that’s much closer to the Pale Saints than Battalion Of Saints. Nothing are just about to release a new album, Guilty Of Everything, on Relapse Records, and this show will actually take place on the day it comes out, so you’ll not only be able to hear the new Nothing material but buy a copy for yourselves. Sounds like a plan to me! Glass Twin has been replaced at the last minute due to illness, but filling in will be Dead Fame, whose coldwave/postpunk sounds will be more than appropriate on this bill. Therefore, you can still expect an evening of effects pedals aplenty.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]