Thursday, March 12, 8 PM
The Bouncing Souls, Ann Beretta, The Ship Thieves @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This is a heartening sight to see–The Bouncing Souls, a great New Jersey punk rock band who’ve been together for over 25 years, still going strong, bringing their punk sound out on tour year after year to entertain multiple generations of fans.
Thursday, March 12, 8 PM
The Bouncing Souls, Ann Beretta, The Ship Thieves @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This is a heartening sight to see–The Bouncing Souls, a great New Jersey punk rock band who’ve been together for over 25 years, still going strong, bringing their punk sound out on tour year after year to entertain multiple generations of fans. Back when they started, they were kind of unique, in that they’d clearly come from a hardcore background but were much more human and relatable than all the tough guy bands that were everywhere at the dawn of the 90s. They wrote incredibly catchy songs that could get a roomful of punk kids jumping happily up and down, and set them to brilliant, heartfelt lyrics about love, loss, and friendship–songs that to this day are still some of the best rock n’ roll tunes ever written, in any subgenre you care to name.
And these days, they’re still rocking hard and keeping punk alive in their own inimitable way. In 2012, they released their ninth album, Comet, and it’s as full of catchy tunes as The Good, The Bad, and the Argyle was back in 1994. At this show, you can expect a great mix of newer tunes you may or may not know but are guaranteed to pogo to, and classics like “Hopeless Romantic,” “Quick Chek Girl,” and all the other great tunes I, at least, have been putting on mixtapes since I was a teenager (and that’s a long time ago, kids).
What’s also interesting about this show is that the opening act is Ann Beretta, an RVA pop-punk institution who, if I remember correctly, also opened for the Bouncing Souls the first time I saw them, at Twisters in 1998. I might actually be mixing up two different shows for the sake of narrative, but hey, who’s counting? Starting the show off will be the latest project from Chris Wollard, longtime singer/guitarist for Florida emo legends Hot Water Music. His main band has broken up, returned to action, and broken up again multiple times, and at this point I have no idea what their current status is, but with The Ship Thieves, Wollard will be bringing his gruff, sincere vocals to a set of heartland rock tunes that just might remind you of Social Distortion. And we all know how much old punks love Social Distortion, so this should be catnip for a lot of you.
Wednesday, March 11, 6:30 PM
Self Defense Family, Creative Adult, Springtime, Nocere @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets here: https://sdfrva.eventbrite.com/)
Self Defense Family are just starting to move out of their longtime position as the post-hardcore scene’s best-kept secret. After complicating things by changing their name mid-career (they were known as End Of A Year until 2010) and constantly changing lineups and label affiliations, their seemingly career-destroying ways eventually became interesting enough to start counter-intuitively drawing attention, and these days it seems like a lot of people are hanging on their every move (especially if the ongoing internet argument that is their website can be taken as an indication). Musically, their reverb-laced, atmospheric tunes bring a post-rock edge to the world of post-hardcore, and singer Patrick Kindlon’s harsh, non-melodic vocal rants add a harsh edge that always reminds you of their punk rock roots. Plus, they feature RVA hardcore veteran Mary Brulatour on guitar, so those of you who remember her from her high-school days playing bass in local straight-edge bands should definitely come say hi.
I wish I could tell you that Swedish indie pop heroes Makthaverskan were playing this show, but unfortunately, visa problems kept those guys from making the trip to the US in time to play the Richmond date on this tour. Fuck that, right? Fortunately, we’ll still get to see San Francisco’s Creative Adult, who’ve got some spooky, powerful punk jams for all of you who still rock your Gun Club and TSOL records on a regular basis. Plus we’ve got a new incarnation of RVA hometown heroes Springtime, who probably would have been called emocore in 1986 or 1991, but sound nothing like Taking Back Sunday and therefore probably just count as straight-up hardcore these days. They’ve got a lot of early Dag Nasty and later Faith mixed into their sound, and just to make the Dag Nasty resemblances even more pronounced, they’ve recently added the one and only Sean Patrick Rhorer on vocals, making this officially the “Spring with Sean” lineup (only people who are as big a nerd about DC hardcore as I am get that reference). Locals Nocere have been added to the bill last-minute to pinch-hit for Makthaverskan, so you have that to look forward to as well.
Thursday, March 12, 9 PM
The Mystery Lights, Celestial Shore, Sacred Teachers, Candy Spots @ Strange Matter – $8
Not that garage rock is ever far from my mind (I had a phase of total immersion in that genre a while back that lasted something like five years–yes, it did start around the time I turned 30, why do you ask?), but it’s been really rad having a bunch of new punk bands bring that classic noisy, no-frills 60s rock n’ roll sound back into the forefront of popular consciousness over the past few years. The Mystery Lights are a band I wasn’t aware of before I heard they were playing here this week, but once I took a listen to their LP, At Home With The Mystery Lights, I knew this was a band I’d be raving about. Straddling the line between garage noise and girl-group R&B in a manner usually reserved for projects featuring Mick Collins (Dirtbombs, Detroit Cobras, Gories… you know how he does), this band knows exactly how to use vintage fuzz pedals and soul-shout vocals to grab you by the throat and refuse to let go. There’s a lot of raw power here, and I can’t wait to see it unleashed upon us all Thursday night.
Celestial Shore are making the trip down from NYC along with The Mystery Lights, and while they’re also big on upbeat rock n’ roll riffs, these guys like to experiment a bit more. And while I may love it when bands throw it back to the roots of all my favorite music, it’s always nice to see a new twist on the same ol’ stuff. Celestial Shore throw a lot of curveballs in to keep it interesting, but they’ve always got toe-tapping riffs and singalong choruses to keep everything grounded. This is gonna be good, for sure. Locals Sacred Teachers have been out of action for a while, or at least it feels like they have, but word has it they’ve got a new lineup and a new tape to let loose on everyone at this show, so get ready, because it’s not like these guys are ever trying to keep it mellow. Finally, brand new local band Candy Spots brings us some psych-rock sounds from members of the Trillions. Should be cool.
Friday, March 13, 8 PM
Frack Off Fest Day 1, feat. Toxic Moxie (photo by Heaton Johnson V Photography), Deaf Scene, Fight Cloud, BRNDA @ Strange Matter – $7
Frack Off Fest is a huge undertaking that should be featured in its own article on this website sometime soon (today? Tomorrow?), but I had to mention this show in particular within this column, because honestly, it’s the best way you could spend your Friday night in RVA. By far. For one thing, your admission price goes to support those doing direct action to stand against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and fracking in Virginia and surrounding states (if you don’t know what’s going on with that, get a quick overview here). Just as importantly, your admission price will get you a great showcase of local and regional talent, topped off by local punk-funk masterminds Toxic Moxie. If you haven’t heard their music or seen one of their fun, energetic performances, you really need to fix that now; I promise you, once Toxic Moxie hits the stage, you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing. So why not dance for a good cause?
What’s also cool is that you’ll get to rock out to Deaf Scene, an instrumental power-trio who brings their special brand of technical yet catchy prog-rock to RVA to simultaneously blow your mind and bang your head. Or, well, you’ll bang your head. When you’re not puzzling over their fascinating fretwork, that is. Speaking of fascinating fretwork, Fight Cloud is another band with the technical ability to baffle listeners, even as they’re dishing out irresistible melodic choruses and making everyone bob their head rapturously. Math-rock awesomeness awaits when these guys hit the stage. You won’t want to miss it. DC’s BRNDA will kick things off, showing their independent spirit by violating the no-vowels-in-all-caps-band-names decree that seemingly got passed sometime in the last decade. That’s always refreshing to see.
Saturday, March 14, 9 PM
Sheer Mag, Lady God, Christi, No Love, Latter Day Saints @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets here: https://sheermag.eventbrite.com/)
Four shows in a row at Strange Matter? Yeah, of course! I mean I try to shake it up, but sometimes the fact that Strange Matter just offers the most consistently excellent musical entertainment in town is undeniable, and we’ve just got to admit to ourselves that heading down there every night for over half the week is probably your best bet. So what’ll be happening Saturday night when you potentially make your fourth trip down to Strange Matter in as many days? Well, you’re gonna get to check out Philly’s own Sheer Mag, who are similar to the Mystery Lights in that they have a lot of old-school no-frills garage rockin’ going on. However, this band is more clearly coming from the punk side of things, with a gloriously obnoxious frontwoman putting plenty of sneer and snark into her vocals even as the guitar players drench their (actually quite catchy) riffing in tons of dissonant noise and the rhythm section pushes things along at a rapid clip. You could pogo to this band, but you could just as easily do the twist, and that’s a lot of what makes them so damn charming. Come enjoy what Sheer Mag has to offer, and while you wait for them to go on, you can take the opportunity to improve your score on Paperboy (do Strange Matter still have Paperboy? Did they ever have Paperboy? I know they don’t have Excitebike…)
So anyway, this show will also feature some great local entertainment, including the mysterious new psych-punk band Lady God, who’ve been creeping around the edges of the RVA scene for about a year now, pulling off mysterious actions and sneaking EPs into local rotation while everyone’s looking the other way. But the catchiness of their tunes is undeniable, so once these folks have been playing out for a while, their majesty will be unavoidable. Get on board the Lady God bandwagon now. And while you’re at it, check out Christi, an all-female garage punk band with a brand new EP out now and most likely available for purchase at this show. You’re gonna want to get into this band too if you haven’t already. Raleigh’s No Love, who have a tougher old-school punk sound that reminds me a little bit of The Avengers; and brand new RVA band Latter Day Saints, who apparently feature members of Dry Spell, Unholy Thoughts, and Southside Stranglers, will round out this evening of rock n’ roll fun.
Sunday, March 15, 7:30 PM
Dead Tenants, Slowers, Doubtfire @ Gallery 5 – $5
Oh my–this is exciting! I just discovered New York’s Dead Tenants very recently, and in fact, I loved them so much on first listen that I took the plunge and bought their latest album, Void, from their Bandcamp page. I am not regretting that decision at all so far. This nervously urgent trio is driven by thundering bass riffs and a haunted, creepy outlook of the sort that defined “postpunk” in the early 80s. However, their energy harks back much more closely to the prime mid-90s days of chaotic hardcore, when bands who’d grown up on Black Flag were suddenly discovering Bauhaus and Joy Division and taking everything in a more hectic direction. If you’re into Circus Lupus or The VSS, or even the early pre-disco Rapture, you’re gonna need to hit up this show. Dead Tenants are gonna knock you out.
The local support for this show consists of a couple of very new bands who are mainly generating intrigue at this point through their ex-member pedigree. I’m not sure exactly which members of Snack Truck are in Slowers, and I’m also not sure what they’re doing musically in that band–in the year 2015, it always seems really strange to hear about a band and not be immediately able to listen to them online, but that’s the situation with Slowers. However, it stands to reason that Snack Truck guitarist Matt Krofchek is involved in this band, and that’s enough to pique my curiosity right there. With Doubtfire, it’s a little easier to know what’s going on–this trio featuring members of Night Idea, Dumb Waiter, and Hellbear have released a digital EP, and it’s obvious from the EP that the Hellbear part of the equation is most informative–which is to say, these guys are metal as fuck. Get ready for some serious shredding–and a singing drummer, which is always fun to see.
Monday, March 16, 8 PM
Caroline Spence (photo by Melissa Madison Fuller), Paul Willson, Colin & Caroline @ The Camel – $5
I might not seem like the sort of person who spends a lot of time with the folk and country genres, based on my usual recommendations. And certainly that is true to a certain extent. But I know what I like from that whole world, and I definitely have my moments when the emotionally evocative sounds and sincere, everyday lyrical tales of the folk/country genre are all I want to hear. Virginia native/Nashville resident Caroline Spence hits the sweet spot for me with her brand new album, Somehow, and if you ask me, you could do a whole lot worse than heading over to The Camel next Monday and catching her first Richmond gig since her new album dropped last week. I’m not sure whether I should call this stuff more folk or country–the overblown twang and gimmicky instrumentation of the latter’s more mainstream examples are refreshingly absent from Somehow, but Spence is backed by a full electric band on most of the songs, so perhaps folk is also a misnomer. Suffice it to say that fans of Brandy Clark, or Kacey Musgraves’ more contemplative moments, will find a lot to like here. And I’m sure that will be even more true in a live setting.
Local singer-songwriter Paul Willson will also be gracing this lineup with his distinctive brand of folk-related tuneage. Mixing influence from classic Americana and various Eastern musical styles, Willson also enjoys integrating electronic elements into his folk-rooted music. Considering his role as the organizer of The Camel’s monthly singer-songwriter night, it’s only appropriate to see him on a bill with an RVA singer-songwriter who’s working on taking her music to the next level. Local folk duo Colin & Caroline will open things up with some sweet melodies of their own. This evening will be a refreshing oasis in the midst of noisy rock n’ roll shows, and it’ll be nice for once to head out to a show where you won’t need earplugs. So head over to The Camel on Monday night and fall for some sounds that can honestly be called beautiful.
Tuesday, March 17, 9 PM
Perfect Pussy, Nervous Ticks, Mensroom @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://perfectpussy.eventbrite.com/)
OK but then Tuesday night it’s time to head back to Strange Matter for some serious noise. That’s right, Richmond, it’s the return of Perfect Pussy, one of the more controversial bands to arise from the hardcore scene over the past couple of years. And while I know this isn’t a universally-shared opinion, I am entirely unapologetic about my fervent love for this band. From their raging, feedback-soaked take on hardcore (they have a guy in the band whose only real role is to cover all the songs in a layer of noise–yes, seriously) to singer Meredith Graves’ amazing willingness to take outspoken stances on issues related to feminism, homophobia, and other modern problems it seems like most punks these days are willing to ignore and not speak about (are your ears burning?), I think everything about Perfect Pussy is outstanding. I went to see them last year at Gallery 5, and while I marred my enjoyment of that show by foolishly forgetting to bring earplugs (you will NEED earplugs for this show), they still absolutely killed it, and I can’t wait to see them again.
Perfect Pussy will be joined on this bill by a couple of outstanding RVA locals who are, to be honest, far better suited to share a stage with them than the bands they played with at Gallery 5 last year (nothing against Yamantaka//Sonic Titan or Green Dreams, who both rule… I’m just sayin). The Nervous Ticks will continue their crusade to strip rock n’ roll down to its most basic elements and still make it powerful enough to bowl you over. Expect the overturned-washtub beats and staticky guitar riffs to get your feet moving. Strictly on a band name level, Mensroom are perhaps an ironic choice to open up for Perfect Pussy, though with the beginnings of mainstream acceptance of non-binary gender identities, that’s perhaps not as true as it once was (thank god). Either way, these guys have some angry, lumbering hardcore to let loose upon us all, so all the Pissed Jeans fans in the audience will be stoked for sure.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]