Friday, May 16, 9 PM
Radio Rubber Room Relaunch Party feat. Those Manic Seas, Imaginary Sons, Hoax Hunters, A Woman Is A Woman @ The Broadberry – $10 suggested donation
Radio Rubber Room has spent the first half of 2014 rising like a phoenix from the ashes.
Friday, May 16, 9 PM
Radio Rubber Room Relaunch Party feat. Those Manic Seas, Imaginary Sons, Hoax Hunters, A Woman Is A Woman @ The Broadberry – $10 suggested donation
Radio Rubber Room has spent the first half of 2014 rising like a phoenix from the ashes. First with the return of its regular Wednesday night local music spotlight shows, moved down the street to Emilio’s due to the ignominious demise of The Republic, and then with a further live showcase rearing its head on occasional Sunday nights at The Camel. Now, with the return of the radio show that started it all as live online stream and podcast, the resurrection is complete! The first new episode in nearly a year, featuring Mekong Xpress, aired last night, and will be showing up online as a podcast any minute now (check for it here), and the whole gang will be celebrating their triumphant return Friday night at The Broadberry.
Radio Rubber Room’s live showcases have always indicated the wide-ranging tastes and open-minded interests in all styles of music coming out of RVA that is a hallmark of the show’s creative team. The Broadberry showcase is no exception, which can be seen from the multiple genres featured on this bill. Your headliners for the evening will be Those Manic Seas, that brilliant and unique local group featuring a mannequin for a lead singer and some talented, creative humans on the instruments. With the band currently working on their full-length debut for Angry Pirate Records, and this show being their first RVA gig to feature new guitarist Trey Tyler, Those Manic Seas will surely have some surprises in store even for longtime fans.
They’ll be joined by Imaginary Sons, another fun and engaging local rock n’ roll group currently putting together their debut full-length. These guys just jumped on the bill a couple nights ago, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t prepared to rock the house! Hoax Hunters are yet another local band preparing a debut full-length to be released later this summer (was this planned out in advance?), and the wall of noise-rock rage they’re preparing to dish out for Raleigh’s Negative Fun Records will be previewed delightfully this Friday night. A Woman Is A Woman are a relatively new group of ragers who’ve played less than half a dozen shows so far, but they’ve made quite the impression on the audiences they’ve played to so far, and this is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor and experience them yourselves! Finally, there will be a special surprise opening set from the band who authored the winning entry for the brand new Radio Rubber Room theme song. If you were listening last night, you already heard the news, but the rest of us will have to wait for the podcast upload to find out the secret. Rest assured it’ll be worth showing up in time regardless.
Wednesday, May 14, 7 PM
Black Water Gold, The Welcome Hips, Oxidants @ The Camel – $5
Tonight at the Camel, it’s an acoustic odyssey featuring those brothers with the last name Black, who decided several months ago to get more creative and change their name from merely “Black Brothers” to the far more distinguished Black Water Gold. Black brothers Justin (the one who sometimes goes by Chainsaw, a la Dean Cameron’s character in that 80s movie Summer School) and Parker (the one who also sings in an early 90s-style hardcore band called Holy Land) are clearly able to put aggressive tendencies aside and get downright sensitive at times, and they do so with the help of Ian Currie (Shy, Low), Lucas Fritz (Compass Rose Orchestra), and more noted RVA musicians who help bring their pensive acoustic tunes to life.
Black Water Gold will be joined by fellow RVA musicians The Welcome Hips, some of whom were previously members of The Kindling Kind. They’ve traded that group’s intense indie sounds for a lo-fi pop confection that highlights synth sounds and catchy choruses in their new project, though, and it should be delightful to hear these songs brought to life by a full band on The Camel’s stage. Kicking things off is the mysterious group Oxidants, apparently a vehicle for Reid Magette, who has been dishing out garage-rock as a solo artist around RVA for the past little while. How will Oxidants differ from his previous solo efforts? Well, you’ll just have to come find out!
Thursday, May 15, 10 PM
The Low Branches, Mea Maxima Culpa @ Balliceaux – $5
It’s time for another hypnotic dose of The Low Branches. This RVA indie band with a quiet, contemplative sound that often does not even include percussion have been spending 2014 taking advantage of singer/guitarist Christina Gleixner’s fluency in Turkish. The ambient sense of portentous (not pretentious, it’s a completely different word) mystery that hangs in the air when they perform is only increased for most typical Americans like myself when they transition to a language most of us have never heard spoken at all. The Low Branches followed up their “Rain Song” digital single from January with “Yağmur Şarkı,” a Turkish translation of “Rain Song”‘s lyrics laid down over a significantly different, and even more beautiful, musical backing. They also recorded a Turkish tune, “Öyle Sarhoş Olsam Ki (Tanju Okan),” for a recent WRIR session, and over Valentine’s Day, Gleixner even offered her services as a singer of Turkish serenades for local sweethearts–which must have been outstanding.
Therefore, I think the big question about the band’s performance at Balliceaux tomorrow night has to be: will The Low Branches do an all-Turkish set? How much of their lyrics will the typical American monolinguists among the crowd be able to understand? And does it even matter? Because if there’s one thing the links in the previous paragraph will make clear the second you click on them, it’s that The Low Branches make music of stunning clarity and beauty, regardless of the language in which they sing. In the perfectly-lit atmosphere of Balliceaux, it’s all gonna sound great, whether we’re hearing “Rain Song” or “Yağmur Şarkı.” So come take in the moods and experience the emotions created by the music of The Low Branches. You won’t regret it. The equally pensive and delightful Mea Maxima Culpa will travel from the thriving metropolis of Amherst, VA (it’s a little ways north of Lynchburg) in order to kick off this majestic evening.
Friday, May 16, 8 PM
Trioscapes, Whatever, Dumb Waiter @ Gallery 5 – $6 in advance, $8 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Prog-jazz-metal fans, lend me your ears–Trioscapes is your kind of thing, I promise. Bringing together Between The Buried And Me bassist Dan Briggs, saxophonist Walter Fancourt of Afrobeat crew The Brand New Life, and drummer Matt Lynch of instrumental prog-rock trio Eyris, this group blasts eardrums with a high-energy blend of all their divergent backgrounds and then some, shifting on a dime from free-jazz chaos to metal pounding and everything inbetween, all with the kind of instrumental virtuosity that makes this trio a jaw-dropping sight to behold in live performance. They recently released an album entitled Separate Realities, and they should be dishing out some prime cuts from that one at Gallery 5 on Friday, but regardless of what these guys choose to do, you can be sure that face-melting displays of world-class talent are on the set list.
Trioscapes will be joined on this bill by two local acts–perhaps the ONLY two local acts–that totally fit with their musical style. Dumb Waiter’s received a ton of buzz around their own debut album Is This Chocolate?, and are busy carving out a unique space for themselves in the local scene. If you haven’t caught one of their inimitable live performances yet, Friday night’s the perfect time to remedy that. We know less about Whatever, a new instrumental power trio who hark back to past Richmond greats of multiple eras–think Breadwinner, or Snack Truck back when they only had one drummer. From the scattered evidence we could find online (you try googling “Whatever,” see how far it gets you), it seems like they’ll be pretty wild in a live environment as well.
Saturday, May 17, 5 PM
Seahaven, Adventures, Foxing @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets here: https://seahavenrva.eventbrite.com/)
Now that I’ve heard about the whole “emo revival” buzz, I’m starting to realize that all the local all-ages shows I used to think were pop-punk before I’d listened to the bands are actually emo shows. That’s the story with this Seahaven matinee on Saturday, which I really only know about because one of our contributing writers alerted me to it. The teacher has become the student, I suppose. Seahaven are on their second-album steez these days; after making their name with the strong statement that was 2011 debut Winter Forever, they’ve begun to expand their horizons, integrate new instruments, and move into the world of album titles with colons in them. Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only represents an obvious progression from their debut; the hooks aren’t as immediate and the high-volume crescendos are fewer and farther between, but Seahaven have not lost their knack for high drama and emotionally affecting soundscapes, and Reverie Lagoon gained plentiful acclaim from RVA Mag’s own Jessica Shim and a lot of other people. This Saturday, RVA gets to see what it’s all about for ourselves.
Seahaven are joined on their current tour by fresh Run For Cover signings Adventures, a Pittsburgh band that features three members of hardcore band Code Orange Kids but definitely has a mellower, prettier sound than that description would lead you to expect. The mixture of female lead vocals and the occasional backing screams from hardcore dudes is reminiscent of early 90s legends Ashes, and word has it their upcoming split with Pity Sex will feature a cover of Turning Point’s “Behind This Wall”–a true classic of my emo youth, even though it came out before a lot of this show’s attendees were probably even born. So yeah, I’m stoked–and not just about this band either, because Foxing will be opening things up. These guys started off with a pretty standard midwestern-emo 90s-revival sound but have really opened things up on their debut full-length, The Albatross, integrating piano, horns, and strings while not getting rid of the loud guitars and intense emotional vocals. How their new, more expanded sound will translate live is an open question, but they were damn good before, and there seems to be no reason for that to change.
Sunday, May 18, 6 PM
Titus Andronicus, Baked, Verma @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets here: http://titusreturns.eventbrite.com/)
I am totally the sort of person to argue over what does or does not count as punk rock in the year 2014, but Titus Andronicus are one band I’ve never had any reason to argue against. I know these guys are punk rock, because I have had so much trouble figuring them out. Concept albums relating to historical battles or the difficulties of growing up in suburban Jersey are standard with these guys, as are song titles like “Upon Viewing Bruegel’s ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus’,” “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future,” and “Titus Andronicus vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO).” Then there’s their complete willingness to write songs that extend far beyond the typical duration of a punk song (18 of their 30 released songs so far are over 5 minutes long; the last song on The Monitor lasts over 14 minutes). And yet: they speak frankly in interviews about depression, discomfort with capitalism, and distaste for rock star behavior (even when it comes from supposed punk rock icons). And the raging energy of songs like “Fear And Loathing In Mahwah NJ” and “Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter” cannot be denied.
So yeah, I’m still figuring Titus Andronicus out. I recently downloaded all three of their albums for a third time, after hearing and deleting them twice before, in an effort to finally get my head around what they’re doing. And if anything, that speaks in their favor. Punk rock is so often unchallenging these days, consisting of kids in fashions that were last daring 20 years ago screaming about politics they don’t understand over riffs that have been used a million times before. If for no other reason, the unceasing ambition of Titus Andronicus leader Patrick Stickles (who promises the band’s next album will be a 30-some-song rock opera about depression) makes his band something anyone who cares about punk ruck should keep up with–even if they don’t quite make sense to you yet. Let’s all show up at Strange Matter on Sunday night and see if all the pieces finally fall into place due to the immediacy of the live environment. This show is guaranteed to get you thinking… and dancing. Baked, a Brooklyn band who clearly love to consume either brownies or cannabis (or both at the same time), and Verma, a Chicago psych band whose name does not lend itself to any cheap jokes, will open up.
Monday, May 19, 9 PM
Ex-Cult, Hot Dolphin, The Ar-Kaics, Gunboat @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets here: http://excult.eventbrite.com/)
Oh man, this is gonna rule. I was lucky enough to catch Ex-Cult live at MACRoCk last month; they ended the festivities on Saturday night with a completely out-of-control live show during which multiple members of the band spent significant portions of the set wading into the crowd or ripping off solos from a shaky perch atop some cafe tables right next to the pit. That amazing performance, combined with this band’s dark, heavy refinement of the classic Cramps-ian garage punk sound–which sometimes crosses over into the land of 90s-era goth-influenced postpunk/hardcore, a la The VSS or Crimson Curse–made them the perfect capper to a weekend of total music overload. Rather than things seeming to lag by the time I was seeing my 15th band, Ex-Cult re-energized my mind and brought me back to a state of total alertness and enjoyment. I can only imagine this Strange Matter show will be that much better when it doesn’t come at the end of a solid day and a half of seeing bands.
The openers should be a great way to get the blood flowing, too. Which is not to say that people will be getting busted wide open on the dance floor, though I suppose you can never rule that possibility out when wild rock n’ roll is on the menu. Hot Dolphin continue to be the local rockin’ punk ragers that everyone should be well familiar with by now, while The Ar-Kaics continue to revive the spirit of the 60s with some good ol’ Nuggets/Pebbles style garage noise. And then there’s Gunboat, who’ve been on and off the scene at various points over the past couple of years but definitely have some lo-fi postpunk rage to dish out for us when they’re around.
Tuesday, May 20, 9 PM
Ulcerate, Inter Arma, Rotting Obscene, Necrobeast @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: http://ulceraterva.eventbrite.com/)
Sheer fucking brutality is what you should expect if you show up at Strange Matter Tuesday night. And with a tag line like that, why wouldn’t you? Ulcerate have made a huge impression on the metal world over the past year with 2013’s Vermis, which won high praise from RVA Mag’s own Graham Scala, who said, “what Ulcerate has achieved with Vermis cannot be understated. The band has managed to concoct a striking album that’s firmly within the realms of death metal, despite defying many of its conventions.” It’s true–this isn’t just the same old same old from a 25-year-old genre in which the standard tropes (double bass, growled vocals, downtuned chugging guitars) can at times appear a little worn around the edges. With their tendency towards moody, quiet breakdowns and almost funeral-doom atmospherics, Ulcerate nicely contrast the heaviest moments of their music, thereby allowing the climactic moments to hit that much harder. Plus, their creative song structures keep you from knowing what’s coming next and make their music that much more engaging and fun. On top of all that, it hits like a ten-ton truck crashing into Morrissey’s car. To see these guys live, well, the pleasure and privilege is ours.
They’ll be joined by one of the half-dozen or so bands in the running for RVA’s favorite hometown metal export: Inter Arma. Still riding high off the triumph that was last year’s Sky Burial, the dudes have been touring with Ulcerate and honing their chops even further (if that’s even possible for these stupendously talented metal maniacs), so they should be ready to return to their hometown with a triumphant performance. On this bill, they will be joined by Blacksburg’s Rotting Obscene, who’ll be releasing their debut album sometime this year, and local death-metal trio Necrobeast. Should be a blast furnace of growling, thundering metal fury for the whole city to enjoy.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]