Saturday, May 23, 8 PM
Saturday, May 23, 8 PM
DRI, US Bastards, Rat Infested, Vicious Tides, Kombat Wombat @ Strange Matter – $20
If you were ever in your life ready to thrash, Saturday night better be the night! The living legends of thrash, inspirations to a generation, the almighty DRI will be in town that night, and if you’re not there, “banging and moshing like [you] don’t give a shit, to the rapid beat of the drum,” some might question your commitment. Come prove it to the RVA massive in “the pit, the pit, the pit, the pit–IN THE PIT!”
OK, but seriously, let’s talk about the whole DRI thing. They basically defined the early thrash sound (see what I did there?) for both the hardcore and metal genres, beginning with their legendary 22-song 7 inch in 1983. They arguably invented the blast beat, then proceeded to slow down slightly, inject a more direct metal influence into their speedcore sound, and invent crossover. From landmark hardcore albums like Dealing With It to classic slabs of metal like Thrash Zone, this band has demonstrated their dominance over both genres–and the hybrid of the two that they named themselves–for over 30 years. Now they’re coming to Strange Matter to blow you away, and you better be ready to face the challenge!
There are a bunch of other thrash bands on this bill to complement DRI’s legend status with some great sounds from the current crop of VA bands in this genre. US Bastards is the band you’re probably most familiar with. These guys feature members of GWAR and definitely rip it up in classic power-trio style, a la Motorhead. The other bands on the bill represent a variety of locales from around the state–Kombat Wombat are from Norfolk, Rat Infested are from Sterling (which is a hole, or so I’ve been told), and Vicious Tides make their home somewhere in the suburban wasteland of NoVA. All of them are prepared to hit you with some speedy riffs and angry tunes. Get stoked, y’all.
Wednesday, May 20, 9 PM
Solstafir, Ancient VVisdom, Night Demon @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets here: https://solstafir.eventbrite.com/)
Maryland Death Fest starts tomorrow up in Baltimore, so you know what that means–Strange Matter head promoter Mark Osborne has been snagging bands on their way up or their way back from MD for one-off gigs at Strange Matter, for the benefit of the RVA metal scene. It’s always rad to see this kind of thing happening, and this year’s edition of it begins tonight with this show featuring three different metal bands from various far-flung points around the globe, all uniting in RVA tonight to bring us a bill you’re lucky to catch no matter what town you live in!
Solstafir are your headliners, and since these guys are coming all the way from Iceland, it seems only fair to give them the honors of topping this venerable bill. Having started with a more conventional metal sound, these guys have moved into some pretty unusual territory, combining psychedelic atmospherics with post-rock ambience and melodic overtones to create a musical mood you will lose yourself within. This makes them a good match for Cleveland’s Ancient VVisdom, who use acoustic instruments but doom-metal vibes to create some serious spookiness. Night Demon are far less psychedelic than these other two bands, and have a much more conventional throwback metal sound that will make fans of NWOBHM grin and bang their heads. All three of these bands are united in awesomeness, and you should definitely come down to Smatter tonight and catch them all–especially if you’re not making the trip up to MDF this weekend.
Thursday, May 21, 9:30 PM
Shana Falana, Night Idea @ Balliceaux – $5
As someone who came of age in the 90s, surrounded by fucking amazing music, I know I should be somewhat cynical about the many sounds of my youth that are currently experiencing a revival. But when I’m presented with so much consistently amazing music, I just can’t muster up any emotion other than joy. Shana Falana are definitely contributing to that happiness with their new album, Set Your Lightning Fire Free. It’d be easy to default to references like the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine, but I don’t think either comparison is entirely fair–there’s an original element to this band’s sound that I don’t think you can find in any of the past dream-pop exponents they’re clearly drawing influence from. This New York band is adding something new to the genre they’re helping revive, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.
So you should definitely drop the five measly smackers it will cost you to get into Balliceaux this Thursday night and see this group blaze away on a local stage. Balliceaux certainly has the plentiful colored lights to make the show glow in the way it should. And Night Idea, the local openers on this bill, have a glittering sound of their own with which to enrich the evening. Math-rock in the more technical, less heavy sense of the term, these dudes have a lot of simultaneously mind-twisting and totally catchy riffs to serve up to you, and they’ll bring them to you with flair and panache at this show. You’ll be glad you went.
Friday, May 22, 7 PM
The Psychedelic Furs, Black English @ The National – $20 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow, and look at this–some of the ultimate originators of that dreamy, psych-tinged, melodic postpunk sound that everyone’s loved for over 30 years now will be hitting town to make your Friday night one to remember! I’m sure everyone remembers the biggest of this band’s classic 80s hits, “Pretty In Pink,” but that’s just the tip of a really awesome iceberg. From “Love My Way” and “Ghost In You” to “Into You Like A Train” and “House,” this band has a ton of amazing songs with which to create a jam-packed set of gorgeously melancholy tunes that’ll keep you dancing with tears in your eyes all night.
Granted, Psychedelic Furs have mostly been inactive since their 80s heyday. However, uniquely-voiced singer Richard Butler and his bass playing brother Tim are still leading a powerful touring incarnation of the band, and anyone with positive memories of their many classic tunes will want to catch them on a rare stop through RVA this Friday night. They’ll be bringing along Black English, a band whose ability to create an ungoogleable name was perhaps TOO pronounced, as they’ve recently had to rename themselves from their original sobriquet of NO. These Cali alt-rockers still sound pretty great, though, and will set the stage for the Furs with aplomb.
Saturday, May 23, 9 PM
Imaginary Sons Days Of Future Origins Past Part 2, feat. Imaginary Sons, Lightfields, Faceship @ The Camel – $7 (order tickets HERE)
The elaborate backstory hard-partying RVA rock n’ rollers Imaginary Sons have been cooking up for themselves rolls on Saturday night with the unveiling, at The Camel, of part two in their ongoing film saga Days Of Future Origins Past. I’ve gotta hand it to these guys–they’re clearly committed to their vision. What other band can you think of lately that has given you a complicated origin story told over a series of multimedia presentations–and done so on the traditional shoestring budget of a DIY band? These guys deserve props for the hard work, at the very least, and considering how catchy and fun their many great tunes have proven to be, they deserve to have a lot of kids coming out to dance at this show, too!
Just to sweeten the deal, Lightfields will be on the bill as well. This triple-guitar alt-rock powerhouse just demonstrated their amazing talent for pop hooks with the Melodies EP they released a couple months ago, and word has it they’ve got more new jams where that came from, so you might be able to check out a few new tunes from these guys, as well as glorying in the awesomeness of their already-released material. There may even be a few cassettes of the Melodies EP left to grab from their merch table, so keep an eye out! Faceship opens up with some epic folk-pop tunes for your entertainment. Dig it.
Sunday, May 24, 6 PM
Unified Right, Cold Touch, Society Abuse, Mad Existence, Crisis Unit @ Gallery 5 – $8
Do you even lift, bro? Because you better be in shape if you want to tear it up in the pit at this show. Every one of the bands on this bill have the kind of angry hardcore style that will force you to keep your feet moving, lifting those combat boots high! And any pencil-neck geeks in the crowd are gonna find themselves in a world of pain when they wake up the next morning. So do some extra reps this week, and get ready to tear it up, because Unified Right are coming to town, and their new EP on BBB Records features eight songs guaranteed to incite circle pits when they’re performed live. And believe me, y’all, that’s just the beginning.
This five-band bill also features some other bands from Florida, as well as some great sounds coming from right here in RVA. Crisis Unit are another Florida band with plenty of short songs and beatdown riffs to get you going, plus a really raging singer who sounds like he’s gonna bite your head off if you come near him. Always awesome. Fellow Floridians Society Abuse get meaner and scarier with some truly throaty vocals as well as some speedy backbeats. From the RVA side of things, we’ve got Cold Touch to look forward to, who are a bit less old-school than the other bands on this bill with their Sick Of It All/Judge sound, and will provide a refreshing change of pace on this night. Then there’s Mad Existence, who definitely bring the Negative Approach style midtempo rampage. It’s gonna be a night of total nonstop mosh action, so make sure you’re equal to the challenge!
Monday, May 25, 5 PM
Veil Of Maya (Photo by Meredith Henderson), Revocation, Oceano, Gift Giver, Entheos @ The Canal Club – $17 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The truth is, guys, I can’t keep up with the whole modern metalcore scene. I don’t know if bands are deathcore or “djent” or what, and I’m not sure I can bring myself to care at my advanced age. What I do know is that Veil Of Maya are a fascinating band with a talented drummer, riffs for days, and an ability to avoid falling into the breakdowns-to-infinity dopetrap that sucks the creativity straight out of a lot of these bands. I’ve seen a lot of longtime fans complaining online about the disappearance of longtime singer Brandon Butler, but having heard Matriarch, their new LP and first with new singer Lukas Magyar, I feel more than reassured about their continued brilliance. They’re creative, they are just as likely to use blast beats as brown-note chugs, and the guitar riffs are crazy. I’m down with this band, and I fully expect their set this Monday evening to rule.
There are a whole bunch of other bands on tour with Veil Of Maya right now, and therefore you’re getting a stacked bill that stops just short of being totally overwhelming. Revocation is always a major bonus; this band doesn’t fit under any of those deathcore/djent/metalcore classifications, instead busting out some rifftastic death/thrash mastery that would be just as at home on the Strange Matter stage as it will be at The Canal Club (in fact, they’ve played there before). Meanwhile, for everyone who’s wondering when they’ll get some straight-down-the-middle deeper-than-the-Marianas-Trench super-growly brown note deathcore, Oceano is here for you. Get ready for subsonic mosh explosions (hopefully not in your pants). Gift Giver’s rude take on brutal moshcore and the brutally technical shredding of Entheos get this whole thing started.
Tuesday, May 26, 9 PM
Primitive Man, Prisoner, Wake, Unsacred, Burn/Ward @ Strange Matter – $8
So here’s another Maryland Deathfest-adjacent bill of awesome heaviness from around the globe for all you local metal fans who are too busy working for a living to take four days off and move to a Baltimore hotel so you can see a zillion awesome bands. Believe me, if that’s you, I’m in the same position, so I know your pain. Let’s all assuage our pain by bringing ourselves even more pain of a different nature this Tuesday night at Strange Matter, shall we? I’m talking about the pain being brought to the stage by Primitive Man, a Colorado band who showed the world the face of slow-motion devastation on their 2013 debut album, Scorn. Universally praised, this album has recently been followed up by Home Is Where The Hatred Is, a 30-minute slab of brutal noise that’s only an EP if you make that determination by number of songs rather than overall length. In particular, the 11-minute opening crawl of “Loathe” is brain-melting, and you should definitely be prepared for carnage from these guys’ live performance.
On the other end of the scale, we’ve got Wake, a Canadian grind band from Calgary (cattle country) who keep things multi-faceted enough to prevent their set from dissolving into a blur of blastbeats. Expect plenty of catchy riffs and heavy headbanging from these guys. And to accompany both of these bands full of North American shredders, we’ve got a nice contingent of homegrown RVA thrash talent. Prisoner features former members of Balaclava and Inter Arma evoking the dark, bruising biker-style hardcore of bands like His Hero Is Gone and From Ashes Rise. Meanwhile, Unsacred goes full-on black metal with some raging power trio action. Finally, Burn/Ward will give us a taste of the way their power-violence sounds now that they have New Turks leader and human cheeseburger Ethan Gensurowsky on vocals. It’s gonna be dark as fuck inside Strange Matter this Tuesday night. Don’t miss it!
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