RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 5/21-5/27

by | May 21, 2014 | SHOW PICKS

Thursday, May 22, 9 PM
Young Widows, Helms Alee, Hex Machine @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets here: https://ywha.eventbrite.com/)

OK, so usually I pick a show that’s happening on the weekend for our feature show, because the weekends are always packed with great stuff. But if Young Widows are going to be in Richmond, then that’s the most important show happening this week, regardless of the day.

Thursday, May 22, 9 PM
Young Widows, Helms Alee, Hex Machine @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets here: https://ywha.eventbrite.com/)

OK, so usually I pick a show that’s happening on the weekend for our feature show, because the weekends are always packed with great stuff. But if Young Widows are going to be in Richmond, then that’s the most important show happening this week, regardless of the day. All of you early-to-bed types who usually only go out on Friday and Saturday nights are going to have to make a special exception for this one. Young Widows have brought their signature headlight amps to Richmond on multiple prior occasions, always blowing minds with their loud and powerful music.

Just last week, the band released their long-awaited fourth album, Easy Pain, on Temporary Residence Records. While they had somewhat stepped away from the pounding post-hardcore intensity of their first two albums on 2011’s In And Out Of Youth And Lightness, Easy Pain marks a return to the ominous, monolithic atmosphere that marked their breakthrough album, 2008’s Old Wounds. While some fans may disagree, I’ll go ahead and call this return a welcome one. The crushing heaviness of their earlier material was a big part of what made listening to Young Widows such a treat, and the way the songs on Easy Pain sound loud as fuck regardless of what volume at which you play them bodes well for Young Widows’ forthcoming assault on the senses at Strange Matter.

As Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” To be clear, you might feel some pain if you don’t wear earplugs to this show, but even if you do take risks with your hearing, the feeling of being hit full-speed by Young Widows’ wall of sound will be only the most beautiful sort of shock. Make sure you’re right up front to catch the full brunt of it when they take the stage Thursday night. Helms Alee, that Seattle trio featuring ex-Harkonen guitarist Ben Verellen, will precede Young Widows with some equally heavy but slightly more Melvins/Karp-ish tunefulness, while RVA’s perennial noise-rock noisemakers Hex Machine kick the whole thing off. Get ready!

Wednesday, May 21, 8 PM
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks @ Ashland Coffee & Tea – $10

OK, let’s be sensible–you can’t be out til 2 AM every night of the week catching some loud-ass band at some raging bar. We get it, you’re only human. But don’t worry, there’s plenty to do around town even on nights when you’ve got work in the morning and you just want to keep it chill and head to bed early. If that’s how you’re feeling tonight, you’re in luck, because just a short drive north of the city in Ashland, Miss Tess And The Talkbacks are playing at Ashland Coffee & Tea. The show starts at 8 and as far as we can tell there aren’t any openers, so you should still be home in time to catch the 11 o’clock news before bed.

And you’ll hear some great music while you’re there. Miss Tess And The Talkbacks might be from Brooklyn, but they leaven that town’s notorious hipster sensibilities with their own roots in old time country, swing jazz, and rockabilly–great sounds of the South and the old West to counteract the peer pressure they must surely feel to start sounding like the Arcade Fire or whatever. They’ve just released a new EP called The Love I Had For You, which is mostly new interpretations of beloved country classics–though personally, I’m most excited that they start the whole thing off with a version of Ted Hawkins’ forgotten gem “Sorry You’re Sick.” It’s true that Miss Tess and company probably won’t be able to get the whole room to join in on that one, but hearing them play that one will be enough for me. Plus, they’ll mix in a whole passel of originals and covers by other greats like Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Randy Newman. Or at least, they have those tunes in their repertoire. Whatever they choose to actually play, though, this will be a great show. So head to Ashland tonight, devote a few hours of your evening to hearing a lovely set of laid-back tunes, and get home in time to get a good night’s sleep. You deserve it.

Friday, May 23, 8 PM
No BS! Brass Band, Murphy’s Kids, Those Manic Seas @ The Camel – $10

This show’s got no big surprises to offer for the RVA music scene veteran, but that shouldn’t matter, because anyone who’s been going to shows in Richmond for a while knows they’re always in for a treat when No BS! Brass Band take the stage. Our local horn-toting heroes have continued their steady pace (see what I did there?) since releasing two albums, RVA All Day and Fight Song: A Tribute To Charles Mingus, in 2013. They’re still dishing out the super-catchy originals, complete with hip-hop style chants, second-line rhythms, and all those funky, jazzy horns, and on a Friday night, when all you want to do is dance, holler, and celebrate the arrival of the weekend, they’ll be your perfect soundtrack.

Murphy’s Kids are local vets as well, though of a slightly different style. Formed 15 years ago, this six-piece crew of Southside kids all grown up have given us six albums of horn-infused ska and reggae sounds over the years. They’ve never been the Next Big Thing around town, but their endurance and consistent quality speaks for itself, and they’re another local band fully prepared to help you chase your cares away and celebrate the weekend with their good-time music. Everyone from jam kids to old punks with Less Than Jake albums in their collections will get a kick out of these guys. And of course, Those Manic Seas will start things off with their always-entertaining and notably unique power-pop/dance-punk sounds… which, lest we forget, is most noteworthy for their TV-headed mannequin lead singer. If you’ve never caught one of this band’s memorable live performances, now’s the time to fix that.

Saturday, May 24, 9 PM
Stone Jack Jones, Coupler, LYLAS @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: http://loveandtorture.eventbrite.com/)

Stone Jack Jones is a dark presence on the alternative folk scene. He’s been quietly making a name for himself for decades now, having originally become a musician around the time he escaped the Vietnam draft and left behind a family legacy of West Virginia coal-mining to try and make a better life for himself. He’s not that prolific–before the release of his new album, Ancestor, his previous album was released in 2006–but his music, when it arrives, is haunting, dark, and unmistakable. Stone Jack Jones will remind you of artists like Woven Hand, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Elliott Smith, and his channeling of a hidden darkness at the heart of American history is evocative and captivating.

For his current tour, he’s presenting an even more captivating spectacle that will be a unique experience for those who attend. Combining the talents of several excellent Nashville musicians, including Ryan Norris (Lambchop), Trey Mosley (Bows & Arrows), and Kyle Hamlet, for his backing band, Stone Jack Jones has created what is being called a “touring Nashville circus of sorts for those who love left of center ambient freak folk.” Featuring opening sets from Norris, under the name Coupler, and Hamlet, performing as LYLAS, this evening will constitute a total immersive experience under the banner of Stone Jack Jones’s dark ambient folk sounds. Come see what this crew of talented musicians have to offer, and get caught up in the intense atmosphere.

Saturday, May 24, 9 PM
Vinyl Conflict presents Nuclear Santa Claust, Diamond Hairbrush @ Empire – $6

As part of their current “Best Of Richmond” issue, Style Weekly just called Vinyl Conflict Richmond’s “Metalest Record Shop”–which is nice and all except any RVA Mag reader could tell you that Vinyl Conflict is a PUNK record shop. Sigh. Anyway… Bobby Egger and the Vinyl Conflict crew like to post up at Empire on weekend nights and play punk rock records all night, but at this month’s edition of Vinyl Conflict @ Empire, they’re bringing us some great live punk rock sounds as well. Nuclear Santa Claust–which starts out looking like the weirdest band name ever until you figure out the pun–is a punk-as-fuck trio from Brooklyn with not an ounce of hipster bullshit anywhere in their sound. They’re signed to Don Giovanni Records, but their most recent EP, Order Of The New Age, features not an ounce of pop-punk or indie rock melody either. I mean, I love Waxahatchee, but this ain’t Waxahatchee. Coming off like a more politically aware Ramones, Nuclear Santa Claust will blast Empire with uptempo rage.

Meanwhile, Diamond Hairbrush are local RVA boys, featuring (if I’m not mistaken) current members of the Vinyl Conflict staff, as well as ex-members of Dry Spell, playing downwardly mobile midtempo garage punk with only the barest hint of melody thrown in. These guys are in it for the three-chord chaos of it all, and their singer is only singing in the loosest sense of the term–melodies tend to be one-note–two at the most. Am I making this sound like it isn’t awesome? Well, don’t get me wrong then, because Diamond Hairbrush is great. This sound is the foundation of punk rock, and comes from an honorable tradition stretching back even farther than the Ramones–think The Seeds, combined with maybe The Dead Boys or The Pagans. “So they rule?” Yes, that’s what I’m trying to say! And the records Bobby Egger and co. spin before, inbetween, and after the live sets this evening will also rule.

Sunday, May 25, 7 PM
Lord Nelson, Nefarious Characters @ The Camel – Free!

They grow ’em strange out there in the wilds of the rural Piedmont region, and these two Nelson County exports are heading to Richmond on Sunday to show us exactly how unique–and fascinating–the rock music they make out that way can be. Lord Nelson are apparently living in Charlottesville these days, but their name betrays their heritage, and their five-piece lineup, which includes a trombone player, shows the way creativity can sometimes flourish unconventionally in out-of-the-way settings. You wouldn’t be surprised if I told you this band was reggae, or jazz, or funk, but when I tell you that Lord Nelson play Tom Petty-style Southern heartland rock that includes trombone leads as an integral part of its structure, you might do a double take. But it’s true, and what’s more, this unforeseen combo makes it work quite well. Their Lost In The Orchard EP contains some great tunes, and they’ll be breaking those and others out for RVA’s entertainment at The Camel this Sunday.

They’ll be joined by Nefarious Characters, another group from Nelson County with a bit less of a clear musical agenda. I say that because they only have live recordings and practice demos up online, and you can’t always get the clearest picture of what a band’s about from stuff like that. But from what I hear, they appear to be a psychedelic jam band who do sing on occasion but are far more focused on instrumental pyrotechnics and laying down a powerful groove. These guys should get The Camel dancing, no problem. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see what’s going on in the surely-microscopic Nelson County scene–after all, admission is free, so it’s not like you’ve got anything to lose!

Monday, May 26, 9 PM
Extinction Of Mankind, War Master, Occultist, Asylum, Atrocious Kontrol @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: http://extinct.eventbrite.com/)

Oh man, if my buddy Rob Deicide was here he’d take one look at this bill and yell, “SHIBBA DABBA!” But most of you don’t get that joke because Rob hasn’t lived in Richmond for a decade now. Oh well. Anyway, having been around for over two decades, released records on Profane Existence and Tragedy Records, and done splits with Doom, Misery, and Warcollapse, I’d say it’s safe to call England’s Extinction Of Mankind a D-beat institution. They may not sound exactly like Discharge, but they’re close enough for most people, and their distorted riffing, speedy tempos, and all-black aesthetic, plus album titles like Baptized In Shit and Northern Scum, certainly mark Extinction Of Mankind as anarcho-punk stalwarts. Plus their songs are dynamic enough to be interesting and fun, and don’t get boring after three minutes the way some D-beat does (dudes in black jean vests with studs and patches are mad that I just wrote that). So their show at Strange Matter should be tons of circle-pit fun!

They aren’t the only reason to attend, either. War Master, featuring ex-members of grind superstars Insect Warfare, are also on the bill. Musically, these guys are less grind or crust and more like straight-up death metal, but if you liked the sound of early 90s classics like Napalm Death’s Harmony Corruption or Deicide’s Legion, you should find plenty to appreciate in War Master’s sound. And then there’s the lovely bonus of having local blackened crust horror-metal heroes Occultist back in town and taking the third slot on this heavy-hitting bill. With RVA D-beat punks Asylum and Atrocious Kontrol opening up the show, Monday night at Strange Matter will be a veritable feast for the black-studded-jean-jacket crowd–and for you, if you like good punk rock.

Tuesday, May 27, 7 PM
Orgone, The Flavor Project @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)

OK, RVA, are you ready to dance? Tuesday night is the perfect night to get down and get funky–because every night is the perfect night for that, really. But this time it’s even more perfect, because LA’s Orgone will be coming to RVA to lay down a full set of their funk-soul-disco-Afrobeat sounds. They’re currently putting together a seventh album of serious grooves for release sometime in the fall, but whether they’re playing new or old songs, you can rest assured Orgone will make it impossible for you to stand still.

Orgone have that perfect mix of old funk grooves, like somebody rolled up Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft,” James Brown’s “The Big Payback,” and Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” into a big fat ball of awesomeness, then dropped it into a vat of Fela Kuti’s best tunes and just let it all percolate for a while. Seriously, this band is incredible, and you must take this opportunity to come bask in their never-ending grooves at The Camel Tuesday night. Local Latino funk-soul crew The Flavor Project will get things started, then Orgone takes the stage to blow your mind and move your feet–so wear your dancing shoes!

Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: andrew@rvamag.com.

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.

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