RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 5/7-5/13

by | May 7, 2014 | SHOW PICKS

Friday, May 9, 8 PM
Rockn To Lockn Round II feat. Horsehead, Downbeat Switch, Seth Stainback & Rooster Foot, The Trongone Band @ RVA Theatre/The Hat Factory – $8 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)

I don’t know about any of y’all, but a good old-fashioned Battle Of The Bands really brings back memories for me.

Friday, May 9, 8 PM
Rockn To Lockn Round II feat. Horsehead, Downbeat Switch, Seth Stainback & Rooster Foot, The Trongone Band @ RVA Theatre/The Hat Factory – $8 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)

I don’t know about any of y’all, but a good old-fashioned Battle Of The Bands really brings back memories for me. There was a time, back in the 90s, when all the different high schools across Southside used to hold at least one of them a year. Punks, metalheads, grunge kids, NIN/Mansonite alterna-goths, Nirvana and/or Pearl Jam imitators, and Jerry Garcia-loving longhairs would all gather to cheer for the bands that were part of their scene and mock bands that weren’t. And then, inevitably, Copper Sails would win. Where are those guys now?

But let’s not talk about high school bands from two decades ago. Let’s talk about the four bands playing this particular competitive show. Rather than just competing for maybe a couple hundred bucks and the adulation of their peer group, these bands are aiming for a prize that could really help them get to the next level. The Lockn Festival, which will take place this September in scenic Arrington, VA (“where?” I hear ya. It’s in Nelson County, about halfway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg on Rt. 29), is letting fans pick one band that will get to play the fest this year. The winner from these four bands won’t be assured of a spot on the bill–instead, they will advance to the next round of the competition, where they will compete against other first-level winners. The whole thing culminates in a final battle on August 9 at the RVA Theatre (aka Hat Factory).

So whose side are you on in this epic battle for the ages? Do you pull for veteran alt-country heroes Horsehead? Are the funk-rockers of Downbeat Switch your preferred tonic? Is it the twangy acoustic strum of Seth Stainback & Rooster Foot that appeals to you? Or is it the family-style hippie-psych jams of The Trongone Band that get you stoked? No matter what side you’re pulling for, you’ll have a lot of fun bringing back that old-school competitive energy this Friday night down at RVA Theatre. Come make your voice heard and help one of your local favorites get a chance to share the stage with bands like Wilco, The Drive-By Truckers, Tom Petty, and The Allman Brothers Band this September at the Lockn Festival.

Wednesday, May 7, 7 PM
Matt Pryor, Blue Of Colors, Mark Rose, James Henderson @ The Camel – $13 (order tickets HERE)

I hope none of you pop-punk lovers made any important plans for tonight, because sneaking up on you, right here at the good ol’ Camel in RVA, is a solo gig by none other than Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids. While it’s been a couple years since the Get Up Kids released their comeback album, There Are Rules, and in that time, Pryor has remained active. In the past two years, he’s released two new solo albums, two collections of B-sides–one by his former band, The New Amsterdams, and one featuring solo material–and a collaborative EP with Get Up Kids keyboard player James Dewees. His third solo album, Wrist Slitter, is the most recent of these, released last November, and its catchy pop tunes are the sort of thing that will absolutely please any Get Up Kids fans who happen to pick it up. The same should go for any who happen to make it down to The Camel tonight to see Pryor play solo. I can’t be sure whether he’ll have a backing band or just an acoustic guitar with him, but either way, he’s going to dish out some excellent tunes.

There’ll be some other solo singer-songwriters on this tour as well. Blue Of Colors is the moniker used by Steve Soboslai of Pittsburgh’s Punchline when he’s out on his own, and while I don’t really know Punchline at all, I can tell you that Blue Of Colors has a lovely emo-pop style that sometimes includes orchestral accompaniment (though I imagine he’s left the string section at home for this tour). Spitalfield is a band you may remember from the mid-00s emo explosion; if not, their former frontman, Mark Rose, will be along to let you know what it was that made that group so special. And starting the whole thing off will be local singer/songwriter James Henderson, who has previously showed his talents as the lead guitarist for Race The Sun, among many other credits. Come enjoy an evening of acoustic emotion with all of these former band guys striking out on their own.

Thursday, May 8, 9:30 PM
Gull, Ghostwriter, Grass Panther @ Balliceaux – $5

Gull is the sort of thing that only comes along once in a very great while. A band featuring only one man (Nathaniel Rappole, formerly of Snack Truck/Ultra Dolphins), Gull first achieved attention with wild shows around town in which Rappole played a drum kit with his feet and one hand while playing a guitar with the other hand and singing/screaming through a mike attached to a mask he was wearing. It seemed impossible that one man could not only make that much noise at the same time, but create interesting and unconventional material while doing so–and yet, Gull did exactly that, receiving notice not just for shows in local clubs but full-band performances on street corners in Carytown on sunny afternoons.

Eventually, the band’s single-member status allowed things to go further, with a 2012 world tour in which Gull performed on the streets of Kenya for a forthcoming documentary called Street Muse, about the street performance scene in Kenya and beyond. Now Gull is back in VA, having recently finished up a residence at Birmingham, AL’s Bottletree. Who knows when he’ll take off for parts unknown once again, so you should really make sure you come see him play at Balliceaux this Thursday while you have a chance. Gull will be joined on this bill by Ghostwriter, a Portland folk singer with a punk background and ethic who brings rock n’ roll fire and passion to his folk-rooted songs. Opening up is Grass Panther, a new solo project by Canary Oh Canary’s Michael Harl–apparently not content to cool his heels during his main band’s current hiatus. And thank god for that!

Friday, May 9, 7 PM
Don Babylon, Madrone, The Alberts, She’s A Legend, Domino Effect @ The Canal Club – $5 in advance, $7 at the door (order tickets HERE)

Don Babylon are really working hard to become a force in RVA music lately. Their rockin’ version of the early 2000s alt-rock revival is guaranteed to win over any fans of loud guitars and wild fun, and their willingness to bring their music to the masses must be commended as well. Their latest outreach involves them taking over the stage at The Canal Club to bring fans and curious newcomers an evening of VA sounds, mainly based around the music of Roanoke’s Madrone. These guys have been plugging away down in the wilds of southwest Virginia for nearly a decade now, and just released their second full-length, A Light In The Sky, which has some Killers-style epic guitars and keyboard polish but knows when to rock hard as well. We’ll get an opportunity to learn exactly why the southwestern part of the state is so nuts about these guys when they hit the Canal Club stage Friday night.

This gig’s lineup will be rounded out by a few local RVA bands, including local rockers She’s A Legend, who are currently involved in an online version of that Lockn Festival battle of the bands we were talking about earlier–only these guys want to play Warped Tour. They’ve got the sound for it, that’s for sure; whether they can grab the attention they need to win is another question entirely, but I can’t imagine they’ll have any problem keeping the attention of the Canal Club crowd this Friday night. Rounding out the bill are local jam-rockers The Alberts (not to be confused with the British comedy act from over half a century ago), and newcomers The Domino Effect, the phoenix that’s grown from the ashes of River City Dogs. Come on, it’ll be fun!

Saturday, May 10, 9 PM
Blood Red Shoes, Radkey, Imaginary Sons @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://bloodredshoes.eventbrite.com/)

The era of two-piece garage-rock bands continues against all odds, and over a decade after we all first heard the White Stripes, there are still really good ones showing up on the scene. Consider Blood Red Shoes, a UK duo who’ve been quite successful in their native country but haven’t really broken through on this side of the pond yet. They recently released their self-titled fourth album, promoting it in advance of the release by placing QR codes in 10 major cities all around the world. So maybe those goofy little boxes really are worth paying attention to after all… maybe. Anyway, they’re coming to America to try and conquer this much bigger country with their thick riffs, catchy choruses, and memorable dual vocals. It can’t hurt that the two of them are very attractive people, either.

Blood Red Shoes will be joined on tour by Radkey, an all-American band of brothers from Missouri who grew up on the Ramones and the Misfits and play the sort of spooky, melodic garage punk that you’d expect from those influences. By the way, we use the term “grew up” loosely–these fellas are still pretty damn young, so you can look forward to the idealistic energy of youth infecting the atmosphere at Strange Matter this Saturday. RVA rock n’ roll quartet Imaginary Sons starts the whole thing off promptly at 10 PM.

Sunday, May 11, 9 PM
The Diamond Center, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, Ttotals, The Cales @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets here: https://lorelle.eventbrite.com/)

Strange Matter turns into a psychedelic paradise this Sunday night with the return of the rarely seen of late but always awesome Diamond Center. With ringleaders Kyle Harris and Brandi Price raising a family, this group doesn’t always have the opportunity to play out that often, but they will apparently make an exception for a show like this one, so you should make an exception where your usual policy of getting to bed early Sunday night so you can wake up refreshed for work in the morning is concerned (if you have a policy like that… I don’t). Lorelle Meets The Obsolete is the sort of hazy, languid psychedelic guitar fuzz band that will appeal to anyone who likes The Diamond Center, and they’re here all the way from Guadalajara, Mexico, so it’s not like you’ll get a chance to see this crew again anytime soon.

But wait, there’s more! Nashville’s Ttotals have come through this area a fair few times in the last couple of years, and they’ve never disappointed. These guys may keep the lineup to an absolute minimum, but they’re still able to fill the air with loud, heavy drones at a moment’s notice, so chances are you’ll never even notice how small their band is. With Bad Grrrl recording artists and obvious Velvet Underground fans The Cales kicking off the evening, the unbroken wall of shimmering dayglo psychedelic mist is complete. Who needs sleep on a Sunday night? Instead, open your third eye and use your psychonavigational skills to transport you to the spirit world with the rest of the crew at Strange Matter.

Monday, May 12, 8 PM
The Working Effective, Caroline Spence, Jacqueline Stem, Caroline Mauck, Colin Healy @ The Camel – Free!

So of course, once again, The Camel has proven to be the place to hang out if you want to keep up with what’s going on in the local singer-songwriter scene. The Working Effective, who are headlining this evening, don’t strictly count as local; frontman/songwriter Justin Storer is from Charlottesville, but he’s currently making his home in Brooklyn. Therefore it’s not too much of a surprise that the current album he’s touring on is called Dear Brooklyn. It’s full of fun alt-pop songs that mingle subtly strummed guitar with electric piano and synth sounds, overtop of which Storer lays down some classic pop vocal melodies. How that’ll translate at this performance is not really certain–Storer often tours as a solo artist, and I couldn’t tell you whether he’ll have his backing band along with him on this date or not. The songs will be just as sweet, though.

Four other VA singer-songwriters will be appearing on the bill as well, with Caroline Spence leading that particular pack. She’s actually residing in Nashville these days, which makes sense considering her strong country and Americana tendencies, but she’s also from Charlottesville and should bring some of that rural VA mystique mixed with the Music City glamour to the Camel’s stage on Monday. Jacqueline Stem comes from Winchester, up in the top western corner of the state, and she’s got a quietly intense sound that will be well worth ordering your beers at the bar in hushed tones. Colin Healy and Caroline Mauck, both from right here in RVA, round out this bill of guitar-slingers.

Tuesday, May 13, 9 PM
Cult Leader, Yautja, Unsacred, Prisoner, Venomspitter @ Strange Matter – $8

And now for something completely different. Strange Matter next Tuesday night will be the place to be if you’ve got earplugs and you know how to use them. Yes, it’s true–it will get loud on this fine evening. Cult Leader will top the bill; having reconstructed themselves from the ruins Gaza were left in after the singer got caught doing a really fucked-up thing, this band made up of the other dudes from that band plus one new guy carry on Gaza’s previous tradition of making a bunch of really heavy scary metal noise. Their debut EP, Nothing For Us Here, presents the same sort of brutal wall of nihilistic feedback heaviness to the world that Gaza previously brought you on classic albums like I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die and No Absolutes In Human Suffering, and their live show promises to be just as intense–but way less sketchy. Good for them.

Just as important is the other touring band on this bill, Nashville’s Yautja, who nearly made my head explode with their powerful brilliance last month at MACRoCk. If you didn’t make the two-hour trip to Harrisonburg for that weekend of insanity, well, congratulations on saving gas, and double congratulations for being in the perfect position to see one of the heaviest bands on that entire weekend’s bill without making any sort of drive at all. You will have to get up off your couch and head down to Strange Matter, though, so don’t fuck this up. Any opportunity to see Tyler Coburn play drums is one you should take advantage of; plus, this time maybe they will collapse the club with one of their riffs (actually, I hope not though, because I really do want to see Cult Leader).

The bill is rounded out with the best of Richmond’s current crop of brutality merchants: the blackened hardcore sound of Unsacred, the His Hero Is Gone-style doom-crust of Prisoner, and the brand spanking new speedcore of Venomspitter. I won’t be mad if you miss this show, I’ll just be… disappointed. You’re only hurting yourself, you know.

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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