Saturday, June 20, 5 PM
Horsehead’s Casual Dracula Release Party, feat. Horsehead, 6 String Drag @ Hardywood – Free!
[Yeah, I know, this column is two days late. I made it a year and a half without ever missing a week, so please cut me a slight break on this one…–Drew]
Saturday, June 20, 5 PM
Horsehead’s Casual Dracula Release Party, feat. Horsehead, 6 String Drag @ Hardywood – Free!
[Yeah, I know, this column is two days late. I made it a year and a half without ever missing a week, so please cut me a slight break on this one…–Drew] So but anyway, let’s talk about Horsehead. This Richmond band may not be as high-profile as some other veteran local rock acts, but founders/chief songwriters Jon Brown and Kevin Wade Inge have been playing together for over 15 years and have made five full-length albums together, each of which has improved on the last. These reasons alone are enough to make checking out Horsehead a priority for any fans of RVA music who haven’t gotten around to it.
Saturday evening provides a perfect opportunity for any of you who fit that description, and of course also for all of you who’ve been tuned-in enough to know about Horsehead for years now. The band, now expanded to a 5-piece with the addition of keyboardist Ben Willson, will be celebrating the release of their fifth LP, Casual Dracula, with a fired-up hoedown at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. A brewery is a fitting place for such a celebration, as Horsehead definitely makes good drinking music. They pull influences from bluesy Stones stomp, old-time country, traditional Southern rock, and punk-inspired alt-country. Basically, if you think Son Volt, The Drive-By Truckers, and The Rolling Stones are all rad, you’re gonna love Horsehead, and they’ve got a great collection of fresh new tunes to delight your senses with.
Amazingly enough, there’s an opening act on this show that’s got just as good a chance of blowing you away. 6 String Drag may be a new name for you, but they’ve got quite a history, having recently reformed after a nearly 15 year hiatus. This North Carolina band was signed to Steve Earle’s label back in the mid-90s, and released an overlooked classic LP called High Hat, only to disband and then see plenty of other bands ride to great success using the same sonic trademarks that had made 6 String Drag so fascinating. They’ve risen from the ashes with a great new album, Roots Rock N’ Roll, and they’ll be at Hardywood this Saturday to give everyone who missed out on them the first time a chance to find out what the buzz is about.
Friday, June 19, 6 PM
Pure Disgust, Hard Stripes, Meth Lab, Kommunion @ Strange Matter – $7
Pure Disgust threw me at first, y’all, I won’t deny it. I guess I’m just too cynical–I saw a hardcore band named after a notoriously xenophobic hardcore song and assumed it was just another group of white boys trying to seem edgy by courting hate. Turns out I was wrong–the members of Pure Disgust are African-American and Latino for the most part, and they’ve taken the name to confront other people within the hardcore scene’s apathetic attitude about important issues. That’s pretty fucking rad–I’m glad my suspicions were unfounded. Pure Disgust’s mix of old-school hardcore riff mastery and the simplified catchiness of classic Oi!/punk sounds results in some pretty rad music, too, so there are a lot of great reasons for you to head over to Strange Matter tonight and start a circle pit during their set.
There are a bunch of local bands on this bill you should really check out as well. Of course, Hard Stripes are the most obvious; while this band’s thick-necked brand of Negative Approach-influenced chunky old-school hardcore tends to be pretty ubiquitous these days, the members’ experience playing other genres, including catchy Ramones-style punk, angst-ridden emocore, and amped-up power violence, gives them all the experience necessary to play this style of music without being boring. When these guys bust out their catchy half-speed choruses, you’ll be nodding your head for sure. Assuming you aren’t already two-stepping like crazy, that is. With sets from angry grindcore trio Meth Lab and snarling D-beat ragers Kommunion kicking things off, this is going to be a show laden with opportunities to go off. At the end of a long hard work week, you know you’re gonna need that.
Saturday, June 20, 9 PM
Grlz Night presents First Time’s the Charm, feat. Schwarzkali Effect, The Honey Traps, Atta Girl, Clitoride Glitter Eyed, Oort Cloud, The Hushed Puppies, Gray Magic, Mostly Crying @ Strange Matter – $5
And now for something completely different! Feminist art/punk collective Grlz Night has been trying to change the game locally with an emphasis on works by typically underrepresented demographics (which is to say, people who aren’t straight cisgender white men). Now, with the show they’re sponsoring Saturday night at Strange Matter, they’ve taken that whole plan to the next level. First Time’s The Charm features 8 bands that have never played a show before. While some of the bands feature members with credentials you’ll recognize–members of Springtime, Among The Rocks And Roots, Toxic Moxie, and more will be performing–most of the people in the bands on this bill have never played in a band at all before. And every band features people you don’t always see onstage at an underground rock show–women, people of color, queer and transgender folks, etc.
So what exactly are you going to hear if you come out to this show? We don’t really know–but that’s a big part of the fun! From electronic to noise to punk rock to indie pop, this bill is guaranteed to run the gamut of DIY sounds and genres. And with each band playing for 15 minutes or less, if you don’t like what you hear, you won’t have long to wait before something completely different will happen. Grlz Night will also be releasing the latest issue of their quarterly zine at this show, so everyone who supports independent publications (that definitely includes us) should come check it out. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I play bass in the Honey Traps, so if any of you have ever wondered while reading these reviews what the music the writer makes would sound like, this is a chance for you to find out. And hey, if the thought of seeing me jumping around onstage in a push-up bra and short shorts bums you out, you can just show up a little late, because we’re playing first. See you there, maybe?
Sunday, June 21, 10 PM
Hoax Hunters, The Milkstains @ Bandito’s – Free!
This free show featuring two veteran local bands might not seem too thrilling to you if you’re here looking for once in a lifetime showgoing opportunities. However, if what you really want from a show is to have a great time and get your socks rocked off by a couple of consistently excellent live acts, I’d say you’ll be in the right place at Bandito’s this Sunday night at 10 PM. After all, The Milkstains have played just about a million shows in this town over the past decade or so, and they’ve remained tireless in their quest to ensure that everyone in the house while they’re onstage gets pulled into their rock n’ roll tornado. The band’s unique fusion of surf/twang instrumental action and rip-roaring garage/grunge action gives them a sort of Dick Dale/Mudhoney combo sound, and while that might sound crazy on paper, believe me when I tell you it works amazingly well live. The proof is in all the beer that gets thrown around while these dudes play. There’s a lot of it, is what I’m saying.
Hoax Hunters are more devoted to throwing around chunks of pure shrieking noise during their own raging rock n’ roll sets, but these guys seem fueled more by coffee than beer. I’m not really basing that on anything but personal instinct, though, so don’t take it too seriously. I guess I’m just saying that their music sounds more like prime mid-80s tuneage from the American postpunk underground–like if I’d encountered them on an SST Records comp between songs by Black Flag and Sonic Youth and other songs by Husker Du and Dinosaur Jr, I’d have thought, “Yeah, this makes a lot of sense.” Hoax Hunters frontman/only constant member PJ Sykes has acquired a new rhythm section since recording last year’s Comfort And Safety, but they’ve had enough time to settle in and therefore this band is sure to be in fighting shape. Come to Bandito’s this Sunday night, grab some nachos and beer, and let these two raging trios blow your hair back. You’ll be glad you did.
Monday, June 22, 8 PM
The Sour Notes, Anousheh, My Darling Fury @ Strange Matter – $5
Sometimes I feel really lucky that I write this column. Richmond has a lot of touring bands come through town in any given week, and sometimes I’ve never heard of them. Since I have to fill this column every week though, I end up listening to a lot of bands I might never otherwise hear. This leads to some pleasing discoveries at times, and this week’s most pleasing discovery is The Sour Notes, an Austin, TX quintet who have a lush, psychedelic pop sound and a prolific songwriting talent. This has led to their releasing five full-lengths since 2008, the most recent of which, Do What May, is the inspiration for their current tour. They’re coming to Richmond this Monday to give us all a closer listen to the brilliance they’re displaying on their latest album, and we’d all be smart to take advantage.
We’d also be smart because, if nothing else, there are two proven local commodities on the bill as well. Anousheh will be bringing her keyboard-driven indie rock to the Strange Matter stage, and her integration of electronic synth-pop into her more recent material has resulted in some tremendously catchy and unforgettable tunes. Don’t you want to hear them in a live setting, even if it’s for the fifth time? Yeah, you definitely do. Meanwhile, the erudite, elliptical indie pop of My Darling Fury will also be available to you on this bill. The intriguing dynamics of their ambient yet gorgeously epic tunes should keep your attention riveted on the stage throughout their set, and the vocal pyrotechnics created by Danny Reyes and his judicious use of a looping effects processor adds yet more fascinating layers. Sink into the waves and ride the bliss throughout this night.
Tuesday, June 23, 8 PM
Connoisseur, Humungus, Unsacred, Cornbread @ Strange Matter – $7
Thrashaholics beware, because this Tuesday night, Vinyl Conflict is teaming up with Strange Matter to present a show that will make your head implode–and you’ll love every minute of it! Oakland power violence–er, no, wait, “Oaksterdam Stoner Violence” trio Connoisseur have a mission to introduce THC into the cells of every listener they can find, and while this plan is personally not my bag (sorry dudes, I suppose my straight edge values are “boring and here to ruin fun” but I ain’t apologizing for it), I’m as stoked on these guys’ music as I am unimpressed by their weed activism. After all, I can’t deny it–stoners rip it up whenever they decide to get into the whole “blastbeats broken up by brutal mosh riffs” game. Connoisseur are pretty amazing, and I’ll definitely grimace and nod my head with appreciation as they bash out some amazing riffage on Tuesday night.
At least two of the RVA locals on this bill are just as brutally thrash-tacular, and I know one of them is as stoked on beer as Connoisseur are on weed. Humungus has based their entire aesthetic on brew-crushing 80s thrash metal, and the fact that their best-known song is still their 2012 single “Drinkin’ A Beer” probably tells you everything you need to know. Oh, except for the fact that singer Jack Bauer really can wail with the best of the NWOBHM crowd. Get stoked for that, and for Unsacred’s sure-to-be-crushing set of ripping black metal tuneage. Finally, Cornbread–apparently a band made up entirely of teenagers, though that’s just a rumor I heard–will kick things off with some seriously head-kicking old-school power-violence of the Infest/No Comment school. Though, come to think of it, I think these dudes have even more breakdowns–and they definitely have deeper vocals. Either way, be prepared. It’s time to thrash it up.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]