RVA Shows You Must See This Week 6/3-6/9

by | Jun 3, 2015 | SHOW PICKS

Thursday, June 4, 8 PM
RVA Playlist 5th Anniversary Party, feat. No BS! Brass Band, Goldrush, Jonathan Vassar and The Badlands, Big Mama Shakes @ The Broadberry – $5 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)

It’s time for a celebration!

Thursday, June 4, 8 PM
RVA Playlist 5th Anniversary Party, feat. No BS! Brass Band, Goldrush, Jonathan Vassar and The Badlands, Big Mama Shakes @ The Broadberry – $5 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)

It’s time for a celebration! Music blogger Andrew Cothern has been running RVA Playlist for five whole years now, documenting his unique take on the local scene and showcasing his impeccable taste in everything from indie rock to folk to hip hop. As he does every year about this time, this Thursday he is once again throwing a celebration of another year of RVA music blogging. This time it’s at The Broadberry, and what local music blog party would be complete without a great selection of local music in store for all fortunate enough to attend? Certainly not this one!

It’s the multiples of five that our culture traditionally agrees are the most important anniversary years, so of course RVA Playlist’s 5th birthday is an even more significant milestone than the last few have been. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Cothern pulled out all the stops to get one of the biggest and most memorable bands in this town to headline this show. Indeed, it’s No BS! Brass Band, that crew of talented horn players and percussionists who build on a century-long tradition of New Orleans-originated second-line jazz with influences from both predictable sources, like funk or hip hop, and completely surprising directions, like prog-rock or punk. Don’t believe me? Check the songwriting credits. This band has been known to cover everyone from Rush to Agent Orange, and even A-Ha. That’s not to mention how catchy their original tunes, many of which fly the flag for RVA supremacy, can be. If you don’t know how fun a No BS! Brass Band set is, you’re probably also not reading RVA Playlist. You should fix both of those things immediately.

Andrew Cothern’s got more tunes to turn you on to this Thursday night at the Broadberry, too. Of course there’s Goldrush, that excellent power-pop quartet who mix the amazing songwriting chops of Prabir Mehta with the classically-oriented instrumentation of Matt and Treesa Gold for a Beatlesque sunshine-pop fusion unlike anything else you’ve heard. Plus, incredibly talented local alt-country songwriter Jonathan Vassar will be on the scene backed by his latest band, The Badlands, featuring members of David Shultz and the Skyline, Mermaid Skeletons, and more. Up-and-coming local band Big Mama Shakes, who Cothern mentioned being super-enthused about during his appearance on local podcast/radio show Sound Gaze last week, will kick things off with a set of fun, soulful rock n’ roll. Don’t miss this chance to wish this rad blog a happy birthday by shaking your groove thing!

Wednesday, June 3, 10 PM
Radio Rubber Room presents: The return of Just Plain Sounds! feat. Ant The Symbol, James Dangle, The Honorable Sleaze, Drano @ Emilio’s – Free!

Y’all, this caught me completely by surprise, and saying the surprise is a pleasant one would be the understatement of the year. In previous years, RVA collective Just Plain Sounds was responsible for some of the best music coming out of the local hip hop scene. With hotshot young producer Just Plain Ant and talented veteran The Honorable Sleaze taking point, this group of emcees, producers, and DJs had the whole town taking notice of their fine work. But the music business is a tough grind for anyone who isn’t getting rich (i.e. almost everyone involved in it), and with members relocating, taking breaks, and changing focus, Just Plain Sounds quietly dissolved back in 2013. That doesn’t mean the members of the collective stopped making music, though. And now, thanks to the folks at Radio Rubber Room, tonight at Emilio’s, several of them will be performing together again for the first time in over two years!

Just Plain Ant, now known as Ant The Symbol, has only expanded his musical palette, producing some of his best work yet over the past year. March release The King Of Nothing brought together RVA’s rap A-list to spit their best rhymes over Ant’s highly expressive and unforgettable beats. The Honorable Sleaze has always maintained a prolific work rate with a high quality of both beats and rhymes throughout, and the end of JPS in no way changed that. Meanwhile, since the dissolution of Just Plain Sounds, James Dangle has thrown his lot in with local producer collective Satellite Syndicate, and continues to release quality solo work. And Drano’s latest release, Argyle Summer, shows us he’s still got what it takes to make great hip hop records. Tonight, you’ll see all four of these men bring you their best work on the same stage–and who knows? Maybe there’ll even be some JPS group activity. Either way, it’ll be worth your time; then, now and forever, Just Plain Sounds brings the fire.

Thursday, June 4, 8 PM
Ancient River, Lady God, Manzara, DJ Revolt Of The Apes, projections by Lord Candy Dish @ Strange Matter – $7

Fans of psychedelia are surely in for a treat this Thursday night at Strange Matter. Ancient River, who make lush, sun-drenched psych seem oh so easy, will be in town to see if they can levitate an entire block of Grace Street using nothing more than their gorgeous jams. Based on their new album, Keeper Of The Dawn, it’s hard to believe that only two people are responsible for this heavily layered soundscape of sheer beauty. And yet it’s true–indeed, considering the way they’re able to surround your ears with a thick, beautiful haze, it’s tough to imagine where any other instrumentalist could find a place to slip a note in edgewise. These gentlemen have it on lock, and you’re sure to enjoy the results of their work when they take the Strange Matter stage tomorrow night.

Two excellent local bands with soundcraft in a similar vein will join Ancient River for this night of third-eye-opening musical majesty. Lady God, a garage-rockin’ crew featuring members of Hypercolor, The Diamond Center, and more, will dish out a full serving of toe-tapping 60s-style proto-punk jams, undoubtedly including the tunes from their hit debut EP, Lady God Presents: The Pebbles, and almost certainly featuring the new material they’re currently preparing to release as a follow-up EP sometime this summer. And then there’s Manzara, which brings together Canary Oh Canary members Michael Harl and Mark Hutcherson with former Four Hundred Years bassist Erin Housholder. This should be an amazing set based on that lineup alone. Local psych fanatic and music journalist extraordinaire Revolt Of The Apes will be spinning records before and between sets, and Lord Candy Dish will give the proceedings an added air of the uncanny with his psychedelic visual projections. Be prepared.

Friday, June 5, 6 PM
Friday Cheers presents Future Islands, White Laces @ Brown’s Island – $10 (order tickets HERE)

David Letterman’s late-night TV show has finally left the airwaves after three decades, and with its departure, plenty of people have been talking about the ways its existence changed and improved the kind of television that was available to watch after midnight. One of those ways was through Letterman’s championing of music beyond the typical chart-toppers of the day; from Bob Mould to Hiss Golden Messenger and beyond, Letterman was one of the only reliable network television outlets to bring interesting, unusual music to middle-American audiences. And one of the most memorable of these acts to appear on Letterman’s show over the past few years was Future Islands.

The synth-driven Baltimore postpunk act distinguished themselves with a bravura performance of “Seasons (Waiting On You),” from last year’s Singles LP; singer Samuel T. Herring’s intense, fully committed delivery sold an audience of millions instantly, and the video from the performance became a viral sensation on YouTube starting the very next morning. Chances are if you know who Future Islands are, it’s because you saw that video. And if you did, chances also are that you would love to see this band do their thing in a live environment. Well, this Friday provides your opportunity–for only $10, you can head down to Brown’s Island and watch Herring and his bandmates prove their mettle for a full set worth of dramatic yet catchy synth-pop grooves. He’ll probably growl at least once, too. Local indie rock heroes White Laces will open up for these visiting talents, making this a bill worth witnessing from beginning to end. Don’t miss out.

Saturday, June 6, 7:30 PM
Diet Cig, PWR BTTM, Big Mama Shakes, Leader @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)

Nostalgia typically runs on a 20 year cycle, and I can tell middle age is fast approaching for me because all the sounds and styles I loved when I was a teenager are suddenly popular again. But it’s hard to get upset about the fact that I’m obviously getting old when the primary indicator of my advancing age is that almost every new band I hear rules. Diet Cig are part of this trend, and the mixed-gender duo use undistorted guitars and a minimal drum kit to replicate the adorable jangle-pop sound that was Olympia, WA’s primary export in the first half of the 90s. Their debut EP, Over Easy, calls to mind everyone from Lois Maffeo to Kicking Giant, and anyone with an interest in the back catalog of K Records is going to want to come dance around The Camel with a smile on their face when Diet Cig shows up to play there on Saturday night.

PWR BTTM will accompany Diet Cig on this trip, and while this fellow mixed-gender duo gets a little heavier with their riffing than Diet Cig tend to, it seems these two groups are coming from a very similar mindset. Both are down for some simple yet catchy early-90s style jams, neither has time for a bass player or overly complicated drum parts, and both will get your feet moving when they hit the stage. PWR BTTM is more of a shoegaze-ish band, as opposed to Diet Cig’s straight-up pop, but the two bands have way more in common than not, and if you like one, chances are you’ll love the other. Locals Big Mama Shakes make their second appearance in this column for the week, and are sure to get everybody (not just big mama–sorry, couldn’t resist) shaking in preparation for the excellent out-of-town bands they’re sharing this bill with. Leader will open up, and I’d tell you more about them if I could figure out how to successfully google them. As it is, you’ll just have to show up on time and find out what’s up.

Sunday, June 7, 9 PM
Barbelith, Men’s Room, Left Cross @ Bandito’s – Free!

It’s been a long time and I shouldn’t have left you without a total metal show to head to. I’m gonna make up for that right now, though, by telling you to go catch Marylanders Barbelith on their jaunt through RVA this Sunday night at Bandito’s. Described both as post-rock and black metal, these guys are obviously working within the same basic vein as Deafheaven or Wolves In the Throne Room–and I know this will piss off some metal purists. However, I can’t really bring myself to care how the nitpicky sticks-in-the-mud of the metal world feel about any band, especially one that can dish out the kinds of solid riffs that are all over Barbelith’s music. They break the heaviness up with occasional quiet, undistorted segments, which are sure to drive the Deafheaven haters even more crazy, but let’s be real–parts like this just help to make the heavy parts stand out. Without the things that make purists upset, Barbelith’s music wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. Kudos to them for doing their own thing–and kudos to you if you make it down to Bandito’s Sunday night and watch them do it live and in person.

To match wits and riffs with Barbelith, we have a couple of powerful and memorable Richmond bands on the bill as well. Men’s Room are kings of the raunchy, sleazy punk/noise/freak groove, and their Negative Approach-meets-Jesus Lizard (should I just have said Laughing Hyenas?) style will make fans of hardcore punk and raging noise rock equally happy. And then there’s Left Cross, who have a bit of an old-school vibe with their simple yet ripping riffs and raging, guttural vocals. If you ever find yourself wondering why death metal is hardly ever as good these days as it was back when bands like Morbid Angel and Obituary first invented it, Left Cross is the band for you. Get ready to bang your head.

Monday, June 8, 7 PM
Eternal Summers, Positive No, The Snowy Owls @ Gallery 5 – $8 (order tickets HERE)

Sometimes I have to ponder how lucky we are, living in Richmond VA. Not only are we surrounded by a thriving music scene full of immensely talented performers within every genre you can think of, we’re also just a short distance away from quite a few other great scenes in the vicinity. Roanoke VA is probably not a town you usually think of as a thriving hotbed of indie rock activity, but all of the Magic Twig-associated bands coming out of that town over the past several years have done a great deal to change that. Eternal Summers is, if I may make a bold statement, the cream of the crop where Roanoke is concerned, and they continue to prove it by following up last year’s excellent The Drop Beneath with their brand new fourth album, Gold And Stone. First single “Together Or Alone” shows that these folks are still cranking out the awesomeness, but you’ll get much better evidence of that if you show up to Gallery 5 on Monday night to catch their entire set.

And if catchy, shoegaze-influenced indie rock is your bag, you’ll be just as delighted by the Richmond bands taking the stage that night as well. For one thing, Positive No will be in the house, and its their first show featuring new bassist Sadie Powers, of Dead Fame, uh, fame. They’ve got a whole ton of new music to blow you away with, now that their debut album is in the can and awaiting release, so get ready for a live preview of some outstanding tunes. The Snowy Owls will start out the evening with a shoegazey set of their own that is definitely worth showing up on time for. Make sure you’re there!

Tuesday, June 9, 6:30 PM
Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Ballyhoo! @ The National – $20 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)

I know, I know–you hated the late 90s ska revival even when it was going on. So you say now, at least. I remember those days, though, and everyone I knew had a few CDs by those bands kicking around the floorboard of their car. Whether it was Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, Save Ferris, or any of quite a few other bands who had one or two radio hits between 1995 and 2000, the third wave (fourth wave? fifth wave? I can’t even keep track) ska bands were always more popular–and more fun–than anyone wanted to let on. But we’re older now, and there’s no need to keep putting on airs about how cool you are, when we all know we’re all a bunch of dorks who just want to have some goofy fun, right?

Yes, I’m gonna say it–sell out with Reel Big Fish this Tuesday night at the National. If you really can’t spend your life working in fast food, I’m probably in trouble, but I can put those problems out of my mind for at least a few hours by dancing to silly ska songs, and so can you! 90s mainstays Less Than Jake will be along on tour with Reel Big Fish for a double dose of 90s ska-punk nostalgia, and EVERYBODY had Losing Streak back in the day, so don’t pretend like you’re not stoked. Screw all this embarrassment–come have fun! Your friends might judge you if they see you there, but on the other hand, if they see you, they’ll be there too, so why should anyone judge anyone? Let’s just all dance.


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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