Saturday, July 4, 3 PM
White Laces, Avers, Manatree, My Darling Fury, Mikrowaves @ Hardywood – Free!
If you can ignore all the weird patriotism that goes hand in hand with it, the Fourth Of July is actually a pretty great holiday.
Saturday, July 4, 3 PM
White Laces, Avers, Manatree, My Darling Fury, Mikrowaves @ Hardywood – Free!
If you can ignore all the weird patriotism that goes hand in hand with it, the Fourth Of July is actually a pretty great holiday. It’s all about taking the day off work to grill food and hang out with family and friends. Then once the sun goes down, people set off a ton of fireworks! I know a lot of people are super stoked on Halloween or Christmas or whatever, but for my money, Fourth Of July (along with its wintertime cousin, Thanksgiving) is the best holiday of the year. This year, with Fourth Of July happening on a Saturday, we’re all losing out on the opportunity to get a weekday off work in order to celebrate, but it’s still pretty much the perfect weekend, so who can really complain?
This year, you’ll have even less reason to complain than usual if you spend your Fourth Of July at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. As usual, they’re throwing a mid-afternoon musical extravaganza, featuring free performances by some of your favorite local bands. And in the spirit of the holiday, they’re doing it up big this weekend. Headlining their special five-band local showcase will be White Laces, who have a mostly-electronic EP coming out any day now. Their live incarnation will continue to be based around live drums and loud guitars, but if you haven’t seen them since they became a quartet once again by bringing in keyboardist/singer Tori Hovater, you are going to want to remedy that ASAP. And of course, you’re also going to want to catch Avers, that stunning psychedelic sextet with an extensive pedigree (The Head And The Heart, The Trillions, Hypercolor, etc). They’ve got a new release of their own on deck, or so we hear–a second full-length sure to further expand their visionary psych-pop sound.
Manatree, those fresh-faced young hopefuls still barely out of high school, will be on hand to dish out some super-catchy and incredibly tight tuneage from their upcoming LP on Egghunt Records (do all of these bands have records coming out soon? Yes, it’s entirely possible). My Darling Fury are celebrating a more bittersweet milestone, as this will be their final show with guitarist Clark Fraley in the lineup. The band isn’t letting this slow them down, experimenting with new musical tools and engaging in a full-time search for a new guitarist/multi-instrumentalist, but if you’ve come to know their music through their debut album, Licking Wounds, or the songs that make up the forthcoming follow-up, you’re going to want to take this final opportunity to hear them live in their original form. And finally, kicking the whole thing off will be Mikrowaves, f.k.a. Mcrvwvs–Eddie Prendergast of Bio Ritmo/Amazing Ghost’s new band, featuring the Kings maestro himself, Kelli Strawbridge, and a host of other established RVA musical talents. These bands will carry you right through until it’s time to wander into Hardywood’s parking lot to witness the fireworks happening at The Diamond; it’s gonna be a great way to spend your holiday.
Wednesday, July 1, 8 PM
Royal Thunder, Wild Throne, Hoax Hunters, Red States @ The Camel – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Tonight, Royal Thunder return to Richmond, prepared to make some new fans. I saw this Carolina quartet a few years ago when they opened for Corrosion Of Conformity, and I was immediately impressed by their highly musical fusion of prog, doom, and spooky gothic metal. Since those days, they’ve released a second album, Crooked Doors, which if anything improves on all of the disparate sonic elements they combined to create their engaging earlier tunes. Especially important to their music are the fiery vocals of singer/bassist Mlny Parsonz, who sings like a doom-metal Janis Joplin overtop of the bluesy, melodic tunes laid down by the rest of the band. Impressive in both studio and live incarnations, Royal Thunder are a great reason for you to leave your house tonight.
Bellingham, Washington’s Wild Throne are on tour with Royal Thunder, and have a fired-up prog sound of their own to grace all of our eardrums with–one that isn’t too far from the best moments of bygone psychedelic desert prog/punk superheroes The Mars Volta. This isn’t a comparison to be made lightly, especially considering how inconsistent the latter band got in on its later albums, so understand, I am talking about some prime Deloused In The Comatorium-style sounds here. You’re gonna want to be around for that. And of course, don’t miss excellent opening sets from local noise-rock heroes Hoax Hunters and fellow RVA residents Red States, who’ll lay down some heavy-guitar power-pop to kick off your musical evening in proper fashion.
Thursday, July 2, 5 PM
25 Ta Life, Upper Hand, Paper Trail, Bitter Rivals @ Strange Matter – $10
Oh wowwwww you guys. Can you believe 25 Ta Life are still a band? After more than 20 years of being one of the most ridiculous and controversial figures in hardcore, Rick Healy is indeed still leading the hardcore band that’s really never been much more than him on vocals and whoever he can get to back him up. Dishing out platitudes aplenty (past releases have been entitled such cliche phrases as Keepin’ It Real, Strength Through Unity, and Friendship Loyalty Commitment), 25 Ta Life has a pretty simplistic approach to the chugging, midtempo form of hardcore that evolved in the thugged-out scenes of the northeast during the 90s. Plus, they have Healy on vocals, giving you his inimitable and all-but-indecipherable bleating bark overtop of a million circle-pit fast parts and mosh-it-up breakdowns.
I really can’t pretend I think this is going to be the most excellent musical exhibition you’ll ever encounter at Strange Matter, but nonetheless, I can’t help but recommend attendance. If you’ve never caught 25 Ta Life in person, there are elements about the musical and social history of hardcore that you can’t fully understand. Plus, if nothing else, you’ll get a ton of head-nodding midtempo riffs caught in your head over the course of the evening–and you’ll probably see some pretty crazy spinkicks in the pit. Get stoked! There’ll be plenty of great VA hardcore lined up for the opening sets as well, with VA Beach band Paper Trail and Richmond locals Upper Hand and Bitter Rivals opening things up. It all promises to be fun as hell, even if Rick Healy doesn’t apparently have super-long dreads anymore. Don’t worry, those tattoos aren’t going anywhere.
Friday, July 3, 6 PM
Fight Cloud, Mahlion, Houdan The Mystic, Donny Ray @ Gallery 5 – Free!
First Friday comes around once again, and as always, the best place to spend a significant amount of your Art Walk evening is Gallery 5. Featuring their usual excellent art by local young artists–this month in the form of an 8-artist exhibition entitled Dollar Tren, which dramatizes the experience of growing up as an artistic outsider in the cookie-cutter world of the suburbs–Gallery 5’s also got an excellent bill of musical entertainment with which to accompany the art. And with Fight Cloud at the top of the bill, this month’s free show is extremely worth your time. This RVA math-rock quintet represents the modern, chilled-out, hippie-fied version of math rock, which has evolved in recent years in the wake of bands like Tera Melos and This Town Needs Guns. That’s not a dis! Indeed, Fight Cloud’s music may be incredibly complex and tough to parse at times, but you won’t ever find yourself tilting your head to one side as you attempt to figure out the beat, or drawing back in terror at its abrasiveness. Instead, these dudes will bring a smile to your face with their gorgeous vocal and guitar melodies, even as they impress you with their technically precise musical constructions.
The same is true of Houdan The Mystic, another great hippie-fied RVA math-rock band, whose spiritual kinship with Fight Cloud is most solidly demonstrated by the existence of Where’s My Shakespeare?, a split cassette featuring both bands released last year. Houdan The Mystic are a bit less likely than Fight Cloud to put emphasis on melody, instead preferring to dazzle you with instrumental pyrotechnics, but I guarantee that watching their drummer throughout their set will bring you a great deal of fascination and enjoyment. Dude may be mellow, but he rips up his kit–it’s something to see. MahLion will also have some dark, glitchy instrumental beat sounds for you, and newcomer(s?) Donny Ray, about whom I know nothing, will open up the show. So come check out a combined evening of great music and fascinating art, all for the lowest possible price. You won’t regret it.
Saturday, July 4, 9:30 PM
Soul Glo Saturday, feat. The Southern Belles, Mekong Xpress & the Get Fresh Horns @ The Camel – $7 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Soulful Southern-style rock n’ roll is alive and well in RVA, y’all, and the Southern Belles are making sure we all know it. Dropping their new album Close To Sunrise this week, the quartet is throwing quite the celebration at The Camel this weekend. They’ll be playing not one but two shows at the Broad St. watering hole over the extended Fourth Of July holiday, and while two-day passes are available, it’s my advice that if you can only make one of the shows, you head over there on Saturday night. While the first of the two evenings will mainly consist of multiple Southern Belles sets, one of which will feature them playing the entire new album in sequence (don’t get me wrong, that sounds pretty cool too), the second night is known as Soul Glo Saturday, and will kick off with a special guest set from Mekong Xpress & the Get Fresh Horns. If you’ve run into this all-star local funk band in their usual haunts around the city (Mekong, of course; as well as Cary St Cafe, The Answer brewpub, etc), then you know they’re all incredibly talented and know a ton of songs, both originals and covers, that are sure to keep you smiling and dancing.
Never fear, the Southern Belles will soon be along to follow up on whatever Mekong Xpress dishes out in their opening set. Close To Sunrise is full of tunes that explore many different genres; sometimes they sound more like The Allman Bros Band, at other times they approach the quirky jazz-rock of Steely Dan, and there are even moments of outright ragtime. The Belles will bring all of these sounds to you with equal facility, and you can bet it’ll be thrilling. Finally, the evening will end with a set combining the powers of the Belles and the Xpress, during which tunes by such funk luminaries as Rick James and Shuggie Otis, as well as plenty of other soulful surprises, will get broken out to end your night on the highest of high notes! It’s gonna be a blast from beginning to end, and you’ll have a chance to pick up the new Southern Belles album during the show too, which is a bonus if I’ve ever heard one.
Sunday, July 5, 8 PM
Active Minds, Thisclose, Dethfox, Orgasm, Humanmania @ 25 Watt – $8
A page out of punk rock history comes to 25 Watt this Sunday. Active Minds have been blasting out of the UK with raging political punk for nearly 30 years now, kicking off their career back in 1986 and never slowing down since. They’ve done a million split EPs and comp tracks, as well as several full-lengths and EPs of their own, during that time, and kept all of their work strictly DIY and underground as hell throughout. If you haven’t gone digging into the deeper crust-punk underground at any point, you may not have even heard of this band. But anyone who has done the necessary investigation knows how important Active Minds are to the history of the music variously known as crust, d-beat, and just plain punk rock. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, the band’s recent EP, New Puppets – Same Old Machine, proves that they’re still at the top of their game, cranking out distorted ragers with the vigor and vitriol of bands half their age. This live performance is a rare treat for the punk rockers of Richmond–don’t miss it.
UK punkers Thisclose are also on the bill, doing an entire US tour with Active Minds to celebrate the recent release of a split EP between the two bands. Thisclose are definitely going for that whole D-beat thing–their name is a pun on classic D-beat band Disclose, whose name was itself a pun on D-beat originators Discharge–and have some, it must be said, insanely high-pitched vocals from singer Rodney Shades. They make it work, though, and the riffs are every bit as pummeling as you’d hope. Montreal punk ragers Dethfox are on tour as well, and hit town on the same night as Active Minds, meaning you’ll get a bonus dose of raging noisy punk, with a bit of a spooky edge, as part of this whole affair. And that’s not to mention sets from local punks Orgasm and Baltimore’s Humanmania, which will make the whole night a kind of embarrassment of punk rock riches.
Monday, July 6, 9 PM
Nude Photos Of Celebrities (Photo by Shawnee Custalow), Tamarron, Skirts @ Strange Matter – $8
For a band that have been around for nearly a decade, Nude Photos Of Celebrities have had a pretty low profile on the Richmond scene over the past few years. However, they’re coming out big with the release of their new EP, Victuals, for which they’re headlining a record release show at Strange Matter on Monday. The group consists of two musicians: Andrew Dow Owens sings and creates the primary melodies, while Zachary Kojoyian puts together the beats and loops running in the background (at least, this is what I think they mean by crediting Owens with “analog” and Kojoyian with “digital” on their website… let me know if I’m misinterpreting). The result is spooky and isolated-sounding, with the same sort of vibe that’s generated by Xiu Xiu on a great deal of their work, as well as an 80s postpunk/coldwave vibe that runs through the tunes I’ve heard. How this will all come across live is a bit of a mystery as yet, but it promises to be engaging and mysterious–certainly something worth spending your Monday night investigating.
Hailing from Austin Texas, Tamarron have a sun-baked desert psychedelic sound going on, which is relatively predictable considering their hometown. They’ll be coming through on tour and playing a set that shows off their self-proclaimed “dad rock” inclinations. They’re attempting to reclaim this pejorative term–their most recent EP, which came out only a couple of weeks ago, is even called Dadrock, and it features a cover of lite-rock radio staple “I Saw The Light” by Todd Rundgren–as well as some pretty heavy use of phaser pedals, because after all, they are still very psychedelic. Rounding out the bill is Skirts, a synth-based disco project headed up by Ken Hicks and sometimes featuring vocals from Toxic Moxie’s Sera Stavroula, among others. They’ll be laying down some cool 70s-Italian-horror-soundtrack sounds to give this show some proper vibes.
Tuesday, July 7, 9 PM
Heaters (Photo by Shutter Sam Photography), Moonwalks, Candy Spots, Bummer’s Eve @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets here: https://heaters.eventbrite.com/)
Tuesday night will feature some major garage-rockin’ sounds blasting forth from the walls of Strange Matter, and you should definitely be inside the club to appreciate the full force of what these bands have in store for you. Heaters are your headliners, and this relatively new band hailing from the surprising garage-rock mecca that is Michigan have a couple of kickass EPs out demonstrating their style in more than adequate fashion. The “Mean Green”/”Levitate Thigh” single, recently released by hip Brooklyn label Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, will rock your face off with it’s lo-fi riff wreckage, and chances are Heaters will do that same thing for 30 minutes or more once they hit the stage at Smatter on Tuesday night.
They’re accompanied on tour by fellow Michiganers Moonwalks, who are a bit less raw in their approach, and feature more of a postpunk vibe to their recent material, but nonetheless have plenty of rock power lurking in their sound. If some sort of dark 80s goth-punk and late 60s psych combination doesn’t sound too weird to you, chances are you’ll get a big kick out of Moonwalks. Locals Candy Spots, who apparently no longer have a Trillions connection but still write catchy tunes regardless of pedigree, will also appear on this bill, along with Bummer’s Eve, whose band name is awesome and whose catchy surf-garage tunes are even awesomer. If you dig no-frills rock n’ roll, this is the show for you.
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