Saturday, August 1, 9 PM
ANIMAL Presents Home Body, Toxic Moxie, Skirts, DJ Connie Sue @ Strange Matter – $8
ANIMAL’s pretty great, you guys.
Saturday, August 1, 9 PM
ANIMAL Presents Home Body, Toxic Moxie, Skirts, DJ Connie Sue @ Strange Matter – $8
ANIMAL’s pretty great, you guys. This venue-hopping monthly dance night is not only the most inclusive but the most fun opportunity to get your groove on that this city has to offer. Its emphasis on being queer-friendly helps ensure that people of all types are welcome on the dance floor, but the real reason dancers of all genders and persuasions flock to the dance floor whenever ANIMAL throws a party is because the music is always great. Plus the atmosphere is outstandingly weird every time (they were playing Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain on repeat on a big screen overlooking the dance floor last time I went, if that gives you any idea).
This particular edition of ANIMAL is upping the ante by mixing the usual dancefloor explosion with live music of the highest caliber. Massachusetts electro/goth-pop duo Home Body are coming through town and joining forces with ANIMAL ringleader DJ Connie Sue to bring us a fantabulous night of darkly catchy tuneage. Home Body gets spooky and catchy with sounds that are reminiscent of classic 80s releases on 4AD crossed with Goldfrapp… or at least that’s the vibe I’m getting. Word has it they’ve got a pretty memorable onstage presence as well, so they’ll certainly be worth catching live.
They’ll be joined by some similarly minded Richmond bands that will certainly help keep everyone dancing. “Dirty disco punks” Toxic Moxie are currently putting the finishing touches on their debut full-length, and while it won’t be out in time for this show, you can expect some killer new jams as well as old favorites you’ve come to love over the past couple of years. Skirts will feature synth master Ken Hicks and his trusty tiger mask laying down some ominous vibes that’ll have you dancing like you’re in the opening scene of that 80s vampire movie The Hunger–and if you’re lucky, Toxic Moxie singer Sera Stavroula will join him for some choice guest vocals. Of course, DJ Connie Sue will get things started with a great set of tunes to warm you up and get you moving. Let’s dance.
Wednesday, July 29, 7:30 PM
Wildhoney, Positive No, Plain Scrap @ Gallery 5 – $8
Oh hey, Wildhoney is back. This is good news; earlier this year, when this Baltimore quintet headlined a weeknight bill at Strange Matter, I actually managed to drag myself out of the house and see the action go down. Boy was that a great set. I picked up a cassette containing their excellent first two EPs at the show that night, and since then, they’ve released a full-length entitled Sleep Through It, which mixes a couple of the best EP tracks with some incredible new tunes for a solid half-hour of indie-pop awesomeness. This group is not afraid to incorporate fuzz-noise guitar blasts a la My Bloody Valentine into their insanely tuneful sounds as well, so if you’ve wondered in the past what Alvvays or Joanna Gruesome might sound like if they were just a bit heavier, you’ve really got to check this band out. Once you hear them, you won’t forget them.
Positive No are another unforgettable band on this bill, and this one is from right here in Richmond VA. Singer Tracy Wilson and guitarist Kenneth Close have had a heck of a time enlisting a full-time rhythm section, but with the recent additions of bassist Sadie Powers (Dead Fame) and drummer James O’Neill (Hoax Hunters/Snowy Owls), they just might have pulled together their best lineup yet. Their powerful melodies and layered, complex song structures make this band a true standout, and I have a feeling once their debut full-length, Glossa, hits the streets later this year, they’ll be unstoppable. Jump on the Positive No bandwagon now if you haven’t already. Brand new local garage punk group Plain Scrap will kick this evening off. Dig it.
Thursday, July 30, 9 PM
Lycosa, The Ravenna Arsenal, Book Of Wyrms @ Emilio’s – $5
There are a bunch of old 90s RVA punk/metal heads who got really stoked when they saw this lineup, and I’m gonna have to let all of them down. No, this is not a reunion of classic RVA power-violence group Lycosa. I’d be just as stoked about that as all of you, believe me; however, I can’t be too bummed about this show, because Pittsburgh’s Lycosa are a pretty great band in their own right. Blending some prime headbanging thrash riffs with elements drawn from death metal, grindcore, and crushing sludge, this band is a powerful shock to the system. Their ridiculously chaotic vocals are a personal favorite element of their sound, but everything they’ve got to offer is sure to please metalheads of all stripes. So don’t weep for Lycobra Command, y’all–just come check out an awesome new band with a familiar name.
And while you’re at it, you’ll be able to rock to the psychedelic stoner grooves of The Ravenna Arsenal. This Ohio band has tinges of all those doom riffs that are so popular these days, but they keep things interesting by incorporating some dark, acid-tinged proto-metal vibes that call to mind the fuzzy downer vibes of bands like Blue Cheer and Black Widow. I’m into it. Finally, of course, there’s Book Of Wyrms, a band that’s brand new to the RVA scene but has gotten a lot of notice, possibly due to the fact that Sounds Of RVA head honcho Sarah Moore Lindsey is in the lead vocal position–not to mention the fact that she’s backed by members of talented local metal groups Bearstorm and Divine Suffering. Get ready for some serious slow-motion headbangs during this band’s set–you won’t be able to resist.
Friday, July 31, 5:30 PM
Julie Karr, Manzara, Father Sunflower & The Golden Rays @ Hardywood – Free!
Oh hey, look who’s back in town! Singer-songwriter Julie Karr, who started bringing her magical, hypnotic solo performances to RVA stages nearly a decade ago, left the local vicinity to return to her native Florida a couple of years ago. However, she’s recently put together a new EP, Let’s Exchange The Experience, which has just been released on always-stellar local label Bad Grrrl Records. In celebration of its release, Karr will return to Richmond this Friday night for a highly-anticipated local performance at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.
My colleague Brad Kutner compared her music to Cat Power recently, and I would have to agree; the new EP features a ton of atmosphere and that same pensive, melancholy vibe that has always permeated Karr’s work. All that reverb can sort of disguise the fact that she’s an absolutely incredible singer, though. You won’t be able to ignore her powerful voice when you see her play live, I can promise you that much. Whether you’re totally new to the musical magic of Julie Karr or you’ve seen her play over a dozen times, you really should catch this rare local appearance, especially considering this show is free. With opening sets from Manzara, featuring members of Canary Oh Canary and Four Hundred Years doing some driving postpunk; and Father Sunflower & The Golden Rays, in which members of Antlers and Palindrone engage in psychedelic explorations; this bill is stacked from top to bottom. Come enjoy the tunes, and spend your money on tasty craft beers.
Saturday, August 1, 9 PM
Muerte, Zeitgeist, Lotus Fucker, Asylum @ 25 Watt – $8
Let’s all head down to 25 Watt this Saturday night for some gnarly punk rock action! With Mexican punks Muerte coming to town, there’s plenty of reason to get stoked. This band dishes out some black-clad noise punk chaos, complete with reverb-laden vocals that I kinda can’t imagine they’ll recreate live (though who knows–I’ve seen stranger). They’re joined by Zeitgeist, a Pittsburgh punk band who veer away from the total chaos route in order to incorporate some melody into their vocals and riffing. They kinda remind me of the first couple of X albums at points, though this band is a lot tougher than that–would a Runaways comparison be out of line, in light of recent revelations? I hope not…
Baltimore noise mavens Lotus Fucker are also on this bill, and even the toughest among you better bring earplugs for their set. This band, who engage in some pretty serious Japanese hardcore worship, are really into assaulting the ears of all who care to listen with some seriously overdriven treble damage. I can get down with that, especially when the riffs and the rage are as high-quality as what Lotus Fucker has to offer. RVA locals Asylum are prepared to offer some pretty serious Motorhead/Discharge-style UK hardcore rage as well, and you should definitely go see them kick out the jams (even if their drummer does think I’m a poser). Mensroom had to cancel, so you’re only getting four bands for your $8, but if you don’t think that’s still an excellent deal, you’re probably even more broke than I am–and that would take some doing.
Sunday, August 2, 9 PM
Radioactivity, Cloak/Dagger, Sundials, Cherry Pits @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://radioactivity.eventbrite.com/)
Here’s some good news–Radioactivity is coming to town! This Texas punk band is led by Jeff Burke, who won a lot of fans during his time with The Marked Men. And for good reason–his incredibly infectious songwriting straddles the line between upbeat pop-punk and snotty garage-rock. Silent Kill, the brand new full-length from Radioactivity, is chock full of toe-tapping tunes that in all reality are gonna get a lot more movement out of you than that. In fact, if you aren’t fully jumping up and down in the classic late 70s “pogo” fashion as soon as this band gets rolling on Sunday evening, it’ll probably be because you just drank too much beer too early in the show. Don’t blow it by blowin’ chunks, y’all–just pace yourselves so you can get maximum enjoyment out of this set. Because there’s gonna be a ton of fun to be had while Radioactivity is on stage, that much I can guarantee you.
There’ll be some great local openers on this bill, most of whom shouldn’t even need an introduction at this point. After all, what Richmond inhabitant isn’t familiar by now with Cloak/Dagger? This band of hardcore vets, featuring members of Count Me Out, Majority Rule, and American Nightmare, among others, have been cranking out garage-infused blasts of hardcore punk energy for nearly a decade now, and they’re still doing an awesome job at it, even if they haven’t released a new record in five years. Sundials are fresh off a European tour, and recently expanded their lineup with the addition of Springtime’s Chris Carreon on second guitar, so their beefed-up but still catchy sound is sure to get you dancing. The evening begins with a set by Cherry Pits, a new punk n’ roll group featuring members of the Nervous Ticks, the Eurotics, and other well-known punk rock bands from around town. This show is gonna be sweet–you should really be there.
Monday, August 3, 8 PM
Flesh World, Sealion, The Milkstains @ Strange Matter – $8
Everyone who’s keeping track of the best new bands on the come-up in the underground postpunk scene is bound to be stoked about this show. Flesh World have been getting a serious buzz for a while now, and their recent LP The Wild Animals In My Life shows exactly why. Its gothic vibes split the difference between the bands that make up Flesh World’s disparate pedigree: to wit, singer/guitarist Jess Scott used to be in indie-pop group Brilliant Colors, while guitarist/keyboardist Scott Moore is a member of queer fastcore legends Limp Wrist. The combined powers of these two experienced players, plus a dynamite rhythm section, produces an album full of tense atmospheres and entrancing minor-key melodies. And once Flesh World takes the Strange Matter stage, they’re sure to envelop the entire room within their dark ambience.
The other two bands on the bill are less dark and more garage. Sealion hail from Texas and aren’t afraid of some serious guitar twang/rumble. If you find yourself thinking of Link Wray or Duane Eddy while listening to this band, I know exactly where you’re coming from. At the same time, there’s a surf-swept garage/pop vibe happening here, which makes me think of Dick Dale at some points and the Beach Boys at others. Regardless, their tunes are always fun. RVA maniacs The Milkstains have more surf-influenced fun for ya, though they tend to alternate from song to song between punk-tinged surf excursions and grungy Nirvana-influenced punk. None of this is a bad thing, of course, so come out to Strange Matter Monday night and get ready to rock.
Tuesday, August 4, 9 PM
From Fragile Seeds, Vasudeva, Winning The Loser’s Bracket, Gauna 491 @ Strange Matter – $5
If you’re in the mood for some complex, melodic post-hardcore, From Fragile Seeds has the cure for what ails you this Tuesday night at Strange Matter. I for one am still really stoked about this band’s latest LP, Myth And Ceremony, but from what I hear, they’re already starting to work on even more new material. Considering they’ve finally solidified their lineup and done some significant touring behind the new LP, it makes a lot of sense, and it might be fun to see if they debut any new songs at this show. However, even if they don’t, the new album is still an incredible piece of work, and we could all do a lot worse than getting to hear its excellent tunes performed live several more times. Either way, seeing these guys play live is always a good decision.
From Fragile Seeds are joined this time around by Vasudeva, an instrumental trio from New Jersey who’ve clearly come from the post-hardcore/math-rock world, but get downright proggy at times with their catchy, virtuosic, yet not overly flashy tunes. There are so many intricacies of melody, rhythm, and timing in all of their songs that you’ll never wonder why they lack a vocalist. By the end of the night, you’re sure to be humming one of their many excellent melodies as you make your way home. A duo of local duos will kick off this bill: Winning The Loser’s Bracket have some catchy pop-punk tunes for you all, while Gauna 491 get heavier and more experimental with the whole guitar/drum thing. Both of these bands are well worth hearing, though, so make sure you show up on time.
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