RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 7/30-8/5

by | Jul 30, 2014 | SHOW PICKS

Tuesday, August 5, 5 PM
Foxing (Photo by Sam Leathers), The Hotelier, Little Big League, Boxer @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets here: http://foxing.eventbrite.com)

I’ve talked before about how many awesome metal shows come through RVA on a regular basis, but metal is not the only genre that enjoys a high profile in our relatively small city.

Tuesday, August 5, 5 PM
Foxing (Photo by Sam Leathers), The Hotelier, Little Big League, Boxer @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets here: http://foxing.eventbrite.com)

I’ve talked before about how many awesome metal shows come through RVA on a regular basis, but metal is not the only genre that enjoys a high profile in our relatively small city. Over the past couple of years, there’s been a renaissance in the emo genre, with things finally moving beyond the days of endless Taking Back Sunday and Brand New retreads into simultaneously newer and older sounds and influences. The big music mags call this stuff an “emo revival,” and I’m not too cool to admit that such a revival is right up my alley. Whether the catchphrase is really being applied fairly is another question; for one thing, even as teenagers embrace the marketing hooks and dudes like me who are too old to give a fuck about stupid genre tags perk up our ears at sounds familiar from our own bygone teenage days, there are plenty of ultracool twentysomethings out there who won’t touch anything labeled “emo” with a ten-foot pole. For another thing, regardless of any 90s influence that may show up in music like this (and I admit there’s a fair bit), the bands involved in this supposed revival are doing more to advance the sound into previously unexplored territory than any trendy genre tag would have you believe.

The point here is that you should not talk yourself into being too cool for the show coming to Strange Matter next Tuesday. Sure, Foxing and The Hotelier have been slotted firmly into the “emo revival” lane by trendpiece after trendpiece, and those trendpieces were probably my initial reason for even knowing who they are. But both bands have a lot to recommend them regardless of what trends they are or are not a part of. Foxing’s most recent LP, The Albatross, incorporates post-rock, electronica, and whatever the heck recent Radiohead albums would be considered into a fundamentally emotional base for a softer, more melodic version of that post-hardcore/post-rock hybrid we’ve all gotten to know from recent The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die records. Plus, they’re capable of transitioning from a math-jazz interlude (complete with horns) to a classic screaming crescendo without ever disrupting the layered atmosphere they create. This is gonna sound great live, I have no doubt.

And then there’s The Hotelier. This already-awesome band, formerly known as The Hotel Year, took things to the next level this year with their long-awaited new album, Home Like Noplace Is There. Songs like “Life In Drag” and “Your Deep Rest” combine memorable choruses with dark, revelatory lyrics about important personal issues that go beyond any of the adolescent lost-love topics all those Warped Tour bands from a decade ago couldn’t shut up about. The breadth of their musical range, as displayed on these songs, indicates a level of musical talent just as well-developed as their lyrical prowess. You certainly won’t get bored during this band’s set, and singing along with their lyrics will give you plenty to think about as well. In addition to these excellent bands, the show will also feature sets from melodic punk geniuses Little Big League, who hail from Philly, and RVA’s own Boxer. The show starts early, so swing by on your way home from work. This genre is producing a ton of great bands right at this very moment, and you don’t want to be looking back in a decade or two thinking about how you could have seen them but went home and watched the evening news instead, do you? These are the days, folks–don’t miss them.

Wednesday, July 30, 10 PM
Radio Rubber Room Presents Industry Standard, Grave Hooker, American Gothic @ Emilio’s – Free!

The tireless local music evangelists at Radio Rubber Room are rolling on with their every-other-week (is that biweekly or bimonthly? Fortnightly?) showcases at Emilio’s, where they bring together RVA musicians of all genres under one metaphorical big tent for a fun, friendly night of rock n’ roll. These nights are always a great way to enjoy local bands you might not be all that familiar with yet, and of course the Radio Rubber Room crew consists of some of the friendliest people in the entire scene, so you’re guaranteed to make some new acquaintances. This week’s edition starts tonight at 10 PM and features some heavy boogie grooves from Industry Standard, a local trio who’ve tapped into that chooglin’ proto-metal vein once explored by legends like Blue Cheer, Cactus, and Grand Funk Railroad–without crossing the line into Bad Company-style butt-rock. Get ready to headbang hard to these guys.

Grave Hooker are a bit more mysterious. They’ve started a bit of an under-the-radar buzz in the local metal scene, and with their mysterious online presence making them seem like some weird hybrid of Charley Patton and EyeHateGod, it’s tough to know exactly what to expect from their live performances. But it’s easy (and cheap, this being a free show and all) to find out for yourself, so why not give it a whirl? The evening will kick off with some gloomy folk-rock from brand new locals American Gothic, who presumably will not be toting pitchforks onstage (though how cool would that be?). On the whole, it’s gonna be an evening in which friends, partying, and total heaviness all come together under the roof of the Fan’s favorite tapas bar–what’s not to love?

Thursday, July 31, 8 PM
Jerkagram, Energy 2000, The Moonbees, Whatever @ Strange Matter – $5

There’s a lot of weird music out there in the world, and it’s been heartening in recent months to see that weird music is gaining a foothold in the RVA scene. I’m not just talking about noise, either (though that’s definitely part of it)–I’m talking about strange combos with unconventional instrumentation, at least for a rock band, which play bizarre, unpredictable music. The sort of stuff that can usually be categorized only under the catchall of “postpunk,” or even “post-rock” (and let’s be real, neither of those genre terms really tell you much). This Thursday night, Strange Matter is going to be a focal point for this sort of music, as Brooklyn’s Jerkagram will bring their off-kilter noise rock to town. This band is made up of two fraternal twins–Derek on guitar/vocals, Brent on drums–who start with heavy, pounding riffs and then take those riffs off to the wild blue yonder. Their most recent EP, Tired Old Horseshit, features three songs that take up a total of 25 minutes; the first is a relatively straightforward riff-monster, but by the end of the EP, all sorts of side trips and unexpected instrumentation have been incorporated. Expect all of that and more from the band’s unpredictable live performance. All you weird-music fans should get a kick out of it.

There’ll be three other bands on this bill dishing out varying shades of weird over the course of the evening as well. Energy 2000 are an instrumental quintet from here in Richmond, who create pleasant ambient soundscapes starring jazzy guitars and samples from broadcasts relating to the space program. I’m not sure if they’ll be bringing their space tapes along with them to Strange Matter, but their music is a blissful interlude that’ll have you closing your eyes and swaying regardless, so either way you should be fine. The RVA/Charlottesville band The Moonbees have a very wide range of sounds at their disposal, from psych-folk to electric blues and beyond–but all of them are awesome. And finally, instrumental trio Whatever, who’ve got that herky-jerky instrumental noise-core thing going on, will open up. It’s gonna get weird at Strange Matter Thursday night, but that’s a good thing, so show up and enjoy the strangeness!

Friday, August 1, 5 PM
Frameworks, Muscle & Bone, Young & Heartless, Springtime @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: http://frameworksrva.eventbrite.com/)

Obviously this whole “emo revival” thing is at a critical point–after all, everything I wrote in the feature show section of this week’s column could just as easily apply here. Frameworks are coming out of Gainesville, Florida with a new album called Loom that just dropped in April, and they’re definitely lighting up crowds of teenagers hungry for emotionally-driven excitement with their dramatic guitar arpeggios and passionate, screamed vocals. They’ve got some really great songs on this album, which was released by tastemaking label Topshelf, so if it’s taking them to the next level right now, it’s not just because they managed to get the right people backing them. Frameworks have got the goods, and if next Tuesday’s double-shot of emo revival intensity isn’t enough for you, there’s plenty more happening where that came from on Friday night at Strange Matter. I for one can’t wait.

Frameworks will be joined by a few other bands with the same sort of musical mission, and just because none of the others have hit Topshelf level yet doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time. Asheville’s Muscle & Bone have a smoother, more melodic take on the emo thing than Frameworks, but their songs have the melodies and melodrama to distinguish them from the crowd and make for a great show. Young & Heartless are coming from central PA with a folk-infused take on the whole emo thing that actually lands them somewhere near Counting Crows–and if you think that’s a dis, you need to go stand in a corner with a dunce cap on until you recognize the brilliance of Recovering The Satellites. Finally, RVA’s own Springtime will bring you their gruff, energetic take on late 80s emotional hardcore–think Dag Nasty mixed with Merel (I know you don’t know who Merel is… sigh. Here, click this). The days of two shows a week featuring touring post-hardcore/emo bands will not last forever, so let’s all enjoy them while they’re here, right? See you at Smatter on Friday.

Saturday, August 2, 10 PM
Western Medication, Hard Dads, Nervous Ticks @ 25 Watt – Free!

Hey, check it out, a new space is doing shows in Richmond! This is always a positive development, and I suppose with Kingdom defunct, there’s a hole in the Shockoe Bottom area that a new venue can definitely step into. But it seems that 25 Watt, a new bar on 18th St. in the heart of the Bottom, is taking more of a DIY/punk route–which is always a good thing. Now if the punks will just ride their bikes down the hill from the Fan and Church Hill, maybe this place could become a really hoppin’ spot. They’re starting off well with this particular booking on Saturday night. Nashville group Western Medication, who are on awesome garage-punk label Jeffrey Drag and are just the latest band to confirm that Nashville is as much of a hotspot for underground punk these days as it is for mainstream country, will be bringing their postpunk rock n’ roll to 25 Watt and rockin’ the place hard. I’ve heard the comparisons to early Wire, and they make sense, but I also get a major Jay Reatard vibe from these guys. I guess what I’m saying is that you can expect short, sharp shocks of melodic but raging punk n’ roll from this band.

Baltimore’s Hard Dads have something similar in store for ya. These guys get a bit more distorted with it, maybe pulling from AC/DC more than Wire, but either way it’s hard-charging rock n’ roll, and there’s never anything wrong with that. The local representation on this bill comes from Nervous Ticks, who are primitive enough to make the early Cramps seem like a super-polished mainstream-friendly act. If you haven’t seen these guys bust out their washtub drum kit and duct-taped harmonica mic for a set of extremely gritty and powerful bare-bones proto-punk rockin’, you’ve been missing the boat for way too long to have any excuse. Get your ass to 25 Watt this Saturday night, check out this venue’s wares, and finally figure out what the heck the Nervous Ticks are about. That bike ride isn’t gonna suck until you’re on your way home, and that’s hours from now, so why worry about it?

Sunday, August 3, 9 PM
Whores, American Sharks, Hex Machine @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets here: https://whores.eventbrite.com/)

OK, it’s time for me to nag y’all about another band that has come through RVA in the relatively recent past. Whores were just here back at the beginning of April with Fight Amp, and it is my fervent hope that at least some of you made it out for that show. These Atlanta boys have done a couple of really amazing EPs over the past few years, and 2013’s Clean was one of my favorites of the year. I will acknowledge that it’s a bit weird when a band gives themselves a name like Whores, but these guys showed a real facility for song titles, at least, on Clean. “I Am Not A Goal-Oriented Person” was probably my favorite song title of that year, honestly, and the song itself ruled every bit as much as its title; it’s all sludgy, ominous bass, headbanging guitar grooves, and screaming. So good. If you missed them before, you need to avoid making that same mistake twice in less than six months. And if you did see them, you know how awesome it’s gonna be, so you really have no excuse.

Austin’s American Sharks are also on this bill, and these guys are here to demonstrate that it’s possible to play fast stoner-rock riffs and still be awesome. The cover of their self-titled LP from last year depicts two monsters wrecking a musclecar while drinking booze and smoking what might be a joint; I’d say that’s a pretty accurate reflection of the music you’ll get when these guys hit the stage, so this is definitely not a case of false advertising. Expect a cross between the Hellacopters and Fu Manchu, and you’ll definitely be prepared for this band. Hex Machine open this whole thing up with their Barkmarket/Jesus Lizard-style noise rock awesomeness, and that’s always a treat.

Monday, August 4, 10 PM
Soft Time, Carrion Spring, The Sky Above And Earth Below @ En Su Boca – Price at door

OK, let me start by pointing out that this show is at a taco place. That’s reason enough for me to go right there, but I can imagine that some of you will want to hear about the actual music that’s going to be happening. And that’s fair, I can do that. I’m just sayin, there will be tacos. I’m already stoked.

In all reality, I’m just as stoked for the bands playing this show, particularly RVA’s own Soft Time. This is a post-Catalyst project, and as that band was pretty much my favorite RVA band of the past decade, I’m definitely excited to see what all of the members get up to now that they’ve broken up. Soft Time features former Catalyst drummer Kevin Broderick stepping out from behind the kit to play guitar and sing for a quartet bashing out some chunky proto-grunge riffing of the sort that Mudhoney and The Melvins both dabbled in back in the late 80s. They’ve got that powerful low-end thud as well as some of the more ambient elements from The Catalyst’s best work in place, but this is an entirely new project with some really interesting songs, and you should get in on the ground floor and see them now when you can still squeeze into the front row at their shows.

Two touring bands, both from Portland(ia), are also on this bill, and both of them lean in the post-hardcore/emo direction. Carrion Spring are way too heavy and energetic to fit into that whole emo revival wave, though. Instead, I’d say these guys will appeal much more to the sort of kids who loved Funeral Diner and Gospel back when they were around. Tangled guitars, complex drumming, and plenty of screamed crescendos. This is gonna be awesome. Touring partners The Sky Above And Earth Below have a similar thing going on, though I hear a bit more of the vaguely melodic intensity delivered by bands like Daitro or even early Hopesfall. Every band on this bill is gonna be awesome, and eating tacos is going to be just as awesome. I can’t wait for this one.

Tuesday, August 5, 8 PM
Kinky Friedman @ Ashland Coffee And Tea – $35 in advance, $40 day of show (order tickets HERE)

And now for something completely different, but impossible to skip over. Do you young whippersnappers even know about Kinky Friedman? This crazy cigar-smoking Texan has been unleashing his sharp-tongued wit through country music, detective novels, satirical columns, and more for over 40 years now. He first garnered widespread fame with his band Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys (probably a play on Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys), whose humorous material was un-PC in a Frank Zappa-ish fashion, eventually leading to their Austin City Limits episode being the only one that never aired due to provocative content. By the 80s, Friedman had turned his attention to writing, and began publishing detective novels starring a fictionalized version of himself. Recently, he’s thrown his hat into the political ring a couple of times as well, taking part in a chaotic four-way race for Governor of Texas in 2006–which basically paved the way for Rick Perry to become governor of Texas with only 39% of the vote, so that is probably a strike against him.

OK, so you probably don’t want to vote for Kinky in an election. But seeing him perform his unique brand of iconoclastic, hilarious country music is a much safer bet, and he’ll be doing so next Tuesday out at Ashland Coffee & Tea. He’s on tour without a backing band, and his solo act is in support not of a new album but a new book, The Billy Bob Tapes. Yes, Friedman recently got together with Billy Bob Thornton to put together a book detailing the legendarily maniacal actor’s life and times, which comes complete with a forward from Thornton’s lovely and talented ex-wife, Angelina Jolie. Ms. Jolie won’t be on hand to sign copies of The Billy Bob Tapes, but I’d think Friedman will do in a pinch, and he’ll be dishing out some fun, amusing tunes in the bargain. So if you’re in the mood for some laughs, head a short way up 95 Tuesday night and check out Kinky Friedman at Ashland Coffee & Tea. It’s guaranteed to be a memorable night.

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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