RVA shows you must see this week: 8/27 – 9/2

by | Aug 27, 2014 | SHOW PICKS

Wednesday, August 27, 7 PM
DJ Abilities, PremRock, Jake Spike, The Honorable Sleaze, Digipossum @ The Canal Club – $8 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)

I hope RVA hip hop heads appreciate what a great time this is for live hip hop in this city. I can’t remember anytime before the last couple of years when there were so many great nationally-known artists coming through the city–to say nothing of how great the local scene is right now. It’s a great time to be alive and loving hip hop, and the arrival of DJ Abilities on a stage in this town tonight is just the latest example of why that’s true.

Wednesday, August 27, 7 PM
DJ Abilities, PremRock, Jake Spike, The Honorable Sleaze, Digipossum @ The Canal Club – $8 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)

I hope RVA hip hop heads appreciate what a great time this is for live hip hop in this city. I can’t remember anytime before the last couple of years when there were so many great nationally-known artists coming through the city–to say nothing of how great the local scene is right now. It’s a great time to be alive and loving hip hop, and the arrival of DJ Abilities on a stage in this town tonight is just the latest example of why that’s true. Abilities got his first taste of fame backing up the late MC Eyedea, but he’s carried on in the years since Eyedea passed away as a solo DJ, an arena in which he excels. The last time I remember Abilities coming through town was back in 2011, accompanied by several of his fellow Rhymesayers artists–including Atmosphere, whom he has also backed up in the past.

Abilities’ sets at The National back in 2011 was incredible, and not just because it was loud as fuck. It showcased the DJ’s eclectic sensibility and interest in all sorts of music, from every era of hip hop to styles of music well outside the bounds of that genre. He’s put this wide-ranging sensibility on display in his recent years as a solo artist on DJ mixes he’s released online, the most recent of which is this spring’s “The Blends.” If that mix is any kind of predictor as to what we can expect when he takes the stage at The Canal Club tonight, then you can be sure Abilities will play at least a couple of tunes you would never expect, right alongside quite a few hip hop classics.

But this won’t just be an evening of beat-juggling for the turntable nerds to geek out about–this is hip hop, and plenty of rapping will be going on. Abilities is accompanied on tour by New York MC PremRock, whose dark, heavy style lands somewhere between the operatic crime stories of Mobb Deep and the hard-edged dystopian sounds of El-P. Jake Spike will also be along, and this Colorado artist uses turntables and an MPC to create live instrumental beats on the fly. More catnip for you DJ nerds. Locals The Honorable Sleaze and Digipossum will kick off this night of hip hop madness. Get ready to do your job on three hours of sleep tomorrow, because tonight you’ll be dancing til the wee hours of the morning.

Wednesday, August 27, 7 PM
Mouth Of The Architect, Set And Setting, Inter Arma @ Gallery 5 – $8

Meanwhile, all you metalheads out there have known for a long time that RVA’s a great place to see both local and nationally-known metal bands. Therefore, I assume all of you are already planning to head up to Gallery 5 this evening to see the best of both worlds on one stage. Ohio’s Mouth Of The Architect have been given the “post-metal” tag plenty of times, which I assume is due to their resemblance to the seafaring epics of Isis and mid-period Mastodon. However, I must say, having seen them several years ago when they came through town with Unsane, and having heard their latest album, Dawning, I really just hear metal when I listen to this band. The riffs are slow and lumbering, and really do make me think of a pirate ship cresting the waves on a dark, stormy night, but the pounding drums, pulverizing bass, roaring vocals, and blazing guitars this band has in their arsenal all add up to a brutal listening experience–even if it is the kind of brutality hipsters sometimes enjoy. There’ll probably be some nerds with short hair and Pelican t-shirts at Gallery 5 tonight, but those of you in denim vests with Venom backpatches need not fear. All be washed away in a cleansing wave of heaviness tonight.

Set And Setting will be on the bill as well, and this instrumental band from Florida are certainly a challenging listening experience, landing somewhere between the aforementioned Pelican and Explosions In The Sky on the post-metal/post-rock spectrum. However, if anything they will make for a pleasant interlude between Mouth Of The Architect and one of the best metal bands to come out of RVA in years. That’s right, folks, Inter Arma is kicking this show off, and if you know anything about Richmond metal, you know that means you need to get to this show on time. In the wake of their acclaimed Relapse LP, Sky Burial, they are preparing to release an EP in October that should knock everyone on their asses. “The Cavern” is a single 40-minute song that one must assume is Inter Arma’s very own “Dopesmoker.” I’d say you might get a preview of this upcoming EP by coming out to Gallery 5 tonight, but if Inter Arma plays “The Cavern” tonight, it’ll almost certainly be their whole set. Which could be awesome, actually. Whatever they’ve got in store for you, it’s guaranteed to rule regardless, so show up and see what these local heroes have to offer.

Thursday, August 28, 5 PM
Benjamin Shepherd, Shannon Cleary, Patrick Bates @ Monument City Coffee & Records – Free!

It’s a particularly active Wednesday this week, so after it’s over, you might need a more casual and fun show to shake things up. If so, Monument City Coffee has just what the doctor ordered–a free show featuring two singer-songwriters and a teller of humorous stories, kicking off at 5 PM and ending by 8 so you can get home and head to bed early! Benjamin Shepherd’s been playing shows around the RVA area for a while, always these same sorts of solo acoustic gigs that let you hear the words he’s singing and allow for an intimate interaction between performer and audience. Shepherd thrives in these situations, to the point that he actually recorded his recent album, Eleven For The Road, live in one take before a small audience at Montrose Studios. It was a good move, with the album capturing the magic of his performances and also giving new listeners a very accurate taste of what they’ll get from Shepherd in a live setting. So check out the album today, then come see him play tomorrow.

Listening to Shannon Cleary (who is a regular RVA Mag contributor but has no idea I’m writing this) will also be a lot of fun. If you know Shannon, you know that he’s living a pretty interesting life, and has a unique view on the world around him. That worldview sometimes comes through in a humorous fashion when you’re just having a casual conversation with him, so I can imagine that seeing him tell stories onstage will be very amusing. I’m definitely interested to see what he’ll come up with. Finally, Patrick Bates (aka Patrick Ball) will be playing this show, and this local soundman has a pretty excellent grasp on gorgeous pop music. Come see what sorts of beautiful melodies he has for you tomorrow night. And while you’re at it, get some delicious food and beverages, and check out Monument City’s potpourri of used vinyl for sale. It’ll be fun!

Friday, August 29, 5 PM
Way Shape Or Form (EP Release Party), Anousheh, Clair Morgan @ Hardywood – Free!

Troy Gatrell, the mastermind behind Way Shape Or Form, is the sort of genius able to create albums full of interlocking instrumentation featuring complex melodies that weave in and out of each other, all of which he records himself in his bedroom. He’s been doing a good bit of that lately (a video was making the rounds in which he records himself playing vibraphone on an already-complex tune) in pursuit of the follow-up to WSOF’s 2012 LP, Person Place Or Thing. Known simply as EP2, this short-form release will reach the public’s ears this Friday, and Gatrell and co. will be celebrating its arrival into the world with a free afternoon show at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. While, as far as I know, the EP will be a digital-only release, this will give confirmed fans and curious newcomers the chance to check out some new Way Shape Or Form material in a live setting–and to enjoy food trucks and beer in the bargain. Can’t beat that!

Way Shape Or Form aren’t the only excellent group from RVA’s indie-rock scene who’ll be performing at Hardywood this Friday. Singer-songwriter-pianist Anousheh will be on hand as well, and she and her backing band will have a great selection of tunes both familiar and new. Anousheh’s got her own album in the works, which was successfully crowdfunded earlier this year and should reach the world at large by November; she’s already been adding songs from that collection to her live repertoire, so Friday’s show should act as a preview for that release as well. Finally, Clair Morgan and his backing band of capable RVA musicians will bring his personal brand of melodic indie pop-rock to life for your listening pleasure. If you haven’t caught these dudes yet, you need to fix that. And why not do it while drinking one of Hardywood’s fine craft beverages? It’ll be the perfect end to your work week–and the perfect start to Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 30, 9 PM
Oblivionation, Creeping Dose, Cretins, Firing Squad @ 25 Watt – $7

Here’s one for the hardcore punk fans among you. Oblivionation is a relatively new band from New England, but their ranks include veterans from such excellent purveyors of old-school hardcore as Out Cold and Bloodkrow Butcher. Their raging sounds have been described as “tough as nails” and “not for the weak,” which is a pretty good indicator that people will be dancing hard during their set. I must admit, it’s warranted–Oblivionation’s brand new album, Language Of Violence, is a nonstop feast of raging riffs and harsh screams backed by hyperspeed drums. I kinda wanna circle-pit around my office while listening to it (the squares I work with would surely frown on that, though. Plus I’d look like a dork). Anyway, the point is, these guys are gonna blow your hair back once they hit the stage Saturday night, and you’re gonna enjoy every second of it. So get ready!

Creeping Dose will also be in the house for this show. These Brooklyn rippers have a bit of an ominous moniker, and you’ll want to be sure not to catch a dose of whatever diseases they might be carrying, creeping or otherwise. But seriously folks, these guys play raw and stripped-down hardcore with the sort of yelled rather than screamed vocals that remind me of UK punk at the dawn of the 80s. Think, I dunno, the Varukers crossed with SSD? Something awesome like that. With local support from Cretins, a thick-necked hardcore band who just released a new EP on Vinyl Conflict Records; and Firing Squad, about whom I know pretty much nothing (punk bands hate the internet), this should be a total ripper of a show. Wear your combat boots!

Sunday, August 31, 9 PM
Kevin Morby, Steve Gunn, Patrick Bates @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets here: https://morby.eventbrite.com/)

You may not recognize the name Kevin Morby right now, but all you Woodsist fans should definitely be paying attention, as this is almost certainly just the beginning of Kevin Morby’s rise to world domination. Morby used to play bass in Woods, but amicably left the Brooklyn indie-folk weirdos when he moved to Los Angeles a couple years ago. He was also in The Babies during his Brooklyn days, a collaboration with Cassie Ramone of the Vivian Girls that yielded some great pop gems. Since arriving in LA, he’s been working as a solo artist, and his upcoming second album, Still Life, features guest appearances by such talents as Tim Presley (White Fence) and Cate Le Bon. The album is set to carry on the dark, moody folk-pop sound he demonstrated on his first album, and should appeal to anyone who digs the modern American indie scene, New York or LA varieties.

Morby’s joined on tour by Steve Gunn, another former sideman gone solo; Gunn used to be a member of Kurt Vile’s Violators, though really, even when he was playing with Vile, he was making solo records in his spare time. The sound he displays on his solo work is actually comparable to that of Vile; mellow, almost lackadaisical stoner trips through sun-bleached 70s folk-rock sounds, with a decent dollop of Neil Young/CCR choogle thrown in. It’s pretty rad and sure to appeal to anyone who’s spent the last couple years digging on Kurt Vile, Mac DeMarco, and other hazy guitar shaman types. RVA’s own Patrick Bates opens up this shindig, making his second appearance in the column this week. If you miss him at Monument City on Thursday, be sure to catch him Sunday night at Strange Matter.

Monday, September 1, 9 PM
Sediment Club, Power Masters, Navi, Dyrt, Brown Piss @ Strange Matter – $7

Labor Day is always nice if you’re actually able to get the day off work. Of course, these days it’s harder and harder to catch that break, especially if you have a job in the retail or food-service industry (that’s 90% of my work history right there). So if you’re a person unlucky enough to get stuck working this Monday, you’ll certainly need to unwind once you get out of your crappy job. My advice: head to Strange Matter and catch Sediment Club. Hailing from the weirdo capital of at least the East Coast if not the world, Providence RI, Sediment Club sound like what you’d get if you played an old Butthole Surfers live bootleg and the tape was getting all stretched out and crumpled up by your crappy tape player, but somehow kept playing. Over thumping, tom-heavy drumbeats, these guys fill the air with screeches, howls, and distorted layers of guitar noise. It’s noise rock taken to an extreme, and the best way to dance to it is probably just to flail around and fall down a lot. Don’t hurt yourself–you’ve gotta go back to work in the morning.

Fellow Providence weirdos Power Masters will accompany Sediment Club, and their bizarre, erratic take on metal riffage is something that must be heard to be believed. A bunch of RVA weirdos will be on this bill as well to make all the local oddballs feel at home. Navi are the ones you’re most likely to be aware of, and this spastic RVA duo is guaranteed to get you dancing with their complex, energetic tunes. Dyrt and Brown Piss are another matter–these solo acts will fill your ears with harsh avalanches of rumbling noise, just to start this evening of volcanic madness off right. To hell with that dinnertime crowd full of yuppies lucky enough to get the day off while other people work–come rage against the dying of worker’s rights with a roomful of like-minded struggling humans.

Tuesday, September 2, 9 PM
MV & EE, Peace Beast, Lili & The Dirty Moccasins, Chemists @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets here: https://mvandee.eventbrite.com/)

Here’s another completely unique and outstanding show just randomly popping up on a Tuesday night in RVA. Never tell me this town isn’t blessed. MV & EE are Matt Valentine and Erika Elder, two psychedelically-minded guitarists who’ve been living and working together for the better part of the last 15 years, releasing music at a highly prolific rate and bending minds everywhere with their self-described “lunar ragas.” They combine influences from old-time Appalachian music, Indian ragas, 60s freakout guitar noise, and all sorts of other things to produce something you pretty much won’t hear anywhere else. Fans of everything from Robert Johnson to Animal Collective to Comets On Fire should find plenty to enjoy in MV & EE’s music.

They’ll be joined on this bill by Peace Beast, the psychedelic indie-rock crew led by singer/guitarist Kelly Queener, who have appeared all too rarely over the last couple of years. In fact, this may be their first live appearance in over a year, so it’s definitely worth catching; who knows when this elusive quartet will show their faces again? New RVA freak-folk project Lili & The Dirty Moccasins, along with the elusive, mysterious folktronica project Chemists, will open this whole evening up. The sounds will be varied, but one thing they will all have in common is their desire to move you into a different headspace. Come to Strange Matter Tuesday night and enjoy the trip.

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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