RVA Shows You Must See This Week 8/5-8/11

by | Aug 5, 2015 | SHOW PICKS

Swamp Fest
Day 1: Saturday August 8, 5 PM
Swan Of Tuonela, Gillian Carter, Swells, Marcy, Kaoru Nagisa, Amygdala, Gas Up Yr Hearse, Mothlight, Facility, Truman, Vivian K, Ephraim Nuit @ Strange Matter – $10
Day 2: Sunday, August 9, 6 PM
Ostraca, The Heads Are Zeros, Coma Regalia, Caust, Lyed, Under A Sky So Blue, People’s Temple Project, Bad Dinner, Eyelet @ 25 Watt – $10

The variety and vitality of the RVA music scene never ceases to amaze me. The inaugural edition of Swamp Fest is just the latest example of these factors, highlighting a segment of the RVA hardcore scene that has mostly flown under the radar before now.

Swamp Fest
Day 1: Saturday August 8, 5 PM
Swan Of Tuonela, Gillian Carter, Swells, Marcy, Kaoru Nagisa, Amygdala, Gas Up Yr Hearse, Mothlight, Facility, Truman, Vivian K, Ephraim Nuit @ Strange Matter – $10
Day 2: Sunday, August 9, 6 PM
Ostraca, The Heads Are Zeros, Coma Regalia, Caust, Lyed, Under A Sky So Blue, People’s Temple Project, Bad Dinner, Eyelet @ 25 Watt – $10

The variety and vitality of the RVA music scene never ceases to amaze me. The inaugural edition of Swamp Fest is just the latest example of these factors, highlighting a segment of the RVA hardcore scene that has mostly flown under the radar before now. Before now, if you really wanted to know what was going on with this scene, you had to know somebody who was already part of it, and learn about secret basement venues like The Haunted Mansion and Gangway Garden. Now, for the first time in quite a while, local bands like Swan Of Tuonela, Caust, and Ostraca will be emerging from the basements to play at local clubs that anyone can attend–and they’ll be joined by over a dozen bands of a similar persuasion from all over the country, for an entire weekend of music.

What sort of music are we talking about, exactly? Well, the promotional material for Swamp Fest calls it “DIY emotional music,” and the term I hear thrown around in casual conversation a lot is “screamo,” which is a term I hate with a fiery passion (mainly because I’m old enough to remember when it was primarily used as an insult). If you ask me, the best way to describe these bands is as hectic, chaotic hardcore with a propensity for quiet, ominous breakdowns and screaming, cathartic crescendos. Loma Prieta and Touche Amore are good current reference points, and past bands like Neil Perry, Indian Summer, and Orchid (the hardcore band, not the doom metal band) might also be good touchstones… that is, if anyone reading this remembers them. Either way, if you like noise laced with off-kilter melodies, creative song structures with a lot of dynamics, and full-on screaming freakouts, Swamp Fest promises two full days of bands you’ll really dig.

What bands constitute highlights? Well, of course, there are the aforementioned locals–Ostraca in particular are worth checking out, with their recently released LP Deathless taking them to a new level of intensity. Caust have also demarcated themselves as a local band worth keeping up with on their latest EP, Anatomy & Dissection. As for the many out of town bands, I’m particularly excited for female-fronted Texas ragers Amygdala, as well as the messy noise chaos of NY’s People’s Temple Project and the beautiful ridiculousness that is Gas Up Yr Hearse. But really, there isn’t a bad song to be found on the 18-band sampler Swamp Fest recently uploaded to Bandcamp, so go listen to that and get stoked. Sadly, advance tickets are no longer on sale, but both nights are easily worth their $10 admission price, so show up at Strange Matter Saturday night and 25 Watt Sunday, and get ready for some serious chaos. You won’t regret it.

Wednesday, August 5, 9 PM
Slingshot Dakota, Petal, Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, Smoke Break, The Weak Days @ Strange Matter – $10

You guys, Slingshot Dakota are back in town again! This duo has given us plenty of chances over the past few years to get down with their lovely emotional pop-punk sounds; not only did they just come through here last fall on tour, they were back in town even more recently as an unplanned fill-in for Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) after that band mysteriously cancelled their summer tour. So you can’t say you haven’t had an opportunity to see them. However, if you’re still waiting for the right moment, there’s no time like the present, because they will be in town once again tonight! Their lovely vocal melodies and simple-yet-not-boring keyboard/drum sound is sure to charm you, so why not give in to it?

Tonight is an especially good night to get down with Slingshot Dakota too, because Petal is also on tour with them. This Pennsylvania band is a showcase for the considerable talent of frontwoman Kiley Lotz, who has at times been backed up by members of the legendary Tigers Jaw, but is currently on tour as a solo act. The fact that she’ll be performing by herself will do nothing to diminish the greatness of her excellent tunes, as she proved in a recent solo performance of a song from the band’s upcoming LP. Considering it’s been nearly two years since the release of their excellent debut EP, Scout, desire for new material is running high amongst fans, and it seems likely that Kiley will have some songs we haven’t heard before as well as some old favorites for us during this show. That’s reason enough right there to show up to Strange Matter tonight. With opening sets from acoustic punk veterans Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, the latest RVA pop-punk supergroup Smoke Break, and underrated local band The Weak Days to start things off, this is gonna be a great evening all around.

Thursday, August 6, 7:30 PM
The Cloth, Newagehillbilly, New Turks, Ultra Flake @ Gallery 5 – $5

Get ready for some heavy noise chaos tomorrow night at Gallery 5, because The Cloth are rolling into town. This trio from up north in the PA/DE area is currently augmented by RVA’s own Kevin Broderick, formerly of the Catalyst, who fits right in as the Dave Grohl to The Cloth’s QOTSA. Of course, this band actually sounds a lot more like Unsane or something–heavy midtempo riffs with an undercurrent of melancholy blues, paired with driving rhythms that’ll keep your head banging, plus some seriously intense yelling and screaming overtop of it all. Honestly, if you’ve liked other things Kevin Broderick has done, you’re gonna be feeling this band too. Come bang your head.

There’s a lot of other weird, heavy, and awesome music on this bill to get you stoked as well. Maryland’s Newagehillbilly is simultaneously similar to and way different from The Cloth; they’ve got headbanging riffs and screaming vocals, but the whole thing is powered by programmed drums and effects manipulation. I have no idea what it’ll be like live, but the recordings are weird enough to make me very curious. And then of course we have sets from two standout local bands. The New Turks is one you should know all about–their bass/drum grooves demonstrate exactly why guitars are far less necessary than the typical rock-mag reader would have you believe. Meanwhile, Ultra Flake has recently arisen from the ashes of local punks Bitchmouth, and brings one half of that band together with local renaissance man Tim Falen and talented solo artist Samantha Pearl to keep the punk fuckin’ rock rolling full speed ahead. Get ready for some serious neck cramps on Friday morning–all of which will be 100% worth it, of course.

Friday, August 7, 6:30 PM
Drum Baby, feat. Gull, Dumb Waiter, Antiphons @ Gallery 5 – Free!

Then on Friday, it’s time for you to return to Gallery 5 for even more hot weirdo-rock action. That’s because Nathaniel Rappole, the musical genius best known for his solo performances under the name Gull, will be curating an art exhibition featuring over a dozen artists doing work based around percussion instruments. What visual form that will take is surely up to each individual artist, but what we can tell you for sure is that there’ll be a lot of great music happening that you can check out for free as part of your First Friday Art Walk meanderings!

You’re not actually gonna want to go anywhere while this show is happening, though, as it’ll feature a headline performance from Gull himself, who is often too busy traveling the world to perform very often here in RVA. It’ll be amazing to see what new tricks and creative ideas he’s picked up on his travels to foreign continents, and the evolution of his music is sure to captivate all who bear witness. This show will also feature music from RVA prog/jazz/punk foursome Dumb Waiter, whose bizarrely catchy instrumental voyages are the kind of unique creative explorations that you don’t find nearly often enough in the world. With a second album in the can, hopefully to be released in the coming months, these guys are sure to have some new material with which to blow your minds all over again. And Antiphons will kick things off with their unique hybrid of folk, math-rock, and indie sounds. Plus, there’ll be a ton of art for you to look at between bands–so really, you have no reason to be anywhere else this Friday night. See y’all there.

Saturday, August 8, 9 PM
Stressors, Prisoner, Omega Boys, Methcharge @ 25 Watt – $6

This is going to be such a packed weekend for hardcore fans that it really makes me wish I could be in multiple places at once. As it is, we’re all going to have to pick our priorities, but the great thing about writing this column is that I can tell you about all the great punk rock on offer around town without actually having to pick out which show I’m actually going to go to. I’ll be worrying about that on Saturday afternoon, but for now, let’s just concentrate on the positives. Like, oh man, Stressors are playing here Saturday night! This Cali band likes to put the pedal to the metal and plow through everybody at 100 MPH, and they demonstrate their amazing ability to do exactly that on their latest EP, Skin Trap, which will blow right by you before you even know it if you’re not careful. You’re gonna want to rage with these dudes on Saturday night at 25 Watt–the sick riffs virtually demand a circle pit!

You can say the same thing about all the RVA bands joining them on this bill though, really. Prisoner’s got a darker, spookier sound, with some serious His Hero Is Gone/Born Dead Icons biker crust influence running through their grinding HC tunes. Omega Boys have more of that 9 Shocks Terror thing going on–hardcore as nothing more than sloppy rock n’ roll played at hyperspeed–and they are fucking killer at it. Really though, you’d expect no less from members of Wasted Time, The Ladies, and My War, right? Finally, there’s new RVA band Methcharge, who’ve got a pretty entertaining twist on the whole D-beat thing, both with their name and their insane music. I haven’t caught these guys live yet, but their demo is a total glorious mess, riding the line between punk rock chaos and outright harsh noise. Which is to say, it’s pretty sick. Do I use that adjective too often? Probably. #noregrets

Sunday, August 9, 5 PM
Bane, Turnstile, Backtrack, Forced Order, Mizery, Malfunction @ The Canal Club – $20

More hardcore hits the RVA area Sunday night, though it’s very different from any of the other varieties we’ve discussed thus far. This is the Life & Death Tour 2015, a stacked bill full of the kind of hardcore that kids who wear hooded sweatshirts and gym shorts are super stoked about. Which sounds like I’m dissing it, but nothing could be further from the truth. Like a lot of people, my first exposure to hardcore was bands like this–though, back in my day, sonny, the bands were Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, and the like. Boston’s Bane does an excellent job of carrying on the legacy of those bands, never more successfully than on last year’s Don’t Wait Up. They’ve promised that this album will be their last, and they’re apparently doing one last full-scale tour next year before breaking up for good, but considering Bane are at the height of their power these days, and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever make it to Richmond again, now is the time to go see them play and sing along with all their classic youthcrew mosh anthems. Even if it isn’t the last time, you should still make it count.

Speaking of back in my day, I should definitely also discuss Turnstile. Specifically, the fact that this band is bringing back an element of 90s hardcore legacy that I never thought I’d see again–that whole early 90s hip hop-influenced moshcore sound. These guys channel bands like Biohazard, Brother’s Keeper, and Madball for some heavy yet funky grooves, which is the kind of thing that sorta makes me go “uh…” but seems to have a lot of people banging their heads. Just don’t grow up to be 311 fans, y’all, that’s all I ask. Anyway, some other heavy youthcrew bands from other locales around the country, including Backtrack, Forced Order, Mizery, and Malfunction will round out this bill with a great deal of mosh-worthy awesomenss, and it should be a raging party full of sweet kicks and Champion athletic gear–at least, if it really is 1995 again it will be. Get into it.

Monday, August 10, 5 PM
Society Abuse, Blind Authority, Solitary Confinement, Mad Existence, Bitter Rivals @ Strange Matter – $10

The end of the weekend does not mark the end of worthwhile hardcore shows happening this week in RVA–nor have we yet seen the full gamut of different kinds of hardcore on display on local stages. When Society Abuse gets here on Monday night, we’ll get a whole new version of the genre to appreciate and enjoy. These guys were just here a couple months ago, and if you were at Gallery 5 that night, you definitely got to witness the Negative Approach/Negative FX-influenced version of old school hardcore rage this Florida band brings to the table. Speedy, borderline-blasting fast parts, chunky two-step breakdowns, and plenty of angry ranting vocals. Plus, the band’s debut EP is out now on Mind Rot Records, and if I remember correctly they didn’t have copies of it yet last time they were here, so that’s all the more reason to come out for this return engagement.

UK hardcore band Blind Authority will also be coming to town on this night, and they’ve got a pretty heavy, angry take on old-school American hardcore as well. I always expect UK bands to have a huge Discharge influence, but these guys have clearly heard just as many Negative Approach and Black Flag albums as I have, because there’s not a hint of D-beat in their roaring noise. I for one am totally cool with that. I’m also cool with opening sets from Virginia Beach’s Solitary Confinement and locals Mad Existence and Bitter Rivals. Solitary Confinement and Mad Existence are more straight-up old-school, with SC getting a little spookier with it, while Bitter Rivals brings a touch of thrash crossover to this otherwise pretty solidly 82-style event. Expect plenty of mosh, that’s for sure.

Tuesday, August 11, 5 PM
Cayetana, Chumped, Thin Lips, Lucy Dacus @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets here: https://cayetana.eventbrite.com/)

Let’s wrap up this week’s column with a celebration! A full slate of outstanding female-fronted melodic punk is coming to Strange Matter on Tuesday evening, and we should all be stoked as hell for it! At this point, it seems Cayetana hits town around twice a year, having previously been here with Waxahatchee, Modern Baseball, and Lemuria, among others–and yeah, I tend to tell you to go see them every time. But there’s a good reason for that, and it’s well documented on their 2014 LP, Nervous Like Me. This band writes great songs, full of passion and emotion and melody and beauty. “Scott Get The Van, I’m Moving” has been a particularly important song in my life over the past few months, with its evocative lyrics capturing the small details that make heartbreak so difficult. I sure hope they play it Tuesday night.

I’m also looking forward to seeing Chumped, whose Teenage Retirement LP is another major musical highlight of the past 9 months or so, and definitely features some excellent song titles. I’m a big fan of “Novella Ella Ella Eh” (sweet Rihanna reference) and “Hot 97 Summer Jam,” which is every bit as catchy and memorable as a song with that title should be. Philadelphia’s Thin Lips are pretty new to me, but their recently released Divorce Year EP is a pretty great introduction, and I look forward to learning more about their particular brand of melodic, emotional punk rock. Finally, local songwriting wunderkind Lucy Dacus will be opening this show, backed by her rock-solid band, and playing some tunes from her upcoming LP, which we’re all waiting anxiously for. It’ll all be over by 9 PM or so, so if you’ve got a curfew to make, no worries–you’ll still get an amazing night of awesome tuneage, and you won’t have to miss a minute of it.


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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