Friday, August 8, 7 PM
Hoax Hunters LP Release Show, with Positive No, Dave Watkins @ Gallery 5 – $5
Well folks, the moment has arrived. After hearing for months about the impending release of Hoax Hunters’ debut full-length, Comfort & Safety, it is finally here–and Friday night at Gallery 5, you’ll have the chance to grab a copy for your very own!
Friday, August 8, 7 PM
Hoax Hunters LP Release Show, with Positive No, Dave Watkins @ Gallery 5 – $5
Well folks, the moment has arrived. After hearing for months about the impending release of Hoax Hunters’ debut full-length, Comfort & Safety, it is finally here–and Friday night at Gallery 5, you’ll have the chance to grab a copy for your very own! Hoax Hunters, the noise/punk trio led by photographer extraordinaire PJ Sykes, have been working hard for several years to build a name for themselves on the local scene–a struggle in which they were not aided by the lineup shakeups that plagued the band’s early years. With James O’Neill (Snowy Owls/Flechette) holding down the drum throne for a while now, and brand new bassist Ben Nicastro replacing Tim Falen (Diamond Center/Hot Dolphin), who played on the album, they appear to have stabilized things, which is great news where their ability to regularly deliver the goods onstage is concerned.
Comfort & Safety, which is being released on vinyl by Raleigh’s Negative Fun Records, finally gives Hoax Hunters the time they need to showcase their considerable range as a band. Yes, loud and fast are the orders of the day on several of these songs, but there’s a lot more than that going on here, with everything from catchy 90s-throwback indie tunes (“Volume”) to complex diatribes in the style of the Minutemen or Mission Of Burma (“Six/Five”) and downbeat grunge dirges (“In The Background”) showing up at one point or another over the course of the album’s dozen songs. It’s something you need to hear, for sure, and at the show, you’ll be able to purchase your own copy on any of several different colors of vinyl–including some highly sought-after unique pressings (apparently the one and only copy on clear vinyl will be raffled off during the show). You can be sure that all the prettiest vinyl versions of the album will be gone by the end of the night, so if you’re planning on skipping the show and picking up the album at Steady Sounds or Deep Groove later, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity. Just sayin.
Hoax Hunters are the reason for the occasion, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only attraction on this bill. Positive No will be performing as well, and by now all of RVA should be aware of just how great this band truly is. They’ll be releasing a single as part of Negative Fun’s singles club later this summer, so that makes them an appropriate act to join Hoax Hunters for their record release show. Will there be some sort of return-the-favor action happening later this summer when that Positive No single comes out? ….Don’t assume I’m hinting at anything, because I honestly don’t know. But it’d be cool! Dave Watkins, who has done some guest appearances with Hoax Hunters in the past, will open the show up with some solo tuneage. This one is gonna be a rager, so make sure you’re there–and bring cash for a Hoax Hunters record, because those crazy blue swirl vinyl copies won’t last long!
Wednesday, August 6, 9 PM
Gnarwhal (Photo by Chris Zibutis), Pinecones, Navi, Burn/Ward @ Strange Matter – $7
I’ve been badgering you guys about how you need to check Gnarwhal out for a very long time now, and quite frankly, if you haven’t listened to me before now, I’m very disappointed in you. You can redeem yourself, however, by showing up at Strange Matter tonight and finally bathing in the noise freakout awesomeness of this tech-jazz-punk duo. Drummer Tyler Coburn has achieved some more widespread recognition with the success of Yautja, who he also plays with, and I can only hope this is enough to finally get those of you who’ve been sleeping on Gnarwhal to come out and see them. Coburn and guitarist Chappy Hull shred like crazy, engaging in the kind of instrumental feats people associate with Hella or Orthrelm, only with Chappy’s frantic screamed vocals overtop. Considering that Gnarwhal have sadly only released three songs in the past three years (they swear there is a full-length on the way…), it’s rare that an opportunity to hear them in all their glory even comes along, so if you don’t take advantage of it and show up at Strange Matter tonight, you are blowing it in the extreme.
There are other great bands on this bill as well, and now that I’m finished freaking out about Gnarwhal, I will tell you about them. It’s been mentioned that Atlanta’s Pinecones are ex-Dead In The Dirt, but this is a very misleading fact as it will lead you to expect the kind of grind/fastcore shredding that band dished out when they came through a couple years ago with Sunn O))). What Pinecones does could not be more different, though–this hazy, hypnotic indie crew sound more like Dinosaur Jr on downers, or a less hippie/more psych Built To Spill, or something like that. It’s great music, but it’s completely blastbeat-free, which makes Pinecones somewhat of an anomaly on this bill. Navi might not have any blastbeats either, though you can’t put it past drummer Kyle Flanagan to bust out some crazy shit at any time during their wild, manic set. This duo has some of that same feats-of-instrumental-awesomeness thing going on that Gnarwhal has, though Navi don’t worry much with vocals. Instead, they’re focusing on guitar effects, making Jon Hawkins’ axe sound like an organ, and other such zaniness. Burn/Ward will start the whole evening off with a wall of power-violence feedback noise you can headbang like crazy to. These guys are always a treat, so don’t be late, because I assure you, their set will be over quickly.
Thursday, August 7, 5:30 PM
Alison Self & The Regulars @ Hardywood – Free!
Here’s a fun event with which to start your weekend off right (yes, of course weekends start on Thursday, when else would they start?). The music will only be happening for an hour, but this Richmond Jazz Festival kickoff event will also feature tons of food trucks from vendors like Pizza Tonight, Goatacado, Paris Creperie, Boka Tako Truck, Gelati Celesti, and a whole bunch more, so all you foodies who like your restaurants to be portable can geek out on the offerings available (or just be like me and scarf delicious munchies because they’re there). I also hear amazing things about the beer on offer at Hardywood, but of course I wouldn’t know anything about that, so let’s just move on to the real reason we’re discussing this entire event.
That’d be the music! Alison Self, a local old-time country/folk singer with a sweet voice and a down-to-earth stage presence, will be performing at Hardywood, but instead of her standard string-band accompanists, the Lonesome Lows, she’ll be bringing a crew along known as The Regulars. This group features a horn section that will include local heavy hitters like Marcus Tenney, Reginald Chapman, Jason Scott, and Pete Anderson, as well as George Geanuracos on guitar and, from what we hear, at least a few other players yet to be revealed. What exactly will take shape when all of these equally talented musicians with very different backgrounds come together in a single group is not something I can easily predict, but I know awesomeness is definitely going to be on the menu, so being there is a decidedly advisable course of action. And since the show is free, you’ll have plenty of money left to spend on tacos!
Friday, August 8, 8 PM
The Whigs, Glass Twin, Sideways Orange @ The Camel – $12 in advance/$14 at the door (order tickets HERE)
It seems like The Whigs have always been slightly under the radar, which makes it kind of a surprise to realize that their latest album, Modern Creation, is actually their fifth. While they may not have ever managed to become as famous as similar melodic garage-rock bands like The Black Keys or Kings Of Leon, the Whigs have definitely not run out of steam. Their latest album is a great slab of funky grooves, loud guitars, and catchy choruses, on which they’ve avoided the overt pop moves the bands I compared them to a sentence ago have been making in recent years. And yeah, maybe that’s why these guys are playing The Camel and not The National on this trip through RVA, but the mainstream’s loss is nothing but a positive for true fans of underground rock n’ roll, without all the frills and studio polish. These guys are gonna tear The Camel down on Friday night, and you owe it to yourself to be there, dancing in the front row.
The Whigs will be joined by some local openers who haven’t been that easy to catch lately. Glass Twin, who’ve been called Glass Twin for almost long enough that I shouldn’t have to mention their old name, Marionette, when I write about them, have some Radiohead-ish elements to their alternative rock sound. They will bring a psychedelic twist to this evening, while still retaining the rockin’ edge that this entire lineup displays. Which brings me to openers Sideways Orange, a straight-up rock n’ roll trio with some obvious 90s elements at work in their music (I find myself thinking of Harvey Danger, The Toadies, maybe even Tiny Music-era Stone Temple Pilots? Maybe I’m nuts though). These guys will get the party going, and it won’t stop until Rand kicks everybody out, so wear your dancing shoes and show up ready to move!
Saturday, August 9, 9 PM
Raw Power, Wartorn, Unholy Thoughts, Asylum @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets here: http://rawpowerrva.eventbrite.com/)
All right, punk rockers, pay attention, because this is important! Italian legends Raw Power, who made one of the all-time classic hardcore albums with 1985’s Screams From The Gutter, are still going strong to this day, and they’ll be in RVA this Saturday night. I hope you’re ready for serious circle pit action, because these guys are gonna dish out the sort of blazing fast tunes for which running in a counterclockwise circle really fast until you get dizzy and fall down (at which point someone picks you up and you start running again) is the only appropriate response. Granted, Screams From The Gutter was nearly three decades ago, so I can understand if you’re worried that Raw Power don’t still have the, er, raw power that made them so much fun to listen to 30 years ago. Never fear, though–their latest album, Tired And Furious, is just as fast and full of rage as their classic work, and has the benefit of a modern production sound that makes it much easier to make out what everyone in the band is doing. Not that that will be any problem in the live environment–shit will be loud as hell, no doubt. I can’t wait.
Raw Power will be ably assisted in turning Strange Matter into a steamy sweaty pit of spiked jackets and ripped t-shirts by several great opening acts. Wartorn, who hail from the northern Midwest (where metallic crust is king) and have toured with Raw Power before, will be rolling in with their raging brand of black-jean-vest D-beat influenced crusty hardcore. From the dueling vocalists mixing deep growls and high-pitched screams to the super-heavy downtuned guitars and occasional brutal slow riffs, this band is very reminiscent of His Hero Is Gone and other classic Tennessee-by-way-of-Portland dark hardcore from years past, so god knows I’m stoked. With local angry old-school hardcore heads Unholy Thoughts–who just released a new cassette called Fearless Wasted, so you know where they’re coming from–and crusty punks Asylum–who are about to drop a 7 inch on Vinyl Conflict Records–rounding out this bill, you can rest assured that no band will kill your vibe at any point during this show. Circle pits uber alles! Wait, actually, how do you say that in Italian? Circle pits su totto! (Thanks, Google translate!)
Sunday, August 10, 6:30 PM
Seaway, Stickup Kid, Candy Hearts, Driver Friendly @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Sunday at the Camel is gonna be a pop-punk party, and I hope all y’all pop-punkers out there are ready for it. Seaway is coming through, and while this Canadian band does feature a relatively gruff lead vocalist, that doesn’t mean you should expect another Latterman-style crew dishing out beer-soaked anthems with Springsteen-ish tinges creeping through. No, these guys have not succumbed to the allure of keg parties in basements just yet. Instead, their debut full-length, 2013’s Hoser (that title’s pretty Canadian, eh?), is full of catchy tunes about love and loss with heart-on-sleeve lyrics and choruses that’ll get stuck in your head for days. While I may wish the lyrics were slightly more sophisticated, I can’t argue with the hooks. Cali’s Stickup Kid are joining Seaway on this trip through RVA, and while they’re definitely doing a similar sort of pop-punk thing as Seaway, this band’s 2013 LP, Future Fire, has more of an introspective and–dare I say it?–mature feel, which sees them walking the line between pop-punk and emo. You know by now I’m a sucker for that shit, so I’m really excited to catch these guys.
But wait, there’s more! Candy Hearts have been a personal favorite for a while now, and they recently released a new album, All The Ways You Let Me Down, so that’s even more of a reason to go see them live. They’ve got that same mix of 90s indie-pop, modern pop-punk, and female-fronted alt-rock bands like Blake Babies and Best Coast going on that has made Lemuria so great for so long, and if you dig that band, you’re gonna be on cloud 9 when Candy Hearts hit the stage at The Camel Sunday night. And of course, your openers are Driver Friendly, who return to the Camel for the second time in two months, this time with their new album, Unimagined Bridges, freshly released rather than still in the pipeline. Their triumphant 90s-style emo with a horn section seems like it shouldn’t work, but good lord does it ever. These guys may be opening up this show, but they’re probably the best band on the bill in my humble opinion, so you owe it to yourself to be there the second the doors open so you don’t miss a second of their set–or anyone else’s.
Monday, August 11, 7 PM
Zula, Basmati, Houdan The Mystic @ The Camel – $5
Experimental, electronically-oriented math-rock is a whole thing in this town these days, with the kids involved in the Subterranea Collective spearheading that fast-growing subsection of the local scene. Therefore, it’s apt to see two Subterranea bands playing on a bill with New Yorkers Zula on their latest trip through town. Zula’s 2013 album, This Hopeful, was released by Inflated Records, who’ve released EPs by Speedy Ortiz and Ava Luna as well as the So Cow/Squarehead split LP (that only means something to other followers of the Irish post-hardcore scene). But if Inflated hadn’t put it out, it could easily have been a Subterranea release, considering its musical and spiritual kinship with artists like Way Shape Or Form and Fight Cloud. This Hopeful mixes glittering guitar arpeggios and complex, technical drumming with synth swirls and digital treatments in a manner that conveys an influence from recent advances in the electronic music world without losing the analog human heart that beats at the center of Zula’s music. It’s pretty awesome on record, and I can’t imagine it won’t be equally awesome live.
Basmati should be pretty awesome as well. We haven’t heard much from this crew of experimental indie instrumentalists since they bombarded RVA with multiple digitally-released EPs throughout the first half of 2013, but with drummer Louis Henninger keeping busy in New Turks, who’ve been quite active lately, it’s no surprise that these guys hit the back burner temporarily. Don’t count them out yet, though, as it seems likely they’ll have some new material to regale us with on Monday night. Houdan The Mystic opens things up, and while these guys aren’t really too likely to bust out a synth during live performances (at least, not that I’ve seen… I also wouldn’t put it past them), there’s no question that their complex, skillful approach to their instruments will shine through during their performance. Keep an eye on drummer Ethan Johnstone in particular–that dude’s got major chops.
Tuesday, August 12, 6 PM
Whitechapel, Stick To Your Guns, Sworn In, Seraph, Spiral Fracture, Abandon Earth @ The Canal Club – $15 in advance/$18 at the door (order tickets HERE)
A lot of times when I talk about metal in these show previews, I find myself focusing on grimy brutality hitting the stage in smaller clubs like Strange Matter. However, there are times when bigger bands come through and decimate larger venues like the Canal Club with much more polished rage. Deathcore heroes Whitechapel will be doing just that next Tuesday. Named for the neighborhood where Jack The Ripper made his mark on the world, this brutal band–which actually hails from Tennessee–are coming through to support their fifth album, Our Endless War, which dropped back in April. On Our Endless War, these guys have got some seriously nihilistic misanthropy going on, reflected in lyrics like “Say seven Hail Marys and kill yourself” (“Mono”) and “My country tis of greed, sweet land of idiocracy” (the title track). Phil Bozeman delivers these words of hate in a deep, barely decipherable growl over chunky, moshy riffing complete with some serious breakdowns. None can deny that this band is heavy as fuck. Their songs will hit you like a brick to the face at The Canal Club Tuesday night–and you will love it.
Stick To Your Guns will be a bit of a change of pace from Whitechapel, as these formerly moshtastic hardcore dudes have gotten more melodic in their recent work–culminating in their release of a Florence And The Machine cover as a single back in March. If you missed them when they came through with Terror a few months ago at Strange Matter, you can make up for lost time on Tuesday. Sworn In are also on this tour, and this angry hardcore band kind of splits the difference between Stick To Your Guns and Whitechapel. They aren’t quite as full of deathcore misanthropy and growling bass-heavy breakdowns, but Sworn In definitely do like to mosh. If anything, their penchant for guitar squeals makes me think of Pantera, while the intensity of their midtempo riffs and screamed vocals reminds me of early 2000s metalcore champs like Zao or Norma Jean. Whatever, I’m into it. With RVA’s foremost deathcore practitioners, Seraph, as well as fellow locals Spiral Fracture and Abandon Earth, kicking off the show, this will be an excellent showcase for metallic hardcore both locally-based and from other parts of the country. This show is sure to get crazy, and taking a spinkick to the head is never fun, so find a good spot (I recommend staying close to the pillars at either side of the stage) and get ready for some pit-heaving warfare.
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