Saturday, September 13, 6 PM
Whirr, Cloakroom, The Snowy Owls, Keep @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets here: https://whirr.eventbrite.com/)
Hey kids, it’s time to play my favorite show column game: guess what way in which the 90s are back THIS week!
Saturday, September 13, 6 PM
Whirr, Cloakroom, The Snowy Owls, Keep @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets here: https://whirr.eventbrite.com/)
Hey kids, it’s time to play my favorite show column game: guess what way in which the 90s are back THIS week! Yeah, we’re getting right into it this week here at Shows You Must See HQ (was I wrong to put less than 5 seconds of thought into the name of this column back in January when I started doing it…? Nahhh). From the current nostalgia cycle that brought you the emo revival and the sound known in some circles as “soft grunge” (no, hipster fashionistas, not THAT “soft grunge”), it’s the return of American shoegaze! Whirr are one of the foremost exponents of this particular revival, and considering they have members with links to bands like Nothing, Deafheaven, Miserable, and Death Of Lovers, they’re strongly linked to pretty much all the other bands who are part of the whole thing. So if you’re trying to get in on the ground floor of this facet of the extensive 90s revival currently happening in music, Strange Matter on Saturday evening is the place to be.
Now, those of you for whom shoegaze begins and ends with My Bloody Valentine should be aware that Whirr are not just another MBV clone–and thank god for that. They’ve recently been building up to the release of their second full-length, Sway, which will officially drop a mere 10 days after their show here in RVA (will early copies show up on the merch table? It’s been known to happen…), and this album is their first without female vocals. The band’s guitarists take turns whispering and softly crooning overtop of snarling, roaring walls of guitar, which occasionally recede to reveal pillows of ambient, echoing leads but are mostly right up in your face. The result speaks to Whirr’s roots in hardcore and black metal, and sounds far less like My Bloody Valentine than some strange combination of the Cocteau Twins and Godflesh. There can be no doubt that they will deliver all of these songs at mind-shearing volume Saturday night, either, so plan for some seriously psychedelic out-of-body experiences (yes, even if you’re sober).
Meanwhile, I didn’t know about this, but Cloakroom feature ex-members of Chicago’s excellent, too-soon-departed emo-mathcore crew Grown Ups. Their music is far more sedate than what you heard from Grown Ups back in the day, and fits in much better with Whirr than you might otherwise expect. Think Codiene–the band, not the purple sizzurp–and get ready to nod your head slowly. Very slowly. Local shoegaze proponents The Snowy Owls and Virginia Beach guitar-strummers Keep, who feature members of Turnover, will open things up. Sounds pretty rad.
I’m assuming that if you like Young Widows, part of what you like about that band is its ability to take dark, bluesy riffs and turn them into powerful slabs of metallic rage. Something like that, right? Well, singer/guitarist Evan Patterson certainly excels in that department, but when he’s performing under the name Jaye Jayle, he does just as well at leaving those dark, bluesy riffs in an unrefined acoustic state. Of course, this isn’t your typical acoustic solo project either–underneath the gloomy strumming and apocalyptic lyrics, Patterson adds some really spooky synth textures and assorted effects. The result has a horror-movie feel, as if it’s the soundtrack to one of those “dumb teenagers stalked and killed by backwoods mutants” movies. New single “The Beast Keeps Cool” came out on Jade Tree this week, and now Patterson will be bringing his Jaye Jayle project to Balliceaux. What form will this weird, creepy music take once it’s happening live in front of you? That is indeed the question, but the singles are enough to make me expect something pretty cool.
Father Sunflower and the Golden Rays are the local opener on the bill, and the mysterious nature of this band, which has basically no internet presence, is actually very fitting once you know it’s the new project of former Antlers/Palindrone main man Christian Brady. Father Sunflower is an appropriate nickname for this guy and his halo-like mane of red hair and beard. Is Christian taking the next step with this band and starting a psychedelic hippie nature cult a la Father Yod and YaHoWha 13? I for one am into it, as long as the music’s good. And so far, all of Christian’s bands have been very, very good. So come to this show and find out what his new project has in store; flowing robes are optional, but if you do wear one, I’m sure you’ll fit right in.
Thursday, September 11, 9 PM
Hot Dolphin, Cherry Pits @ Balliceaux – Price at door
The very next night, it’s back to Balliceaux, but for something completely different, as Hot Dolphin and the Cherry Pits are prepared to dispense some fiery, uptempo garage rock. Hot Dolphin is the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, and while this raging quartet only has one EP out so far, they’ve taken their sound to the people in a big way by playing a lot of local shows and bowling over RVA crowds every time they take the stage. Singer Lindsey Spurrier is probably the most dynamic frontperson in RVA right now, with an arresting onstage energy that absolutely captivates audiences. Men want her, women want to be her–it’s a whole thing. Get caught up in the Hot Dolphin mystique, and prepare for the musical steamroller that will hit town when they release their upcoming EP on Negative Fun Records in October, by showing up at Balliceaux Thursday night. Stand slackjawed in amazement at the power of Hot Dolphin’s rockin’, or dance your ass off–both are completely valid options.
Cherry Pits are also on the bill, and I’d love to regale you with a detailed explanation of their merits as a band, but the fact is I know very little. I totally understand why some bands are too punk to waste time with maintaining an internet presence, but it makes life difficult for we struggling internet scribes. Here’s what I can tell you–Cherry Pits are billed as having members of the Eurotics and Nervous Ticks in the band, which makes it a reasonably safe bet that Kyle Flanagan is on drums (though I could be wrong about that one… anyone care to confirm/deny?). They also opened for the Paul Collins Beat last time they came through, so that only strengthens my suspicions that they have a catchy, back-to-basics rock n’ roll sound. It all points towards something that’ll probably be pretty awesome, and since Hot Dolphin will DEFINITELY be awesome, you really just need to be here.
Friday, September 12, 8 PM
Battlemeister, Nekrofilth @ 25 Watt – $5
It’s been nice over the past month or two to watch 25 Watt develop into a legitimate weekly show venue, pretty much out of nowhere. It seems like they’ve got at least one good show every weekend lately. This one’s a good bit more metal than previous shows have been, but honestly, if you enjoy stuff like Cretins and Nervous Ticks, you’ll probably be able to get down with some Battlemaster jams as well. Or, um, excuse me, BattleMEISter, who are apparently the “drunk German version” of Battlemaster. What could that actually mean? Are they gonna have a bunch of Jager and listen to some Kreator records before they play? And how would that be any different from the usual Battlemaster shows? Maybe there will be some special aspect to this Battlemaster show, or maybe it’ll just be the death/thrash/shred party that you’ve come to expect from their performances. Either way, would that be a bad thing? Definitely not!
The fact that Nekrofilth is also on this show might seem to be a bad thing to some, but if you’re that sort of uptight square, you probably can’t handle most metal shows and have already scrolled down looking for references to bands that get covered on Pitchfork. Those of you who are still paying attention will be delighted to know that Nekrofilth features members of Nunslaughter and plays a thrashy mix of grindcore and death metal. The lyrics are pretty sick stuff, but you probably won’t be that surprised that a band called Nekrofilth has songs called “Scum Freak,” “I’m A Degenerate,” and uh, “Street Bitch.” OK, yeah, they’re a little offensive. They’re also decidedly not the sort of band you should take seriously. The only thing Nekrofilth are serious about is headbanging (and probably beer too–that’s always a safe bet with metal bands). So come bang your head to some rockin’ riffs dished out by ne’er-do-well reprobates. After all, it’s Friday night!
Saturday, September 13, 10 PM
Naked Baby, The Nervous Ticks, Tungs @ En Su Boca – Free!
Naked Baby are another local punk band that I can’t quite figure out with only the internet at my disposal. As best as I can tell, two-thirds of this band used to be in the Eurotics, but they played different instruments in that band. They’ve got some demos up on Soundcloud with a pretty spooky Cramps-ian primitive garage rock vibe, but all those demos are at least a year old. Chances are to really understand what Naked Baby is all about, I’d just have to see them live–and I haven’t managed to do that yet. But you know what? I’m gonna recommend that you do that very thing this Saturday, for one reason in particular: they’re releasing a new EP on Bad Grrrl Records. I have learned to trust Ben Miller and his locally-focused label implicitly. Four years and nearly 20 releases in, Bad Grrrl has yet to steer me wrong. No, I don’t have quite everything they’ve released, but if I’m ever on the fence about whether a local band is really worth my time, finding out they’re working with Bad Grrrl is enough to convince me. You really should be buying everything Ben puts out, and so should I. So let’s start out by showing up at En Su Boca late Saturday night and scoring a copy of this new Naked Baby tape, shall we?
The Nervous Ticks are also on this show, and these guys take primitive to an impressive extreme. Not having a bass player is just the beginning for these folks. Singing through falling-apart mikes held together with duct tape, using metal washbasins for drums, splattering beer everywhere mid-set… these guys (and gal) get so crazy, they make Groovy Hate Fuck-era Pussy Galore seem remarkably sophisticated. Get ready for the most beautiful bunch of noise you’ve ever heard. And Ben Miller of Bad Grrrl’s own band, Tungs, will kick things off. Surely they’ll be showcasing the prime material from their brand new third LP, Not For Grandma–which is out on actual vinyl, so grab a copy of that thing too!
Sunday, September 14, 5 PM
Punch, Hard Stripes, Holy Land, Burn/Ward, Kommunion @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets here: https://punch.eventbrite.com/)
OK, everybody, hold onto your butts! Punch is coming back to town, and they’re gonna hit you with the speediest, most ferocious blast of California-style fastcore you’ve heard since that Replica show in a living room in Jackson Ward a couple months ago. There are a lot of great female-fronted bands doing this style of music out on the West Coast these days, and Punch are the cream of the crop. They’ve proven it with their brand new LP, They Don’t Have To Believe–as in, you don’t have to believe me, because one listen to this record will prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Even better, though, is getting the opportunity to watch Meghan O’Neil deliver her throat-shredding rage in person and in your face–and that’s what Sunday evening at Strange Matter is going to offer you. Don’t ignore the call, people.
Punch will be joined by not two, not three, but four RVA-based bands. Hey, why not? The sets are gonna be short–it’s that kind of show. Hard Stripes are a bit more thick-necked and midtempo than Punch. Rather than blowing you over with their sheer speed, these dudes are trying to get you to start a pit during their plentiful two-step parts. They know how to speed it up, too, which makes sense for a band featuring members of Barge and Unsacred. Burn/Ward are all about speed, and their extremely brief power violence tunes will blow right past you before you even know it, so pay attention. Holy Land are doing an early 90s Mean Season kind of thing, which is always nice, especially because it offers me the chance to shoehorn in another 90s revival reference. Finally, Kommunion will open up, and in what has become a trend over the course of this week’s column, I know nothing about them because they have no real web presence that I can locate. That’s OK, they’re a new band, and with members of Barge, Hard Stripes, Olde Shame, Leather Daddy, and tons of other local bands, I can’t imagine they won’t be good. Definitely worth showing up on time for.
Monday, September 15, 7 PM
Captive, A Woman Is A Woman, Sungazer, Way Shape Or Form @ The Camel – $5
The Camel is bringing us something new, or at least new to me, this Monday. I knew about the local band Captives, who are more of a harsh metal band, but this is Captive, singular. These guys have more of an alt-rock sound, though there are some proggy hints dropped in there by the band’s two guitarists, who are fond of clean, complex leads. It seems like these guys would probably appeal to the mellower end of the local math-rock scene, while folks who get down with some of the flashier rock groups in that whole Radio Rubber Room crowd would probably also dig what Captive have to offer.
And therefore it makes sense that both Way Shape Or Form and A Woman Is A Woman are on this show. A Woman Is A Woman have played multiple Radio Rubber Room events and apparently rocked the joint every time, if the word from my man Dan Mulrooney is to be believed. They also like to keep things a bit less than predictable where their songwriting is concerned, so the math-rock types in the house won’t get bored during these guys’ set. Meanwhile, Way Shape Or Form are fresh off the release of their latest EP, the 7-song EP2, and should have a good bit of new material to share with fans and newcomers this fine evening. I have no idea why they’re listed at the bottom of the bill–maybe they have to leave early because someone has to work the night shift? Either way, show up on time because you don’t want to miss these guys. You probably don’t want to miss Sungazer either, but I found several bands called Sungazer online, and couldn’t figure out which, if any, of them this band was. The Lexington, VA metal band seems like the best guess, but don’t quote me on that.
Tuesday, September 16, 9 PM
Full Of Hell, Noisem, Occultist, Unsacred @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets here: https://foh316.eventbrite.com/)
This show will officially test the boundaries of what counts as music, and what is just a bunch of ugly fucking noise. If you’re wondering how I feel about that, well, I’m hoping for as much ugly noise as possible. Full Of Hell should be able to satisfy my craving. These Baltimore natives started out as the kind of dark, speedy, dirty hardcore that shows clear influence from personal all-time faves like Gehenna and His Hero Is Gone. On their second album, 2013’s Rudiments Of Mutation, they did quite a bit of flirting with experimental noise, opening the album with several minutes of feedback and yelling before eventually getting to the blast beats and apocalyptic sludge breakdowns. Now, word has it that the next Full Of Hell album will be a collaboration with Japanese noise godfather Merzbow. Never let it be said that these guys were content to coast on past glory. Anyway, heaping helpings of furious speed and eardrum-piercing noise should be on the menu next Tuesday, so bring your earplugs.
Full Of Hell will bring fellow Baltimore inhabitants Noisem along for the ride. This band of prodigies was made up entirely of teenagers last time I checked, but don’t expect some kind of Unlocking The Truth clone, because these guys really can bust out the raging thrash with the best of them. Their ripping solos in particular must be heard to believe, but if you’re like me and can’t get enough of bands that sound like Dark Angel, Slayer, Exodus, Kreator, and all that kind of stuff, you should show up at this show prepared to headbang, because Noisem has exactly what you need. These two Baltimore bands will be joined by Occultist, who recently did a split with Noisem in which both bands covered songs by formative influences (Occultist did the Plasmatics, Noisem did Repulsion). This evening should constitute a sweet reunion of these partners in vinyl, and with the slimmed-down, sped-up new incarnation of Unsacred kicking things off, it’s gonna rule from beginning to end. Thrash and destroy!
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