Saturday, September 20, 8 PM
Ann Beretta, Fun Size, Sundials @ The Broadberry – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Lately I’ve been thinking that Candide might have been right, y’all. It does seem like we’re living in the best of all possible worlds.
Saturday, September 20, 8 PM
Ann Beretta, Fun Size, Sundials @ The Broadberry – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Lately I’ve been thinking that Candide might have been right, y’all. It does seem like we’re living in the best of all possible worlds. It’s been the mildest Richmond summer I can remember in 20 years of living here, and some of the best RVA bands from back in the golden days of the 90s are back together and playing shows for us right here in 2014. Sometimes it feels like every band gets back together eventually, so maybe it should stop being such an important event after a while–but when the bands are this good, it’s always gonna be exciting.
Ann Beretta was what came to be back in the mid-90s when Inquisition fell apart and the dudes who made up their rhythm section still wanted to make music together. Robbie Huddleston exchanged his bass for a guitar, Russ Jones stayed on drums, and something like half a dozen different dudes manned the bass guitar for brief stretches over the next decade or so as Ann Beretta cranked out around half a dozen slabs of gritty, hardcore-infused pop-punk. All the third-rate gruff-vocal pop-punk bands taking up the mid-afternoon opening slots at Fest these days probably owe just as much of a debt to Ann Beretta as they do to bands like Dillinger Four, but for some reason you don’t hear the name of Ann Beretta on the young pop-punkers’ lips nearly as often since their breakup in 2004. Perhaps this rare reunion gig for the trio will get people talking about them again. That’d be the ideal outcome.
Fun Size is also on this bill, and this 90s-vintage quartet has just as much of a place in RVA pop-punk history as Ann Beretta does. They’ve been back together for a few years now, with 2013 reunion album Since Last We Spoke showing that they’ve still got a lot of great music in them, two decades later. Amazingly enough, purchasers of advance tickets to this show will receive a free download of a new split EP between Ann Beretta and Fun Size, featuring new music from both bands. That’s almost worth the price of admission right there! With Sundials, who are about to release a new EP on Topshelf Records, and seem likely to be remembered as the most important RVA pop-punk band of the current era, opening things up, this is a truly historic show, and you will be really sorry if you miss it.
Wednesday, September 17, 9 PM
Jellowstone Presents Arizal, Ohbliv @ Balliceaux – Free!
So there was that massive Jellowstone introductory show a few weeks ago at the Broadberry, and that was an awesome way to figure out who was involved with this local jazz/funk/hip hop/soul/etc collective, but with 9 bands getting served up to you in the space of 5 hours, it was bound to be at least a little overwhelming. Thankfully, that’s far from the last you’re going to hear from the many Jellowstone artists currently active around town. The semi-regular Jellowstone nights at Balliceaux seem like a good opportunity to dig deeper on what that label is up to, and the show tonight will offer you a closer look at two different Jellowstone artists that you’ll want to keep an eye on in the near future.
The first of those artists is one you may not have previously known about. Arizal is an instrumental trio featuring Jellowstone’s head honchos, Reggie Pace and Devonne Harris, teaming up with guitar wizard Scott Burton (Glows In The Dark) to create an entrancing instrumental wonderland. With Harris on smooth, jazzy percussion and Pace putting down his trombone to layer electronic samples and create atmosphere, Burton is free to scatter his glowing guitar gems all over the beds of sound Pace and Harris lay down. These guys will provide a good compliment to the other Jellowstone artist on this bill, with whom you should be very familiar by now. Ohbliv is one of the premiere beatmakers in not only RVA but the world, and the man is so prolific, he’ll probably release another beat tape by the time I finish typing this sentence. Come hear his latest sonic masterpieces as they chill out the back room of Balliceaux through sheer force of funk.
Thursday, September 18, 9 PM
Astronautalis, Sarah Jaffe, Transit, Stage @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets here: https://astronautalisrva.eventbrite.com/)
It’s good to see Astronautalis coming back through RVA. This hip hop original from Florida (though they tell me he’s living in MPLS these days) came through this city a bunch of times in the middle of the last decade, and always impressed, both with his highly skilled, melodic hip hop tunes and his impressive freestyles, in which he took topics from the audience and spit them back out at us with no preparation time, never missing a beat. The nomadic artist clearly had a wider pallet of influences than your typical rapper, and he’s still showing off that unique worldview a decade later. His most recent release is an LP on which he collaborated with members of Bon Iver under the name Jason Feathers, and it’s as bizarre and awesome as that sounds like it might be. Meanwhile, the man is still capable of drawing on past classics like 2003’s You And Yer Good Ideas or 2008’s Pomegranate, and you’ve gotta imagine the improptu creativity of his freestyles are still in his repertoire. These days, Astronautalis is backed by a live band on tour, and it’ll be interesting to see what flavors that adds to his sound as well. This is a dude that’s worth keeping up on for a lot of reasons, so showing up to Strange Matter tomorrow night seems like a good idea.
Astronautalis is bringing a lot of friends along on this tour as well. Texas songwriter Sarah Jaffe just recently dropped a new album, Don’t Disconnect, and she’s recently appeared on an Eminem track and in the Pixar short The Blue Umbrella. Her music has the emotional depth and resonance that you’d expect from any Astronautalis cohort, with sonic resemblances to Portishead, Fiona Apple, and Feist, among others. Canadian rapper Transit, not to be confused with the Boston pop-punk band, and a band called Stage who have truly impressed me with the depths of their ungoogleability, will open things up.
Friday, September 19, 8 PM
RVA Punx Picnic Vol. II featuring Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, Animal Mother, Nightfall, Asylum, Prisoner @ Strange Matter – $8
The RVA Punx Picnic is something that will be happening all weekend, with different incidents featuring varying degrees of difficulty/legality making up the festivities (I hear rumors about a generator show under a bridge…?). But if you really just want to catch the absolute highlight, you can’t go wrong showing up at Strange Matter on Friday night for Boston’s Who Killed Spikey Jacket? This punk-as-fuck crew of dudes wearing black denim covered in spikes and patches and playing music that sounds as much like Discharge and Chaos UK as they possibly can rail against the growth of new types of punk sensibility, demanding a return to the black denim/liberty spikes style they themselves sport from anyone who might remotely identify as punk. And then they get into some real silliness with tunes like “Spike Your Hair With Beer” or “[Oi Is A] Way Of Life,” so at this point I have no idea if what they’re doing is multi-level satire or total seriousness. It’ll be fun to start a circle pit during their set, though, and that’s what really matters.
Fellow Bostonians Animal Mother will also be on the bill, and while this all-female punk band play a similarly UK punk/crust-influenced brand of noise as Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, there’s no room for doubt that this crew is serious as a heart attack. Their raging tunes will rip your fucking head off, and you’ll enjoy every second of it. Philadelphia ragers Nightfall will also be along, taking things in a more noisy, blown-out direction that calls to mind Anti-Cimex or Rattus. The whole thing will be opened up by RVA locals Asylum and Prisoner, who share some members but have distinct sorts of things going on. Asylum are more of a Discharge-meets-Motorhead sort of band (and should have their new 7 inch on Vinyl Conflict for sale at this show, though don’t quote me on that), while Prisoner are channeling the darkness of Tennessee-via-Portland bands like Tragedy and From Ashes Rise. Wear black to this show, punk, or risk the wrath of Who Killed Spikey Jacket!
Friday, September 19, 10 PM
Those Manic Seas, Lightfields @ Balliceaux – Free!
Then again, if you’re not a dyed-in-the-wool punk rocker, there are certainly other avenues open to you for live musical satisfaction this Friday night (wait, am I switching up the column format? Yr damn right I am! Good music is more important than sticking with the program any day). So here’s the deal: Those Manic Seas and Lightfields, a couple of excellent local indie rock bands, will be playing a free show at Balliceaux this Friday night. Each band made a really weird promo video for the show–you can see the manic-yet-silent Those Manic Seas clip, featuring their mannequin vocalist and a whole lot of static, above. The Lightfields clip, in which the band’s bassist spends two minutes eating a slice of pizza as smooth, sexy jazz music plays, is below this paragraph. By the way, where’s that pizza from? Based on my familiarity with the boxes of different pizza shops around town, I’m guessing Sgt. Pepper’s, but you should definitely offer your own guesses in the comments section below.
“But what about the music?” I hear you frantically enquire. Oh don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of that! As previously mentioned, Those Manic Seas feature a mannequin lead singer who delivers his vocals from a video monitor that replaces his head. The rest of the band performs wire-tight postpunk grooves that will get everyone in the room other than the mannequin dancing. These guys are a ton of fun anyway, and the planned addition of guest musicians from No BS! Brass Band and other local ensembles is sure to kick things up a notch. Meanwhile, Lightfields–as I’ve told you before–delivered one of my favorite RVA albums of the year thus far with this summer’s release of Junior, and their revival of early Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins sounds combined with catchy choruses worthy of Matthew Sweet or Big Star makes them a can’t-miss act in their own right. Plus, did I mention that this show is free? There’s really no reason to miss it!
Sunday, September 21, 8 PM
Golden Pelicans, Nervous Ticks, Hot Dolphin @ Bandito’s – Free!
The best way to end your weekend might be to get to bed early and get plenty of rest so you’re feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for work on Monday morning–but who needs that kind of warm n’ fuzzy crap when you could stay up til 2 AM at a wild and crazy rock show? Not me, not you, not anyone who isn’t totally boring! OK, now that we set the record straight on that, let’s all show up at Bandito’s this Sunday night and get ready to rock out when Florida’s Golden Pelicans hit the stage! Who knew that a band with such a weird and goofy name could be this rad? Guess it’s true what they say–all the good names really are taken. Anyway, Golden Pelicans have a new LP on Total Punk Records, and it’s full of rollicking sounds that will please all those out there who think spikes and black denim are OK but the TRUE meaning of punk is drunk rock n’ rollers in ripped jeans swilling beer and ripping off Chuck Berry at 1000 MPH. I must admit, it’s a viewpoint I have a lot of sympathy for, even if I don’t drink beer.
The Nervous Ticks and Hot Dolphin drink beer, though, and their hectic punk sounds will fit right in on this bill. I’ve told you plenty about both of these bands in the very recent past, but just for the hell of it, let’s review. The Nervous Ticks are so primitive, they make early Cramps albums sound highly polished and produced (no dis to Alex Chilton, for anyone who is as big a nerd as I am and just thought “Hey, wait a minute…”). Chaz Tick sings through a busted up harmonica mic (or something like that), Kyle Flanagan bangs on a flipped-over washtub, and Liza Jane shakes maracas and yells. It sounds like the gnarliest 50s rock n’ roll oddity playing through the shittiest transistor radio ever, and yes that IS a compliment. Hot Dolphin singer Lindsey Spurrier gets crazy while the rest of her band lays down some excellent rockin’ riffs, for a live performance that is always worth seeing. Get set for punk n’ roll madness in the land of nachos and football!
Monday, September 22, 7 PM
Vinyl Conflict presents Hard Skin, Kicker, Hard Stripes, Never Wrong @ Gallery 5 – $10
Hard Skin is a fun one. This band appears to be one thing, but in all actuality is quite another. What appears to be the absolute ultimate in Oi/skinhead punk music at first glance is called into question a bit once you realize that they’ve worked with guest vocalists like Joanna Newsom and Allison Mosshart (both on their recent LP Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear). If you dig deep enough, you’ll even learn that Hard Skin’s original drummer was Chris Acland of first-wave shoegazers Lush (dude at that link is mad about it too–LOL). What Hard Skin are really doing is taking the skinhead/oi! sound and culture to such extremes that they’re really just satirizing it–but what’s so bad about that? They write amazing tunes that bring the classic football-chant catchiness of Sham 69 together with Slade-style glam-rock licks and the excellent pop sensibility you should expect from ex-members of UK pop-punkers Wat Tyler and The ‘Tone. In the end it doesn’t matter what the silly-to-serious ratio of Hard Skin’s music and persona might be–what matters is how much fun their songs are. They are VERY fun. So pull your old Doc Martens down from the top shelf in your closet and head over to Gallery 5 Monday night.
You’ll have more great music to circle-pit to once you get there than just Hard Skin, by the way–count on that. California’s Kicker is on tour with Hard Skin, and while it might be fun to tell you that they feature members of Dystopia, Filth, and Neurosis, then let you try and figure out what to expect based on that, I’ll spoil the surprise and tell you the whole truth. Kicker is led by Pete The Roadie, a punk rock legend for his role in the early tours of the Subhumans and Amebix, among other classic UK punk bands. With Pete holding the mic, the Cali vets backing him rise to the occasion, and Kicker ends up cranking out some incredibly catchy UK 82 sounding tunes that will bring a grin to the face of any GBH/Conflict fan. RVA representatives Hard Stripes–who do their version of that midtempo post-oi American HC sound invented by Negative Approach–and Never Wrong–a straight-up Oi/punk band of the sort I had no idea existed around here–will kick this whole shebang off in fine style.
Tuesday, September 23, 8 PM
Strange Matter & Vinyl Conflict present Slaughter And The Dogs, Southside Stranglers, Cloak/Dagger, Eurotics @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets here: http://slaughterdogs.eventbrite.com/)
Here’s a bill sure to get anyone enamored of the original wave of punk rock drooling. Slaughter And The Dogs may not be as familiar a name as the Sex Pistols or The Clash, but these guys were right there on the scene when all those 77 UK punk bands were getting going. I’ve always thought that these guys were if anything a bridge between the earlier pub rock bands of that same geographic region (Dr. Feelgood, Eddie and the Hot Rods) and the London punks that everyone thinks about (see aforementioned bands, the Damned, Generation X, etc). This would explain the co-existence of classic rippers like “Cranked Up Really High” and mid-paced rock n’ roll tunes like “It’s Alright” on their first LP, I suppose… but why split hairs? If you like 70s punk, power-pop, or sped-up garage rock jams, you’ll find plenty to love where Slaughter And The Dogs are concerned. It’s amazing that a band from the dawn of punk is still kicking and ready to blast out some excellent tunes right here in RVA only a few short days from now–don’t miss it!
And even if you don’t know who the hell Slaughter And The Dogs are, you still have plenty of reason to be very excited about this show. The opening bands constitute a veritable who’s who of RVA punk rock over the past decade or so. For one thing, we’ve got not one but two reunion shows taking place. The Southside Stranglers, who broke up a few years ago, will be reuniting to blast RVA once again with their ragged-but-right brand of wild punk tunes–think The Dead Boys crossed with the Misfits or something. The Eurotics are back with a bang for at least one night as well, and these guys are reviving the 60s-vintage Back From The Grave sound that we’ve all come to love from Crypt Records comps and Teengenerate singles. Finally, the elusive Cloak/Dagger, the garage-rock/80s HC hybrid who never officially broke up but have been an extremely rare sight around RVA for years now, will deliver a set as part of the evening’s festivities. You don’t want to miss any of that, do you? I thought not! Get cranked up really high for this one, folks–you won’t regret it!
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]