Saturday, September 26, 6 PM
Let There Be GWAR book signing, feat. Kepone, Manzara, DJ Marty Violence @ Hardywood – Free!
Ladies and gentlemen, this weekend at Hardywood, the first name in Richmond music rears its frightening alien countenance once again.
Saturday, September 26, 6 PM
Let There Be GWAR book signing, feat. Kepone, Manzara, DJ Marty Violence @ Hardywood – Free!
Ladies and gentlemen, this weekend at Hardywood, the first name in Richmond music rears its frightening alien countenance once again. That’s right, it’s GWAR, the metal band of 10-foot-tall aliens conceived in the pre-gentrification ramshackle artist’s refuge of Jackson Ward and now, over 30 years later, a certified local and worldwide metal/punk institution. Slave Pit foreman and RVA music historian Bob Gorman has joined up wtih Gingko Press to release Let There Be GWAR, a gigantic coffee table book documenting the rise of GWAR in deluxe full-color fashion, and will be celebrating its release with a party in high style at Hardywood this Saturday evening.
Gorman will be signing and selling copies of this gorgeous hardcover book throughout the evening, as Hardywood staff keeps the entire crowd supplied with high-quality craft beer libations. DJ Marty Violence, of Steady Sounds/Teargas Rock/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists fame, will be spinning tunes commemorating the three-decade lineage of GWAR during the first couple of hours of the event, but starting at 8 PM, we’ll be treated to a couple of essential live performances as well. Kepone are the headliners, and as perhaps the best band in a purely musical sense to come out of the GWAR family tree, they’ll keep everyone smiling and dancing with their awesome melodic post-hardcore/math-rock grooves. Manzara will also be on hand for a performance, and this trio featuring members of Canary Oh Canary and Four Hundred Years will also delight with their spooky psychedelic postpunk tunes.
The entire thing is happening at Hardywood this Saturday night for free, and it’s a good thing too, because I won’t lie to you–copies of Let There Be GWAR will set you back a significant chunk of change. Having said that, this is a worthy investment–as a historical document of the past three decades in Richmond cultural history, it really can’t be beat, and you’re going to want to have this book lying around in your living room and freaking out unsuspecting visitors to your home for decades to come. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to own a piece of Richmond’s awesomely weird musical history.
Wednesday, September 23, 9 PM
MC Chikin, Homemade Bread @ The Camel – Free!
Are we responsible for this? MC Chikin was a bit of a viral sensation a couple of weeks ago after one of my colleagues posted the video for his debut(?) single, “Richmond River Rat,” here on RVAmag.com. While I wouldn’t agree with any of the negative superlatives said colleague foisted on the video (I’ve seen far worse out of Richmond), it is a purely ridiculous video, featuring some ludicrous rapping and riverside antics from MC Chikin and his pal Magic Mane. If there’s any value here, it’s in the humorous novelty of it all–but that’s never stopped me from recommending a show before, and I definitely advise that you head down to the Camel tonight and see what the whole MC Chikin thing is all about in a live, indoor setting.
Also performing on this gig is Homemade Bread, and this local jam/funk band features Macon Mann, aka MC Chikin himself, on keyboards. That’s the plot twist revealed by Style Weekly’s Brent Baldwin, who actually interviewed MC Chikin (why didn’t we do this?) and learned that he’s a jazz piano major at VCU who actually has some real musical talent. MC Chikin is a silly, fun side project to celebrate his love of trap music, which, hey, why not? If he’s having fun making it, maybe you’ll have fun watching it–and you’ll be able to catch one of his serious musical endeavors at the same time. Judge for yourself; after all, it’s a free show, so it’ll only cost you a couple hours of your time. Seems likely to provide some midweek laughs as well, and we could all use more of those.
Thursday, September 24, 9 PM
Hank Wood And The Hammerheads, The Nervous Ticks, Terminal Five @ Strange Matter – $7
The punks are getting totally degenerate and crazy on Thursday night at Strange Matter. Hank Wood And The Hammerheads, an NYC group who’s been creating a hell of a buzz for the past several years with their brand of raw rock n’ roll craziness, will be hitting town with a bang, blasting us all with the more legally legit sequel to their previous performance in town–which apparently happened under a bridge somewhere (don’t ask me, nobody tells me about these things). These ragers released their second LP, Stay Home–a more organized and well-recorded companion to debut album Go Home–last year, and it’s a totally rad wall of noise. Primitive riffs from the dawn of rock n’ roll meet synth-fueled craziness in a manner that reminds me simultaneously of early Cramps, first-EP Butthole Surfers, and the legendary Hasil Adkins. This must be experienced to be believed.
And of course, whether you’ve heard the Hammerheads or not, I’m sure the previous paragraph’s description was enough all by itself to let you know that their closest spiritual/musical kinship here in RVA would be with the maniacal Nervous Ticks. Well, sure enough, that’s who’s opening up for Hank Wood And The Hammerheads tomorrow night, and as those who’ve caught recent sets by this group can tell you, they’ve augmented their own ridiculously primitive punk n’ roll setup with some harsh blasts of synth noise in recent months as well. Look forward to new explorations into musical craziness from these lovely people. And the whole evening will start off with a set from The Terminal Five, a brand new band in which 4/5 of the now-departed Slugz have replaced their missing member with one of the Satan’s Satyrs crew and cranked out a forthcoming snotty punk rager to be released on cassette soon(?) by Feel It Records. Catch some of that rage live and in person to start off this fine evening of punk rock decadence.
Friday, September 25, 8 PM
Goldrush, Clair Morgan, Todd Matthews, Miriam Martin @ Gallery 5 – Free!
There’s always something rad going on at Gallery 5 on First Friday, and it’s usually free, but I’m not really used to getting a similar reprise later in the month. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a new tradition, though, because celebrations of cool underground art and music are always rad, especially when they happen at the best gallery (and one of the best music venues) in town. This Friday is a special occasion not only because it’s your last chance to see the art by Jimmy Joe Roche and Johnson Foster, which will be on display one last time before it’s taken down to make room for next month’s opening. It’s also a celebration for the release of the latest EP by local power-pop mainstays Goldrush!
Summer Sun is a collection of several songs celebrating the band’s excellent, Beatlesque mixture of indie-rock tunefulness and classical stringed instrumentation. It also features a humorous anti-astrology song, which is always tops in my book. Come out to see Goldrush dish out a bunch of brand new tunes, plus all the songs you’ve come to know and love from this band over the past several years. And while you’re at it, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a set by Clair Morgan, who’s no slouch in the power-pop department himself (themselves? Pronouns are difficult with bands named after their frontmen). Everyone’s clamoring for that new LP, but you can stave off your hunger with this live performance, which will doubtless showcase some as-yet-unreleased tunes. My Darling Fury bassist Todd Matthews will also be on hand laying down a solo set in which he’ll show that he can do some great work on his own, as he did on 2012’s Uh Oh, Here Come The Pig Mammoths (check that album out if you haven’t). The evening will begin with a solo set from honey-voiced former Kindling Kind frontwoman Miriam Martin, which will also be essential.
Saturday, September 26, 9 PM
Peace Beast, Camp Howard, California Death, The Wimps @ Strange Matter – $5
Well this is an unexpected pleasure! The return of Peace Beast was not something I expected to see anytime soon, in light of the fact that half of the band–namely moonlighting Diamond Center members Kyle Harris and Brandi Price–moved halfway across the country recently. However, it appears that singer/guitarist Kelly Queener and drummer Joe Lunsford (Young Sinclairs/Avers) have reconstituted their band as a trio featuring Hot Dolphin’s Alison Hancock on bass. Cool deal! They’ll be celebrating the recent release of their Tough Cloud full-length cassette on Hope For The Tape Deck, and considering there are only 100 physical copies of this jam available, you might want to grab one Saturday night while you have the opportunity. It’s a great collection of the band’s reliably awesome psychedelic power-pop, and I’m sure you’ll get just as great a live set from the now-trio when they take the stage.
There’s more local power-pop excellence where that came from; this evening is the latest in Strange Matter’s irregular Locals Only series, and a few buzzworthy RVA bands are joining up with Peace Beast to give you an evening of catchy local tuneage. Camp Howard has been drumming up a local fanbase of some significance with their fun, poppy songs, driven by the winning vocals and songwriting talent of frontman Nic Perea. California Death take things in a darker psychedelic postpunk direction, but keep toes tapping with excellent guitar leads. Finally, The Wimps start off the evening with some 60s-style garage pop sounds that are sure to make fans of both John Lennon and Lou Reed smile.
Sunday, September 27, 5 PM
Iron Reagan Beer Release Show, feat. Iron Reagan, Valient Thorr, Give, Unsacred @ Strangeways Brewing – Free!
The sheer amount of free ragers happening this weekend here in Richmond truly constitutes an embarrassment of riches, and the crowning glory will take place this Sunday afternoon at Strangeways Brewing. As with many metal and punk bands–including some of the members’ other bands–Iron Reagan will be receiving a signature beer from Strangeways, and they’ll be celebrating that release with a free show at Strangeways this Sunday that sure appears to be happening outdoors (I’ve seen no specific mention of this, but the flyer says “rain or shine,” so I’m going by context clues here). Just Say Go is the name of the beer, and that’s perfect for a band of raging thrashers who love to play fast and get rowdy. The fact that this beer apparently has some traces of jellybeans mixed in takes me back to the 80s, when every punk band worth their salt had an anti-Reagan song. I guess we can laugh now that Ronnie’s safely in his grave…
Anyway, the musical portion of this affair is what I’m really interested in, since I abstain from alcoholic beverages. Iron Reagan will give us all a set of thrash madness that should enliven the proceedings regardless of relative individual intoxication. Then Valient Thorr, whose singer Valient Himself has been more visible around RVA lately as the frontman for his post-hardcore group Brief Lives, will unleash their full metal glory on a stoked and starved RVA crowd full of headbangers. We’ll be privileged to get a set from DC hardcore dudes Give as part of this whole shebang as well–their Electric Flower Circus LP has been one of my faves this year (even though it technically came out at the end of 2014), and I know from having caught them in a Jackson Ward living room last summer that they’re an incredible live band you should absolutely not miss. The whole thing kicks off with some ripping black metal punkness from Unsacred–don’t miss a minute!
Monday, September 28, 9 PM
The Mynabirds, Bad Bad Hats, Venus Guy Trap @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://themynabirdsrva.eventbrite.com/)
There’ll be some really pretty electronic pop music happening next Monday at Strange Matter, and after a weekend of total metal madness, I’m sure this will be a breath of fresh air for a lot of people. The Mynabirds (not to be confused with that band Neil Young and Rick James did together in the 60s) is a project led by Laura Burhenn, a sometime member of the Postal Service and a great singer/songwriter in her own right. Recent album Lovers Know, out on Saddle Creek, is full of gorgeous melodies and lush keyboard washes, which should appeal to fans of Bat For Lashes, CHVRCHES, and Haim, among others. Expect to be entranced when these songbirds take the stage at Strange Matter.
Joining The Mynabirds on tour are Bad Bad Hats, a female-fronted trio with more of a guitar-driven alternative rock sound, but an equal appeal for lovers of catchy, melodic tunes. Rest assured, there are electronic textures here, but they tend to take more of a background role, with singer/guitarist Kerry Alexander dominating the proceedings in fine fashion. And these two female-fronted touring projects are perfectly paired with local up-and-comers Venus Guy Trap, whose soulful alt-rock songs have some serious 90s influences and a lot of heart. Overall, this is gonna be sweet. Be there.
Tuesday, September 29, 8 PM
Rumput @ Balliceaux – Free!
Let’s wrap up this week’s column with something completely different and rather unexpected from a known commodity on the RVA music scene. Singer/guitarist Hannah Marie Standiford has shown her talent over the past several years as the frontwoman for multiple projects, most notably alt-rockers Cardinal Compass and old-time balladeers Hannah Marie and the Bearded Ladies. Now she’s turning her talents towards an intriguing hybrid of the old-time sounds she loves and an Indonesian style of music known as kroncong. Apparently exposure to Indonesian music through the work of local gamelan ensemble Gamelan Raga Kusuma led her down this path, which eventually culminated in a year-long trip to Indonesia and an eventual television performance on what Style Weekly describes as “the Indonesian equivalent of Oprah.” Crazy, right?
So anyway, Hannah Marie’s back in town and has formed a shifting ensemble of her own called Rumput, who’ll be taking the stage at Balliceaux next Tuesday to bring us all a varied selection of old US and UK folk songs and traditional Indonesian folk music. Their website refers to the group as “old-time Indo-Appalachian string-band music.” Now I ask you–is this not intriguing as hell? Do you not want to hear a band that sounds like a cross between the Anthology of American Folk Music and raga drone music? I know I do! The YouTube clips shared on Rumput’s website are just a taste–it seems like one would have to catch this live to experience it fully. So hey, why not head down to Balliceaux on Tuesday night and take it all in? It’s guaranteed to be the kind of thing you don’t see every day in this town. Expand your horizons.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]