RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 9/3-9/9

by | Sep 3, 2014 | SHOW PICKS

Tuesday, September 9, 9 PM
Total Slacker, PAWS, Flashlights @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show

OK seriously–is 2014 the year of the alt-rock revival? I’m hearing more and more bands who sound less like 1997 Urbana and more like 1991 Boston every time I turn around… and I totally love it. Perhaps the alt-rock revival is more something I really want to happen than something that is happening, but you’d never know it if you check out the latest work from Brooklyn’s Total Slacker.

Tuesday, September 9, 9 PM
Total Slacker, PAWS, Flashlights @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show

OK seriously–is 2014 the year of the alt-rock revival? I’m hearing more and more bands who sound less like 1997 Urbana and more like 1991 Boston every time I turn around… and I totally love it. Perhaps the alt-rock revival is more something I really want to happen than something that is happening, but you’d never know it if you check out the latest work from Brooklyn’s Total Slacker. Yes, that’s right, their name and hometown is so MTV-in-the-early-90s it hurts, but their second album, Slip Away, which came out in the spring of this year, feels oh so good. That perfect hybrid of shimmering vocal melodies and super-catchy choruses driven by hazy, distorted guitars and pounding drums is something this crew have completely mastered. Songs like “Super Big Gulp” and “Fight The Babysitter’s Boyfriend” sound like long-lost 120 Minutes classics, and they’re sure to knock you out in a live environment. Not bad for a bunch of slackers!

Total Slacker are on tour with two other guitar-slinging alt-rock revival crews, neither of whom are from anywhere near Brooklyn. PAWS come from Glasgow, Scotland, the land of essential indie pioneers like The Jesus And Mary Chain and Teenage Fanclub, and they’ve got the exact love of jangly guitars, upbeat catchy tunes, and feedback that such a lineage would lead you to expect. Their recordings are kinda lo-fi, which surely just means they’ll be loud, sloppy, and perfect when they hit the stage Tuesday night.

And what about Flashlights? Well, this Floridian crew might be the most sheerly fun and bouncy of all three of the bands on this bill. Their new record, Bummer Summer, dropped back in June–perfect timing for maximum titular appropriateness–but regardless of their extremely emo lyrics, these citizens of the land of sunshine make music that’s not a bummer in any way. There’s a bit of the emo revival sound here–I wouldn’t be surprised if fans of The Hotelier or Driver Friendly enjoyed these guys–but their guitar sound is more Superchunk than Into It. Over It., so my alt-rock revival theory remains intact. Put as much or as little stock into it as you wish, I really don’t care–but go to this show. You’ll thank me later.

Wednesday, September 3, 8 PM
Mutual Benefit (photo by Ben Stas), Soft Cat, Vince Kane @ Strange Matter – $12

OK, here’s just another example of Strange Matter staying on top of things and working to bring us all the latest in great, popular sounds of all genres. Mutual Benefit are the new hotness in the indie world, and if you don’t believe me, their gorgeous, delicate debut LP, Love’s Crushing Diamond, scored a Pitchfork Best New Music rating upon its release last fall. That’s proof enough, right? And it’s no wonder, because in a time when Animal Collective’s star has seemed slightly on the wane and indie kids are turning to huge bands with festival-filling sounds (ahem, Arcade Fire), Mutual Benefit shows that the soft, warm, pillowy sound of indie-folk is not dead. Love’s Crushing Diamond sounds like those excellent quiet albums that were knocking everyone out circa 2004–The Creek Drank The Cradle, The Milk-Eyed Mender, Rejoicing In The Hands, etc. And for the younger RVA set who don’t remember all that stuff, think Wolf//Goat’s In Watermelon Sugar, and smile.

Baltimore’s Soft Cat is also on this bill, and while they’re doing a bit of a different thing than Mutual Benefit, they achieve much the same soft, warm feel–so in this case, their band name constitutes a bit of a spoiler alert. But who can complain about that? Who among us does not love cats? (If you just raised your hand, don’t tell me–I’d rather not know.) As with Mutual Benefit, who tour as a sextet, Soft Cat does at times create such a smooth, pretty sound that it can be surprising to realize so many people are in the band. But when you pay closer attention, you’ll realize that there are multiple layers of violins, cellos, fingerpicked guitars, and of course vocal harmonies all over this music. You might need to keep your voices down while you’re watching Soft Cat perform (my advice would be to write your drink orders on a piece of paper and pass them to the bartender), but it’ll be worth it. Local artist Vince Kane will kick things off with a solo acoustic set.

Thursday, September 4, 6 PM
Hail Blackbird, Grass Panther @ The Camel – Free!

Local online publication Anti-Mag was a thing around here for a while back in 2011 or so, but a couple of years ago, it seemed to drop out of sight. Fortunately for us, it has returned, and not just in the sense that new articles, mostly focused on the artistic community, have been appearing on its website in recent months, either. Anti-Mag’s fearless leader, Lady J, has been booking monthly “Thirst Fursday” live music nights at The Camel for the past couple of months. These are happy hour shows, with bands starting not long after you get off work and ending in plenty of time for you to get to bed at a reasonable hour. None of us are as young as we once were, after all, and the way almost everything in this town takes til 10 PM to get started can get exhausting. If you’ve got work on Friday morning, Thirst Fursday offers you the perfect opportunity to head home early without being a boring old stick-in-the-mud.

And this month, it’s got some pretty great bands on offer as well! Hail Blackbird are the main course here, and these former members of More Fire For Burning People, Lorem Ipsum, and more are carrying on with their longtime tradition of making hectic yet groovy post-hardcore music that will totally inspire that awkward emo-kid backpack shuffle we all used to do back in 1995. Our pants were bigger then, but let’s not dwell on past fashion mistakes. Besides, I’m still carrying a backpack to shows, so that proves I haven’t really wised up. Grass Panther is the other band on the bill, and this project, led by Canary Oh Canary’s Michael Harl, is a bit more straight-up rockin’ than you might expect from that guy. No new wave here, at least not from the limited amount of music we’ve heard (about 90 seconds worth, to be specific). Is this project really as punk as it seems from what’s on their bandcamp page, or is one song just not enough to give you an accurate idea of what any band sounds like? It’s probably a little of both, but if you head over to The Camel on Thursday evening, you can find out for yourself. And cop some drink specials while you’re there. Bonus!

Friday September 5, 9 PM
Zomes, Floodbeast, IGM, Ancient Browser, Thieves Of Shiloh @ 25 Watt – $7

Don’t worry, folks–just like you, I am perfectly aware that Fall Line Fest is happening in RVA on Friday and Saturday night this week. I’m sure plenty of you are going to it, and hey, more power to you! But I’m sure you know all you need to know about that particular event already, and since you can’t get into any of the individual shows without buying a pass for either the entire day or the entire weekend, there’s really no point in me writing about any single show from that 2-day, 11-show smorgasbord, is there? Besides, it’s not like the rest of the town will take the weekend off from live music. If Fall Line Fest is not your bag, there’s still plenty else that you could do, and one of the best ways you can spend your non-Fall Line Friday night is by heading down to 25 Watt, that new punk venue in Shockoe Bottom, and catching Zomes.

Zomes are a synth-driven experimental duo led by Lungfish guitarist Asa Osborne. Originally a solo act, Osborne was joined for 2013’s Time Was by Swedish singer Hanna Olivegren, which added a whole new dimension to the sound of the project. Osborne’s stately synth dirges become experiences of ethereal beauty once Olivegren starts singing, and over time, the sound rises to envelop you. It’s like drowning in the loveliest sea of sound ever. Which is not something that can really be said about the opening acts on this show–Floodbeast, IGM, Ancient Browser, and Thieves Of Shiloh all have their own harsher, spookier brands of experimental noise to present to you this evening. However, all of these artists, both local and touring, are united in one thing–the power of drone. Experience it for yourself, in all its different manifestations, at 25 Watt on Friday night.

Saturday, September 6, 9 PM
Everyone Dies In the End, Omega Boys, Burn/Ward, Slowing @ Empire – Free!

Saturday night also has a lovely showcase of local talent to offer those of you who aren’t planning to cop a wristband for Fall Line Fest–and with admission being free, it is infinitely cheaper. (This will surely be helpful for everyone who used their entire first paycheck of the month on covering the rent.) Plus, you will get to enjoy some of the best bands currently active in the Richmond scene–none of whom sound remotely like each other. Hey, something for everyone! Everyone Dies In The End are your headliners, and it makes sense–with the recent vinyl release of their debut album, All Things Lead To This, these guys are really stirring up some buzz. A lot of people outside this town are big fans of their sprawling, cinematically-oriented instrumentals, and it’s about time the locals got familiar as well. Fans of Godspeed You Black Emperor, Explosions In the Sky, Mogwai and the like will dig this quartet.

Meanwhile, those who grew up on classic old-school punk are in for a treat when Omega Boys take the stage. This quartet, featuring ex-members of The Ladies, My War, and Sonic Nectar, straddle that thin line between punk and hardcore, shifting between slower Ramones-ish riffs and sped up hardcore fury. Burn/Ward are way faster and more raging, with their set of unrelenting power-violence jams pretty much guaranteed to be over in 15 minutes or less. They pack a lot of noise into that amount of time, though, so don’t be fooled. The whole evening starts with the first ever live performance by Slowing, about which I know little other than the ex-member factor: Highness, Soft Time, Crater. Word has it they are “Americana doom.” So, expect something similar to Woven Hand or maybe late-period Earth, and be prepared for that educated guess about their sound to be totally wrong.

Sunday, September 7, 7 PM
Nik Turner’s Hawkwind, Witch Mountain, Hedersleben, Lost Tribe @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets here: https://nikturner.eventbrite.com/)

This Sunday, legends walk among us. While Hawkwind may not be talked up in the same tiresome way that the baby boomers over at Rolling Stone have spent the last 40 years mythologizing Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin (all of whom are very good, don’t get me wrong), Hawkwind were if anything even more important to the evolution of cosmic, spacefaring psychedelic music in the late 60s and early 70s. In their prime, this band brought together hippie freaks, acid casualties, and proto-metal biker types (before the formation of Motorhead, Lemmy spent several years playing bass in Hawkwind) to make music that was simultaneously experimental, blissed-out, and heavy as fuck. At the forefront of it all was Nik Turner, the band’s saxophonist, flute player, and sometime vocalist, who made significant contributions to Hawkwind’s best albums, most famously writing and singing the career highlight, “Brainstorm.” Turner left and rejoined the band multiple times over the years, which led to a bit of a strange situation. As with a lot of great (and not-so-great) long-running bands over the years (see also: LA Guns, TSOL, Yes, The Byrds, etc), longstanding acrimony between members of Hawkwind’s classic lineup has resulted in the existence of multiple versions of the band at the same time. Nik Turner’s version is the one that will be at Strange Matter this Sunday; however, for fans of the band, the distinction should not be important. Turner will be onstage performing and singing his best Hawkwind songs, backed by a band of talented psychedelic veterans; how many times in your life will you get the opportunity to see that? Turner’s 73 years old these days, so chances are there won’t be many more. Don’t let this one go to waste–get yourself a ticket and be at this show.

There are some other great bands on the bill as well, most importantly Hedersleben, who will be acting as Nik Turner’s backing band as well as playing a set of their own. These epic purveyors of psychedelic sounds are led by former UK Subs guitarist Nicky Garratt, and have previously backed up the reformed Brainticket, as well as acting as Turner’s band for his most recent album, Space Gypsy. These guys know what they’re doing, in other words, and their Krautrock-infused psych-drone sound is sure to cause spontaneous levitation. Meanwhile, veteran female-fronted proto-metal doomsters Witch Mountain will also be on the bill, and as this is their last tour fronted by the incredible Uta Plotkin–whose considerable talents took the band’s latest album, Mobile Of Angels, to another level entirely–you really don’t want to miss their set either. Spooky goth punks Lost Tribe open the whole thing up with a gloomier, more spectral take on psychedelia, making this entire show absolutely essential.

Monday, September 8, 7:30 PM
Zorch, Dumb Waiter, New Turks @ Gallery 5 – $3

After the kind of weekend we’re all planning to have, you might think it’d be a good idea to slow down, maybe spend a quiet evening at home. However, Gallery 5 is dead set on making sure you don’t do that. And with a show this cheap, you really can’t afford not to go! Austin, TX keyboard/drums duo Zorch will be in the house for an unbelievable three-bands-for-three-bucks bill. I thought specials like these went out with the turn of the millennium, but obviously Gallery 5 loves us and wants us to be happy–it’s the only explanation. Zorch have a marvelously happy sound to share with you; it’s the sort of blissful, candy-colored psych that is often associated with the Flaming Lips–which makes it all the more appropriate that Zorch recently participated in the Flaming Lips’ Sgt. Pepper cover album. So there you go, that’s what you’re in for on Monday night at Gallery 5. For $3, how can you miss it?

And I haven’t even mentioned the dynamic duo of RVA bands that are kicking off this entire extravaganza. You should know about Dumb Waiter and New Turks already, especially if you’re reading this magazine–it’s not like we haven’t told you all about them. But on the off chance that you’re a VCU freshman who just hit town, let’s get you up to speed. Dumb Waiter are an instrumental quartet featuring sax, guitar, bass, and drums, all working together to produce some sort of previously-unheard math-jazz-metal hybrid. New Turks are a bass/drum noise-rock duo showing you don’t need six string guitars to be extremely heavy. To understand more, you’ll just have to listen–and you can do that at Gallery 5 on Monday night. See you there!

Tuesday, September 9, 9 PM
Liquor Store, Bummers Eve, The Ar-Kaics @ Empire – $8

Are you the sort of person to use the phrase “yeah buddy” regularly in casual conversation? If so, then you should absolutely head over to Empire next Tuesday and catch New Jersey’s Liquor Store, because these guys are speaking your language. Their first record really was called Yeah Buddy, and its sloppy, intoxicated take on rock n’ roll screamed out the band’s New Jersey origins in a fashion impossible to ignore. Plus, these guys took a page from Diarrhea Planet’s book and got three guitarists for a band that really probably could’ve gotten by with two, making the whole thing way louder than it needed to be. Loud can be obnoxious sometimes, but when you’re in a bar after midnight on a weeknight yelling with your buddies and pretending you don’t have to be at work in 7 hours, loud and obnoxious rock n’ roll is the best shit in the world. Except maybe for that pizza you’re gonna get on the way home from the show, that is. Yeah buddy!

Ohio’s Bummers Eve (they spell it without an apostrophe, and I’m not gonna correct them… can you imagine that conversation? I think it would probably end with a beer getting dumped on my head) are bringing their raw garage stylings for this show as well. These guys remind me of Jay Reatard back when he was still beating on overturned buckets for a drum sound, though they at lesat are in a real studio with real instruments. Primitive punk rage is always awesome, and they’ve got enough to go around. RVA’s own The Ar-Kaics will also be on this show, and while I’m not sure whether they’ll be opening up or closing out, you’ll be in for a treat no matter when they start playing. These guys are the Back From The Grave comps brought back to life–which isn’t to say the members are zombies, they’re actually very attractive young men and women. I’m just saying, Tim Warren would flip for their brand of retro rock n’ roll. And you should too.

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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