Sound Check: Fighting Gravity, DIIV, Oddisee, and Upchuck


It is a fantastic week to get lost in music. The docket for this week is looking like nothing but refreshing and fulfilling tunes, absolutely what I need to combat the mood this ungodly and violent heat has presented to our pacifist city. With this lineup there is a bit of everything, heavy and soft, classic groups and artists breaking into bigger and bigger scenes, some grooves and even some bangers. The heat is on but luckily we got nothing but cool on stage this weekend. 

Got a show coming up? Or maybe a new album? Hit me up at and get in contact.

7/13: Fighting Gravity with The Connells and Awareness Art Ensemble

The city will be back out on Browns Island on Saturday for local rock statesmen Fighting Gravity. The group started out in the early 90’s as an active and action packed ska band under the name Boy O Boy, before changing their name and settling into a more guitar driven style reminiscent of groups like the Dave Matthews Band and the Barenaked Ladies. With this change they solidified themselves as hometown heroes. I first got the chance to see one of the members, David Peterson, up on stage when I was eighteen and was blown away by the determination and power of his performance. Since then, I have been lucky enough to see him multiple times perform at the charity punks for presents where he has always put on unforgettable shows. With the full group together I have no doubt this will be an incredible show. 

Our protagonists will be supported by a wildly diverse duo of bands. Starting the night off will be Awareness Art Ensemble, starting out as a spoken word/poetry group, now performing reggae and dub. My initial couple of listens had me thinking about legendary artist and producer Mikey Dread which I say with the utmost respect and honor. Following the reggae rollers will be The Connells. With a slew of hits in the 80’s and 90’s these guys are certainly not one note. With such an expansive and diverse catalog I found that I could find a song to match any mood I was in. 

sound-check-fighting-gravity-diiv-oddisee-and-upchuck_by Griffin Smalley_RVA Magazine 2024

7/13: Oddisee with Noah O at Richmond Music Hall

If you are trying to beat the heat on Saturday and need an indoor show, Oddisee will be at Richmond Music Hall. The DMV artist beautifully combines a variety of genres, including funk, soul, and jazz into refreshing hip-hop. His music has my ideal combination of older-style beats with very up-to-date vocals and lyricism. The sonic side is reminiscent of 60’s and 70’s style R&B, the kind that sinks you into some red shag carpet, but the bright and astute lyrics bring you right back up. I think this is the kind of artist you want to see here, before he returns to play a much bigger venue.  He is being supported by local rapper Noah O, whose style will resonate with fans of 90’s East Coast hip-hop. With more of an edge, Noah O  is a perfect way to get hyped for the night.

sound-check-fighting-gravity-diiv-oddisee-and-upchuck_by Griffin Smalley_RVA Magazine 2024

7/11: Upchuck with Artschool and Ratfight

I am sure many Richmonders will remember the packed Subhumans show last summer, and will certainly not have forgotten the support that dared to steal the show, Upchuck. This fast-paced and unstoppable punk band will be at the Camel on Thursday, fresh off of a string of shows in Europe supporting Amyl and the Sniffers. I have been lucky enough to see them twice and have been entranced by the action of this group. Machine gun drumming and alternatingly heavy and catchy riffs make this band a perfect group to dance to, and the vocals consistently have me ready to run through a concrete wall in pure inspiration.

The show will start off with local loose mutts Ratfight. Known for intense live shows, the group hops the border between punk and hardcore like bandits skipping town. Following the rats is Artschool. I myself front that band and hope that our music resonates with fans of the Stooges, Fontaines DC, and anyone who does not care how a band sounds.

Buy Tickets HERE

sound-check-fighting-gravity-diiv-oddisee-and-upchuck_by Griffin Smalley_RVA Magazine 2024

7/17: DIIV with Horse Jumper of Love and Dutch Interior

Fresh off their fifth album, DIIV is hitting the National on 7/17. With mesmerizing sonic presence and an entrancing vocal, the group really finds the listener in whatever corner they may have ended up in, and comforts them even just with ethereal presence. The new album found the band in an ultra-emotional state that could have ended in catastrophic collapse, but like any good redemption story, the hero has won and put out a tremendous album. Frog In Boiling Water, is absolutely what is needed in this, our modern times. It is incredibly up to date while still picking up influence from bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and the Pixies, delivering timeless messages. The title really sold me, with it describing the slow death a frog accepts as its tepid water slowly heats without it ever thinking twice. This band is clearly spirited and has the execution to match. I personally cannot wait to see these new songs live. 

Opening the show is Dutch Interior. Part of the ever-growing list of new and exciting acts on Fat Possum Records, the LA-based group finds themselves in a more straightforward indie rock world, providing songs perfect for that point in your life where you are grateful but still anticipating the life to come. Following them will be Horse Jumper of Love, the hard-working and passionate group out of Boston. This is one of those bands that kicked off a wave that is still actively rippling through music scenes across the country. Their heavy riffs against a beautifully calm rhythm cut straight to your guts. With two singles out this year, the group is still pulling out new exciting cards that I am sure will continue to inspire the next generation. 

New Tunes:


Spotify / Instagram

Local college-age rockers Dry Talkers have just released their debut Ep. These four songs are Richmond’s horse in the race of avant garde post punk that has been sweeping New York, LA, London and Bristol for the last few years. The group sounds professional, well rehearsed, and has made a statement that I support. 


Spotify / Instagram

VCU vocal student CHRISTIAN just put out an incredible double-A side premier release with VIRGO MAN/CANCER BOY. This is an unequivocal voice, I would put ten grand on this voice. Backed by a smooth rhythm section, I will be putting this on anytime I get that R&B or soul itch, and I promise, it satisfies. 

Griffin Smalley

Griffin Smalley

My name is Griffin Strummer Smalley and naturally with that name I am a massive music fan. Primarily you can find me fronting local punk band Artschool! As a fresh 21 year old I am currently cutting my teeth in music, writing, and painting. Keep on living!

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