The Imaginary Sons, Toxic Moxie, Venus Guytrap and more totally killed it at the Camel last week

by | May 5, 2016 | MUSIC

If the past week’s weather has taught me anything, it’s that when it rains, it pours.


If the past week’s weather has taught me anything, it’s that when it rains, it pours.

This can often be said as much of music as it can of rain, since this past weekend saw not one but two fantastic shows chock full of some of Richmond’s finest acts. So many, in fact, I’m going to have to split this into two reviews!

The first of these two events was Friday’s show at The Camel in honor of Imaginary Sons‘ recently released second album, Don’t Impress Me. Joining in the evening’s Bacchanalia were Eayaes, Headless Mantis, Venus Guytrap, and Toxic Moxie.

With a line-up like that, the best that most opening acts could hope for is to play as many songs as possible without embarrassing themselves, but Eayaes endeavored to, and succeeded in, doing more.

Mellow, choppy guitar concealed earnest, at times biting, lyrics, and woe to anyone that tuned out this set, because, in my mind, it represented the intersection between Indie Rock and Indie Rap. Though Eayaes is, strictly speaking, a Virginia Beach act, there is a certain Richmond quality to their sound, a blend of past, present, and, dare I say, future. I, for one, will be keeping any eye out for this act.

Act #2 was Headless Mantis, a self-styled “slimy junk punk” band, although I’d hardly describe them as either slimy or junk. Maybe in a philosophical sense, but in terms of music, they show a considerable amount of talent and taste. It’s as if they blended the sensibilities of Punk with the discipline of other forms of Rock. If this all sounds very vague, it is partially due to my own shortcomings as a writer, but mostly due to a refusal to be easily categorized on the part of the band.

Purists on both sides may take offense, but for those that enjoy having and eating their cake, consider Headless Mantis to be the best of both Punk and Garage.

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Smack dab in the middle of this musical sammich, we find the delightful Venus Guytrap. With a penchant for puns, this Indie Rock trio has a knack for knowing when to work the crowd into a frothy lather with rambunctious Punk and when to gently massage their ear-holes with something a little more subdued (but not too subdued).

The very nature of Punk sometimes drives Punk devotees towards excess, so it is refreshing to encounter a band that is fundamentally Punk, but has the discipline to check themselves before they wreck themselves, so to speak. Of course, you don’t have to to take my word for it, so anyone curious about that Venus Guytrap sound is encouraged to attend their forthcoming May 18th appearance at The Camel.

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It was at this time that the gentlemen of the hour, Imaginary Sons, took the stage.

Now, it’s one thing to attempt a shift in tone and style from song to song, but to attempt such a shift within the song, that takes a great deal of skill and cunning. To achieve such a feat would require a fundamental understanding of the very spirit of Rock, which is where Imaginary Sons truly distinguish themselves.

They understand the very nature of the Rock and the Roll, and are thus able to bend it to their purpose, which seemed to be successfully rocking as many people as humanly possible.

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And last, but not least, Toxic Moxie. You may be asking yourself how a lower-billed band gets to play the final slot, to which I’d say it had as much to do with the inherent class of Imaginary Sons as it has to do with the immense following Toxic Moxie enjoys in their hometown.

I mean, really, what more can be said about Toxic Moxie at this point? Their blend of Disco/Dance/Punk has for several years now been the source of sweaty dance-a-thons, why should that change now? Simply put, they stand in the forefront of Richmond’s collective music consciousness, and will likely remain there for some time.

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Despite Richmond’s unassuming exterior, it boasts quite a few gifted musical acts, and as long as we remains a safe haven of musicians and music lovers, I imagine we will continue to see many more brilliant artists.

Whether it’s something in the water, or the result of a high concentration of art students, there’s no denying there’s something about Richmond that brings out the best and weirdest in people.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner




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