The Virginia Metal Alliance

by | Jul 23, 2009 | MUSIC

Is genre-dedicated promotion necessary?  Certainly, promoters tend to stick to one genre or another.  You’ll not find a hip-hop promoter pushing a hardcore show, and electronica /rave promoters don’t push jazz.  But is the Virginia Metal Alliance really a promoter? 

Is genre-dedicated promotion necessary?  Certainly, promoters tend to stick to one genre or another.  You’ll not find a hip-hop promoter pushing a hardcore show, and electronica /rave promoters don’t push jazz.  But is the Virginia Metal Alliance really a promoter? 

I’m not sure.  It seems that an alliance is more than a promotions agent.  Nik is a dedicated metal fan, and his goal isn’t just to get shows booked.  His drive is for a fluid metal scene that supports itself, and certainly heavy metal needs it.  Small venues are often unreceptive to heavy metal.  I know this personally after working with a very capable local promoter, attempting to bring metal shows into a now-defunct venue that usually only partook in hip-hop & top 40 nights.  We were told that they’d love to do metal shows… so long as none of the bands did any screaming, and a dress code could be enforced.  They eventually said that we could book bands that were half screaming, half singing, but we’d also have to pay for extra security, of course, as metal fans are just so violent that the security risk is elevated.  No moshing or crowd surfing, either.  As if the conversation was going anywhere, I left the discussion table when the venue got around to asking us to supplement their insurance payments. 

Perhaps if Nik had been at the table, things would have been different.  Here is a promoter who is sick of the “pay-to-play” mentality common among booking agents and promoters.  Nik does booking and promotions, along with Jo and Eric.  They are rounded out by Trish, who in addition to promotions does design and graphics.  Together, they are the Virginia Metal Alliance.  Their goal is to promote VA’s metal, and to bring more emerging and established acts to VA.   
It’s easy to say here that Richmond doesn’t need it.  Richmond is a beacon of metal, after all!  Metal bands practically play bar mitzvahs in RVA.  Lamb of God, Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour and other national touring acts are from here.  You can catch a metal show almost any night of the week.  And this is one of the things that make quality, dedicated promoters so much more essential.  In a city as saturated with good, heavy music as Richmond, booking a show should be easy, right?  Wrong. 

Approaching a venue to book a show- especially early in a band’s career- can be like trying to sell sand to the Saudis.  Consider that most young bands might have only a terrible quality recording of themselves made in a garage- if they have anything at all.  It can be pretty tough to convince a club owner (or even a booking agent) to come to your practice space and check out your sound. 

These are the problems that the Virginia Metal Alliance seeks to solve.  They started as the Richmond Music Union, but as metal fans, decided to become the Richmond Metal Alliance.  Realizing that the metal scene was much larger than just Richmond, they evolved into their current title. But what is metal? 

I’ve been an enthusiast and musician within the genre for over a decade, and despite being a big fan of metal, I am by no means an expert.  I miss a lot of great bands, and I’m constantly discovering ones I’ve overlooked for years.   Of the few bands I’ve been in, none have ever had a booking agent, and the shows I played were either bills booked by the venue or ourselves. I’ve been squeezed into overbooked lineups, and thrown on stage as the only attraction.  The incongruence can be extremely frustrating, especially as a band without a substantial following.  Larger acts can be hard to book and play with if you can’t draw a good crowd on your own yet.  There is such disparity of taste within the genre, from musicians and fans alike, that metal shows often devolve into discussions on which band was more metal, or more brutal.  One person’s definition of heavy music can differ greatly from another’s, making a good crowd that likes all acts on a bill a hard thing to find.   

Nik offers this: “Metal for me, always involves killer guitars and thunderous drums, but it is more of an attitude.  I really hate that elitist concept that metal only has one look and one sound.  Bands like Construkt are the epitome of a metal band that has a different face and a different sound.” 

Within this working definition, they make no judgments as to who they book.  A lot of the bands they promote may qualify as punk or hardcore by a metal purist, however, purity is not their goal.  Shows are.  VA Beach, Charlottesville, and RVA have the biggest scenes currently, however NoVA and SW VA are also in the mix.  They’ll book shows anywhere that metal can be booked, however The Element Club, Alley Katz, and the Pit in North Carolina are among the few places that are notably metal-friendly. 

Promoting shows isn’t easy, but the VMA reports that despite some bumps in the road, it hasn’t been too arduous of a task.  They’ve also made some great friends along the way; some bands (mostly VA) that Nik suggests:
Krass Judgement
and the list goes on…..

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

RVA culture rag since 2005. #RVA

more in music

A Bit of Stasis: An Interview with Palmyra

On a cold Tuesday afternoon I found myself sitting around a poker table with the three members of one of my favorite local bands, Palmyra. Although the table was not set for us to play, I was hosting a game later that evening, the image was still rather amusing to me...

RVA Shows You Must See This Week: November 30 – December 6

FEATURED SHOW Saturday, December 3, 7 PM Alabama Thunderpussy, Suplecs, Loud Night @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House - $20 in advance, $25 day of show (order tickets HERE) I must admit, I never thought this day would come. Then again, I never thought I'd see...

RVA Mag’s Black Friday Richmond Music Video Roundup

We get sent a lot of music videos by local groups here at RVA Mag. And of course, since we are always trying to keep track of what’s happening in the local music scene, we stumble across a whole bunch of videos on our own time. The result is an ever-growing list of...

RVA Shows You Must See This Week November 23 – November 29

FEATURED SHOW Saturday, November 26, 8 PM Holy Roller (Photo by Joey Wharton), Chris Leggett & The Copper Line, Drew Foust @ The Camel - $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE) That extended end-of-year season known as "The Holidays" has officially...

Noise, Cosplay, and Body Horror: The Rise Of ROTWL

In my role as the general tracker of upcoming shows in and around the Richmond area, I hear about a whole lot of bands that are active in Virginia -- sometimes from the moment they play their very first show. Over the past eight years of show-column-writing, I've seen...

Strumming in the Underground: Richmond’s House Show Scene

Sometime in late 2018 I was at a house show to see one of my favorite local bands, Plastic Nancy. There must have been over a hundred people packed into a tiny living room, with bodies spilling into the kitchen and outside onto the back deck. Sweat and smoke mixed...


Pin It on Pinterest