Saturday, April 20, 8 PM
Battlemaster (Photo by David Morton), Sinister Purpose, Horse Culture, Doll Baby, Shormey @ Gallery 5 – $6 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
This year 420 falls on a weekend, and for quite a few of y’all out there, that’s a particular cause for celebration. I may not choose to partake in the herbal sacraments, but I like music and munchies as much as the next girl, so I can certainly appreciate a good 420 party — and Gallery 5 is throwing a great one this Saturday. My old roommate, who handled all the booking back when I lived at a show house, has moved up in the world, and is booking at Gallery 5 these days (remember that the next time someone tells you you’re wasting your time with all this DIY crap and it’ll never amount to anything), and she’s pulled together a show that reminds me of the great holiday shows we used to throw in our living room, not so long ago. Boy, a lot can change in three years, huh?
At the top of the bill, heading up Gallery 5’s 420 festivities for the third year in a row, is the almighty Battlemaster. Richmond’s death-thrash terrors may not be the most active of bands — it’s been four years since the release of their last LP — but their onstage energy is nothing to scoff at. Rest assured, when these maniacs start dishing out the riffs, blastbeats, and tortured screams, you’re gonna be headbanging at full speed just like everyone else in the room. Rockin’ rollin’ hardcore maniacs Sinister Purpose, who somehow manage to sound like Motorhead, Negative Approach, and the New Bomb Turks at the same time, are equally prepared to lay you out with their fierce sounds.
Horse Culture are also on the bill, presenting their multi-layered take on blackened shoegaze sludge. But it’s not all heaviness — the show will also feature a set of heartfelt melody and passionate emotion from Richmond faves Doll Baby, and Tidewater favorite Shormey will be joining in with some gorgeous electro-indie sounds. Plus, in a move that takes me back to the house-show days, this event will feature a table full of munchies to ease your 420 cravings, along with a photo spot and some fun temporary tattoos! Gotta keep shows interesting, right? What’s more, I really must advise you to buy your tickets in advance — if you wait to pay at the door, the price doubles. If that’s not an incentive, I don’t know what is.
Wednesday, April 17, 7 PM
Delta Sleep, Bogues, Hikes, Venus Milo @ The Canal Club – $15 in advance/$17 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There are those who will tell you that UK band Delta Sleep are math-rock, but if you ask me, that’s a bit of a misnomer. While they do incorporate the sort of delicate melodic complexity that has become a hallmark of post-Y2K math rock (replacing the harsh atonal noise that was the genre’s signature in the 90s), this band demonstrates on last year’s Ghost City that what really matters to them is creating music that moves you. They pull that off with aplomb and panache on their latest LP, and they’re sure to do the same when they hit the stage at the Canal Club tonight.
Nashville’s Bogues join Delta Sleep on this trip to Richmond, and while they’ve got an excellent sound in their own right, there’s definitely some daylight between the two out-of-towners. A solo-oriented project that sometimes takes the form of frontman AJ Gruenewald strumming an electric guitar and singing his heart out, Bogues have a strong melodic feel and a definite emotional orientation that’s likely to remind you of Julien Baker or Into It. Over It. in solo form. Texas band Hikes, who have a bit of the twinkly emo revival about them but are by no means easily slotted into a simple flavor-of-the-month genre, will also be on the bill to delight fans of tangled guitar leads, while relatively new locals Venus Milo kick the whole thing off.
Thursday, April 18, 7 PM
LA Guns @ Beacon Theatre – $22-30 (order tickets HERE)
One of the classic Sunset Strip glam metal bands of that genre’s 80s heyday, LA Guns have quite a storied history. Early lineups featured everyone from a pre-Guns n’ Roses Axl Rose (indeed, that’s where the “guns” half of his signature group’s name came from) to Weirdos/Germs drummer Nickey Beat, while more recent years saw longtime singer Phil Lewis and founding guitarist Tracii Guns leading two different versions of the group on competing US tours. Eep. Thankfully, the two buried the hatchet several years ago, and now lead a unified version of LA Guns once again (…though apparently the band’s longtime drummer now has a competing version with a bunch of randos he hired. It never ends, apparently).
Guns and Lewis will be coming to Hopewell’s Beacon Theatre, a venue that has quietly become the most reliable place in Virginia at which to see still-touring glam metal greats of decades past. I don’t know about y’all, but I for one am IN. A chance to hear classics like “Sex Action,” “Never Enough,” and “Rip And Tear,” along with the immortal power ballad “The Ballad Of Jayne,” of course — who could pass that up? These guys may not be as young and gorgeous as they once were, but the riffs are still straight fire, and that’s what should really matter, right? Head down to Hopewell this Thursday night, and let’s rock.
Friday, April 19, 8 PM
Cris Jacobs, Landon Elliott, Tavernier @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Singer-songwriter Cris Jacobs might be a relatively new name to some of you, but he’s been around for quite a while, getting his start in the early 00s fronting a Baltimore band called The Bridge. He’s been a solo artist for a while now, and his brand new album, Color Where You Are, features Richmond musicians Todd Herrington (Big Payback/Mekong Xpress) and Dusty Ray Simmons (DJ Williams Projekt/Fear Of Music) making up the rhythm section. And anybody who can recruit local talents like these to make up the core of his backing band, not only in the studio but on tour as well, is assuredly worth paying attention to.
Jacobs does a great job of laying out his sound on Color Where You Are, an album he wrote in the few spare moments he could find between his day job as a touring musician and his home life as a husband and father. The result is full of the hum and buzz of day to day life, a heartfelt album featuring touches of country, folk, and heartland rock all mingling together in a classically American sound. It’s the opposite of a stressful listen, and hearing Jacobs and his band bring the album to life at The Broadberry this Friday night is sure to ease your mind and help you put your cares aside. Don’t let the work week wear you out — come have some fun this Friday night with Cris Jacobs and his band. You’ll never regret it.
Saturday, April 20, 9 PM
Toward Space, Snake Mountain Revival, High Voltage @ Wonderland – $5
In the days since Slaughterama went away, I’ve been less than completely aware of what the dirt bike scene is like around Richmond. But there’s one thing I know that hasn’t changed in the years since I was up on all that — dirt bike kids are crazy. They do insane things frequently; it’s their idea of fun. And while I’ve never been the type to join in that kind of high-stakes broken-bone-risk action, I’ve always known how fun it is to watch. So the fact that FBM Bikes and DIG BMX will be holding the latest installment of their DIY World Championships at semi-secret bike/skate spot the Lost Bowl this Saturday lets me know that lots of fun will be had.
I can’t tell you where the Lost Bowl is, so #askapunk, but I can tell you that everyone will be headed straight for the bottom for the afterparty. I speak of Shockoe Bottom, of course, and the punkest bar in town, Wonderland. There, sets from (post-)teenage garage punk maniacs Toward Space and Virginia Beach-based psych-noise trio Snake Mountain Revival are set to get everyone flipping out. Plus, the evening will start with a (you guessed it) AC/DC tribute set from High Voltage, who based on their name are sure to go heavy on the Bon Scott era — as one should. So whether you make it to the Lost Bowl to see the crazy dirt bike action or not, you’re well advised to coast your dirt bike downhill to the Bottom and rock out with the BMX kids. Because as many of us know by now, BMX kids throw some incredible parties.
Sunday, April 21, 9 PM
HotSpit, Beeline, The Do-Nothings, Strawberry Moon @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Y’all, is HotSpit one word or two? I’ve certainly written it as both, and looking around facebook, I see I’m not the only one. Right now I’m going with the one-word-featuring-mid-word-capital-letter thing, but I’m sure in a few months I’ll have a much better understanding of what is correct. For you see, while HotSpit are a relatively new local band without too much history to draw on, I’m sure we’ll all be hearing a lot more about them in the next few months. Their demo shows a promising shoegaze quartet with strong vocal melodies and ringing guitars flexing their muscles and launching a distinctive and memorable sound.
So yeah, certainly the kind of band worth taking a Sunday night flyer on. HotSpit will be joined at The Camel by a few other local up-and-comers, first and foremost of which is Beeline. I hadn’t even heard this band’s name before now, but I’m glad they’ve been brought to my attention, as their demo shows off a catchy 90s-style jangly indie-rock sound that has significant charms. I’m already looking forward to more from these guys. The Do-Nothings, yet another new-to-me band, feature members of Recluse Raccoon playing some weird, shambling rock n’ roll that’s straight out of a basement somewhere in town. It’s hard to get a handle on, but it has its charms — as, of course, does Strawberry Moon, probably the most seasoned indie-pop group here, kicking off a fine bill that’s sure to please you, assuming you like catchy songs — and I’m not ashamed to say I do.
Monday, April 22, 7 PM
Jeremy Enigk, Tomo Nakayama @ The Canal Club – $16 (order tickets HERE)
Jeremy Enigk is a tough guy to figure out. Were he not so incredibly talented, people might have just given up trying to figure out what he’s up to. But as the frontman and chief songwriter for Sunny Day Real Estate, Enigk crafted some truly classic albums, the first of which, 1993’s Diary, has sometimes been credited with launching the emo genre (it didn’t really, but its importance can’t really be overstated). However, Enigk has broken up Sunny Day Real Estate, and post-SDRE band The Fire Theft, at least three separate times. It seems he’s ultimately most comfortable in the solo environment, and it’s as a solo artist that he returns to Richmond this Monday night for the first time in quite a while.
Enigk is currently touring behind his crowdfunded 2017 album Ghosts, his first release in nearly a decade. Fans quickly realized that his long period out of the spotlight had in no way diminished his songwriting powers, and indeed, Ghosts finds Enigk at the top of his game, his acoustic solo chops just as powerful in their own way as his louder electric sound was at the head of SDRE. The melancholy introspection and angst-ridden beauty of Enigk’s classic solo debut, Return Of The Frog Queen, shows through in abundance on Ghosts. The subdued, mostly-acoustic backing band provides a perfect canvas for Enigk’s gorgeous vocals and incredibly powerful guitar melodies. Enigk will come to town with a full band backing him up, and it’s easy to imagine the sound of Ghosts filling The Canal Club with gorgeous, vibrant sound. But why imagine it when you can be there? Get your tickets yesterday.
Tuesday, April 23, 7 PM
Crumb, Corridor, Lance Bangs, Slump @ Gallery 5 – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Psychedelic indie-rockers Crumb first came to my attention through the attentions of Citrus City Records, who released the cassette version of their self-titled debut EP, so it’s no surprise that the show-promotion arm of Citrus City, Underground Orchard, brings them to RVA once again this Tuesday night. Crumb, who hail from NYC these days, are preparing for the release of their debut LP, Jinx, which based on advance singles certainly seems like a deeper delve into the groovy, soulful take on indie-psych bounce that Crumb have made their stock in trade from day one. That’s certainly an appealing prospect.
They’ll be joined on their latest passage through RVA by Francophone Montreal group Corridor, who’ve demonstrated a Television/Parquet Courts-like facility for guitar-driven rock/punk/indie songcraft on releases like their 2017 full-length, Supermercado. Their toe-tapping melodies and popwise song construction also makes me think of late 80s/early 90s UK indie-pop groups like The Dentists or Heavenly, but I might be showing my age with references like that (as usual). Regardless, this two-band package packs enough of a soul-pop-indie-psych punch to keep you smiling throughout — and local support from slack alt-rockers Lance Bangs and psych-noise-core freaks Slump is a significant bonus.
Elsewhere around the state:
Friday, April 19, 7 PM
Bantustans, Han Gan, Broken Beaches, From Overseas @ Toast (Norfolk) – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Things are gonna get interesting at Norfolk’s Toast this Friday night, and I don’t mean that in a Top Five sort of way either. For starters, dual-drummer quartet Bantustans is at the top of the bill, and when they’re in the house, it’s always gonna be an unusual situation. While the group hasn’t released anything officially since 2016, they’ve recently been playing material from an upcoming album due for release sometime this year. And as with previous material, they continue to interweave complex guitar lines with even more complex multi-layered percussion to create instrumentals so intense and dynamic they have absolutely no need of vocals.
DC’s Han Gan will provide all the vocals you need, though, as Norfolk hometown boy Brian Nicewander, of storied 90s Norfolk post-hardcore group Words A Game, comes to town at the head of an energetic, Fugazi-esque trio with political energy and musical power to spare. If the group’s excellent 2018 debut, The City Of Magnificent Intentions, is any indication, this will be a proud homecoming indeed. Tidewater hometowners Broken Beaches, who have a heavy-grunge shoegaze vibe about them, and ambient guitar solo project From Overseas open this one up to get y’all going.
Saturday, April 20, 8 PM
Earthling, Red Death, Brick @ The Golden Pony (Harrisonburg) – $7
Harrisonburg metal heroes Earthling are celebrating 10 years of existence this weekend at their hometown venue, the Golden Pony. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but then, that’s life, isn’t it? It’s already been two years since the last Earthling full-length, Spinning In The Void, launched forth from Richmond’s own Forcefield Records, full of epic brutality and blackened psychedelic rage, so the fact that this band released their first demo all the way back in 2009 isn’t that shocking in retrospect.
It is, however, a cause for celebration, and Earthling will be celebrating at the Golden Pony this Saturday night. They’ll be joined by the almighty Red Death, who have connections to both DC and RVA, and who just signed to Century Media records a couple months ago. Their 2017 LP, Formidable Darkness, has the crossover thrash-core chops to make such a signing eminently apropos, and it seems likely that you’ll be seeing Red Death in much bigger venues in another six months or so. So join them at The Golden Pony now, and thrash to your heart’s content before you’ve got to compete with 1000 other hessians for your floor space. Harrisonburg hardcore crew Brick kick this whole thing off, and they’re gonna kick it HARD. Show up on time to this one, and get ready to go off.
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows (that take place after the week this column covers -– this week’s column has obviously already been written): [email protected]
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