Friday, July 5, 9 PM
SeeYouSpaceCowboy (Photo by Marte Rowsam), Heavens Die, .gif From God, Nature Freak @ Wonderland – $10
Oh boy, I am super-stoked for this one! And not just because SeeYouSpaceCowboy, one of my favorite metallic hardcore bands of the past few years, is coming to town, but because for once, they’re playing a legally-sanctioned venue rather than a house party. That means I can tell you all about it, and in doing so, point out the underground hotbed that is Richmond’s metallic hardcore/noise/screamo/etc scene — something I rarely get to talk to you guys about, since it mostly takes place in basements and living rooms around the less gentrified parts of town. So don’t just go to this show to rock out — go to this show to learn. If you talk to the right people, you’ve got a good chance of hearing about all the underground spots that host shows like this on a weekly basis — spots I can’t tell you about, because there are hella narcs on the internet.
But none of this would have any purpose if it weren’t for how great of a show this is truly gonna be, and how great all the local shows like this are, no matter the venue. This one is particularly exciting to me because of the arrival of SeeYouSpaceCowboy, a Cowboy Bebop-referencing metallic hardcore band hailing from California and bringing serious pedal-to-the-metal spastic energy on their recent Pure Noise Records debut, Songs For The Firing Squad. This release collects all their early EPs and splits, along with a couple of new songs, to hit you with all the frenetic blast beats, stop-on-a-dime tempo changes, and brutal breakdowns that make this band such a standout.
The fact that SeeYouSpaceCowboy have hit the (relative) bigtime by signing to Pure Noise Records means that, like other screamo-associated bands of the past few years, they’re now in prime position to disassociate themselves from the scene that birthed them. But while Vein publicly insulted Richmond’s own .gif From God on their way up, SeeYouSpaceCowboy are playing with them at this show, so that’s certainly a positive sign. It’s also a benefit for you, the showgoer, since .gif From God is probably the best spastic noisy metalcore band in America other than SeeYouSpaceCowboy right now. The bill is rounded out by Heaven’s Die, who will travel down from VA’s Shenandoah Mountains to bring us some serious low-end mosh brutality, and local newcomers Nature Freak, who have some strong death-thrash DNA and are sure to get your head bangin’.
Wednesday, July 3, 8 PM
Alexander Mack (Photo by Cory Hammons), Ryan Com @ The Dark Room – $8 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes midweek brings us big bands stopping through RVA on their way from one huge city to another. But when it doesn’t, you can always count on local venues like The Hofheimer and Vagabond to spotlight some deserving locals and give us some good music to spend our hump day evenings with. This show is actually part of a weekly series called Underexposed, presented each Wednesday at The Hof’s Dark Room, and while the combination of Underexposed with a rapper named Alexander Mack makes “secret world” jokes nigh-irresistible, I have to wonder if the young rapper, who named his most recent album ’91 Two Forty after a Volvo that probably seems ancient to him, is even old enough to get those jokes.
It doesn’t matter to you, the listener, though — what’s important to you is whether this young rapper and producer has a good enough sound to make it worth your while to go see him tonight. The answer from me is a resounding “Yes!”, especially if you like jazzy hip hop with breezy, upbeat flows from a talented lyricist who isn’t above dropping a perfectly-sung hook on ya every now and then. Based on what I’m hearing, it doesn’t seem as if Alexander Mack will remain a secret for long. Meanwhile, Northern Virginia rhymer/singer Ryan Cam has more of an R&B energy on his recent Star Power EP, which will add some contrasting flavor to this evening of fine music you probably haven’t encountered before. It’s the perfect time to get familiar.
Thursday, July 4, 7 PM
He Is Legend, The Native Howl, Vegan Llamas, The Huntrs @ The Canal Club – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I know, I know, it’s America’s birthday, and there’s a ton of Independence Day-themed stuff going on around town on Thursday night. But, can I be honest with you? As a socialist trans woman in the age of Trump, I am about as sick as could be of all the rah-rah flag-waving bullshit I encounter each day. And don’t even get me started on the “Blue Lives Matter” flags I see stuck to car bumpers and flying from trucks every time I leave the house. Fireworks are cool, but where the Fourth of July is concerned this year, I mostly just want to stay inside and get it over with.
Fortunately, there is one show happening in town tomorrow night that’s themed around kickass music. He Is Legend are coming back to town, and only a couple months after I last wrote about them, I’m sending you to see them again so that all of us can escape the jingoism and bang our heads to killer tunes from the band’s sixth and latest album, White Bat. He Is Legend are definitely Southern boys, hailing from Florida and letting some of that swampy blues-sludge energy shine through on their latest material, but this veteran metalcore group has always been obsessed with occult matters, so I’m hoping they don’t stop the show mid-set to demand that we pledge allegiance to the flag or anything. God knows I get enough of that bullshit at car shows these days. Shut up and mosh.
Friday, July 5, 7 PM
Genosha, Ruin By Design, Vulcanite, The Donalds, Illist, Eliza Battle @ Sound Of Music Studios – $5
As Virginia bands go, neither Genosha nor Ruin By Design get enough attention. Genosha definitely proved their worth on last year’s LP, Our Conspiracy, which showed that these Orange County boys have a strong command of blackened thrash, metallic hardcore, and brutal mosh riffage. Meanwhile, veteran quartet Ruin By Design showed off their melodic hardcore chops on last year’s From Ashes To Empowerment, bringing us a tough yet catchy and politically informed sound totally befitting a band featuring former members of none other than Avail.
Now, on Merger, a new split EP on Settle For It Records, these two bands have combined forces in an attempt to take their sounds twice as far as either have gotten on their own. And they’ll be celebrating the musical excellence they’ve created together with this release show at Sound Of Music Studios, right here in good ol’ RVA. You’re going to want to be there, and not just to be blown away by the amazing musical power and performance fury of these two bands, either — they’ve brought together a murderer’s row of fellow Virginia bands to act as support, from punk rockers the Donalds to metallic hardcore maniacs Eliza Battle. This one’s gonna be outstanding; those of you who haven’t caught on to the brilliance of Genosha and Ruin By Design need to get your asses to this show.
Saturday, July 6, 9 PM
Sadistik, Nickelus F, Elucid, MTFR @ Wonderland – $10
I’ve been doing this column for too long. You know how I know? Because sometimes I’m looking at a facebook event page and feel like I’m being personally called out. It’s probably all in my head (seriously, writing about ten shows a week for over five years starts to get to you), but regardless, I will admit it — OK, OK, Wonderland isn’t just for punk and metal shows (anymore). Sadistik is coming through town to prove this to me and anyone else who hasn’t gotten the memo yet with a unique sound that I’d have to describe as gothic hip hop.
On his latest album, Haunted Gardens, Seattle’s own Sadistik raps about dark, heavy subjects overtop of ambient goth beats and funereal melodies, which is kind of what he’s been doing throughout his career. If you liked the downcast melodies of that Soundcloud emo-rap movement that sprung up a few years ago, but really wished for more lyrical skills to go with them, Sadistik is here to grant you that wish. And he’ll be joined on this bill not only by Richmond’s foremost practitioner of rhyme skills, the almighty Nickelus F, but hard-hitting, intelligent New York rapper Elucid and MTFR of South Florida’s Nobodies. They’ll prove you can enjoy an outstanding show at Wonderland without ever feeling the urge to headbang.
Sunday, July 7, 7 PM
Party Nails, PRXZM, Rodes Rollins, Museum District @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Are you ready to dance? You better be this Sunday night, because Party Nails is coming to town, and this LA singer/songwriter/producer has some incredibly catchy electro-pop for you. When she starts dishing out tunes from her latest LP, Past Lives And Paychecks, you’re going to find yourself moving whether you’d planned to or not — so you’ll need to be prepared.
The synth-pop sound she cultivates in her music will definitely appeal to those among you who appreciate an 80s-retro good time, but if your aesthetic is firmly based in the 21st century, no worries — Party Nails has a modern appeal that comes through not only in her multilayered grooves but in the way-too-real subjects she deals with in the lyrics of songs like “So Broke” and “The Luxury Of Love” — seems like all of us are spending are last dollars to have a good time these days, and Party Nails knows that feel. Drop your last couple bucks on a ticket to this show, and dance your cares away.
Monday, July 8, 8 PM
Enforced, Gazm, Deviant, Itch @ Cary Street Cafe – $10
It’s time once again to bring some serious rage to the unlikely confines of Cary Street Cafe, as your Monday night gets exploded with some extremely heavy metallic thrashcore courtesy of Enforced. This RVA quintet has brought major heaviness to the mainstream-hardcore scene, and is about to demonstrate the fullness of their powerful talent on debut full-length At The Walls, coming later this month. Get an in-person preview at Cary Street Cafe this Monday night, and be prepared for some decidedly non-hippiefied mosh.
This show will also mark the final date of a weeklong tour that pairs Montreal’s Gazm with Richmond’s own Deviant. Gazm just released an LP entitled Heavy Vibe Music, but if you think that means they’re gonna hit you with some laid-back psychedelic haze, think again — this Canadian crew manages to mix heavy hardcore riffs with a snotty punk attitude and even, yes, a little bit of psychedelic weirdness to create something rather unique in today’s hardcore scene. Meanwhile, Deviant plays fast, angry hardcore that is primarily focused on a dark, nihilistic, and self-abnegating approach to the idea of sexuality. It’s fascinating, and a bit disturbing, but ultimately riveting, especially when they get that maniacal speed going. Local demo-core heroes Itch will get this whole thing started, apparently for the last time ever — so don’t miss a moment of this one.
Tuesday, July 9, 7:30 PM
Ghost Ship Octavius (Photo by MetalTitans), Rising Revolution @ The Camel – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This is a great one for all you fans of progressive metal. Whether you prefer the erudite approach taken by Opeth and Porcupine Tree or the operatic occult stylings of Borknagar and Arcturus, you’re sure to find an appeal in Ghost Ship Octavius’s music. Formed by members of Nevermore and God Forbid, this group brings quite a pedigree to their symphonic heaviness.
But it’s vocalist Adon Fanion that really takes them to the next level; his soaring vocal melodies are the most overtly beautiful element of their sound. Meanwhile, the group’s lyrical approach brings majestic, haunted thematic elements to complex songs made up of multiple movements and intriguing dynamic textures — exactly the sort of thing that lends itself to such dramatic lyrics. This group is going to take you on a musical journey when you enter into the Camel on Tuesday night — have the courage to set sail with them. The trip will bring tremendous rewards.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Thursday, July 4, 8 PM
Pelicanesis, Walkie Talkie, Secret Ninja Death Squad @ The Golden Pony – $7 ($5 with space suit)
This truly unique July 4th show all but defies description. However, as one who is never at a loss for words, I will sure give it the old college try. Pelicanesis is a band from Harrisonburg who were active in the earlier part of this decade, releasing an album entitled A New Sun back in 2011. That album detailed the story behind Pelicanesis’s origin, one every bit as complicated as the plot to the Star Wars series, and which I will not even attempt to recapitulate here. The important thing you need to know is that Pelicanesis’s music is intended to act as a recruiting tool for an intergalactic mission to the Pelican Nebula to save the civilization of Sarmantia from future apocalypse.
That’s why you’ll get two bucks off the admission price if you show up to this Pelicanesis reunion show in a spacesuit: the band needs you to join with them and fight off an alien apocalypse. Or something like that — all I can tell you for sure is that you’ll be graced with an evening of digitally-infused progressive metal that somehow manages to be equally reminiscent of Thrice, Squarepusher, Grandaddy, and Iron Maiden. And how often does the opportunity to enjoy such a unique sound come around? Clearly not that often, so instead of worrying about the petty concerns of a self-congratulatory nation on a tiny blue planet, you really might want to consider spending your Independence Day with these heroes from another galaxy. The mission is critical.
Saturday, July 6, 9 PM
Bato, Worn, Raw Breed, Kept In Line @ Studio 239B – $5
Saturday night brings raw hardcore rage to a random studio in Norfolk, courtesy of Brain Hemorrhage Records. Bato, who stand among the fastest and angriest bands Hampton Roads has to offer, are joined on this bill by Pennsylvania’s Worn, who mark themselves as devastating practitioners of His Hero Is Gone-style D-beat hardcore madness on their recent EP, Not Your Game. Expect these guys to unleash a whirlwind of circle-pit fury when they take the stage.
They’ll be joined on this excursion to the 757 by Raw Breed, a Colorado-based collection of ragers who go for more of a straight-up tough-guy HC power on their most recent EP, Collected — which combines two different two-to-three-minute demo releases onto one vinyl 7 inch that still clocks in under five minutes. These guys get straight to the point, and do so with a vengeance. The evening is kicked off by a performance from Chesapeake’s Kept In Line. This band is not only straight edge but named after a Left For Dead song, so I am on board for their furious, noisy attack. Get on board for this show by showing up at 25th and Llewellyn in Norfolk Saturday night. All will become clear once you arrive.
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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