VA Shows You Must See This Week: May 15 – May 21

by | May 15, 2019 | MUSIC

Monday, May 20, 7 PM
Cursive, Mewithoutyou, The Appleseed Cast @ The Broadberry – $22 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)

This show is an absolute bonanza for people who were crazy about emo fifteen years ago. I shouldn’t even have to tell you that I’m one of those people. Back in 2004, Cursive, a band closely associated with the Omaha scene that also produced Bright Eyes, The Faint, and Saddle Creek Records, had just topped off a string of killer emotionally-driven alt-rock albums with the instant classic The Ugly Organ. MewithoutYou had just released their stunning sophomore LP, Catch Us For The Foxes, which introduced a wider audience to frontman Aaron Weiss’s strangely moving story-songs. And The Appleseed Cast had both blown everyone away and helped to push the genre forward with a trio of amazing albums: Mare Vitalis, the two-volume Low Level Owl series, and the moving, unforgettable Two Conversations.

But look — this Monday night triple-header at The Broadberry is far from a pure nostalgia act. Oh, I’m sure the groups on this bill will play some old tunes you know and love, but all of them remain active, powerful creative forces to this day. Last year, Cursive reunited with original drummer Clint Schnase after a decade, released their first album in six years, and brought in cellist Megan Seibe to recapture the sound they’d had on previous high-water marks Burst And Bloom and The Ugly Organ. Vitriola turns out to be every bit as great as those emo classics, and should be more than capable of capturing the full attention of fans who currently plan to hit the bar during the new songs. (Yo, don’t be that guy. For real.)

MewithoutYou remains a powerful creative force fifteen years later as well. On 2018’s dual releases, an LP and an EP (both untitled), Aaron Weiss engaged in matter-of-fact examination of his own struggles with mental illness and the way it mirrors the mental illness in his ancestry and that of disparate historical figures, including European royalty from centuries past. And amazingly enough, the music behind this emotional travelogue is some of the best of the band’s career thus far. Meanwhile, it’s been six years since the last full LP of Appleseed Cast material, 2013’s Illumination Ritual, but Christopher Crisci and company released a new single, “Asking The Fire For Medicine,” in January, and it apparently heralds a new LP that seems sure to follow their recent pattern of atmospheric, melodic, progressive post-hardcore. Will they bust out some other new ones at The Broadberry? The prospect alone makes this one worth the trip.

Wednesday, May 15, 8 PM
Charming Disaster, Left-Handed Smoke Shifters @ Fallout – $7 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)

A simple way to describe Charming Disaster, who come to Richmond from their hometown of Brooklyn this very night, is as a gothic-folk duo. However, if such a descriptor conjures up thoughts of Comus, Current 93, or Simon Finn for you, then it’s been a bit misleading. There’s much more of the carnival folk traditions of old Europe in Charming Disaster’s music, and even as they bring a decided noir sensibility to their memorable ballads, there’s a clear sense of humor running throughout, letting you know that this, um, charming duo have a lot to offer besides pain and sadness.

Their brand new album, Spells & Rituals, doesn’t get an official release until June 7, so chances are you will not have an opportunity to pick up a copy for yourself at the show. But you will get a delightful preview of the excellent sounds on offer — just enough to whet your appetite for your very own pre-order. Opening sounds will be provided by Left-Handed Smoke Shifters, a band named after an old campfire joke and bringing together the talents of local bellydancing sensation Madame Onca and singer/vaudeville host extraordinaire Mark Slomski. It’s always nice to see what these two are up to, so don’t miss this one!

Thursday, May 16, 9 PM
BAT, Witchtrial, Under Attack @ Bandito’s – Free!

If you love metal, hardcore, and/or general headbanging madness, Bandito’s is the place you should be this Thursday night. This free show will serve as a record release party for not one, not two, but ALL THREE bands on this bill! BAT are your headliners, and it’s a fitting spot on the bill for a trio featuring current or former members of Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse, and DRI. This old-school thrash band has been inducing serious fist-pumping headbanging good times around Richmond and beyond for years now, and on this night, they’re releasing their second LP, Axestacy.

Axestacy takes things to the next level for BAT; it’s full of the kind of incredible riffs and ridiculous lyrics that fans of early Exodus or Dark Angel are sure to appreciate. They’ll probably also appreciate the new LP from Witchtrial; this DC band is releasing their first full-length on VA’s own Beach Impediment Records, and have a lot of links to the world of hardcore — but the music on their self-titled LP is pure thrash. With a roaring attack sure to remind you of prime German thrash, fans of Sodom and Kreator are definitely going to want to pay attention to this one. Not to be left out, Richmond’s own Under Attack are releasing a new tape full of speedy, no-frills hardcore on the Vinyl Conflict label, and if you dig pedal-to-the-metal ‘core action, you’re gonna want a copy of this. Since this show is free, you’ll be in prime financial position to pick up releases from all three of these ragers. But wait til after the set; you don’t want your brand new records getting messed up in the pit!

Friday, May 17, 8 PM
Perturbator, GOST, True Body @ The Broadberry – $20 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)

For those of you who were stoked to see Fallout on the list this week, only to be let down that it wasn’t an industrial show I’m sending you to there — take heart! For the industrial sound can be found in all sorts of places around town, if you know where to look. Take Perturbator’s arrival at The Broadberry this Friday night. People talk a lot with respect to Perturbator about spooky synth soundtracks to 70s and 80s Italian horror movies, and listen, there is a fair bit of that in Perturbator’s sound. But the group’s most recent LP, 2017’s New Model, is going to be even more familiar to fans of Skinny Puppy or Front 242 than it will be to fans of Goblin or Tangerine Dream.

Seriously, regardless of whatever you’ve heard thrown around about “retrosynth,” all you coldwave, postpunk, and industrial fans owe it to yourselves to listen to Perturbator. Because even if the hipsters don’t know how to contextualize this stuff, the goth kids are sure to understand. This is prime stomping-around-a-foggy-dancefloor-in-black-Docs music — black fingernails are definitely a plus. Just to further drive the point home, GOST is on this bill as well, bringing you the exact sort of industrial electro-pound that you know and crave. True Body will start the evening with some moody postpunk from right here in VA. Get the leather pants out, y’all.

Saturday, May 18, 5 PM
Spooky Cool, Outer Spaces, Opin, Julie Karr @ Hardywood – Free!

When you can give your band a name that actually describes your band, you’re really onto something good. Take Spooky Cool, for example; this Richmond band’s name may not tell you what genre they play or how many people are in the band, but it does offer you two specific bits of info: they’re spooky, and they’re cool. That’s enough to make a lot of people curious. And then when you actually hear this band’s hybrid math-prog alt-indie sound, you realize that the name hasn’t steered you wrong. There’s a definite spooky vibe to what this group is up to on their first EP, Every Thing Ever. And it’s definitely cool as hell.

Then there’s Outer Spaces, a band I’ve been excited about for quite a while now. This latest project of incredibly talented Baltimore singer-songwriter Cara Beth Satalino hasn’t released an LP since 2016’s A Shedding Snake, but is returning in a big way over the next month or so — first with a brand-new two-song EP on Saddle Creek, then with a new LP, Glazing Globe, scheduled for release next month. As a longtime fan, I couldn’t be more stoked, and the songs that have been released thus far from these two projects sound excellent, despite their genesis in anxiety, self-doubt, and the end of a long-term relationship. Hey, we’ve all been there, right? Sometimes making art is the best way out. Outer Spaces has made some great music in the past, and there’s no reason to think that’ll change now. Do yourself a favor and go see both of these groups. After all, the price is right.

Sunday, May 19, 7 PM
HIRS, Coherence, NØ MAN, .gif From God @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)

The most confrontational queer grindcore band ever finally comes to Richmond and I for one couldn’t be more stoked. HIRS grabbed some relatively mainstream attention in 2018 with the release of Friends, Lovers, Favorites, their first full-length of new material — relatively speaking, that is; its 20 songs still blow by in under 15 minutes. They’ve hardly rested on their laurels since then, cranking out several EPs in the past year or so, as well as a split LP of Nirvana covers with celebrated New Orleans sludge masters Thou.

When HIRS arrive in Richmond, you can expect the confrontational spirit embodied in past EP titles like Trans Girl Takeover, You Can’t Kill Us, and How To Stop Street Harassment, as well as the harsh, raging grind sound of their breakthrough LP, to hit you like a ton of bricks. It won’t just be lightspeed velocity, either — this group knows how to bring the most headcrushingly powerful of breakdowns as well. Basically, this is the heaviest band you’ll see in Richmond anytime this year, and you’re going to thoroughly enjoy having your head knocked off by them. Trust me.

Monday, May 20, 7 PM
Dehd, Blunt, Plastic Nancy @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 (order tickets HERE)

A few years ago, that whole droney jangly post-Velvet Underground sound was in the ascent in the indie world, and I was digging it. More recently, it seems like everyone’s on that synthesized bedroom-pop tip, which I guess is also cool, but I’m glad to see Dehd out here proving that the jangle-drone sound is not, um, dead. This Chicago band’s new LP, Water, shows that there are many possibilities for musical greatness embedded within the basic no-frills rock n’ roll package. By channeling VU and The Cramps through a more modern sound that reminds me of Parquet Courts, Beach Fossils, and the like, Dehd has created some serious gold soundz. Yes, with a Z.

Dehd will be joined on this bill by a couple of RVA newcomers with a lot to offer. Blunt takes a sludgy approach to dark garage punk sounds, while Plastic Nancy cranks out some psychedelic punk rock fun. This whole show is gonna rock like crazy, and in 2019, that can’t always be guaranteed. Treasure it when you find it.

Tuesday, May 21, 7 PM
Blessed, Unmaker, Serqet @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)

Some serious goth vibes going on around Richmond this week, although this Tuesday night show at The Camel only bears a passing resemblance to the other two shows this week that have led me to use that term. Specifically, Blessed play a gloomy, metallic form of postpunk that veers from morose to anxious on their debut LP, Salt, released earlier this spring. The results this Vancouver band are able to generate are transfixing in the extreme, and their reputation for live greatness only makes this show at The Camel feel that much more of an essential part of your midweek.

The fact that Richmond’s own Unmaker are on the bill as well only makes this an even more essential evening of sounds. This group shows off their more intense version of goth-metal awesomeness on debut full-length Firmament, an album that’s turned a lot of heads locally and nationally since its release six months ago. Mixing this powerful blend of Killing Joke-style rage with Blessed’s more deliberate approach will make for a heady musical brew, and adding the gothic peace-punk vibes of Serqet to the mixture is only going to take things to an even higher level. Get on board with this one.

Elsewhere Around The State:

Thursday, May 16, 7:30 PM
The Struts @ The NorVA – $22.50 in advance/$25.50 at the door (order tickets HERE)

The Struts are one of the more fascinating discoveries the mainstream rock world has yielded in recent years. This British band has a fashion sense that seems equally derived from Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, and the Sex Pistols, but musically, they land somewhere in the area of a 21st-century update on Queen. This group clearly comes from a modern time in which the backlash against the 80s hair-metal era has faded from youthful memory; rather than playing their glammed-out, swaggering rock n’ roll for over-the-top laughs the way The Darkness did, The Struts are 100 percent serious about their desire for world domination.

Which might be totally obnoxious if they didn’t have the songs to pull it off. Singles like “Could’ve Been Me,” “Kiss This,” and their collaboration with Kesha, “Body Talks,” are proven arena-rock anthems, and they’re sure to get the NorVA popping on Thursday night. Once you’ve seen The Struts blow the roof off the joint, all your doubts will be cleared away, leaving only the desire to rock! The Struts will definitely help you with that, though after the night that awaits you, you may feel the need to call in to work Friday morning. But hey, why not? That’s the rock n’ roll thing to do.

Sunday, May 19, 6 PM
Enforced, Copperhead, Flatline, Semtex, Bato @ West Beach Tavern – $10

I love the way a lot of tough-guy hardcore is metal as fuck these days. I mean, granted, I still don’t like to get up front at the shows (who enjoys having to keep your back to the band just so you can dodge flying fists and feet?), but the music sure is a lot better when I go to them, and that makes us middle-aged ladies standing in the back of the room real happy. Enforced have shown their crossover-thrash chops off both on tape and in the live environment for a while now, and with their At The Walls LP soon to drop, they’re about to take it to the next level. Get on board now.

Both Richmond’s own Enforced and fellow RVA thrash-masters Copperhead will be heading down to VB for this end-of-weekend rager at West Beach Tavern, and both will bring the sort of aggressive hardcore attack that, if you close your eyes (or even if you keep them open, considering how many longhairs there are in hardcore bands these days) you’ll likely mistake for straight-up metal. Which rules. They’ll be joined on this bill by three Hampton Roads-based ensembles; Flatline and Semtex bring a more straightforward Agnostic Front/Negative Approach-style HC attack, while Bato verge on fastcore with their speedy beats and energetic sound. The pit should be going hard from beginning to end at this one; I’ll be sure to stand back.


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):

Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.

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