The music festival of this RVA summer is happening next weekend! WRIR and Commonwealth Of Notions Presents: Volume Four features local bands old and new, and has expanded from its previous single-day length to a four-day weekend beginning Thursday, July 17 and lasting through Sunday, July 20.
The music festival of this RVA summer is happening next weekend! WRIR and Commonwealth Of Notions Presents: Volume Four features local bands old and new, and has expanded from its previous single-day length to a four-day weekend beginning Thursday, July 17 and lasting through Sunday, July 20. In its four years of existence, this event has come a long way from being what it was in its first years to being the four-day extravaganza it is today, and founder/organizer Shannon Cleary hopes that the limits will be pushed even further this year. Featuring 19 different RVA groups with a variety of musical backgrounds and histories, the weekend promises twists and experimentations the likes of which have never been seen before from these artists.
This festival was established the year after Cleary’s Commonwealth of Notions radio show began on WRIR in 2009. The radio show is a “…local music showcase first and foremost,” Cleary explained. “But … it has a little bit of watchful eye to it, where it sort of tries to hone in on things that I might personally be attracted to in the Richmond music scene. Sometimes they’re up and coming artists, and sometimes they might be … a band I caught way too late in the game.” The annual Commonwealth Of Notions festivals were designed to present this same mix of artists old and new in a live setting, bringing Cleary’s curatorial vision to life onstage.
Shannon Cleary. Photo by Lee Huband
Last year’s Volume Three festival was the first time the event had been spread over four days. By Saturday, audience members seemed pretty fatigued, and Cleary and his support group–which includes Tim Falen and Lindsey Spurrier of WRIR–aimed to make it easier for this year’s audience to attend each and every part of the festival. “I always get frustrated when I go to festivals and I can’t see everything. You know, when there are two bands playing at the same time,” Cleary said. “That can happen whether it’s Fall Line Fest […] or you’re going out to Coachella or something, and you have to choose between seeing Deerhunter and Spoon. You want to see both of them, but you can’t. With what I’m doing, if someone wanted to go see all 19 bands, that’s an opportunity available to them.”
Cleary was also concerned about making the weekend affordable, so people would be able to swing the whole weekend financially. With Thursday’s show at Balliceaux, Friday’s show at Strange Matter, and the Saturday night show at Gallery 5 being priced at $5 each, while the Saturday afternoon show at Steady Sounds and Sunday night show at Ipanema are both free, the most the entire weekend would cost a concert-goer is $15. “The aim and the goal is to make it easily accessible to people to see all of the music or as little of it as they want,” Cleary stated.
Cleary sees the weekend as offering Richmond bands the chance to play “unique types of sets.” “Because this is a show in your hometown, why not just take the chance of doing something crazy?” is his message to bands taking part in the festivities. In the past bands, local bands have done collaborations and covered each other’s material. “The Snowy Owls did a White Laces cover in the second year, and then in the third year Baby Help Me Forget got back together and played for the first and only time with two drummers. There’s no limits really,” Cleary said.
This year is the first time Cleary is bringing back bands that have played the event in the past. “It’s this thought of reflecting back on the years past and figuring out a way to incorporate that, and also keeping the spirit of the festival kind of intact,” he conveys. “Heavy Midgets [released] Super King this year, which I think totally transformed them as a band. They’re tighter, their creativity is going in a different direction, and it’s really wonderful to witness that. And then the Snowy Owls have new members in the band, as does Clair Morgan… things like that. Nick [Woods] played with a band last time and he’ll be doing a solo performance this time. And Microwaves, Eddie [Prendergast]’s band, doesn’t sound anything like [his previous groups], Amazing Ghost or Big East.”
New bands that Cleary is particularly excited about include Avers and Hypercolor. “Avers are pretty big right now, they’re doing pretty well for themselves,” he said. “And so when I approached them, I was pretty surprised that not only were they available but they were so eager to be a part of it.” Two other bands that are joining this year that Cleary has been seeking for years are Sundials and The Awesome Few.
This event not only offers something for audience members, but for the bands themselves. “They all seem really excited to be playing with each other,” Cleary said. Lightfields, playing on Friday, July 18th at Strange Matter as part of the festival, even created a Spotify playlist featuring 103 songs from 12 of the 19 artists performing, in order to “help make it convenient for you to listen to all the bands playing next week.” You can hear the full playlist by clicking HERE.
With WRIR and Commonwealth Of Notions Presents: Volume Four, you’re being given the perfect chance to see some local bands you love and maybe even discover some new favorites, while supporting WRIR in the process. The event begins on Thursday July 17 at Balliceaux; to see the full lineup and schedule for the entire festival, click here.