Friday, April 8, 7 PM
Andrew Alli & Josh Small, Mackenzie Roark, Woody Woodworth & The Piners @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
The pandemic’s been tough on music lovers, but some fans have had an easier time than others. After all, some artists were very active with the whole online-streaming thing, starting up weekly web appearances and such. And then, there were other artists, often of the “bedroom pop” and “solo producer” varieties, who had never really been big on live performance anyway. Those artists kept uploading to their soundcloud and bandcamp accounts like nothing had changed. However, if you were a fan of Josh Small, the pandemic just might have been pretty tough on you. After all, Small’s never been a very online sort of guy. His last attempt at a social media page was on facebook; it was maintained by someone else, and the last time it was posted to was in 2013. What’s more — and this is a real bummer — his last solo album was 2011’s Juke, which is over a decade old at this point.
No, the way to keep up on Josh Small has always been to find out where he’s playing and show up. That has often meant going to see Tim Barry, as Small’s been an accompanist for Barry on quite a few tours over the years. In more recent times, he’s teamed up with champion harmonica player and blues shouter Andrew Alli, who has brought him into the modern world a bit (the only remotely up-to-date info about Small these days is found on Alli’s website), and with whom he released a collaborative self-titled EP in 2018. The work the two of them create together is somewhat different from Small’s heartfelt emo-folk laments; for one thing, Alli generally takes lead vocals, unleashing his forceful tenor in a more traditional blues fashion that always makes me think of Muddy Waters in his acoustic moments. For another, Alli and Small’s tunes mix elements of Small’s folk background with Alli’s deep blues roots, resulting in a hybrid of classic Chicago blues with old-time folk earthiness.
So yeah, whether you’re coming to this show as a fan of Josh Small’s long history as a local hidden treasure, of Andrew Alli’s full-throated, joyous harp blasts, or strictly the combination of the two, you’re gonna get a real treat that’s been denied us all for the past two years. That’s the best reason I can think of to leave the house this weekend, and I’m including dollar tacos in that list. What’s even more awesome is that we’ll get a set of solo tunes from local country-folk singer Mackenzie Roark in the bargain, plus a set from Woody Woodworth and the Piners, a local Americana combo with a down-home honky-tonk feel that’ll sure sound nice echoing through Gallery 5. Speaking of which, isn’t it nice whenever we get shows at Gallery 5 these days? They’ve become understandably rare — you just can’t be too careful these days — but they always have been a treat, and they continue to be. Make sure you get your fill of this one.
Wednesday, April 6, 7 PM
Cliff And Ivy, Gothic Lizard, Widow Rings @ Fallout – $7 in advance, $10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Friends of mine back in the day used to make jokes about how American bands could never really pull off the grim harshness of Scandinavian metal bands. “Oh, where are they from, the frozen wastelands of Kansas?” And they were often correct in that assessment; American bands generally do not understand how grim it is up north. You can’t say that about Cliff And Ivy, though; this gothic duo hails from Anchorage, Alaska, which is actually farther north of the Equator than Oslo and Stockholm. These two know from frozen wastelands!
That being said, their music isn’t actually trying to be grim or foreboding at all. On 2021 EP Bring Us the Night, their approach is much more comparable to the spookiest of the first-wave punk and hardcore bands of the early 80s. If you’re a fan of The Damned, The Misfits/Samhain, TSOL, or the first Christian Death LP, the way Cliff And Ivy mix gloomy gothic atmosphere with an undeniably energetic and aggressive sound should be right up your alley. The evening will also feature sets from cryptic goth-industrial solo project Gothic Lizard and from moody synth-goth vibe merchants Widow Rings, meaning you’ll get a good primer in what’s going on in the local goth scene in the bargain. Who could complain about that?
Thursday, April 7, 10 PM
9th Ward Judy, Gsambo, Elkridge Chase @ Mainstage – $30 (order tickets HERE)
Around here, it seems like the main experience the music scene has with New Orleans bounce music comes from Big Freedia and the explicitly LGBTQ-oriented subgenre of sissy bounce. But have you ever contemplated the fact that there’s a whole world of… um, for lack of better description, hetero bounce? It’s true, it exists, and Nola’s own 9th Ward Judy is a leading exponent of that whole vibe circa 2022. Recent singles like “Shake Up Da Hoes” and “Throw That” make clear that she’s bringing that classic bounce sound — the one that makes you want to twerk until you pass out — and if you like to dance, she’s someone you need to check out.
It’s not just music, either — she’s a social media influencer, a workout queen, and a certified twerk champion. And while I don’t want to objectify anyone, it’s really hard to talk about 9th Ward Judy without talking about, um… rear-facing assets. Which is to say, she likes to shake her booty and she doesn’t really care what you think about it. So if you’re ready to get down and shake that ass, you need to show up on Thursday night at Mainstage — who seems to be bringing a lot of hip-hop related live shows to Richmond over the next few months, so shoutout to them — ready to do some serious twerking. Don’t forget to hydrate, y’all.
Friday, April 8, 8 PM
Essential Machine, Tanglewood Revival, Kingyoso @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Free shows at Garden Grove are always a great thing, and when they bring us high quality content like this event, it’s hard to feel anything but blessed. Pennsylvania’s Essential Machine, who are headlining this show, are a true family band. Formed by life partners RJ and Karen Dietrich, the band is now a trio, rounded out by RJ and Karen’s 20-year-old son Robert. These days, if you hear that kind of thing about a band, you expect them to be gospel or something, but no, Essential Machine are a pretty classic post-punk alternative rock project that mix the melodic jangle of REM with the dark psychedelic vibes of The Dream Syndicate.
Essential Machine are currently on tour in advance of their new EP, Exponential Crisis, which comes out on Lemon Tree Records next month. I hunted high and low, but you can’t actually listen to any advance singles from the EP anywhere online yet. However, if 2019 full-length Wildfires is any indication of what they’ve got up their sleeve on their new release, you’re in for a treat. That said, they’ve been very upfront about the fact that the pandemic had a significant effect on their writing process. How did that show up in the finished tunes? You can wait for the EP’s mid-May release date to find out… but why wait when you can just roll up and see them at Garden Grove on Friday? After all, the price is right — and we both know you need something cool to do after a long week of work.
Saturday, April 9, 8 PM
Nancy Raygun (Photo by Jack Durham), Midnite Taxi, Roughshod, The Background Action, The Wearing Hands @ Black Iris – $7 in advance, $10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
The post-pandemic era is giving rise to a new social order in the local music scene. While other venues fell by the wayside during lockdown, returning as places that do maybe one or two shows a month if they still do them at all, places like Black Iris have stepped up, more and more frequently augmenting the visual art they have on display in their gallery with musical performances by some of the city’s best artists. Meanwhile, the ecosystem of local bands has had a bit of a shakeup as well, and one name rising to the top more and more frequently in our brave new live-music world is that of Nancy Raygun, whose psychedelic approach to alt-rock results in memorable tunes and arresting live performances — exactly what the world needs in this enjoyment-starved era.
This show is a great place to start if you’re not familiar with the club or the headlining band in question, but even if you’re intimately acquainted with both, there’s a lot more to enjoy on this bill as well. Post-collegiate alt-rock combo Midnite Taxi have been making some minor waves here in Richmond lately, and what I hear on their recently released EP, Somehow, makes me think those waves won’t be so minor in another six months or so. Roughshod is a brand new rock n’ roll group from here in Richmond whose debut two-song single makes me excited to hear what else they’ve got to offer. Plus, I’m glad to see my old pal/former bandmate Austin Ruhf playing in a new project; when he’s involved, I always expect good things, and I haven’t been let down yet. Noise-punk maniacs The Background Action, who bring that sloppy early-Pussy-Galore vibe, will be a fun addition to this menagerie, as will West Virginia’s The Wearing Hands, who have a nice jangly indie sound to ease you into the evening. This one’s gonna be great; show up for it.
Sunday, April 10, 7 PM
Widowspeak, Anna Fox Rochinski, Elizabeth Owens @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Every once in a while when I’m working on figuring out every show happening around town in the next week (which, believe it or not, takes a while), I run across something that I’m really stoked about and had thus far completely missed. That’s what happened to me with this Widowspeak show; I had no idea this Brooklyn group were coming to town. And as soon as I found out they were, I was stoked. If anything, this is a good reflection on my experience with Widowspeak in general; I heard them for the first time earlier this year when I encountered the pre-release single for their latest LP, The Jacket. It’s great, a similarly subtle and atmospheric approach to indie rock that you can find in the work of everyone from alt-rock legends Mazzy Star to up-and-coming local heroes Hotspit.
Imagine my surprise when I dug a little deeper and realized that Widowspeak actually have five more albums before The Jacket, going back over a decade? It’s always a treat to discover a new-to-you musical talent with a deep back catalog, and I’m really enjoying the dive in. I’m sure I will not be the only one who will also enjoy Widowspeak’s arrival in town this Sunday at Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House (which is a great place saddled with the most trendy-new-subdivision sounding venue name ever, just sayin). Then there’s the bonus set we’ll be getting from fellow Brooklynite Anna Fox Rochinski, who’s freshly solo after a decade in the psych band Quilt. On her solo debut, Cherry, Rochinski mixes her psychedelic background with elements of dance pop and electro and comes out with something that makes me think of Beyonce collaborating with Stereolab. It’s not predictable, but it is awesome. Check it out.
Monday, April 11, 7:30 PM
Dre Person, Vintage, LVBXSH, akaLUTHER, Fuggin Doe, PT, Xenos The Stranger, BCMusic1st, Rel Lyfe, Ndefru @ Bingo Beer Co. – Free!
If what you seek is underground hip hop with a strong local flavor that mixes local legends with the most impressive of the young talent, Secret Bonus Level is who you need to be keeping up with. Noah Page and co. consistently book jam-packed hip hop bills full of talented artists of all ages and experience levels, and they always add up to a great evening of lyrical prowess and boom-bap bliss. This one, coming to Bingo Beer on a Monday night that’ll surely benefit from a pick-me-up, has the additional benefit of being free. Considering the amount of cash I’ve been laying out lately to gas up my car and pay the heat bill, any good time I can get without laying down the long green is very, very welcome.
If you’ve been following Richmond hip hop for a while, you’ll know some of these names. PT, a longtime RVA rap veteran who might be best known around here for his 2018 LP with Fan Ran, Airtight. BCMusic1st, who’s best known for his tireless work as a video director and documenter of the local scene but who has significant bars in his own right. Fuggin Doe, who raps hard and has little patience for posers. Ndefru, who just released a brand new single and has worked with talented local folks like Ohbliv and Sam Reed. The names you might not know are just as worthy of your time and attention, though, and with the price being right as we previously discussed, you can drop any extra dollars you do happen to have for CDs from the rappers on this bill who impressed you the most. The scene could use your support, but more importantly, you could use more great music in your life. If that’s what you want, Bingo Beer is the place to be on Monday night.
Tuesday, April 12, 7 PM
Slothrust (Photo by Lindsey Byrnes), Calva Louise @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 in advance, $17 day of show (order tickets HERE)
While I’ve never been able to figure out what they’re going for with their name, or even how to pronounce it, I can tell you one thing: Slothrust make really good music. The most recent example of their doing so is last year’s Parallel Timeline, an LP that saw these guitar-slinging indie rockers moderating their heavy approach, developed on previous releases, with an increased amount of quiet moments and melodic focus. Indeed, even at the album’s heaviest — loud, upbeat lead single “Once More For The Ocean,” the arresting quiet-loud dynamics of “The Next Curse” — melody is the main point, with Slothrust always winning you over through their ability to craft indelible tunes and get them stuck in your head all day.
The great thing about seeing them live will be seeing how much of the volume that was scaled back on their most recent LP comes back with a vengeance once they’re standing before a wall of amps onstage. Slothrust’s music hits hard, and it’ll hit even harder at full volume this Tuesday night at Capital Ale House. You’ll want to be there when it does. And you’ll definitely want to be there to get familiar with openers Calva Louise. This UK indie trio has some catchy, propulsive alt-rock classics to lay on you, and judging from how good they sound on last year’s Euphoric, you won’t be disappointed by their live sound. Get there for this one, you won’t be sorry.
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]