Friday, September 28, 8 PM
MDC, The Elected Officials, Cult Of Frost, Lipid, The Alex Jonestown Massacre @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
I grew up going to punk and metal shows, losing my mind over harsh music with provocative lyrics. I grew up with radical left-wing politics, which are even farther outside the mainstream than they were when I was a teenager, being treated as perfectly normal ways of seeing the world (and to be honest, I still think they are). Therefore, when I see that a band whose nominal acronym has meant (many things, but most often) “Millions Of Dead Cops” is coming to town, all I think is “Oh wow, classic punk band with tremendous career gracing us all with their presence! FEATURED.”
So maybe this isn’t the most family-friendly pick. For those of you who that bugs, I’d recommend scrolling down to the Steely Dan blurb below. For the cool kids among you who stuck around, though, let me explain why MDC are both outstanding and important. Their 1980 debut single, “John Wayne Was A Nazi,” was a groundbreaking early example of re-examining the myths of pop culture to expose the racism, misogyny, and xenophobia lurking at their heart. Their 1982 debut LP, Millions Of Dead Cops, brought us the classic left-wing protest slogan, “No War! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” And it isn’t just their earliest material that deserves celebration; by their 1987 third LP, This Blood’s For You, they had become “Millions Of Damn Christians,” and were infusing their classic speedy hardcore with complex song structures and mind-bending riffs that they still delivered at a million miles an hour.
They’re still relevant today, too. In 2016, they rerecorded their classic tune “Born To Die” as an anti-Trump anthem (chanting “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!”), then followed that with their first album in over a decade (this time under the name “Millions of Deceived Citizens”), Mein Trumpf, which showed that the hardcore veterans (who still feature three of their four original members) are as fired-up, pissed-off, and full of raging punk tunes as ever. They’ll be joined by fellow politically-informed Texas punk rippers The Elected Officials, as well as Ohio’s Cult Of Frost, who are, of all things, a Celtic Frost tribute act who only play the Hellhammer demos and the first three albums (aw, Monotheist though…). Local freakers Lipid and The Alex Jonestown Massacre will get this started in fine fashion so you can circle-pit all night. No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!
Wednesday, September 26, 8 PM
1476, Paint Store, Desert Altar, Vulcanite @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As a relatively old lady who was born exactly 500 years after the year Salem, Massachusetts band 1476 named themselves after, I’m a little fuzzy on what was actually going on that year, but if you check Wikipedia, you’ll find that notorious Romanian prince Vlad The Impaler was killed that year, and I think that gives you somewhat of an idea. This band pulls from all sorts of dark, mysterious genres of guitar-based music, from ambient folk and moody progressive rock to hardcore punk and black metal.
On their 2017 album, Our Season Draws Near, they create a foreboding musical atmosphere highlighted by passionate vocals and intricate multilayered guitar riffing, all driven by a ferocious rhythm section. They’re sure to take you on a dark journey of the mind when they hit Strange Matter’s stage tonight, and they’ll be aided in their mission by a trio of local bands who all capture a different aspect of 1476’s multi-genre melange: Paint Store, whose technical instrumental metal sound summons memories of long-gone Richmond legends Breadwinner, for one. For another, Desert Altar, who take a fascinating and fun approach to the whole retro-doom thing. And then there’s the groovy sludge of Vulcanite, starting this night off right. Get into it.
Thursday, September 27, 7 PM
Low Cut Connie, Ruby Boots @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $15 (order tickets HERE)
When you think of rock n’ roll these days, the piano is not the first instrument you think of. However, we’d be fools to ignore the legacy this instrument has in the history of the music: founding figures like Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis used their pianos to generate firestorms of rockin’ energy that set the dancehalls and roadhouses of the mid-50s American South on fire. And now, 60 years later, Low Cut Connie frontman Adam Weiner is coming to Richmond to do it all over again.
Low Cut Connie have a hellacious reputation for killer live shows, and in an NPR interview earlier this year, Weiner talked about his onstage activity, and how he can’t stand to sit still in front of his piano when there’s a crowd to interact with. It’s the fact that he’s able to mix it up, getting sweaty and wild onstage every night, while continuing to crank out the old-school country-tinged rock n’ roll sound of Low Cut Connie — as displayed on new LP Dirty Pictures (Part 2) — with flawless aplomb that makes this group an absolutely unmissable live act. Bloodshot recording artist Ruby Boots, who’s got a raging femme energy and a powerful country-punk sound, kicks things off in a manner worth arriving early for. So you know what to do — get down to Capital Ale House tomorrow night and see it all for yourself!
Friday, September 28, 6 PM
Come Clean, Sharp Sleeves, Nine Line, We Call This Courage @ Cornerstone Cigar Bar – Free!
I may write a weekly column about music, but y’all, I’ve never claimed to be the coolest girl in the world. I just know what I like. Honestly, that’s a whole lot of stuff, and sometimes it’s stuff that no one else seems to pick up on. About a decade back, the thing I was into that no one else (or at least, no one else over 25) was picking up on was “easycore,” a genre that mixed the chunky guitars of melodic hardcore with the catchiness and emotional tone of pop-punk. A whole bunch of bands were doing this par excellence circa 2010 — Four Year Strong, Fireworks, Set Your Goals — but they all either changed their sound or broke up, and it’s been years now since I heard a really good example of the sound. I miss it.
That’s why I’m stoked to hear about North Carolina’s Come Clean coming to town. Their new EP, From Down The Street, isn’t quite out yet, but their 2016 debut, Won’t Wait, hits all the same pleasure centers for me as classic New Found Glory and first-LP Saves The Day did, and I can never get enough of stuff like that. They’ll be coming to the Cornerstone Cigar Bar (really? I hope they don’t allow smoking in the show room) in the company of Sharp Sleeves, who hail from Blacksburg and have a bit of a Florida tinge (a la Hot Water Music) to their pop-punk. With the addition of RVA locals Nine Line and We Call This Courage, you’re looking at a stacked bill of mid-Atlantic pop-punk excellence. Best of all, this show is free! That might even be worth braving a bit of cigar smoke for (be ready to wash everything you wore immediately afterwards though).
Saturday, September 29, 8 PM
Centerfolds, Something More, Nominee, House & Home @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
One good pop-punk show deserves another, right? And this time, the headliners are local. Centerfolds have a bit of an easycore connection, as some members of Centerfolds used to play music with members of RVA’s leading easycore export, Broadside. However, since their 2017 LP, Bad Heaven, they’ve definitely moved in a more angst-ridden emotional direction — the desperation in their vocals and the minor-chord moods of the guitars are sure to make this band a fave for anyone who stays up late blasting Real Friends and Knuckle Puck records with the lights off (yes, that has definitely been me at times).
Now, if you were paying attention to this column last year around this time, you probably noticed the Common Grounds fest, an eight-band pop-punk package show that featured not only Centerfolds but also the other two headliners on this bill, Baltimore’s Something More and RVA’s own Nominee. I have never hidden the fact that I love Nominee — last year’s Drag Me Out EP was a big personal fave — and Something More have won me over with excellent tunes like “Brentwood Park” (from their split with Carry The Banner) and “All My Best Friends Are Dogs” (from their Dogs EP). Local newcomers House & Home kick this one off, and it’s gonna rule. Get stoked.
Sunday, September 30, 8 PM
Ocean Heights, Venus Milo, Cupid McCoy, Solace Sovay, Missangelbird @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
A decade after we first learned that Beyonce was a Grizzly Bear fan, the ever-increasing cross-pollination between the worlds of indie and r&b is a well-established reality. However, there’s still a lot of new territory to explore in the intersections between the two genres, and New Jersey’s Ocean Heights are one of the first groups to start mapping that interstitial space out. The results they’ve generated, showcased most prominently on recent single “No Waves,” are both fascinatingly unpredictable and pleasing in the extreme.
Mixing the sort of jangly guitar that early 80s UK bands like Orange Juice and Tears For Fears were drawing from 70s R&B records anyway with a smooth soul vocal and electronic sound results in some incredibly delicious tunes, the sort of thing that will appeal to anyone who ever wished Chromeo were more sincere, or Mac DeMarco had a bit more funk to his sound. A whole bunch of local groups on a similar tip, including up-and-coming standouts Cupid McCoy, the excellently-named Missangelbird, and the dirty-faced, angel-voiced boys of Venus Milo, are also on the bill. Solace Sovay, who are a bit closer to the indie-shoegaze side of things, will make an appearance to start things out and get the atmosphere in The Camel perfectly aligned for a night of musical deliciousness.
Monday, October 1, 7:30 PM
Steely Dan @ Altria Theater – $49.50 – $149.50 (order tickets HERE)
Would you believe that one of the highest-selling, most-played artists of the 70s and 80s, one of the best-produced and most polished-sounding bands of all time, were also a celebration of decadence with a name derived from a sex toy in William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch? Well, it’s true; not only is that really where Steely Dan’s name comes from, singer Donald Fagen loved to write lyrics glorifying debauched behavior, from giving your phone number to a woman marrying one of your friends in case the relationship doesn’t work out (“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”) to gratuitous drunk driving (“Deacon Blues”) to getting ratted out by a friend and busted for drugs at Bard College (“My Old School”). So much for your family-friendly alternate show pick, huh?
After the 2017 death of founding guitarist Walter Becker, Steely Dan aren’t quite the same as they once were, but singer-keyboardist Donald Fagen is still holding it down behind the mic, and anyone who ever listened to their records knows that the best element of Steely Dan’s many classic progressive rock albums is the top-notch work from hired-gun studio musicians under Fagen and Becker’s direction. Rest assured the backing band will be a thousand percent on point at this show, and Fagen will sing just as wonderfully as ever about major dudes and Haitian divorces; it’ll be totally worth the $50 second-balcony tickets. Get yours now.
Tuesday, October 2, 7 PM
Death Bells, Narrow Head, True Body, Serqet @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I love the way the hardcore kids who are hitting their late 20s these days are all going full-on goth. Something about having that sort of musical background makes bands do a really good job at the whole dark, moody postpunk thing — witness Iceage, Ceremony (the CA one, not the VA one that’s been goth the whole time), and quite a few other bands. Death Bells, who started out in Australia but are located in Cali these days, have a similar thing going on.
Their most recent single, “Echoes,” uses wire-tight guitar leads and foreboding synths to create an atmosphere that is then infused with a dark, spectral energy by their rumbling rhythm section and the powerful, hypnotic voice of frontman Will Canning. For a band that had already hit a high-water mark with 2017 debut LP Standing At The Edge Of The World, it’s a pleasantly surprising ascension to new heights. That’s certainly something you’ll want to experience, as is the set that you’ll get from Death Bells tourmates Narrow Head, who are tapping into that same sort of super-loud shoegaze sound that Jesu and Nothing have done so well with. Norfolk post-punkers True Body and RVA goth-peacepunk band Serqet round out this incredible bill, taking place within the refined halls of Capital Ale House. How strangely appropriate.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, September 28, 7:30 PM
Meg Myers, Adam Jones @ The NorVA – $18 in advance/$22 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Meg Myers is a new discovery for me, but I really dig her. Her latest album, Take Me To The Disco, has a variety of different sounds going on at once, to the point that it’s hard to know what genre it is or how to even describe it. The best I can tell you is that it should appeal to fans of everything from Bat For Lashes to Garbage to Florence And The Machine; it has that sort of dark postpunk appeal while also incorporating a strong electronically-based pop songwriting sense.
Despite the use of the word “disco” in the title of her latest record, there’s no dance music here — you’re more likely to find crunchy guitars running up against programmed beats, like the best of the post-Nirvana 90s meeting the progressive alt sounds of the 21st century. It is at times tough to categorize, but it’s just as tough to dislike — Meg Myers is a talented lady with a ton of emotional intensity injected into her music, and you’re sure to feel the effects, especially when it’s all happening right in front of you in a live environment.
Saturday, September 29, 7 PM
Super Whatevr, Beach Goons, Dube, Morningside, Party Wave @ 37th and Zen – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’ve seen a lot of different ways to render the word “whatever” over the years, from people making a “W” with their fingers to a fad amongst my friends back at the dawn of the current millennium to say “whatev” or even “whatev2k” (boy, that’s aged poorly). I’ve never seen “whatevr” before, but in this time of dropping vowels to look cool, I’m not surprised — just kind of amazed that Super Whatevr don’t write their name in all caps. But I’m actually glad they don’t, because this California alt-rock band have a much more fun and creative sound than I’d expect from any band pulling the MGMT move in 2018.
Their new album, Never Nothing, is full of catchy choruses and bouncy rhythms, mixing a bit of the ol’ emo revival with that disco-fied garage rock thing that a bunch of bands used to make hay while the sun was shining around the turn of the millennium — think the Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, etc. Why am I talking so much about the Y2K era? Maybe this band put me in the mood — but considering how great music was back then, it’s certainly not a bad thing. They’re joined by fellow Californian rock revivalists Beach Goons, who are capable of evoking everything from mid-60s garage raunch to late 50s teenage-queen balladry. Canadian group Dube will also be on the bill, bringing a similarly fun brand of loud-guitar rock n’ roll. If you wanna dance, this show is really where you’re gonna want to be this Saturday. These groups will get you moving.
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] [and yeah, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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