Blood Night II, Take Two Times Two
Friday, June 24, 7 PM
Diet Blood, Dark Waters, Heavy Is the Head, Bodyshell, Dead Format
Saturday, June 25, 7 PM
Diet Blood, Two Cars, Terror Cell, TVLPA, Baby Age
@ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
It’s summertime! And oh, if only the living were easy. On top of every other terrible thing going on in the world (choose your own, god knows there are plenty to pick from), I even had trouble deciding what show to feature at the top of this week’s column. The choice I ultimately made might be easy to criticize; it’s not the most charitably beneficial or for the most important cause of this week’s shows. Nonetheless, right now what I want more than anything is a weekend free of stress and full of opportunities to have fun and forget my troubles for at least a few hours at a time. And where that’s concerned, Diet Blood’s two-night event at Garden Grove Brewing, Blood Night II: Take Two Times Two, is most likely to deliver the goods. So what the hell — let’s do it.
We’ve got to start out by talking about our hosts for the evening, Diet Blood, who’ve got a really memorable name as well as a clutch of catchy pop-punk anthems they released back in 2019 in the form of their first EP, First Steps. Maybe it’s just the pandemic, or maybe it’s the lineup changes the band has undergone since that EP three years ago, but so far they haven’t released anything else. With two headlining sets in two nights, I certainly hope they have a grip of unreleased tunes ready to unleash on a willing world… but let’s be real — after three years, how could they not? If said unreleased tunes are on the level of First Steps, that means we’ll be in for killer headlining sets two nights in a row. Whoopee!
But of course, a big part of the attraction for this weekend of free local shows is the plethora of up-and-coming Richmond bands who are occupying the undercard on this one. If I had to pick which one of these shows I’d go to, I’d probably pick Saturday, since that’s the night TVLPA is playing. This progressive, metallic group has really impressed me with their new album, Walk With Me; it’s one of my favorite records of the year so far, by anyone from anywhere. If the album’s anything to go by, I imagine their live performance will be downright explosive. On the other hand, Friday features a set by Dark Waters, a band featuring most of the members of Race The Sun doing the kind of heavier, more powerful, but still melodic post-hardcore riffing I know these guys are capable of. That’s certainly gonna be worth seeing. And Dead Format’s also on Friday… but then, Terror Cell is playing Saturday… the hell with it, just go to both. Lord knows the price is right, especially in this economy.
Wednesday, June 22, 7 PM
Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, The Bronx, Pet Needs @ The National – $25 in advance, $30 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Acoustic guitar-slinger Frank Turner started out playing in UK post-hardcore outfit Million Dead, but he didn’t really grab a lot of attention until he struck out on his own, making his name over the past decade with emotional folk-punk anthems like “Recovery” and “The Next Storm.” His biggest tracks from years past fall into the kind of lane where you’d expect to find The Hold Steady or The Gaslight Anthem. And yet, on his recently released ninth album, FTHC, Turner and his band, The Sleeping Souls, hearken back to his early days as a punk rocker. No, the album’s acronym (which obviously stands for “Frank Turner hardcore”) isn’t meant ironically, and while the whole thing doesn’t hit as hard as two-minute opener “Non Serviam,” the most straight-up punk thing Frank’s done in years, it’s definitely the kind of hard-charging rock albums people who found his previous work a little too Springsteen-ish for comfort will consider a welcome change of pace.
Of course, Turner’s always had the knack for bringing maximum energy and vitality to his live performances, especially when he’s got the Sleeping Souls behind him — as he will tonight at The National. So now that he’s got a clutch of brand new tunes that are full of more piss n’ vinegar than he’s dispensed at one time in years, you can expect the performance tonight to be downright mind-blowing. If dancing and singing along to melodic, heartfelt punk anthems about struggling with the weight of day-to-day difficulties (“Haven’t Been Doing So Well”) or knowing that your own privilege means you should probably get out of the way and let other people choose what’s best for them (“My Bad”) sounds like an enjoyable night of emotional catharsis to you, then you certainly should get your ticket for the Frank Turner gig tonight, if you haven’t already. Nuff said.
Thursday, June 23, 7 PM
Skyway Man, Andy Jenkins, Films On Song, Adi GuerrerX @ Black Iris – $8 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Here’s one I wasn’t expecting but was delighted to encounter. The name Skyway Man might be unfamiliar at first, but those who’ve been keeping up with Richmond-related musics for the past decade or so might remember the name James Wallace and the Naked Light (and those of us who are enjoying playing the “yes I really have known this dude for 20 years” card might even remember the name Ved Llama). That’s right, James is going by Skyway Man these days, and while he’s currently based in Oakland, CA, he has made his way back to Richmond for a new collaborative EP, Nothing No. 1, with Richmond singer-songwriter Andy Jenkins. The two of them came together with Cameron Ralston to lay down these tracks at Spacebomb Studios, and the EP is coming on cassette in just over a month from Mama Bird Records.
We don’t have to wait to hear Skyway Man and Andy Jenkins play these tunes together, though — for that, you need only head over to Black Iris this Thursday night and catch the collaborative performance the two are putting on for the benefit of RVA music lovers all over the city. The kinds of sounds you expect from both of these singer-songwriters — indie, funk, Americana, soul, jazz, and various and sundry influences all mixed together into a delightful psychedelic folk-pop melange — will be available in abundance, and there’s sure to be a bit of an old-home-week vibe when these two seasoned songwriters with deep Virginia roots get together onstage. Basically, it’s gonna be a heartwarming evening full of charming songs and positive vibes. It’s definitely one you should not miss.
Friday, June 24, 9 PM
Juneteenth Celebration, feat. DJ Harrison, Cassidy Snider & the Wranglers, Alfred, DuctTape Jesus, Justin Golden, Kenneka Cook, Railgun, IamI Collective, Trapcry @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As a white lady, it’s tough for me to know how to write about a show put together to honor Juneteenth. I don’t want to treat it as just another evening of amazing music from a wide variety of Richmond’s most talented musicians — even though it very much is that. But I also don’t want to presume to lecture anyone about the importance of Juneteenth, or to claim that this celebration of Black American freedom has anything to do with me or any of my white readers. All I really know to say is that Juneteenth deserves to be remembered and celebrated each and every year, even as all Americans — especially non-Black Americans — recognize how much more beyond Juneteenth this country owed, and owes, to our Black compatriots.
So yeah, if you’re white like me, don’t make this amazing musical party happening Friday night about you and what you want out of it. But do attend, and enjoy the many different flavors of amazing music that you will be treated to by many of Richmond’s finest players — most of whom happen to be Black. You’ll get everything from DJ Harrison’s deep, layered, soulful take on funky, jazzy, hip hop instrumentals to Railgun’s raging punk rock; from Justin Golden’s powerful electric blues-rock to DuctTape Jesus’s electro-digital noise-rap. There’s a lot more on tap than that, too, and from the opening set of the evening to the final encore, all of it’s gonna be great. Plus, it’s nine artists for only $12 — that’s a steal no matter how you slice it. So keep in mind where your place in this whole affair is… but don’t let it keep you from having fun. Because rest assured, this is going to be a tremendously fun night.
Saturday, June 25, 8 PM
Skinnyy Hendrixx, PT Vell, CJ The Profit, Easalio, Yung Sums, Blaine Cooz & Jay Pee, T.R.I.G, Hosted by Noah-O, Music by Melodic @ 2807 Hull St – $15 in advance, $20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Finding local hip hop artists on the internet is always challenging, but Richmond’s Skinnyy Hendrixx has shown me a whole new level of difficulty. Because, see, depending on how you spell it, there are several artists by that name currently making hip hop music in the United States. If you spell it with one Y and one X, you get the guy from the Midwest. Go with one Y and two X’s, and you get the dude from Cali — and he’s good. But you’ll only find the Richmond Skinnyy Hendrixx if you use two Y’s and two X’s — and you want to do that, because he’s the best of all of them. His new album, Smooth League Villain, is jam-packed with outstanding tracks, including “D’Angelo,” on which Skinnyy is joined by fellow Richmond rapper PT Vell to declare the sounds they’re creating “the hottest shit coming out of Richmond since D’Angelo.” Give these guys one thing — they’ve got confidence.
Hendrixx and Vell are currently on something they’re calling their “Hole In The Wall Tour,” and it seems to involve them playing a variety of unconventional Richmond venues. I guess that’s what they’re doing over on Hull St this Saturday night. I have no idea if there have ever been shows at this spot before, but if this is the only gig that ever happens there, rest assured, it’s gonna be a banger. Not only is Skinnyy Hendrixx bringing the sounds from his amazing new project (see above), PT Vell is currently supporting not one but two new albums, the linked Aviation: The Departure and Aviation: The Return, both of which dropped since the start of 2022. They add up to an hour of powerful rhymes and banging beats, all of which are sure to sound outstanding when PT Vell lays ’em out live and in person. With Richmond all-stars like Easalio, Yung Sums, and host Noah-O in the house as well, this is going to be an absolute RVA hip hop extravaganza. By now, you should know what to do.
Sunday, June 26, 7 PM
Tel, Pathogenesis, Nganga, M.S.D. @ Fallout – $10 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Things are getting good and heavy over at Fallout this Sunday night, and as much as I love the shiny-PVC industrial goth this place usually hosts, it’s nice to see a change of pace like this one rolling out on one of the private fetish club’s less busy nights. Tel are at the top of the bill, and this Richmond quartet has shown over the past few years that, where Richmond doom is concerned, they’re one of the top-level players. Last fall they released Vigils, their split LP with Costa Rican doomsters Age Of The Wolf, and the three songs (which add up to over 20 minutes of music) demonstrates that this band continues to evolve, merging the standard Sabbath-style groove riffs with dynamic song structures and vocals that move from an almost neo-Gregorian sung/chanted sound to deep, furious growls. Getting pummeled with this sound in the middle of Fallout’s darkened dance floor is sure to be a brutal experience, even if the usual accoutrements don’t come into play.
Raleigh band Pathogenesis, meanwhile, will take things in an entirely different direction for their co-headlining set. Blistering hyper-speed grind/death metal is this band’s stock in trade, and they show it off to fine effect on their brand new EP, Greasy Exudate — which features a Richmond connection in that the artwork for the album was created by the late, great Terry Turtle of Buck Gooter, to whom the EP is also dedicated. Sound-wise, Pathogenesis land somewhere between Symphonies Of Sickness-era Carcass and None So Vile-era Cryptopsy, with some Incantation-ish brutal breakdowns thrown in every now and then just to keep you on your toes. The result is a seven-song ripper that ends quicker than Tel’s aforementioned three-song release. So yeah, this evening of brutal metal will be a study in contrasts. However, the appropriate response — wild headbanging — will remain constant throughout. Respond accordingly.
Monday, June 27, 7 PM
Tennis Courts, Supper Club, Sonic Blume @ The Camel – $13 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Ah yes, the Camel. The one place in this city seemingly willing to make sure that there’s great live music for a fan of such things to hear every single night of the week — even on Mondays, a night on which seemingly every other venue in this city is shuttered more often than not. Praise The Camel, especially when they don’t even use their status as the lone consistent purveyor of Monday night sounds to throw us any old thing, but actually bring through great bands from both here in Richmond and out of town to ensure that we’ve got such great sounds to take in, we don’t even stop to wonder what else might be going on elsewhere around the city.
This Monday night brings us a set from Tennis Courts, an indie rock ensemble led by musicians Andrew Clarke and Patrick Walsh — both of whom share names with veteran Richmond musicians, but actually hail from Charleston, SC and are now based in Brooklyn. Their new EP, Music For Movies + Television, is actually coming out inbetween the day I’m writing this and the day they’re playing here, and if the two songs they’ve released from it thus far are any indication, this is sure to be a sunny, catchy slice of melodic indie pop with an impossible-to-hide Southern flavor that’s sure to make this band a big hit here in Richmond. They’ll be joined on their Richmond date by Alabama band Supper Club, who want to let everyone know they are NOT a jam band, and prove it on their latest EP, World Keeps Spinning, instead showing off a sound not unlike that of Vampire Weekend at their most laid-back. The bill is rounded out by Sonic Blume, a third out-of-town band — this group hails from Asbury Park, NJ — with a bit of an 80s-retro synth-pop vibe that thankfully avoids feeling cookie-cutter at a time when such groups are, it must be said, rather easy to trip over. So yeah: that’s three out-of-town bands playing lovely indie music for less than $5 per band. Not just a Monday show… a GOOD Monday show. You owe it to yourself to be there for it.
Tuesday, June 28, 7 PM
Chastity Brown, Lilli Lewis @ The Tin Pan – $22.50 (order tickets HERE)
Let’s round out the week with an evening of soulful emotional tunes, shall we? The place to go is The Tin Pan, where Chastity Brown, a queer Black singer-songwriter who simultaneously dips into the worlds of blues, soul, and country, will be performing in support of her brand new LP, Sing To The Walls. Bringing a variety of emotions to the fore in her sound, Brown’s new album moves through a variety of moods, from the euphoria of new love to the fury inspired by the many terrible things happening in the US and the world over the past few years. Throughout, her strong voice and brilliant, moving songs incorporate a variety of influences that may trace back to a variety of different genres but are all, ultimately, American in origin.
Brown’s live performance skills are proven, but here in Richmond, many of us will be catching her live for the very first time, and within the intimate confines of The Tin Pan, it’s sure to be an amazing experience. An opening set from Lilli Lewis, who hails from New Orleans and displayed her own very strong voice on 2021 LP Americana, will get the evening started on a high note, and it’ll only get hotter from there. Bring a fan if you must, but be there, because this one’s gonna be essential.
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]