Monday, October 7, 7 PM
Mudhoney (Photo by Charles Peterson), Pissed Jeans, Gumming @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets HERE)
Our city is lucky this week, for we are being graced by the presence of grunge royalty. But if you listen to the typical 2019 discussion around the Seattle scene of the early 90s, you might not even know it. For some unfathomable reason, Mudhoney are often left out of the conversation — the most egregious recent example I can think of being after Chris Cornell passed away, when people kept saying “Eddie Vedder is the only singer from the grunge era left.” If I had a nickel for every time I had to tell someone “Mark Arm is still alive and well and touring with Mudhoney” during that whole cultural conversation, I could have cleaned up at dollar taco night.
So let’s set the record straight right now: Mudhoney are one of the primary progenitors of the Seattle sound of the early 90s. Frontman Mark Arm and lead guitarist Steve Turner had previously been in Green River, the other half of which went on to form Pearl Jam, and they got Mudhoney rolling in 1988 with the classic garage-grunge single “Touch Me I’m Sick.” When peers like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam were signing to major labels and going big, Mudhoney were the last ones to stay faithful to Sub Pop Records, the label that kickstarted it all. And when they finally made the leap to Reprise in 1993, they never quite got the high profile that those other bands attained. If anything, it was because Mudhoney’s sound was too high-octane for the mainstream, a potent mix of garage-punk freakout and noise-blues howl.
But what Mudhoney lost in commercial popularity at the peak of grunge, they’ve more than made up over the years with sheer staying power. Having returned to Sub Pop for 2002 LP Since We’ve Become Translucent, they’ve cranked out four more raging slabs of classic Mudhoney gnarl, and just last week released an absolute burner of a seven-song EP entitled Morning In America. Over 30 years after their formation, they’re showing no signs of slowing down, and Richmond is highly privileged to have the Mudhoney train stop through at the Broadberry this Friday night to rock us in their time-honored fashion. The fact that Pennsylvania sludge-monster maniacs Pissed Jeans and local noise-punk heroes Gumming are also on the bill is a nice bonus treat, but really, it’s all about Mudhoney. Come out to the Broadberry Monday night and get muddy.
Wednesday, October 2, 7 PM
Acid King, Wizard Rifle, Warish @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $18 in advance/$20 day of show (Order tickets HERE)
Back in the heady days of the mid-90s, if you wanted to be at the forefront of the still-building wave that was the stoner/doom metal scene, you had to be aware of Man’s Ruin Records. The label of legendary Bay Area poster artist Frank Kozik, it’s best remembered today for some of the earliest releases by Queens Of The Stone Age. But that most accessible of stoner groove bands is only the tip of the iceberg. People who knew what was up also picked up on classic releases — many in the 10-inch vinyl format — by bands like Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Iron Monkey, and Richmond’s own Alabama Thunderpussy (whose debut LP was a Man’s Ruin release).
Acid King were one of those treasures discovered by Man’s Ruin fans back in the 90s, and unlike Man’s Ruin itself, which folded in the early 00s, Acid King are still going strong over 20 years later. Their current tour is in celebration of their second LP, Busse Woods, released two decades ago and full of the witchy psychedelic doom metal that is Acid King’s stock in trade. Pairing frontwoman Lori S.’s ethereal vocals with absolutely punishing sludge riffs, Acid King created a template that was undoubtedly inspirational for bands like Windhand, and are still dishing it out at peak efficiency after all these years. Come to this one prepared for some slow-motion headbangs — Acid King will not let you down.
Thursday, October 3, 7 PM
Operator Music Band, FM Skyline, Houdan The Mystic, Ethanol @ Gallery 5 – $10
If you enjoy doing shuffle-footed dances to bouncy retro electro-pop, this show is certainly one that will please you. Operator Music Band have a strange name and even stranger haircuts, which are sure to make you wonder how seriously you’re supposed to take them (OK, it makes ME wonder that). However, one listen to their brand new LP Duo Duo is enough to demonstrate that this band is no joke.
Mixing some excellent beat-driven space age bachelor pad vibes in with catchy upbeat tunes that feature the slightest edge of postpunk darkness, mostly covered in dayglo, gives Operator Music Band a certain Stereolab resemblance. But Stereolab never got you dancing quite like this band does, and all of the strange and wonderful trappings ultimately act in service to the hypnotic motorik beat. Wear your dancing shoes for this one — they’re gonna get a workout.
Friday, October 4, 9 PM
Diavol Strain, Thin Pigeon, SameStory @ Fallout – $10
October is only just getting started, but things are always spooky down at Fallout, Shockoe Bottom’s legendary members-only goth fetish club, so I suppose the fact that we still have weeks left before Halloween isn’t really a factor in how dark and occult things get down there on any given weekend. Case in point: this show, featuring Chilean postpunk/darkwave duo Diavol Strain. This non-binary/feminist band brings exactly the sort of terror to Fallout that bands like Siouxsie And the Banshees were bringing to the UK in the early 80s, only with a much stronger political consciousness that’s sure to appeal to the feminist punks who favor heavy eyeliner and black nail polish.
Coming to us all the way from South America, this group’s unique take on the moody synth atmospheres, spectral bass guitar melodies, foreboding vocals, and pounding programmed drums of darkwave stands out as particularly skilled on their 2018 LP, Todo el Caos Habita Aqui (“all the chaos lives here”). The fact that they’re taking the gloom-enshrouded stage at Fallout on a rare weekend night open to non-members makes this a particular treat for all the goth babes out there, non-binary and otherwise. Float on down to Shockoe Bottom Friday night and let’s get spooky. Every day is Halloween.
Saturday, October 5, 6 PM
Blush Face, Gull, Spooky Cool @ Hardywood – Free!
It’s been a couple of years since power-pop/indie-rock combo Blush Face wowed the river city with their debut full-length, What Do You Want?, but they’ve hardly been lazy in the intervening months. If you need proof of that, look no further than the fact that this free Saturday night show at Hardywood is their 100th! Our sincere congratulations to Blush Face, from whom we look forward to many more.
As we reported in the Studio News column in RVA Mag #37, we can expect some new material from Blush Face soon as well — they’ve recently been in the studio with Mitch Clem (Fight Cloud) and Tim Falen (Piranha Rama), crafting a full-length follow-up to What Do You Want? that singer-guitarist-chief songwriter Allie Smith promises should feature not only a new dose of their catchy songs but even some string-section augmentation! Get a preview of all that, as well as a dose of the songs we all know and love, from Blush Face this Saturday night — for the hundredth time! Still not enough for us, by any means. Gull and Spooky Cool will be along for this excellent musical free ride. Don’t be left at the station.
Sunday, October 6, 8 PM
Exotica, Malimpliki, Haircut, Ghouli @ Mojo’s – $8-10 donation
“Exotica” is a musical term that was thrown around a lot in the mid-20th century, but if you show up to Mojo’s this Sunday night expecting some of Martin Denny’s ersatz tropicalia, you’re going to be in for a big surprise. The Exotica that’s coming to Mojo’s is a raging bilingual punk band from New York, whose three releases thus far have all been volumes in their ongoing series of wild, frenetic assaults known as Musique Exotique.
While they definitely hew closely to the sort of old-school punk assault you’d expect from bands using the sort of severe black and white cover art Exotica favor, the spirit of their name does come through in the undeniably chaotic undertones of their songs, which often feature unusual instruments working seemingly at cross purposes to the roaring noise overtop. It all comes together in fine fashion, though, and hits all the harder because of that. Exotica comes to us in the company of Malimpliki, a more stripped-down hardcore punk band hailing from Japan and singing in Esperanto, if online reports are to be believed — it all just sounds like furious screaming to me. Local ragers Haircut and Ghouli are on board to make this one even more wild and wooly. This show’s gonna bowl you over with fury from beginning to end, and you’re going to enjoy it. That’s an order.
Monday, October 7, 6:30 PM
Just Friends, Save Face, The Sonder Bombs, Hotline TNT @ The Canal Club – $13 (order tickets HERE)
Oh shit, y’all — ska-punk is officially back. If you go by what Cali 10-piece (I like to use the number words, but past “octet” I’m kinda lost. Is a 10-piece a “dectet”? That sounds vaguely dirty) Just Friends will tell you, though, they’re funk punk, but anyone else who survived the early-90s post-Nirvana alt-rock explosion knows that “funk-punk” is what you call the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. What I hear when I check out Just Friends singles like “Supersonic” and “Stupid” is straight-up ska-punk, and not even the speedy and politically-informed sounds of Operation Ivy or even the early Mighty Mighty Bosstones. No, to understand Just Friends, you’ll need to think more along the lines of Voodoo Glow Skulls and Save Ferris mixed with goofy pop like Len’s “If You Steal My Sunshine” or even the outright joke-band sound of Bloodhound Gang.
None of which is to say that this stuff doesn’t rule; we all need a chance to turn off our brains and just dance like idiots every now and then, and this Monday night at the Canal Club, Pure Noise recording artists Just Friends will be providing exactly that kind of opportunity. They’ll be joined on this trip through RVA by some more straightforward sounds, primarily those of Beatlesque emo-punks Save Face, whose full-length debut, Merci, was released by the almighty Epitaph Records last year. Ohio jangle-pop quartet the Sonder Bombs, who apparently named themselves after the realization that other people have complicated lives too, will make this bill that much sweeter and more special, as Minneapolis trio Hotline TNT kick things off with some shoegaze-grunge-punk awesomeness. This one’s gonna be outstanding.
Tuesday, October 8, 7 PM
Gull, Imelda Marcos, Dumb Waiter, Jono Stewart @ Gallery 5 – $5
The band Imelda Marcos hails from Chicago, not the Philippines, and one would assume they have a much smaller shoe collection than that of their namesake (the wife of a dictator who was deposed in the mid-80s). However, what they lack in flashy footwear is more than made up for by their extravagant collection of riffs, which they roll out spectacularly on latest full-length Tatlo, released on cassette earlier this year.
Imelda Marcos’s guitar-drum instrumentals are the sort sure to please people who loved early Hella, back when they too were a duo that just blasted out tangled, noisy collections of riffs backed by complex, hard-driving beats. There’s some Crom-Tech and some some Lightning Bolt lurking in this band’s DNA as well, but their slices of fascinating instrumental chaos are, at the end of the day, entirely their own. It makes them a perfect pairing with local Richmond talents Gull, that one-man machine of beautiful indescribable noise, and Dumb Waiter, that four-man orchestra of jazz-metal chaos. This show will bring you more RPM (riffs per minute) than any other show happening this week — maybe this entire year. Get on board.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, October 4, 8 PM
Snake Mountain Revival, Ladada, Mister Earthbound @ The Bunker Brewpub (Virginia Beach) – $5 in advance/$8 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Things are getting psychedelic down in Virginia Beach, as Snake Mountain Revival prepares to release the follow-up to last year’s self-titled debut EP. We haven’t been able to get a listen to the new EP, which is entitled Valley Of Madness, but if it’s anything like the sort of witchy desert acid-trip jangle they unleashed on their debut, it’s sure to be excellent.
Lots of bands over the years have engaged in astral travels using vehicles that are lysergic in nature, but it’s a bit rarer to find a band that plumbs the depths of the mind’s spookiest corners the way Snake Mountain Revival does. If you ever wished the “killer on the road” verse of “Riders On The Storm” by The Doors hit as hard as Gun Club or The Wipers, these guys are sure to delight you. So come celebrate a new dose of not quite metal, not quite punk, but certainly heavy psych sounds from this killer VA Beach trio. It’ll be worth the drive — even if you are still seeing trails on your way back.
Sunday, October 6, 6 PM
Erin McKeown, Alice Clair @ The Southern Cafe (Charlottesville) – $15 (order tickets HERE)
As musicians go, Erin McKeown is not the easiest to categorize — she mixes folk and country with pop, jazz, and rock n’ roll in a way that makes every new tune a bit of an adventure. But after 20 years in the business, she’s built up quite a solid track record of making unique, entertaining music that’s sure to put a smile on your face. Even when you can’t quite determine what genre each individual song belongs in.
McKeown, who originally hails from Fredericksburg and now makes her home in Massachusetts, most recently released 2017 EP Mirrors Break Back, but has also been busy over the past couple of years with Miss You Like Hell, a musical about family, road trips, and the struggles of undocumented immigrants that she wrote with acclaimed playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes. There’s a certain kind of fun you can expect from a performance by any artist who has written a musical, and Erin McKeown will bring plenty of that kind of fun, plus a bag full of excellent tunes from any and all genres you can think of, to Charlottesville’s Southern Cafe this Sunday night. It’s gonna be a fine way to wrap up your weekend.
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]
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