Sunday, October 28, 7:30 PM
Titus Andronicus, Ted Leo @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $20 (Order tickets HERE)
It’s Halloweek, and the main thing everyone knows to expect this week is tribute shows. All sorts of different musicians from all kinds of different local bands regroup in new and fun configurations (or maybe even in the same configuration as their usual band) to learn a bunch of covers by some particular band or other, and play a Halloween show with the logic that they’re “in costume” as this other band. There’s no denying that it’s fun, but it’s become such an expected part of Halloween that these days, it’s everywhere. The custom has even spread to other holidays, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. And to be honest with you, this year I don’t feel like writing about any of it.
Now, you might think I’m just getting old (true), or that I’m just a grumpy bitch who hates fun (also true), but I prefer to frame the decision to skip the covers shows this year as a push to remind you all that there’s still plenty of other awesome music happening in Richmond this week, and while you could spend the entire week hopping from one tribute show to another, you’ll miss out on a lot of great bands who are doing their actual music in town this week. Call me a stick in the mud all you want, but I don’t feel like feeding into that.
Instead, I’m gonna tell you that you should go see Titus Andronicus this week. Titus Andronicus has been around for quite a while now, and honestly, you’ve had plenty of chances to catch them in town before. But if you’ve been following the career of Patrick Stickles and his ragtag band of punk rockers for a while, you know that it’s always worth catching them again. For one thing, the band is different pretty much every time you see them — not only in personnel but in sound. For another thing, they’ve got a powerful live attack that turns their overwhelming Springsteen-ish soul-revue take on punk rock into a powerful locomotive of urgency.
It may be a little less like that this time, though — brand new LP A Productive Cough is, in many ways, their mellowest effort yet. Featuring seven songs, they lean heavily on their tendency to write rambling epics full of rock n’ roll melodrama — the loudest and heaviest thing on it is a first-person rewrite of Dylan classic “Like A Rolling Stone,” and the most obviously punk-ish tune (“Crass Tattoo”) is a morosely beautiful piano ballad. Will they still bust out the historical-reference-laden ragers live? I’d certainly expect them to, but you’ll ultimately have to find out for yourself. One thing’s for sure, this show — which features an incredible bonus opening set by the legendary Ted Leo, performing solo this time out — will offer way more surprises than any night full of tribute bands.
Wednesday, October 24, 7 PM
Iron Chic, Somerset Thrower, Doll Baby, Talk Me Off @ The Camel – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Iron Chic have dealt with their share of pain. Two years ago, the group lost guitarist Rob McAllister, who died unexpectedly at only 36. They’ve soldiered on since then, continuing to write the emotionally-driven melodic punk tunes that have always been their stock in trade, now with a new wistfulness and undercurrent of sorrow that runs through 2017 album You Can’t Stay Here, the first written after McAllister’s death. Songs like “Let’s. Get. Dangerous.” and “A Headache With Pictures” show that the band has retained its wry sense of humor and facility with anthemic hooks, as well as retaining a tough edge that explains why Iron Chic seem to be the favorite pop-punk band of hardcore kids.
Speaking of hardcore, Iron Chic’s Long Island tourmates in Somerset Thrower have a much more direct connection to that scene, dishing out melodic post-hardcore in a manner that harks back to the early 90s days of Quicksand and Texas Is the Reason with aplomb on their new LP, Godspeed. Fans of Iron Chic will dig the way Somerset Thrower mixes strong melodies into their Hum-ish guitar crunch, while the hardcore kids among the audience should get a kick of how surprisingly hard this band’s crescendos hit. With Doll Baby providing a bit of a high-lonesome emo sound to the proceedings and Talk Me Off kicking things off in snotty punk fashion, this show is sure to satisfy all comers — even if it does leave you in a bit of a pensive mood.
Thursday, October 25, 6 PM
Carach Angren, Mors Principium Est, Wolfheart, Awaken Cthulhu, Gutted Christ, Deathkids @ The Canal Club – $18 in advance/$22 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OK look — you want some Halloween entertainment? Look no further than the Canal Club this Thursday night. What Dutch black metallers Carach Angren lack in holiday spirit, they more than make up for by being scary as hell. You’ll find this band widely billed as “symphonic black metal,” but if that leads you to expect some Nightwish-style opera-goth bombast, you best think again. These guys know what black metal is about; that being blast beats, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, and hoarse guttural screams. They also know when to let their keyboards take the fore to create some serious atmosphere, but they don’t overdo it — where this kind of music is concerned, they are far more second-LP Emperor than fourth-LP Cradle Of Filth.
So yes, if you want some serious Halloween headbangs, you need look no further. Carach Angren’s 2017 LP, Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten, is a slab of ferocity perfectly titled for the Trump era. And they’re not the only metal ass-kickers coming to the Canal Club Thursday night, either. They’re joined by fellow Europeans Mors Principium Est (“Death is the beginning” in Latin), who bring us some Finnish melodic death metal in the vein of their countrymen Children Of Bodom, perhaps with a bit more of a thrashy edge. Wolfheart are also from Finland, making this show a veritable embarrassment of riches where European metal is concerned; these guys are closer to what Carach Angren do, and if anything go a bit heavier on the black metal end of things. Blast beats ahoy! Local support includes the Tidewater band Awaken Cthulhu, who are seeking to resurrect the Great Old Ones through ripping thrash terror. That’s a mission I can wholeheartedly support. Come, armageddon, come.
Friday, October 26, 9 PM
The Camel’s Friday Festival of Frights, feat. Toxic Moxie, Piranha Rama, Nightcreature, Pagan Reagan @ The Camel – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I said I was skipping the tribute shows this year, but I can cover Halloween shows full of original music, right? Why am I asking you? I make the damn rules around here! And I’m establishing this rule right now: you will go see Toxic Moxie whenever they play a show. This band does a better job finding the sweet spot between punk rock rampage and disco euphoria than pretty much any other band you’ll find anywhere. And while we still haven’t heard that wealth of new material they’ve been stockpiling in recorded form, it’s easy to catch ahold of their musical whirlwind anytime they take the stage.
They recently acquired a new drummer, and the switch-up didn’t slow them down for a second. Find out for yourself this Friday night at The Camel — it’s sure to be a night of nonstop fun, even when Toxic Moxie aren’t onstage. Nightcreature, a new band who’ve already made a big splash in the time they’ve been playing around Richmond, are bringing us a release party for their debut EP, which confirms what everyone who’s seen them live already knows — these maniacs have rock n’ roll oozing from their pores, and they’re gonna smear it all over you! Piranha Rama’s musical melange will bring the zombie beach party vibe to West Broad St, while DC’s Pagan Reagan drive down to deliver us a set chock-full of surf-garage awesomeness. Plus, there’ll be a costume contest, complete with prizes! Make sure you wear a costume that’s easy to dance in, because you’re gonna be dancing once Toxic Moxie comes on. We guarantee it.
Saturday, October 27, 8 PM
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards @ The National – $29.50 in advance (order tickets HERE)
A key sign of my encroaching middle age: I think country music’s pretty tight these days, y’all. I’m still picky about what I like, and all that modern stuff coming out of Nashville is the most fake plastic bro-truck bullshit I’ve ever heard, but some really great musicians have operated in that particular genre milieu over the past few decades, and when they come to town, I feel obligated to let y’all know that I’d probably rather be seeing them than whatever grimy metal show is happening in some dark rock club across town. OK, that isn’t always true, but when Mary Chapin Carpenter comes to town, it definitely is.
Mary Chapin Carpenter had quite the run back in the 90s. From Cajun party jams (“Down At The Twist And Shout”) and heartfelt slices of life (“He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”) to playful romps (“Shut Up And Kiss Me”) and yearning declarations of desire (“Passionate Kisses”), Carpenter gave us a succession of top-10 country hits that showed both a significant musical range and a strong songwriting ability that made her a reliable source of excellent tunes. She’s getting less attention these days, but she’s still at it, making the same excellent music as she ever has. Her thirteenth album, Sometimes Just The Sky, came out earlier this year, and acts as incontrovertible proof that, even three decades later, Mary Chapin Carpenter has the goods. Go to The National this Saturday night and experience the work of an incredibly talented singer-songwriter who’ll remind you that country music can be awesome.
Sunday, October 28, 8 PM
She Wants Revenge, Shadow Age @ The Broadberry – $30 (order tickets HERE)
Halloween may be the scary holiday, it may be the costume holiday, but it’s also definitely the goth holiday, and this is one that’s sure to bring all the goths out of the woodwork, the black hair dye dripping from the tips of their hairsprayed mops… or something like that. She Wants Revenge has been out of the limelight for years, having taken a hiatus after their 2011 third LP, Valleyheart. However, they’ve been slowly ramping back up into full-time action for the past couple of years, and their current tour sees them jumping fully back into the fray with their moody, foreboding take on post-Joy Division gothic postpunk sounds.
The fact that they’re hitting Richmond just in time for Halloween is eminently appropriate, and their pairing with local postpunk trio Shadow Age is equally apropos. Shadow Age just released an excellent self-titled full-length that ramps things up to the next level for the group, injecting their bleak, cold sound with a welcome dose of frenetic energy. Tunes like “Montrose” and “Reign” fulfill the promise of their earlier EPs, and bring us a band at the top of its game. Sadly, they recently posted on facebook that they’d be taking an indefinite hiatus of their own after this show, so this may be the last chance you get to see them perform this material live. If you miss it, you’re sure to regret it. Don’t do that to yourself.
Monday, October 29, 7 PM
Nosferatu feat. live score @ Strange Matter – Free!
I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. The fact is, I love horror. I love horror stories, I love horror novels, and I love horror movies. That’s why I can’t possibly prevent myself from recommending this film event taking place at Strange Matter on Monday night. They’ll be showing the classic 1922 silent film Nosferatu, complete with a live score. This film, directed by legendary German filmmaker FW Murnau, is one of the crucial establishing works of horror film, following up on the example of 1920 German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and setting the tone for all vampire films to come after.
Murnau’s haunting direction and German stage actor Max Schreck’s unforgettable portrayal of Count Orlok make this suspenseful classic essential viewing, and its status as a silent film opens up a perfect opportunity for some local musicians to enhance the film’s atmosphere with a soundtrack of their own. Members of R-Complex, Prisoner, Asylum, Sinister Haze, Cough, and others will all join together to create a soundscape likely to pull a great deal from these musicians’ backgrounds in metal, noise, punk, and experimental music. It will definitely not be the sort of thing you’ve come to expect from an organ-soundtracked showing of Phantom Of The Opera, but if anything, that makes it better. Head to Strange Matter Monday night and see Nosferatu like you’ve never seen it before.
Tuesday, October 30, 9 PM
Dead Bars, Love Roses, Yeehaw Junction @ Wonderland – $5
Seattle’s Dead Bars are coming to town to liven up the bars in Shockoe Bottom. Well, one bar in particular — Wonderland, the punkest dive bar in the Bottom, which is sure to rise to the Devil’s Night occasion with this show, which constitutes what they’re doing for a Halloween party down there. They may very well go all-out with the decor — we all know Wonderland owner Chad Painter is a big White Zombie fan, after all, and therefore you can assume he takes Halloween seriously. But don’t feel any big sense of obligation — as long as you come to party, you’re sure to have found the right place.
Dead Bars are pretty excellent musically, and though they don’t have any real Halloween-like attributes — most of their stuff is solidly in line with the musical tradition of their label, No Idea; which is to say, anthemic pop-punk with witty lyrics about struggling through life with one foot in the gutter — they’re sure to rock the place like no other. And that’s what we all really want. Locals Love Roses will do a very similar sort of thing, but at twice the speed and with twice the velocity. Meanwhile, relative newcomers Yeehaw Junction are bringing some programmed beats and synth whooshes to a place that’s probably not used to this sort of thing. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes over. Regardless, though, this is going to be an excellent night of punk rock jams, whether you care about the holiday or are just looking for something to do on a Tuesday night. Get into it.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Wednesday, October 24, 5 PM
Bloodletting, feat. Arsis, Internal Bleeding, Pyrexia, AngelMaker, Within Destruction, Crucial Rip @ Shaka’s – $20 in advance/$22 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Now hear this! This show is happening today, it’s happening over an hour from here, and it starts early. You know what that means — if you don’t have your tickets now, you better order ’em immediately and go running out of work full-tilt at 5 PM if you wanna catch the maximum amount of headbanging carnage at Shaka’s tonight. Of course, the main thing you’re gonna want to see is the performance by headliners and hometown favorite sons Arsis, who hail from the Hampton Roads area and are just about to release their sixth LP, Visitant, next week. You’ll get a killer live preview of the record at Shaka’s, complete with sick death-metal riffs, hyperspeed thrash beats, and James Malone’s unmistakable throat-shredding vocals. And who knows? They may even have copies for sale. Regardless, this is sure to be a rager of a set.
And that’s far from the only dose of awesomeness you can expect from this stop of the Bloodletting North American tour. Internal Bleeding, who hail from Long Island, were one of the pivotal groups in establishing the slower, heavier, more breakdown-focused version of death metal that became a New York trademark and helped create the death metal subgenre known as slam. They’re still at it today, having released their sixth album, Corrupting Influence, earlier this month. And they’re still crushing heads with maximum power, which should be brutal music to the ears of anyone who loves death fucking metal. Fellow NY death-metal headcrushers Pyrexia are also on this tour, and while they’re not quite as legendary as Internal Bleeding, they’re maybe a half-step down. This is going to be a hell of a show, y’all, and the fact that AngelMaker, Within Destruction, and VA locals Crucial Rip are also on the bill only sweetens the pot. You know what to do.
Friday, October 26, 6 PM
Piece Of Mind, Typecaste, Atonement, Knife Spitter, Compulse, Patheos @ 37th And Zen – $10 (order tickets HERE)
If you’re looking for some super-tough hardcore, Norfolk is often the place to be. This weekend is no exception — Oklahoma’s Piece Of Mind, who’ve been making their mark in a big way over the past year or so, are rolling through with some harsh, metallic hardcore full of powerful breakdowns and aggressive rage. They recently joined up with Safe Inside Records to release Trilogy, a compilation that pulls together three EPs (hence the name) and sets the stage for a new record soon to come from the band. The new material they’ve previewed thus far shows the same sort of heavy-as-fuck hardcore power that they’ve been dishing out all along; fans of Hatebreed and Buried Alive are sure to appreciate this one.
Piece Of Mind are joined on this bill by equally powerful hardcore crew Typecaste, who hail from Boston and feature a harsher vocal attack and some harder-hitting breakdowns but are very much on the same page overall as Piece Of Mind. If you’re expecting to get anywhere near the stage during their set without being in the middle of a massive mosh pit, I have some news for you: it ain’t gonna happen. This triple threat of touring hardcore heaviness is rounded out by Connecticut rippers Atonement, who are all about the Slayer-style riffs in pursuit of the ultimate powerful breakdown. It works, too — these guys will make your head explode. This show, which also features three killer bands from around the region, including the outstandingly named Knife Spitter, is acting as a benefit for Braeden Branch of VA Beach deathcore band Deathsinger, who recently suffered a collapsed lung and had to be hospitalized. Help a fellow rager cover some medical expenses; kick in the cash at the door, and come to 37th and Zen ready to mosh hard.
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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