Saturday, February 16, 8 PM
Sister Radio Fundraiser, feat. Black Plastic, BUTT, Black Naked Wings, Real Daggers @ Gallery 5 – $7 – 10 donation at the door
It’s often said in this day and age — the radio sucks. It’s such a known fact that I recently saw an entire documentary about it. But even if you haven’t read deeply into it, you know why: corporate control. Suppression of diversity. Commercials over everything. And in the face of all those depressing 21st-century realities, our own listener-supported low-power station, WRIR, is a breath of fresh air from an industry that seems to be on its last gasp.
WRIR isn’t just a conduit for the vanishingly-rare phenomenon known as “great radio,” either — it is often the basis for unique and incredible projects put together by the many volunteers that make it such an awesome station. The latest project coming out of the WRIR world is called Sister Radio, a documentary intended to, um, document the ongoing collaboration between WRIR and Radio Sikoro, which is based in one of Richmond’s sister cities, Segou, Mali. The program, also called Sister Radio, is helping to teach Malian women how to produce radio broadcasts, in order to increase female participation in Malian radio. In Mali, radio is still pretty essential to communication of news and culture, and the stations involved feel that helping ensure the presence of women on Malian radio, where they are currently almost completely shut out, would represent an essential step towards decreasing the patriarchal nature of Mali’s society.
This Saturday night at Gallery 5, they’ll be throwing a killer show at Gallery 5 to help raise funds for this project. It’ll also be a party to greet filmmakers Cameron Robinson and Andee Arches as they return from two weeks of filming in Mali, so expect things to get loud! At this point I have almost no space to tell you about the actual bands playing, but with local up-and-comers like Black Plastic and BUTT on the bill, as well as the always-entertaining Black Naked Wings and Toxic Moxie side project Real Daggers, you can expect the kind of outstanding musical entertainment that Richmond’s music scene is always good for. And you can support a very good cause while you’re at it! What could be better?
Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 PM
St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Valley Queen @ The National – $28 in advance/$33 at the door (order tickets HERE)
St. Paul & The Broken Bones are an Alabama band, but in a lot of ways, their music speaks to the Richmonder’s soul. At a time when our state is grappling with some awful issues relating to the legacy and present-day reality of individual and institutionalized racism, it can be jarring to realize how many of us hold liberal values that are sharply in conflict with those who surround us. This same sort of struggle drives the music and lyrics of St. Paul & The Broken Bones, who released their third album, Young Sick Camellia, last fall.
On this album, singer Paul Janeway reckons very directly with his complicated and difficult family history. And musically, the group takes that conflict as a spur towards the best and most interesting music they’ve made thus far. This group may have started out as a raw retro-soul project, owing an obvious debt to the Southern soul sounds that sprang from its home region decades ago, but these days they’ve left some of the rawness behind, instead delving into lusher Philly-soul sounds as well as straight-up modern R&B touches. The result is their most excellent music yet, and considering the always-powerful live sound they built their name on, the combination should be downright explosive when they take the stage at the National tonight. You should be there.
Thursday, February 14, 8 PM
Colin Phils, Cardinal, Midlife Pilot, Rebekah Rafferty and the Wakes @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There’s been a renaissance in indie-style math-rock around Richmond over the past few years, and I for one have enjoyed the heck out of it. That’s why Colin Phils originally got my attention; they showed up in town a couple of years ago, straight from Korea, and began working with groups I already loved, most notably their split-partners Houdan The Mystic. But these days, Colin Phils (whose name I finally realized, after way too long, is a play on Phil Collins) stand out to me as an excellent band in their own right, regardless of who they pal around with. Catching them live is sure to show you exactly why.
And they’re not the only standout band this event has to offer for your listening enjoyment, either. Cardinal might be a new name for Richmond’s indie music fans, but if I tell you they grew out of Majjin Boo, who had some pretty excellent math-indie demos of their own a couple years back, you’re sure to catch on. I was a huge fan of those Majjin Boo demos, but the sole single the group has released since changing their name and lineup and re-emerging as Cardinal blows me away significantly more than any of their prior material, and makes me really excited for what is to come from this quintet. Get your first taste at the Camel Thursday night, and enjoy rad sounds from local faves Midlife Pilot and Rebekah Rafferty and The Wakes while you’re at it!
Friday, February 15, 6 PM
Anna Connolly @ Steady Sounds – Free!
Steady Sounds doesn’t host live performances that often, but when they do, I pay attention. One of several outstanding record stores in town, Steady Sounds is run by people with impeccable taste; most of the time, when they bring in an artist to perform, it’s someone I already know and love. In this case, they’ll be hosting a performer whose work was previously unfamiliar to me, but as always in those cases, Anna Connolly turns out to be someone not only me but everyone in this town should be following.
For a rock critic like me, it’s easy to get hung up on the fact that Connolly has connections to DC postpunk luminaries like Joe Lally, Devin Ocampo, and Eddie Janney, all of whom played on her debut album, After Thoughts. However, many of the songs on her album find Connolly playing mostly on her own, and it’s her voice, her guitar, her cutting lyrics and sharp songwriting, that make Connolly’s music so breathtaking and memorable. I can’t be sure of what lineup she’ll be performing at Steady Sounds with, but even if it’s just her and an acoustic guitar (and it very well might be), you should still be there, listening and paying attention. There’s a lot to value in Anna Connolly’s music. Don’t miss it.
Saturday, February 16, 9 PM
Enforced, Prisoner, Cane Corso, Old Gods Defied @ Champion RVA – Free!
Since Strange Matter went away, I’ve found myself feeling a bit headbang-deficient. There just aren’t as many heavy-as-fuck shows happening around town lately, it seems. Thankfully, two months into the world after Strange Matter, it seems like things are starting to pick up. And can you blame me if I go a little overboard in celebration? Welcome to headbanging weekend. Y’all knew it was bound to happen.
Saturday night finds a crew of outstandingly hard and heavy locals taking the stage over at Champion RVA to pummel you with extremely hard-hitting low-end. Enforced are at the top of the bill, straddling the line between raw, crusty biker-core and outright mosh with aplomb. Whether you’re wearing a sleeveless denim jacket with a Slayer backpatch or a navy blue Champion hoodie, you’re gonna get stoked when this band hits the stage. Prisoner’s been the crew of choice for dirthead thrashers for quite a while now, and this show will prove that not a damn thing has changed on that score. Cane Corso and Old Gods Defied are local newcomers featuring a whole bunch of proven local talents you’re sure to recognize once you hit the stage. You’ll recognize the power of their riffs, too. Get stoked.
Sunday, February 17, 8 PM
Sect, Just Die!, Hybrid Warfare, Ghouli @ Mojo’s – $10
More heaviness on tap for ya, this time over at Mojo’s — and I can see the hands of some former Strange Matter lynchpins in the way the facebook event page is written, so we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. (Yes I do recognize different promoters around town by the way they write their facebook event page descriptions. I’ve been doing this column for quite a while now.) There are a lot of things I could tell you about headliners Sect to try and communicate exactly why you should be as stoked as I am about this band’s return to RVA. But if you’re a true fan of heavy hardcore, all I should need to say to you is: Chris Colohan sings for them.
That’s right, Chris Colohan, legendary vocalist for essential 90s and 00s metallic hardcore bands like Left For Dead, The Swarm, Cursed, Burning Love, and a whole bunch more. Crazily enough, he’s joined up with members of quite a few other legendary hardcore bands for this (it must be said) supergroup, including Earth Crisis, Undying, Day Of Suffering, and Racetraitor. So can it be any surprise that their most recent LP, No Cure For Death, is absolutely headcrushing in its storming rage? Nope. It can’t. So show up, and go off, for the almighty Sect. But don’t miss the openers either, as the excellent Asheville crew Just Die! have some New Mexican Disaster Squad-style melodic/metallic HC-punk to lay you out with, and local openers Hybrid Warfare and Ghouli are solid as bricks to your face.
Monday, February 18, 8 PM
Azotador, Perpetual Warfare @ McCormack’s – $8
I love Between 2 Beers, because they bring amazing metal bands to this town on a consistent basis, sometimes from far-flung parts of the globe. I must admit, though, when they book a show like this, with two bands from South America and no locals on the bill, I always get nervous. Is anyone gonna come without the security of their cousin’s friend’s thrash band being on the gig? Right now, all I know is that B2B is hoping to add two locals to this one… but it’s less than a week away, so whether that will manage to happen very much remains to be seen.
But look — I don’t care. Even if this show turns out to be a two-band bill featuring only Azotador and Perpetual Warfare, you need to be there. Bolivian thrash crew Azotador have speed and flashy guitar heroics on their side, as ably proven on most recent EP Enganche Al Grinche. They also have an unexpectedly strong melodic sense that often makes their tunes catchy as fuck, even as they remain 1000% headbang-worthy. Then there’s Colombia’s Perpetual Warfare, who have a razor-sharp guitar sound and a full-on thrash/crossover attack that brings wonderful memories of Fabulous Disaster-era Exodus into my mind. Latest LP Earthliens (a portmanteau of “earthlings” and “aliens,” I’m guessing — love it) is an absolute riff monster, and both of these bands are bound to tear the roof off McCormack’s and enliven a dead Monday night. So don’t spend it sitting on your couch watching reruns of Cops, OK?
Tuesday, February 19, 7 PM
Comrades, Dens, Eaves @ Mission Community Church – $5
When, in the course of writing this column, I bust out the word “peripatetic,” it tends to be in reference to musicians like Gull or Lobo Marino, who travel to exotic locales and use what they find there to inform and influence their music. But it could just as easily be applied to Comrades, a Richmond trio who’ve been plying their intriguing take on post-rock-influenced metalcore around the country for over a decade now. They’ve pretty much stayed on tour for most of the past decade, meaning that, for a local band, they play here in RVA quite rarely. Therefore, I’m always on the lookout for a chance to see them rock their hometown.
This week, the chance comes in the form of a Tuesday night show in a church basement — staple venues for suburban hardcore for decades now (since even I was a young whippersnapper). Comrades have long avoided Richmond’s traditional music venues, and while that might make it harder to get word of their rare local performances, I’ve told you about this one now, so you have no excuse. Their combination of wistful melody, epic song structures, and roaring metallic rage is not something you’re going to encounter anywhere else, so do yourself a favor and get to the gig already. You can thank me later.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, February 15, 7 PM
Old Wounds, Vain//Void, Accident Prone, Autopsy Affair @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Old Wounds are back in action, and I for one am stoked. This metalcore group first landed on my radar with landmark debut LP From Where We Came Is Where We’ll Rest. Since those days, everyone from the original trio that made that LP has left the group at one point or another, but singer Kevin Iavaroni returned to the fold last year, just in time to helm the group’s incredible third album, Glow. Based on the evidence the album provides, no matter who is backing him, this group has the goods.
Iavaroni has been a flashpoint for controversy in the more blinkered metal circles; his open gender non-conformity and his band’s defiant pro-LGBTQ stance (Old Wounds has often performed with Pride flags draped over their amps) have pissed off some overly macho types in the heavy music world. Is it any surprise that a queer woman like myself loves them? It’s even less of a surprise when you listen to their music. Glow finds the group dipping further into musical influences from sassy, noisy groups like Glassjaw as well as some Sisters Of Mercy-ish goth tinges, all of which is to the good. However, crushing brutality is still the main ingredient for their excellent music; they’ll bring it straight to you at Charlie’s American Cafe Friday night — and look damn good while doing so, too. Be there.
Monday, February 18, 7 :30 PM
Vince Staples, Buddy, Armani White @ The NorVA – $25 in advance/$30 at the door (order tickets HERE)
You Norfolk hip hop heads are in for a treat — Vince Staples is coming to your town. I wish I could say the same for my own hometown, but as it is, those of us from Richmond are going to have to content ourselves with gassing up the ride and heading east on I-64 on a Monday night. At least we know it’ll be worth it. Staples has been one of the premier talents to come out of the hip hop world this decade; starting with his landmark 2015 debut, Summertime ’06, he’s been making some of the best music in the genre.
The past year saw Staples release his third LP, FM!, and show us once more the talent he’s got on offer. This one’s a short one, based around the concept of Staples taking over LA radio DJ Big Boy’s show to drop some killer tunes. Songs like “FUN!” and “Feels Like Summer” show Staples lyrical talents, versatile flow, and masterful choice of producers, and when stacked alongside classic earlier tracks like “Big Fish” and “Norf Norf,” they prove that this is an artist whose every move should be tracked closely by any true hip hop fan. And that’s why everyone should be at The NorVA this Monday night to see Vince Staples — no matter what part of VA you’ve gotta come from. Don’t blow it, y’all.
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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