Saturday, October 7, 7 PM
Iron Lung, Bastard Noise, Suppression, Intensive Care, Listless @ Strange Matter – $20 (order tickets HERE)
Power violence. I know a lot of you out there might be turned off by the term–sounds creepy and dangerous, right? But if you like seeing the sounds of metal, hardcore, punk, and even random offshoots like free jazz and experimental noise all pushed to their absolute limit at the same time by the same bands, then chances are you already know that power violence is the genre for you. Originally innovated by bands like Infest and Crossed Out, power violence incorporates the ridiculous speeds of grindcore, the brutal slowness of the sludgiest doom metal, and the freakout craziness of noise into a harsh conglomeration of atonal madness. If you need danceability and sweet melodic hooks from your music, well, I get that, but this may not be the night for you. However, if you can appreciate people pushing the limit of just how fast, heavy, and hectic music can get, you need to order your ticket now.
Iron Lung may not have been there at power violence’s dawn in the early 90s, but they’ve been the leaders of the genre for quite a while now, at least since the release of their 2004 debut, Life. Iron Lung. Death. This bassless two-piece tosses out killer riffs at hyperspeed, blending them with crushing breakdowns and tortured screams, along with a heaping helping of flat-out noise. The combination was refined to perfection on their third album, White Glove Test, but the four years since its release have seen almost no releases of new material–other than a lathe-cut limited edition EP earlier this year, which was limited to 100 and sold only at shows. Hopefully they’ll bring us a real new album soon, but until then, you’ll have to settle for getting your head knocked off at this show.
Bastard Noise actually were there at the early 90s dawn of power violence–indeed, leader Eric Wood coined the term. Originally known as Man Is The Bastard, the group had some lineup changes and moved in a more noise-weirdness direction after Y2K, at which time they adopted the Bastard Noise moniker. However, recent years have seen their original drummer rejoin the group, and things move back towards the sort of jazz-grind-sludge the band excelled at in its early years, so this show may more closely resemble Man Is The Bastard’s 1996 performance at the same venue than one might initially expect. This lineup is jam packed with additional entertainment, from legendary RVA power violence duo Suppression–who date back almost as long as Bastard Noise in their own right–to Canadian bass-drum sludge combo Intensive Care, who feature former members of mid-2000s power violence torchbearers Endless Blockade. Local queercore/blackened screamo upstarts Listless kick things off with righteous fury, so show up on time and be ready for some serious ear damage.
Wednesday, October 4, 8 PM
Dr. No, Black Mountain Massacre, BLK LLC, Bodyshell @ Strange Matter – $5 (order tickets HERE)
Strange Matter’s Locals Only showcase series continues to be the best opportunity to hear about a bunch of new bands happening in the city, all at the same time. In this case, word has it that Black Mountain Massacre curated this lineup themselves, which is a really interesting way to go about it, and certainly not something I have a problem with. Letting bands introduce us to other new bands they hang with–this seems like a very solid plan. And in this case, it’s led to a good band introducing us to a bunch of other good bands, so that’s pretty much an ideal outcome.
The evening is headlined by the aforementioned Black Mountain Massacre, a new metal project with some clear roots in that whole Pantera/Eyehategod axis of NOLA metal. They’ll get your head banging for sure, while Dr. No bring a tangled mathy hardcore sound that evokes past RVA greats like Kepone and Breadwinner. I’m down with it. BLK LLC, a band that brings together bass-slinging lunatic Jon Sullivan (Kid Is Qual/Sau) and microphone rager Ryan Kent (Gritter, Murdersome) for some heavy-as-fuck guitar-free grooves, takes this opportunity to tear you a new one, and the whole evening starts with Bodyshell, a duo with a strange hybrid sound that at times feels more like atmospheric metal and at others is more like moody indie rock. Either way, it’s cool, as is every band on this bill. For $5, you really can’t go wrong.
Thursday, October 5, 8 PM
Dirty Rice Pop-Up, feat. Noah-O X Fan Ran, Johnny Ciggs, God Goldin, Bonds, music by Billy When? @ Flora – $7
Noah-O may be seen as a one-hit wonder by some who count by MTV airplay. The truth is, though, he’s never stopped making great records, and over the past half decade or so, he’s built up quite a track record for himself. Moving across the city, putting together projects with a succession of the best beatmakers in town, and steadily improving his skills in the process sees him still improving after being a big name on the RVA hip hop scene for at least seven years now. Having previously worked with everyone from Taylor Whitelow and Cadillac Cat to the late, great Kleph Dollaz, his latest project sees him teaming up with Gritty City production mastermind Fan Ran, who’s been carving out quite the career in his own right with a prolific series of projects with the full range of Gritty City’s packed stable of heavy-hitting MCs.
What do you get when the two join together? Some good eating, that’s for sure. Dirty Rice hit the streets last month via Bandcamp, and this show is a celebration of its release out in the real world. Noah-O and Fan Ran will bring the crowd a fire-spitting performance of the album’s many bangers, while Gritty City majordomo Johnny Ciggs provides valuable support with a set of his own. God Goldin shows off his lyrical skills on the mic as well, and a newcomer named Bonds about whom I know very little (that’s not an easy name to google, I gotta tell ya) will contribute the opening set. The event will also feature a pop-up shop selling an exclusive Dirty Rice t-shirt only available at this event, which will surely be accompanied by a variety of Charged Up Entertainment and Gritty City Records merch. Bring a few bucks, because you’re gonna want to do some shopping. But make sure you run out to the car and stow your brand new t-shirt before the headlining set–dirty rice is tasty, but it’ll stain your clothes if you don’t eat carefully.
Friday, October 6, 8 PM
ZAO, Sunndrug, Ostraca, Venomspitter @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Who knew ZAO would still be around in 2017? Especially considering that the last original member left the band over a decade ago. And who ever would have guessed that they would still be an excellent example of late 90s metalcore, somehow surviving at least a decade after anyone would have guessed they’d be relevant? Certainly not me, but the fact is, it’s happened, with their 2016 album The Well-Intentioned Virus showing that they’ve still got the spark that made classic albums Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest (1998) and The Funeral Of God (2004) so killer. Singer Daniel Weyandt and guitarists Russ Cogdell and Scott Mellinger are still in the fold from those days, too, so things really haven’t changed as much as one might fear. The mix of harsh screams, sludgy riffs, powerful breakdowns, and emotional drama that made Zao great is still in place.
Meanwhile, the openers for this bill mix VA bands with roots in the same era that spawned Zao and younger groups paying tribute to a crucial early influence. Sunndrug hails from VA Beach and features members of Spitfire and Norma Jean, two other bands from that same late-90s metalcore scene that spawned Zao. All of them had Christian content and associations at the time, and all of them seem to have grown beyond overt ties between music and religion in the years since, which is always nice to see (though let’s be real, if Jesus Christ gets mentioned from stage a time or two on this night, no one will be surprised. Just try to tune out for those parts). Ostraca may have been around in some form for over a decade now, but they’re spring chickens compared to Zao, and bring a newer, darker version of metalcore into the world–believe me, it’s a welcome one. Venomspitter are on much the same page as Ostraca, though they feature a more overt hardcore influence. And while they’re the newest band on this bill, some members played with bands (most notably Forefront) who opened for much earlier incarnations of Zao back in the pre-9/11 days when the world was young and full of hope. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Saturday, October 7, 6:30 PM
Have Mercy, Boston Manor, Can’t Swim, A Will Away @ The Camel – $15 in advance/$17 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes in the course of writing this column I learn that there’s a significant discrepancy between what the world of the internet will tell you about a band and what your ears will tell you. For example, we have Have Mercy, a Baltimore band that is described online as “rock” and is, upon listening to any of their three albums, clearly better described by the phrase “emo as fuck.” I mean, granted, they aren’t as energetic as Taking Back Sunday, taking a more pensive approach to their midtempo riffs and lovelorn vocals, but I definitely hear more of Gates or Moving Mountains here than… I dunno, what’s rock in 2017? Of Mice And Men? Falling In Reverse? Is Nickelback still together?
Anyway, I should probably mention the fact that Have Mercy leader Brian Swindle purged and restructured the group’s entire lineup before the release of their latest album, Make The Best Of It. Despite what you may fear, though, the band hasn’t lost a step, and are still primed to get everyone in the crowd sighing as they bob back and forth to this band’s excellently emotional music. This tour sees Have Mercy joined by a trio of out-of-town bands, making this a local-free show. Pure Noise Records signees Boston Manor (who strangely hail not from the New England but the merrie old one across the pond) are the standouts, and make an excellent companion piece to Have Mercy with the songs from their 2016 debut LP, Be Nothing, having much in common with Have Mercy’s latest stuff. Can’t Swim, whose name makes me imagine a gimmick band that goes on stage in life jackets (they probably don’t actually do this), and A Will Away will round out the lineup here. Bring a sweater.
Sunday, October 8, 8 PM
Necroscythe, Hoboknife, Voarm @ Strange Matter – $7
Not sure what happened to Necroscythe’s original tourmates, Hivelords, but frankly, I can’t bring myself to care about it. After all, our remaining headliners are a Philadelphia black metal project who have a song called “I Spit Upon The Cross Of Christ.” How awesome is that? Do you really need any more from these people? Well, if you do, I can tell you that they’ve got some classic double-time riffs and blasting drums, plus some terrifying throaty screams, all of which sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a pit inside a forest in the middle of the night. In other words, the perfect black metal sound. So yeah, let’s all start queueing up for this one now.
Two RVA metal projects with equally harsh styles are on the bill as openers, and while by now I’m pretty sure everyone who cares about local metal has already checked out Hoboknife, let me just alert the few of you who might still be sleeping on them so you wake the hell up. This band brings together the majority of the late, lamented La Mere Vipere to crank out some dark, heavy shredding that is more blackened thrash than outright black metal, but certainly should appeal to those on both sides of that divide. Voarm, on the other hand, is straight-up black metal, complete with full-on tin can production–one can imagine that their live presentation will have a heavier low end than their demo, but the blast beats, tremolo-picked riffs, and tortured vocal howls will stay intact. So yes, this will be a night of gruesome metal terror, missing headliner be damned. Show up.
Monday, October 9, 8 PM
Neat Sweep, Foresterr, Railgun, Black Acid Ritual @ Strange Matter – $5
Another Locals Only show at Strange Matter in the same week? I know, isn’t it great? This one is coming from a completely different part of the scene than the previous one, which makes it just as valuable and yet completely unlike the one before. That always rules. Our headliners are Neat Sweep, the latest project from Cory Chubb (Sundials, Close Talker, Smoke Break, etc) and Max Gottesman (Gottem), and of course, the first song on their demo is about a Taco Bell date. Is the whole post-Haus Addy scene getting predictable? Maybe a little, but it’s all just so much fun… why complain about it?
And now for something completely different. Former Lawrence, KS residents Foresterr are also on this bill, and they’ve recently brought their intricately layered brand of shoegaze-y indie guitar to RVA. Get ready for precise melodies contrasted with fuzzy guitar haze to put a smile on your face–because I assure you, that’s what’s going to happen when this band starts to play. Railgun sounds like the name a metallic punk band would have, but in this case they’re a smooth, funky rock crew from here in town. Didn’t see that coming, did you? The fact that Black Acid Ritual are a crew of teenagers playing moshy metal riffs is a bit more predictable, but no less awesome. The whole night is sure to rule, really.
Tuesday, October 10, 8 PM
Yawningman, We Are The Asteroid, Desert Altar, Zgomot @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Yawningman has returned to RVA, and it’s an event for all who love psychedelia, stoner desert metal, and generally weird outsider shit. For years, all I could tell you about Yawningman was that on their last album, Kyuss had covered a song from their demo. The song was great, but I didn’t hear any actual Yawningman recordings or learn much of anything about them until their first official studio album, 2005’s Rock Formations, was released. That album showed that, while this sun-baked psychedelic ensemble had influenced quite a few bands from that CA/AZ desert-rock axis, their sound was entirely their own, an instrumentally-driven groove machine full of moments that stood alongside the best of bands from Blue Cheer to Jane’s Addiction in its ability to launch mental explorations of the solar system.
So yeah, the hype is real, this band really does deserve all the great things that have been said about them in the press over the years, and if you haven’t picked up on their 30-year history as yet, this Tuesday’s Strange Matter performance is a perfect jumping-on point. Tourmates We Are The Asteroid offer some similarly freaky psychedelic exploration, and feature former Butthole Surfers bassist Nathan Calhoun–just so you know what sort of pedigree they’re working with. Local openers Desert Altar get on that whole Kyuss stoner groove vibe, while fellow locals Zgomot bring punk influence, an improvisational flair, and a foundation in Romanian literature to the stage in an unpredictable fusion of fascinatingly disparate elements. Nothing about this show is predictable, other than the fact that you’re sure to enjoy it.
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): firstname.lastname@example.org [the rvamag address isn’t working for some reason, I haven’t had time to look into it! Bear with me]