Friday, February 22, 6 PM
New Lions, Large Margin, Basmati, Grandma @ Hardywood – Free!
It snowed this morning. It’s supposed to be 60 degrees tomorrow. Who knows what the weather will be like this weekend. But while Richmond’s topsy-turvy weather spends the rest of winter (and probably longer than that) pulling itself together, we can at least be assured that, in this town full of outstanding music, it’ll always be pleasant inside.
That will definitely be true at Hardywood this Friday night, when this jam-packed lineup of top-tier local musicians hits the stage. Topping the bill is New Lions, and this sextet is what we get when Clair Morgan stops pussyfooting around about whether or not he’s a solo artist and just forms a band already. Not that that’s any big new thing — New Lions is basically the same ensemble Morgan was leading when he made his last record, 2016’s New Lions And The Not-Good Night (ah, see, you’re starting to get what’s happening here), and the group’s pleasing mix of indie melodies and intense, math-y emo remains intact. Plus, they’re almost done with their new EP, so you’ll probably hear at least a song or two from it aired out live.
Large Margin are the other big story of the night, and while this band may have been ultra low-key with their rollout, one listen to last year’s self-titled full-length was enough to blow your hair back for sure. This quartet of local post-hardcore luminaries is kicking up some serious dust with their Fugazi-inspired take on angry, energetic noise-core, and on a personal note, it’s pure catnip for me — I love it. This show marks the physical release of the aforementioned self-titled full-length, and you’d all be fools not to grab it on cassette while the getting’s good. You’d also be fools not to arrive on time and catch powerful sets from long-running indie-math vets Basmati and the looping pop genius of Grandma. This show doesn’t even cost anything to get in, so you officially have no excuse.
Wednesday, February 20, 7 PM
Doc Rotten, Love Roses, The Chuggernauts @ McCormack’s – $7
Punk never sleeps, at least not before the sun’s coming up. And punk doesn’t care what day of the week it is, or what sort of job you have to get to at some point tomorrow. Punk thinks you should probably just quit your job. What has it ever done for you? It’s an especially incisive critique when you consider all the great things punk bands like Doc Rotten have given you over the years: snotty singalong choruses, catchy melodic leads, angry yet upbeat riffs you can raise your fist and yell along to.
These are the really important things in life, right? And you might worry about how you’re going to pay rent if you don’t once again forgo sleep and stagger in to work at 8 AM tomorrow regardless of how late you were out tonight. But none of that matters tonight, when Jersey punk crew Doc Rotten will have you singing along with an upraised fist (possibly clutching a beer). Last summer’s Illusion To Choose LP is full of bouncy bass lines, crunchy guitars, and deathless anthems that speak to the struggles we all go through, and when they crank out those tunes in Shockoe Bottom, you’ll be feeling good for sure. Local ragers Love Roses and The Chuggernauts are along to keep you smiling all night. Don’t miss it — no matter what time your alarm is set for.
Thursday, February 21, 10 PM
Typesetter, Late Bloomer, Washers @ Bandito’s – Free!
The classic midwestern emo sound may have quite a bit of history behind it these days, but it is by no means dead. Two great bands are coming through town this Thursday night to prove it to you, and while both of them are from out of town, they do have Richmond connections in that both of them have released albums on our city’s own 6131 Records. The first is Typesetter, who keep the midwestern tradition alive from their hometown of Chicago. Their latest album, Nothing Blues, finds the group mixing gorgeously wistful vocal harmonies with driving riffage and a solid grasp of the dynamics that make for a perfect full-length listen. Their set at Bandito’s is sure to deliver on the album’s promise.
And then there’s Late Bloomer, who hail from one state south of here and, like Typesetter, released a full-length on 6131 last year. Waiting finds this band rocking a little bit harder than their labelmates, catching a bit of that post-Nirvana 90s alt-rock feel in their net along with a generous helping of pastoral emo resonances. If you dig one of these bands, you’re sure to dig ’em both. Local openers Washers should appeal to you as well. This driving melodic punk band lands somewhere between local luminaries Teen Death and Sports Bar, and considering they share members (and a label) with the latter group, there are a lot of local heads who should already be in their corner. If not, show up at Bandito’s and get familiar already, y’all.
Friday, February 22, 7:30 PM
Chris Corsano/Bill Nace, Crazy Doberman @ Shockoe Denim – $10
Let’s get experimental this Friday night, shall we? This bill of experimental music with equal footing in jazz, punk, and improvisation is the sort of thing we might have expected to show up at Black Iris a year or so ago, but this time it’s happening in a completely random spot — Shockoe Denim, where you’d normally expect to hear nothing stranger than the phrase “selvedge denim.” This Friday night, though, it’s getting downright unusual in the fancy jeans store, as New England noisemakers Chris Corsano and Bill Nace perform a collaborative set.
You may recognize guitarist Bill Nace’s name, at least if you’ve followed what the members of Sonic Youth have been up to since their band dissolved. Nace is part of a duo called Body/Head, in which he collaborates with Kim Gordon. He’s done a ton of other stuff in the experimental music world too, as has Chris Corsano, a drummer of no small repute who has worked with everyone from Jim O’Rourke to Jandek at one time or another. These two have joined together previously under the name Vampire Belt to create glorious volcanoes of wild free-jazz cacophony. How will this performance differ? All we can do is show up and see. One thing’s for sure — it’ll be a wild ride. Especially with Richmond’s own pack of wild improv-experimental noise dogs, Crazy Doberman, opening up. The jeans store just might get a little unruly.
Saturday, February 23, 8 PM
Buzzherd, Musket Hawk, MSD, Cruelsifix @ Champion RVA – Free!
Local punk luminaries Tired and Pissed Records are bringing another devastating showcase to their hometown, this time over at Champion Brewing’s RVA location. And while those who pay attention to this sort of thing might have come to expect straight-up punk with a bit of a metal edge from the T&P crew, this time around finds them veering into the land of outright metal — which fits the environment, a brewer that those of us who don’t partake in the intoxicating stuff have come to associate with music that induces major headbangs.
This event finds two touring bands from north of our city heading into town; Buzzherd hail from Bethlehem, PA, a rust belt city mostly known for completely overdoing the whole Christmas thing. You can imagine what sort of angst this could induce in young metalheads, and you’ll hear all that angst and more when Buzzherd take the stage and wallop you with their chunky, violent take on metallic hardcore… or hardcore-damaged metal, as the case may be. Baltimore’s Musket Hawk take things in a more low-end direction, as they rumble and grind their way toward the perfect fusion of death metal and punk. Again, perfect music for their rather unstable home environs — and perfect music for you to spend your Saturday night headbanging to. Local powerhouses MSD and Cruelsifix only add to the reasons to wear your denim vest and get crazy at this one.
Sunday, February 24, 9:30 PM
Dropping Ugly, W I S H, Collider @ Bandito’s – Free!
We’re back at Bandito’s for the second time this week, for the fourth free show of the column this week, and if you don’t think this is a great time to be alive regardless of the weather, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe to spend the money you’re saving on a huge plate of nachos at one or both of these Bandito’s shows and find out how great life truly can be. Then, feeling stuffed and happy, you can wander into the music room, check out a few great bands for zero dollars, and have a further realization of how truly #blessed you are.
This show features a performance by Dropping Ugly, which is the sort of band name one might understandably associate with thuggish hardcore stomping. One would therefore be surprised to discover that this Richmond duo is much closer to shoegaze/dreampop-influenced indie sounds, with a strong emphasis on beauty and melody. They’re dropping ugly, all right — there’s nothing not-gorgeous about this group’s sound. Sunday night provides you with the perfect opportunity to discover that, and while you’re at it, to take in the heavier shoegaze-oriented approach of W I S H, who will give you serious gaze-heads flashbacks to the days of the Swirlies and the Lilys. It’s glorious. DC’s Collider round out the evening with some killer sounds that make me want to reference bands no one reading this has ever heard, like Monsterland and Drop Nineteens. That’s an endorsement, in case it’s not clear. Want to know more? Go to this show. Like many of the shows in this week’s column, it’s free — so don’t say I never gave you anything.
Monday, February 25, 10 PM
SMUG, THRE3, 7th Grade Girl Fight @ Cary Street Cafe – Free!
I’ve recently heard the word “smug” used to describe that wave of annoying, pretentious right-wing YouTube jerks we all hear way too much about these days. It’s fitting; it’s a word that makes you think of a smarmy jerk with a superior smile on his face after having said something he thinks is brilliant and you know is ridiculous. Thankfully, the band SMUG doesn’t seem to consist of guys like that. Instead, they’re a trio hailing from Buffalo, NY (home of the Goo Goo Dolls, who rule. Yeah, I said it) and dishing out some powerful melodic punk on their brand-new album, Gorgeous.
So yeah, it’ll be fun to see these guys rock out at Cary Street Cafe, as long as you don’t think too hard about the meaning of their name. They’ll be joined by a duo of Virginia-based melodic rock bands with numbers in their names. THRE3 is a band who must have been frustrated when they realized that both 3 and Three had been taken. They used that frustration to fuel their creativity, and produced some pretty killer punk-adjacent sounds with strong Ted Leo resonances on their 2018 album, Do Or Die. Meanwhile, 7th Grade Girl Fight bring us some fun indie sounds with obvious debts to the world of power-pop and garage rock. The whole evening’s gonna be pretty swell.
Tuesday, February 26, 9 PM
Red Sea, MRC, Shormey, Lobby Boy @ The Camel – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s a show brought to you by Underground Orchard, a recent booking and promotion endeavor spinning off from the Citrus City Records empire here in Richmond. And considering how reliable the Citrus City name has become in terms of delivering quality 21st-century indie music, especially with an electro-pop flair, it’s no surprise to find Underground Orchard carrying on that legacy by bringing us a performance from Atlanta’s Red Sea.
If you tuned in to this band three years ago, you surely heard a different sort of sound — one more guitar-based and indie-math driven. These days, though, they’ve moved into the realm of electronic synth-pop, and recent singles are simultaneously reminiscent of Duran Duran, Vampire Weekend, and early-90s techno-house. It’s not easy to pin down, and it’s certainly not predictable, but it’s a whole lot of fun, as you’ll find out when you’re shaking your booty on the dance floor at The Camel Tuesday night. Be sure to check out the Tidewater-based dance entertainments of True Body side project MRC and Citrus City’s own Shormey, as well as similarly-driven Harrisonbury project Lobby Boy. This one will keep your feet moving.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Saturday, February 23, 8 PM
Summer Heart, Brothertiger, Karacell @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $10 in advance/$13 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There’s a lot of great electronic pop music that comes out of Sweden — and no, I’m not (just) talking about Swedish House Mafia. All sorts of people with strong electro-pop bona fides hail from this Scandinavian country, from Robyn to Avicii to Max Martin. Therefore, can it be any surprise that there’s also a fertile electro-pop underground in the country? It’s that underground that has produced Summer Heart, the solo project of Swedish production genius David Alexander. And it’s Summer Heart who will be bringing the gorgeous sound of sunshine to Norfolk in the wintertime. Bless.
Summer Heart spent 2018 releasing a project called 12 Songs Of Summer, one song at a time. The songs, doled out once a month throughout the past year, are being released as a compilation for this tour, and you’d be wise to pick it up and finally be in a position to let the jams play for a while. They’ll bring a big smile to your face, whether you’re playing them at home or dancing to the tunes in person at Charlie’s American Cafe Saturday night. But to be clear, we definitely recommend the latter course of action. This has been a cold, gross winter, and it’s not over yet. We all need a little bit of summer in our hearts.
Monday, February 25, 8 PM
156/Silence (Photo by Ale Gibson-Photography), No Good Deed, Beyond The Grave, Yung Mutt, Lil Broken Heart @ Riffhouse Pub – $5
Y’all had to know this moment was coming — the moment in every column where I do my level best to convince every single one of you to get stoked about a metalcore band that’s coming to our area. You made it through the whole column, you thought you might get away without it this time — but it was not to be, as I will now fervently implore you to gas up your auto and head to Norfolk’s RiffHouse Pub this Monday night to see Pittsburgh, PA’s 156/Silence.
If I am to be totally forthright with you in my advocacy, I must admit that I have no idea what their seemingly random name means. However, it matters little; their 2018 LP on Innerstrength Records, Undercover Scumbag, contains all I need to understand about this band — a powerful collection of driving metallic sludge. filled with angst and fury, plus plenty of noisy guitar chaos, thundering drums, and intense throat-shredding screams. This band is sure to delight fans of everything from Sworn In to The Chariot to All Else Failed, and as I am all three of those fans, I am fair and squarely stoked. You will be too if you make it to RiffHouse Monday night; when have I ever steered you wrong?
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@example.com [and yeah, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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