Sunday, February 13, 3 PM
Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, feat. Richmond Symphony @ Dominion Energy Center For The Performing Arts – $65 (order tickets HERE)
Back when I was in high school — every bit of 30 years ago, god help me — I had a cassette called The Carl Stalling Project. I used to love to play it in my car while I drove around the rural backwater outside Charlottesville where I grew up, listening to the strange, frantic mix of genre-hopping orchestra treatments and context-free cartoon samples. You see, Carl Stalling was a composer and arranger who worked for both Disney and Warner Bros. cartoon studios in the mid-20th century. Specifically, he scored and arranged the music for almost every Warner Bros. cartoon released between 1936 and 1958. And that cassette featured archival recordings from a variety of those cartoons, showing the way Stalling brilliantly incorporated straightforward symphonic music with a variety of popular genres of the day, from hillbilly swing to hot jazz, and even the forward-thinking compositions of 20th century experimental musician Raymond Scott.
The idea that inspired that Carl Stalling Project tape (and its 1995 sequel) was taken to the next level by George Daugherty, an orchestra conductor who’s been combining films and other multimedia presentations with classical music for over a quarter century now. In 2010, he had the idea for Bugs Bunny On Broadway, a concert in which classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from the Warner Bros. archives would be broadcast on a big screen while an orchestra plays along live, recreating the classic scores by Carl Stalling and his successor, Milt Franklyn, as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and other icons of animation cavort onscreen above them. Since then, he’s done three versions of this show, and it’s the latest, Bugs Bunny At The Symphony, which will come to Dominion Center for the Performing Arts this Sunday afternoon.
Look, I know — I’m an old lady now. Maybe it shows in that I’m telling you to spend your Sunday afternoon at the symphony. But on the other hand, has it occurred to you that your seven-year-old nephew will be just as stoked about this event as your humble 46-year-old columnist is? Maybe that says something. Something like: no matter how old or young you are, Warner Bros. cartoons like the unforgettable “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “Zoom And Bored,” featuring the always hilarious Road Runner. Plus, there will be appearances by characters like Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Sylvester the cat, and even an appearance by legendary MGM stars Tom and Jerry. And of course the Richmond Symphony will be creating every entertaining note you hear, making the whole thing even cooler. I know, it’s the symphony, it’s for old people, yadda yadda. But if you go, I guarantee you’ll have a blast.
Wednesday, February 9, 8 PM
Bofa The Band, Orange Ice, Spacemere @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Would you like a cure for your midweek blues? I know, who wouldn’t? Well, not to worry, because you kind find what you seek on this very night at The Camel with three Virginia bands sure to put a smile on your face. First, there’s Bofa The Band (or just Bofa? That feels like the start of a pun I should probably not finish in this column, what with this being a family column and all [lol as if]). They come from up Charlottesville way and have a groovy sound that’ll get your feet moving, though there’s definitely some elements of jam integrated in there as well. They sort of have a summertime lawn-party feel, though you probably shouldn’t dance barefoot to them at The Camel in February.
The other two bands both hail from right here in RVA. Orange Ice can only really be heard in snippets on social media, or backing local rapper Smyth Knight in a Tiny Desk submission, but from what I can tell, these guys also have a bit of a funk feel. However, they replace the jam vibes of Bofa The Band with a strong helping of jazz and soul, so this set will probably get pretty deep into the groove. Dig it. Spacemere are opening this one, but they’ve been around Richmond off-and-on for seven years or so now, and they’re closest to the indie paradigm of the three bands on this bill. Their upbeat guitar strumming will be a great way to kick this one off. If you don’t show up at this show with a smile on your face, no worries — you’ll leave with one, for sure.
Thursday, February 10, 8 PM
Marielle Kraft, Skout, Margox @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Strong indie-folk vibes from this one. Marielle Kraft hails from Nashville, and in 2019, she released an EP called The Deep End that summed up an unstable two years in her life, in which she moved to a new city, broke up with a longtime partner, quit her teaching job, and threw herself fully into making music her career. I bet she thought she was about to land on a new stable path, huh? Rest assured, nobody saw COVID coming. Kraft’s been laying low with the rest of us for the past two years, but she’s released several standalone singles in that intervening time, and tracks like “Second Coffee” and “Everyone But Me” show that this singer-songwriter’s incredible melodic sense was not a pandemic casualty.
As for Kraft’s tourmates, Skout, they’ve got a whole bunch of great songs for you as well. Skout is a project of singer-guitarist-songwriter Laura Valk and guitarist Connor Gladney, and they released a pretty great EP in 2020 called Patterns. It’s a bit less pop and more indie sounding than Marielle Kraft’s recent singles, but they compliment each other quite well. Particularly excellent is the heartfelt lyrical approach both of these artists bring to the table, so if you really want to hear the music of your heart sung out loud without you having to be the one to say it, this is probably the evening for you.
Friday, February 11, 7 PM
Merciful Zero, Future Projektor, Hewolf @ 4 Cyber Cafe – $10
I don’t know much of anything about The 4 Cyber Cafe, but based on its name, I would expect this relatively new downtown venue to traffic mainly in EDM-techno-house type events. If this show is any indication, though, that’s a totally incorrect expectation. Because, you see, this exhibition of talent from a trio of local bands is all about the hard n’ heavy rock sound. Merciful Zero are at the top of this bill, but if that name is unfamiliar to you, that makes sense, as it appears they’ve changed their name from Armwood within the past year or so. Assuming they haven’t changed their sound, you can expect sludgy, vaguely math-inclined metal of the midtempo variety, complete with ominous vocal tones.
All these comparisons run through my mind as I listen to their 2020 EP, No Filter Through The Vortex — Voivod, Hirax, Confessor — but none of them is exactly right. Rest assured, though, if you want some sludgy headbang fuel, this group has it for you. And of course, if you can appreciate what Merciful Zero is bringing to the table, you’re sure to dig Future Projektor, regardless of the fact that they remove vocals from the equation entirely, in favor of captivating visual projections. Then there’s Hewolf, a fun-loving trio of Richmond metal veterans (featuring members of Darkest Hour, Alabama Thunderpussy, and HRM, among others) who use their heavy rock sound to create fantastical versions of the heavy metal-fueled action movies we all loved back in the 80s. These guys need a deal with Cannon Films, ASAP. In the meantime, find your way to the 4 Cyber Cafe and let all three of these groups rock you like hurricanes this Friday night.
Saturday, February 12, 9 PM
LJ & The Sleeze, Paint Fumes, Magic Wand @ Fuzzy Cactus – $10
Well, we made it through four shows this week before much of anything needed to be said about the pandemic, but that streak was bound to end at some point, and we have come to that point now, because I need to tell you that this LJ & The Sleeze record release show does not actually herald a new record. Instead, it’s the long-delayed release show for Max Henry Gottesman and co.’s Put Something Sleezy Between Your Legs EP, which has actually been out for months. But hey, better late than never, right?
The great thing is that if you haven’t yet had a chance to see the full-band version of Gottesman’s oversexed garage rock project, this is a great opportunity to do so. As our article from last December noted, LJ & The Sleeze (mostly Gottesman) get wild enough in the live environment that they’ve been banned from some local venues. But hey, Fuzzy Cactus is Richmond’s home for rock n’ roll, right? They aren’t gonna mind a little nudity. They also aren’t going to mind opening sets from North Carolina garage-punk maniacs Paint Fumes and local power-pop punks Magic Wand, which will certainly bring some spice to an already-sure-to-be-spicy evening. Get ready.
Sunday, February 13, 6 PM
Jivebomb, Detonate, Without Peace, Reflect, Love Gun, Wasted Space @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
If you can’t stand the idea of spending your Sunday afternoon at the symphony — or, alternately, all that cartoon madness just leaves you with an excess of energy to burn off — no worries, we’ve got a strong alternative for you all. Baltimore hardcore bands Jivebomb and Detonate are coming to The Camel, and they’re gonna get the pit started with the quickness. Jivebomb’s recent EP, JVBM (does that count as self-titled or not?), comes at you fast and furious with some raw, angry old-school USHC featuring plenty of foot-stomping breakdowns and raging roars. Detonate is quite a bit heavier on their demo from about six weeks ago, cranking up the metal crunch and shifting back and forth from crossover-style fast parts to thick, chunky breakdowns.
Rest assured, you’re gonna want to see both of these bands. The fact that New Jersey newcomers Without Peace, who have more of that out-of-control speed and old-school snarl, are also on the bill should only make it more of a must-see. And of course, there are still three more bands playing this gig, all of whom are local and all of whom have some intriguing sounds to offer. Love Gun are named after a Kiss song but musically shoot for straight-up crossover revival, like Nuclear Assault or Sacred Reich. I’m into it. Reflect are gonna get you moshing and grooving early 90s style, and Wasted Space go for a thrashy approach. No duds here — just killer tunes that fairly demand some heavy mosh action. Don’t let ’em down.
Tuesday, February 15, 7 PM
I, The Breather, Sleep Waker, Curses, Execution Day, Aura, Defying Death @ The Canal Club – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I, The Breather have been a going concern in the world of metalcore for over a decade now. They had their first real breakthrough back in 2010, when they released their first LP, These Are My Sins, on Sumerian Records. The follow-up, Truth And Purpose, came two years later. Now, ten years after that, the band is doing a “10-year reunion tour” covering both of those records, presumably because any celebration of the first one would have had to happen back when the world was shut down due to COVID. So OK, I’ll give ’em that. Here’s what’s interesting: I, The Breather spent many of the previous years on hiatus. And the lineup that released their most recent single featured only singer Shawn Spann from the lineup that made those first two albums.
But look, here’s the secret: I kinda don’t care. After all, I, The Breather’s first singles since returning from hiatus, “Prey” and “Brainsic,” are just as good as their early stuff — if not better. So I have zero problem believing that the current lineup is able to recreate and maybe even improve upon the classic versions of those tracks from I, The Breather’s first two LPs. And if they bust out new material at some point, I certainly won’t mind that either. Regardless of how it all shakes out, this is going to be a heavy-as-fuck headbanger’s paradise of a show — and we haven’t even talked about all the excellent other bands on this bill. From metal/death/core brutarians Sleep Waker and West Virginia heavy-core group Curses to local up-and-comers Aura and Defying Death, this is a bill jam-packed with awesomeness. And I, The Breather’s set is sure to be the crowning glory of it all. You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you?
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]