Saturday, September 23, 8 PM
The Broadberry presents RVA Live! feat. Matthew E. White, Natalie Prass, Tim Barry, Bio Ritmo, Clair Morgan @ Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center – $10-80 (order tickets HERE)
OK yes I am usually on some more underground/DIY type stuff than anything that takes place at the Carpenter Theatre but sometimes something too big and important and cool to ignore comes along and you just gotta send people to the big bourgeois theatre in the center of town, right? Well, that’s my opinion anyway. This event is also being presented by The Broadberry, a relatively small venue with deep connections to the local independent music scene, so its DIY bona fides are pretty well beyond question.
Therefore, I must tell you that something amazing and very difficult to rationalize missing is happening downtown at the Carpenter Theatre this Saturday night, and tickets start at a very reasonable $10, so there’s really no excuse not to be in attendance. RVA Live! is an evening featuring several of the Richmond scene’s most noteworthy veteran artists–everyone from salsa stalwarts Bio Ritmo to punk-gone-country troubadour Tim Barry–performing in collaboration with the Richmond Symphony. With orchestration and arrangements being handled by Trey Pollard of Spacebomb Records, who has done string arrangements for artists ranging from Matthew E. White to Foxygen and The Waterboys; along with Bio Ritmo members Marlysse Simmons and Toby Whitaker; this is going to be a collaborative project on multiple levels, bringing the best of Richmond’s singer-songwriter community together with the leading lights of our local classical music scene–a scene that popular-music fanatics like myself, and probably yourself, tend to sleep on.
With Matthew E. White and Natalie Prass at the top of this bill, you know Spacebomb is going to be representing itself admirably at this performance. Bio Ritmo’s Latin swing and jazzy funk influences will get a whole new twist when recontextualized through the lens of the Richmond Symphony, and will add a multicultural strain to an evening that could get decidedly monochromatic without them. Plus, we’ll get the mathematical pop of Clair Morgan and the austere country blues punk of Tim Barry, embellished with the sorts of layers neither of their sounds generally contain. All of this will be fascinating for any music lover. And with so many hotshot performers on the bill, you’re sure to get caught up in the awesomeness of it all, even if seeing the symphony at the Carpenter Theatre generally isn’t your thing.
Wednesday, September 20, 8 PM
Polyphia, Night Idea, Paint Store @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
The worlds of screamo, math-rock, prog-metal, and metalcore have some pretty surprising intersection points at times, and the whole prog-metalcore scene that’s built up around bands like Periphery is one of the strangest and most interesting ones. Polyphia are a metallic instrumental quartet of young post-metalcore dudes with swoop haircuts and skills for days, and they’re hitting Richmond tonight on a day off from their current tour opening for prog-metalcore pioneers Between The Buried And Me. If you want to dig into the shred-heavy instrumental end of this whole scene, this show is your perfect chance to do it at a relatively small venue for a reasonable ticket price.
Polyphia’s latest release, The Most Hated EP, sees them dipping into more electronic layers, including programmed beats and synthesized background swells. However, the guitar pyrotechnics remain on full display, with occasional licks copped from the dawn-of-the-90s micro-trend of blazing metal guitarists putting out instrumental solo albums. What I’m saying is, these guys have a definite Vai/Satriani tinge to their djent-inspired riff fests these days, and the intersection of these surprisingly congruent sounds is a lot of fun to explore. With local openers consisting of poppy math-rockers Night Idea (the only band this night to feature a vocalist) and fellow math-obsessed instrumental shredders Paint Store, this show is guaranteed to fill your quota for riffage, even if it does run slightly low on vocalizations. You definitely won’t get bored in their absence.
Thursday, September 21, 6 PM
El Malpais, Candy Spots, Worse Curses @ Champion RVA – Free!
And we progress from one instrumental group to another as we go through this week’s picks, landing once again at Champion RVA on Thursday night to shed the night-before-payday blues with some excellent free sounds from both local and touring artists. The stars of this Thursday night’s show will be El Malpais (“the bad country,” if my rusty high-school Spanish hasn’t failed me), who come from Charlotte, NC with an original and fascinating instrumental sound pairing guitar and drum rhythms with flute to create the kind of unusual and engaging sound that “jazz flute” might have conjured up in your head if it weren’t for that phrase’s eternal association with Anchorman.
Regardless of whether you would ever expect a group based around flute melodies to be able to rock with aplomb, you should definitely be in the house when El Malpais takes the stage, because they’re guaranteed to erase all doubts. Their excellent self-titled LP from earlier this year is full of somewhat foreboding tunes accented by riveting melodies, which create the overall impression of tiptoeing through a forest late in the afternoon, on the hunt for forgotten old huts where strange creatures may or may not still live. OK, maybe I’ve read too many horror novels in my time, but still, this band rocks. They’ll be joined on this bill by local alt-garage rockers Candy Spots and catchy up-and-comers Worse Curses for an evening of jams that would be cheap at twice the price (because after all, zero dollars x2 is still zero dollars).
Friday, September 22, 7 PM
Madeline Kenney, Rikki Shay, Majjin Boo, Minor Poet @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The Broadberry’s showing up all over town this week. This show, which is actually the night before that RVA Live! show up at the top of the column (my chronology’s a little weird, deal with it), sees the larger venue collaborating with generally awesome (and kinda cavernous itself) DIY art gallery space Gallery 5 to present an evening headlined by Oakland singer-songwriter Madeline Kenney. You may be unfamiliar with this artist, but Kenney’s brand new album, Night Night At The First Landing, gives all the reason you need to change that in a hurry. In a manner that is spiritually if not entirely sonically similar to alt-rock shredder Marnie Stern, Kenney takes that whole singer/guitarist/songwriter mold and smashes it over her knee on her new album, integrating dreamy guitar textures with an ambient overall sound and topping them all off with evocative vocal melodies and profound lyrics that cut to the heart of the emotional issues that plague so many young women in this world.
Expect her live performance to do just as much to both destroy and elevate your expectations from a “female singer-songwriter” (kill that cliche forever please). Kenney’s openers on this bill definitely reflect the Broadberry’s involvement in this evening, with recent Broadberry performers Rikki Shay and Minor Poet making a rare appearance at Gallery 5. That’s good, though, maybe it’ll bring some new people out to check out this excellent venue. Madeline Kenney is really all the inducement you, the super clued-in RVA show attendee, should need to add this show to your calendar, though. She’s worth the price of admission all by herself.
Saturday, September 23, 8 PM
Meg Mulhearn + Elisa Faires, Dazeases, Womajich Dialysiez, Rachel Lynch @ Vagabond – Free!
OK, this is two awesome free shows in the space of three days; you should definitely take advantage of this phenomenon, because it’s not something that occurs every week by any means. This evening over at up-and-coming new live music space Vagabond brings us a couple of heavy hitters in the ambient/experimental music world, on a collaborative tour linked to a still-in-production album-length collaboration that’s apparently on the way next year. You can get a preview of it this Saturday night at Vagabond though, and that’s certainly worth doing.
Meg Mulhearn is a violinist who has worked with US Christmas, Void Ensemble, and others, and releases solo recordings under the name Divine Circles. Elisa Faires is an experimental vocalist who has taken part in projects like Astral Magick Soundtrack and Xambuca. Both of these artists use electronic effects to loop, layer, and otherwise accent their instruments, and the two together bring to life a lush ambient soundscape that seems way bigger than anything two musicians can produce by themselves. Combined with the soulful vocal-driven ambience of Dazeases, the constantly-evolving improvisational experimental project Womajich Dialysiez, and experimental performance artist Rachel Lynch, this bill will explore all sorts of different musical and performative avenues, and should take the listener on a sonic journey that is not too frequently experienced, but all the richer for that fact.
Sunday, September 24, 6 PM
Common Ground Fest South, feat. Bren Lukens, Daisyhead, Centerfolds, Something More, Small Talks, Telltale, Nominee, She’s A Legend @ Strange Matter – $14 (order tickets HERE)
OK yes there’s always gonna be some emo coming to you in my column, and I guess this is where it arrives, because seriously–how could I neglect this excellent event? Common Ground Fest, a one-day mini-festival of emo/pop-punk bands put on by Common Ground Records and taking place in three different cities across the US over the course of this month, brings its southernmost incarnation to Richmond VA, and we are in for a treat. After all, not long after Modern Baseball co-founder Jake Ewald hit the Strange Matter stage with his Slaughter Beach Dog project, we get the other Modern Baseball co-founder, Bren Lukens, coming through with a solo acoustic performance. How sweet is that?
But that’s just the beginning. If you ask me, one of the biggest thrills on this whole lineup shows up down towards the bottom of the bill in the form of excellent up-and-coming emotionally-driven pop-punk band Nominee, whose January EP Drag Me Out has been a big one for me so far this year. Hearing songs like “Stay” and “White Water” live might just be enough to get me to pay the full ticket price all by itself. But even with both Bren Lukens and Nominee on this bill, so many other awesome groups are showing up that it’s hard to even attempt a full encapsulation. That said, Nashville’s Daisyhead, who released a killer LP In Case You Missed It on No Sleep earlier this year; and Baltimore’s Something More, who impressed all comers with their 2015 EP compilation Physical Copy, are just some of the additional reasons to make sure you’re right up front for this entire gig. I could say more, but this should be enough. Be there.
Monday, September 25, 8 PM
Love Roses, Brainbuster, The Donalds, Skumboyz @ McCormack’s Irish Pub – $5
I was introduced to Love Roses’ fun, speedy take on punk rock earlier this year when my admittedly pretty screamo band played a house show with them. It wasn’t exactly a predictable pairing, but we ended up meshing pretty well, and I really dug this band’s energetic rage. Since then, Love Roses have been busy, releasing a brand new split on local label Tired & Pissed with Fredericksburg punks Brainbuster, who by no coincidence at all are also on this bill. Love Roses and Brainbuster are just finishing up a tour together, and this is a much more predictable pairing of VA punk bands than anything involving my band would have been.
Brainbuster have a Dead Kennedys-ish sarcastic approach to their lyrics and an early-80s LA punk approach to their music, showing influence from bands like the Adolescents and Bad Religion as well as a snottier edge that gives the whole thing a harsh bite. That split is gonna be a real ripper when it hits, that’s one thing I know for sure. Local punks The Donalds and Skumboyz round out a lineup full of Tired & Pissed artists who are sure to please the circle-pitting punk fanatics of this town–of whom there are more than you think–as well as anyone who gets a kick out of speedy riffs that are both angry and fun.
Tuesday, September 26, 8 PM
Dryjacket, Eaves, Sleave, Nine Line @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
And here we have some more emo, because it’s awesome. New Jersey’s Dryjacket really impressed many listeners, myself among them, with their debut full-length For Posterity. That album, released earlier this year, shows an introspective, multi-layered approach to the sort of emo-revival template that the best bands from that slowly-fading era are still building and improving upon. Dryjacket definitely demonstrates their own qualification for that top tier of still-extant emo bands with a sound incorporating the complex guitar arpeggios that led people to throw the term “twinkle” around a few years ago and some incredible pop choruses that seem to draw as much influence from The Beatles as from Dads–always a welcome phenomenon.
And how about the RVA bands on this bill? Well, Eaves has certainly shown their own bona fides in the whole introspective, multi-layered emo genre over the past little while, and their contribution to this show is therefore sure to be both apropos and entirely welcome. Sleave has a gruffer approach that draws a great deal from that whole vibe of bands like Hot Water Music or Latterman, but with a chunkier guitar sound that shows a bit more hardcore influence than you might expect. Newcomers Nine Line hark back to the 90s days of the more emotionally-driven Fat Wreck bands like Lagwagon or Good Riddance, which is a refreshing change. There’s definitely some daylight between these four bands, but all share a similar feel, one that’s sure to move 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): 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]