Saturday, August 6, 3:30 PM
Over the James 2022, feat. Avail, Quicksand, Cave-In, Ceremony, Screaming Females, Terminal Bliss @ Brown’s Island – $35 (order tickets HERE)
If you’ve been reading my music-related writing on this site for a while, you know by now I like to throw curveballs. I don’t want the fact that I’m a known emo kid with a longtime love for thrash metal and hardcore punk to dictate what I pick for this weekly column. I don’t want to get predictable. But look. Sometimes a girl just has to succumb to her baseline tendencies. Sometimes a girl has to do exactly what everybody would expect. Sometimes a girl has to tell everyone that they need to get their asses to Brown’s Island this Saturday to see Avail at Over The James 2022. This, it seems, is one of those times.
The old maxim for periodicals is that every issue is somebody’s first, so if this is your first time reading the column: welcome! Here’s a spoiler: I’m a Richmond punk rocker from way back, now well into my 40s and feeling every bit of my middle age. So yeah, I’m totally the target demographic for this show — I know and love every band on this bill. But if you’re a 23-year-old hip hop fan who was in elementary school last time Avail released an album, you might need an explanation for why you should care. Here’s the best one I’ve got: Avail is a band with real appeal for anyone who likes any form of rock music. If you like upbeat anthems, they’ve got a million of ’em, and you’ll be singing along with everybody else by the time the second chorus rolls around. If you like seeing energetic, entertaining live performers, bands don’t come much more energetic than Avail — they even have their own “cheerleader” who just flips out onstage for their whole set. If you like intelligent lyrics about real-life issues and heartfelt, difficult emotions, they’re there in abundance. Tim Barry’s one of the best lyricists of the last 30 years. Not just in Richmond — anywhere.
So yeah, you gotta see Avail. But don’t just show up for them: every band on this bill is outstanding. Massachusetts-based Cave-In have been pushing the boundaries of progressive, metallic sounds for over 20 years now — and believe it or not, their brand new album, Heavy Pendulum, is one of the best of their career. New Yorkers Quicksand helped create the template for post-hardcore during their first run in the mid-90s, with two classic albums that were criminally underrated at the time (though they’ve thankfully been recognized in the years since). Since their return to performance in the late 2010s, they’ve released two excellent albums that show they didn’t lose a step during their 20 years away. California legends Ceremony have grown tremendously over their 15-year career, from a speed-obsessed hardcore crew to an experimental post-punk powerhouse with a taste for off-kilter melodic hooks. Baltimore’s Screaming Females and Richmond’s Terminal Bliss are amazing too, but I’m pretty much out of space! I’ll try to be less predictable next week, but til then, go buy a ticket to this before people realize it hasn’t sold out yet and buy ’em all!
Wednesday, August 3, 7 PM
Owen, Hotspit @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $20 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s something longtime readers won’t predict: I never really got into Owen. The solo project of Mike Kinsella, Owen grew out of a lineage of previous Kinsella bands I totally loved: Cap’n Jazz, Joan Of Arc, American Football, Owls… and yet, I just never bothered to listen to an Owen album before this week. I have no idea what my problem was, but that was a huge mistake, and I’m now playing catchup on a two-decade career that, as far as I can tell, is crammed full of highlights.
On his own, Owen’s Mike Kinsella appears to be far more straightforward in his love of moody, emotional pop than he’s been in previous bands. Owen’s most recent album, 2020’s The Avalanche, finds him working with Bon Iver’s Sean Casey to create delicately beautiful acoustic tunes that are definitely for you if you love emo at its most acoustically depressed. In fact, if you ask me, Owen is music for people who liked the idea of Dashboard Confessional, but found the execution, well, a bit trite. Owen is acoustic emo that’s intelligent, heartfelt, and memorable. Owen is worth your time. I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for where Owen is concerned. Don’t be like me; go to this show.
Thursday, August 4, 8 PM
Under Attack, Sweat, Muck, Humanitarian Deficit @ Cobra Cabana – $5
Here we go, back to predictability: me loving a hardcore quartet full of old dudes I used to see at shows all the time 25 years ago. That’s who Under Attack is — former and current members of legendary Richmond bands like Eucharist, Municipal Waste, and Suppression getting together to get back to basics with some raw, angry hardcore punk. The latest Under Attack EP, a seven-song self-titled ripper with song titles like “Hope Is Shit,” “Bible Puncher,” and “Rest In Piss,” is a relentless wall of furious noise that’s sure to get you starting the pit in your living room within ten seconds of putting it on. And unlike what could happen if Under Attack’s basic premise fell into less capable hands, these songs are written with intelligence and creativity, rising well above the level a million generic “back to basics hardcore” bands have hit in the past.
So yes, Under Attack is well worth your time — and you definitely should come out to this show and grab a copy of their new record. But they’re not the only reason to be there. Indeed, they were added to the show kinda late. But even when California ragers Sweat were the headliners, I was still gonna send you to this show. Because this ripping hardcore band from the extended Graf Orlock/Vitriol Records family is just as brilliantly ferocious as Under Attack. The riffs are brilliant, the vocals are ferocious, the tempos are speedy, and overall this band just slays. Internet-averse locals Muck and Humanitarian Deficit round out the bill, and I can tell you nothing about them other than the fact that Muck is members of previous Richmond bands Ugly Muscle and Butt. Regardless of how these two groups sound, though, Under Attack and Sweat are reason enough all by themselves for you to show up at Cobra Cabana for this one. So hey — do it.
Friday, August 5, 7 PM
Shattered Earth, Fury In Few, Eustace, Elucidate @ Another Round Bar And Grill – Free!
This is a fun little curveball, full of bands I’d never heard of until this show announcement hit my radar. That might be a deterrent under other circumstances, but when the show is free, you can afford to take some chances. And honestly, this is the sort of bill that will reward open minds. Shattered Earth are at the top of it, and while this Roanoke-based power metal band only has one EP out thus far, it features three pretty incredible songs that certainly pique my interest. Epic song structures, rumbling double bass, thrashy riffage galore, and even the occasional epic vocal high note add up to remind me of 80s thrash legends Hirax doing a set of Paul Di’Anno-era Iron Maiden covers. Gotta love that.
As for the rest of the bill, Fury In Few and Elucidate are on tour together, which is kind of surprising when you figure out that the former is from Georgia while the latter is from New Jersey. It’s even more surprising when you note that they don’t even sound too remarkably similar — Georgians Fury In Few play raunchy foot-stompin’ groove metal, while New Jersey’s Elucidate have a more melodic, progressive approach that veers between Deftones-like moments and Killswitch Engage-style heavy parts. If nothing else, the variety on display here should keep everyone’s attention. Local newcomers Eustace sound heavy in the phone-shot snippets of songs they’ve got on Facebook; curiosity alone makes it worth hearing a few of their songs in full and in proper fidelity. And hey… what’ve you got to lose? The price is certainly right. Be there.
Saturday, August 6, 10:30 PM
After The James, feat. Walter Schreifels @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
After the show it’s the after-party, right? Considering we’re all gonna get out of Brown’s Island with plenty of the night still remaining, there’s no reason the evening should end there. Grab your tickets to this official Over The James 2022 afterparty, After The James, and get yourself a front-row seat for a Walter Schreifels solo set in the bargain. That’s a bargain at twice the price, if you ask me. Now, for those who aren’t sure who Walter Schreifels is, I’ll start by saying that, by the time you get to The Camel, you’ll already have seen him play one set as the frontman for Quicksand. That band is far from Walter’s only project, though — he’s been a core member of Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, and Walking Concert, among others. He even released an acoustic solo album, An Open Letter To The Scene, back in 2016.
I don’t know what material from his extensive career he’ll dip into for his solo set at The Camel; maybe it’ll focus on his solo album, but it seems more likely that he’ll integrate everything from beloved Rival Schools tunes to songs he wrote for other artists (most prominently his former Gorilla Biscuits bandmate Civ, whose 90s hit “Can’t Wait One Minute More” was co-written by Walter). Maybe we’ll even get to find out what legendary Gorilla Biscuits tune “Start Today” sounds like as a solo workout. Regardless of which songs he plays, though, Walter’s sure to sound great when he takes the stage, and he’s sure to play some of the many classics he’s written over the years. That right there is reason enough to show up. Make it happen.
Sunday, August 7, 7 PM
NØ MAN, Faim, Richmond Vampire, Skulk Kits @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
After the full-day punk rock extravaganza Saturday promises to be, no one could blame you for waking up exhausted on Sunday morning. However, you’ll want to save some energy for that night, as DC hardcore quartet NØ MAN will be coming to The Camel, and missing this show will certainly constitute “blowing it.” First grabbing attention with their arrival on the scene in the late 2010s due to the fact that three-fourths of the group previously played in Majority Rule, NØ MAN proved that they weren’t just another ex-member band by releasing a hard-charging debut LP, Devils Cast Long Shadows, in 2018. Revealing a signifcant amount of daylight between Majority Rule’s epic screamo heavyosity and their own politically-charged fury, NØ MAN doubled down on the rage with their second album, Erase, released mid-pandemic at a time when no one really had any opportunity to show up, scream along, and start the pit.
This show offers Richmond the opportunity to make up for lost time, and to remind ourselves just how great the LP this band released two years ago still is today. It also gives us a chance to check out another excellent political hardcore band from elsewhere in the USA. Denver’s Faim are every bit as fast and furious as NØ MAN if their own 2020 LP, Hollow Hope, is any indication — and there’s no reason to think it isn’t! As for local representation, up-and-comers Richmond Vampire have us covered with a raw, fast attack that keeps it ferocious throughout. The evening will begin with a performance by Brooklyn’s Skulk Kits, who offer something decidedly different — electro-beat epics infused with hints of guitar feedback. It’ll certainly be a change of pace, even if it does come at the beginning of the show. If nothing else, it’ll give you time to limber up before the pit gets started. Be ready.
Monday, August 8, 8 PM
Crywank, Chastity @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Let’s just say it: a name like Crywank is certainly going to grab a lot of people’s attention, especially when it’s topping the bill on a Monday night show at The Camel. The fact that Crywank have released albums with titles like Don’t Piss On Me, I’m Already Dead and Fist Me ‘Til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth is even more likely to pique the interest of, well, some types of people. Yeah, OK, I admit it — I am that type of person. So when I gave Crywank a listen and discovered a British folk-punk band with a tendency toward X-rated references in the midst of heartfelt lyrics about emotionally fraught situations, I was a bit surprised. Honestly, I’d expected industrial noise (no, I’m not sure why).
But while I was thrown by what Crywank actually sound like, once I got used to it, I realized that this band has a lot to offer. The acoustic guitars, call-and-response vocals, and occasional keyboard stabs that are their musical stock in trade provide a surprisingly sensitive accent for their awkward yet heartfelt and soul-baring lyrics, on tunes with titles every bit as fascinating as the ones they give their albums: “I Am A Rockstar Who Is Really Cool And Sexy,” “Thinking About A Potentially Awkward Interaction With An Old Friend,” “Cool Knife Bro”… these are all just from their most recent record! Which, by the way, bears the more socially acceptable title Just Popping In To Say Hi. This band is unique, unpredictable, and actually capable of writing really great, memorable songs. Isn’t that what we always want from bands? Go see Crywank. Even if you can’t tell your mom about it.
Tuesday, August 9, 7 PM
Jouwala Collective @ Main Line Brewery – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Jouwala Collective is a name I’ve been hearing around the Richmond scene for years, but I never really dug into what they were all about until the vagaries of the local show calendar forced my hand. Which is to say: if you want to go to a show Tuesday night, this performance by Jouwala Collective is just about the only thing there is to see. That’s why I finally checked out this ensemble, but it’s not why I’m recommending that you head over to Main Line Brewery and see them. I’m making that recommendation because, when I actually heard Jouwala Collective’s music, I realized that they were way too good for me to have spent the past however-many years sleeping on them.
The less imaginative folks out there might label this group “world music,” based as they are around the voice of Moroccan frontman Ismail Bouzidoune. Bouzidoune also plays the gimbri, a three-stringed bass lute used in the traditional music of the Morocco-based Gnawa tribe. When Bouzidoune’s traditional African instrumentation meets Jouwala Collective’s eclectic mix of western genres — funk, soul, jazz, acid-rock, and reggae prominent among them — that’s when the real magic comes through. You can hear that magic displayed all over Bazaar, the album Jouwala Collective released in 2019. However, to really get the full impact, you’re gonna want to go see it live. Main Line Brewery and Baripete Productions have you covered. Spend your Tuesday night at this show, and find the enlightenment that I certainly should have received long before now.
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]