Sunday, May 15, 7 PM
Lil Ugly Mane, Nickelus F, Narwhalz of Sound, Division of Mind @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Travis Miller has developed quite the intriguing career over the past decade or so. While most who know his music know him primarily as Lil Ugly Mane, he’s released music under a variety of other pseudonyms, making beats for Nickelus F and others under the name Shawn Kemp. His most recent album, Flick Your Tongue Against Your Teeth And Describe The Present, was released in 2017 under the name Bedwetter, and was accompanied by an in-depth statement about his struggles with mental illness and frustrations with the health care system he encountered during that process. A year later, Lil Ugly Mane is celebrating his birthday by playing a show in his hometown of RVA for the first time ever; one has to hope that this means he’s doing all right these days.
Unless you’re a really careful follower of Lil Ugly Mane’s internet presence, you might never know he’s from Richmond, but if you’re a fan of underground hip hop at all, you probably know his music. On classic albums like 2012’s Mista Thug Isolation and 2015’s Oblivion Access, he filters a rough, brilliant flow sometimes reminiscent of El-P through a lyrical prism of drugs, depression, and self-destructive behavior, accompanied by bizarre bursts of braggodocio. His multi-layered beats, which veer from the ominous atmosphere of dark 90s-NYC classics from Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep to worldly explorations of disparate genres that float by serenely, are always creative and never predictable. It’s no wonder he’s super-popular in internet circles.
It’s excellent to have him step into the IRL world here in his hometown, though, no matter how long it took. Fittingly, he’s accompanied on this date by Nickelus F, whose 2015 cassette release Trick Dice was produced entirely by Miller under his Shawn Kemp moniker. For anyone who might think Lil Ugly Mane’s internet-based career makes him somehow less “real,” the Nickelus F cosign should erase all doubts. And Nick’s performance at this show is sure to knock everyone in attendance on their ass. Narwhalz of Sound, one of Miller’s long-ago collaborators in the bizarro experimental project known as The Church Of Crystal Light, has come back from NYC at long last to lay some circuit-bent Gameboy jams on us all once again. And local hardcore crew Division Of Mind, who feature someone with the last name Miller in their lineup (perhaps a relative?), will open the whole thing up with their hard-as-hell mix of Tragedy vocals and Turnstile riffs. Get stoked — and get your tickets ASAP, because this show will sell out.
Wednesday, May 9, 7:30 PM
Scott Clark, Brian Jones & JC Kuhl @ Black Iris – $6-10
Drummer Scott Clark has been tearing it up lately. You might know him from his work as a sideman for Natalie Prass or Matthew E. White, but his work over the past couple of years as a bandleader has been as fascinating and important, if not more so. A few years ago, Clark began using his music to explore his Native American familial heritage, and in turn letting that heritage inform his music. The result was a powerful 2015 album by his group, the Scott Clark 4tet, called Bury My Heart. That album saw him bringing to bear influences from his jazz background and his experience with Native American powwows in order to create a statement, inspired by Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, about the genocidal treatment Native Americans suffered at the hands of the US government.
Now he’s prepared a follow-up, ToNow, the release of which he’ll celebrate with this show at Black Iris tonight. For ToNow, he’s expanded his group to a sextet, adding two guitars to the usual sax-trumpet-bass-drums lineup in order to further develop the possibilities of their musical explorations. ToNow focuses on the protests against environmentally damaging oil pipelines that threaten the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, and Clark will work with his sextet to bring the emotional qualities of the situation to life at Black Iris tonight. Opening the show will be saxophonist JC Kuhl and drummer Brian Jones, who previously worked together in local ensembles like Agents Of Good Roots and MAP Trio. You might not know it, but there’s a lot going on in local jazz — start your explorations here.
Thursday, May 10, 9 PM
Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, Green Hearts, Grass Panther @ Bandito’s – Free!
They may not have quite as high a profile as The Cramps, but like Lux and Ivy, Tav Falco and his Panther Burns have been around since the dawn of punk rock, using the style’s back-to-basics urgency as an avenue to explore the raw beginnings of blues, soul, country, and rock n’ roll. The whole thing got started when wild blues archivist Tav Falco met power-pop weirdo Alex Chilton in late 70s Memphis, and decided to form a band. Since those days, Falco has played with a variety of noteworthy musicians from all sorts of different backgrounds, including members of Sonic Youth, The Gun Club, The Posies, Reigning Sound, and way too many more to list.
Throughout the past four decades, Falco has continued going strong at the front of the stage, slowly evolving from a rough-and-ready primitivist into a polished bluesman and rock n’ roller who today mingles rockabilly flavor, Tex-Mex vibes, and a deep Memphis soul influence into a powerful live show that’s always guaranteed to charm and impress. He’s bringing that show to Bandito’s this Thursday night, and everyone within reach of these words would do well to head down there early, scarf some tacos, order some drinks (Diet Coke for me), and get ready to get rocked out of your socks. Local power-poppers Green Hearts will be on the bill for those of you who miss Alex Chilton (RIP), and Grass Panther will open things up with some unique rockin’ sounds to kick off the night right and proper.
Friday, May 11, 7 PM
Frankie Cosmos, Florist, Lala Lala @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $15 (order tickets HERE)
NYC indie royalty comes to Capital Ale House this Friday night, and all the indie kids are gonna want to be there. Frankie Cosmos is the performing and songwriting alter ego of Greta Kline, and by now I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you of her high-powered parentage (if you don’t know, google it, you’ll know within five seconds). More important to the current discussion of Frankie Cosmos is the fact that she and her backing band have just released their third LP, Vessel, their first for legendary indie label Sub Pop. This record is full of Kline’s reliably-charming indie-pop hooks, delivered in a winsome tone that calls to mind the positive genre connotations of the term “twee.”
Indeed, anyone who remembers 90s groups like The Pastels or Heavenly is sure to find some intriguing resonances in the jangly guitars and heavenly harmonies of Frankie Cosmos’ music. At the same time, there’s something inescapably modern about what Kline & co. are up to, something that vibrates in sympathy with the post-bedroom-pop ambience of groups often erroneously called “shoegaze” these days (none of which sound a thing like Ride or My Bloody Valentine). This is hazy downer indie-pop, the sort of sound to comfort a listener like a warm blanket on a cold night full of introspective self-doubt. Don’t stay home all alone this Friday night; come out to Capital Ale House and let Frankie Cosmos console you with beautiful pop music to remind you that you’re not alone.
Saturday, May 12, 1 PM
Punk In Drublic Fest, feat. NOFX, Bad Religion, The Interrupters, Mad Caddies, The Last Gang @ Bon Secours Training Center – $49.50 (order tickets HERE)
I’ve read all the aggrieved social media posts, so believe me, I know — you’re all horrified to realize that the bands of your rebellious teenage years have grown middle-aged and are now most stoked about drinking some high-quality beer and having a relaxing afternoon on a lawn digging some cool sounds that remind you of the good old days. But come on now — what ever happened to aging gracefully? After all, it’s not the 90s anymore. You’re not having to borrow dad’s car to drive you and three friends to the Warped Tour anymore; you’ve probably got kids of your own now, and god knows whether those old t-shirts even still fit. This is probably your idea of a good time these days, right? So why fight it?
After all, this event is going to have an incredible lineup. NOFX, the band who gave us the classic album that gave this fest its name, are still going strong, dishing out the goofy, genre-hopping skate punk that’s always been their specialty. Don’t even pretend you can’t still sing along with “Bob” and “Sticking In My Eye,” because I’m not buying it (I gotta admit though, I hope they don’t play “Don’t Call Me White.” That one did NOT age well). Even more awesome is the presence of Bad Religion on this lineup; this politically-informed melodic punk powerhouse has continued to crank out killer LPs at a steady rate for over 30 years — and their set is bound to bring you plenty of gems from their late 80s-early 90s prime (“American Jesus,” anyone?). There are only three more bands on the bill, and while the $50 tickets are almost as much as Warped Tour would cost, think about this — you actually care about all these bands. There are 80 bands on a typical Warped Tour bill, and if you’re anything like me, you’d almost pay NOT to have to watch 75 of them. So hey, step away from facebook, quit grousing that your favorite bands got old, call a sitter, and go have some fun in the sun this Saturday. You deserve it.
Sunday, May 13, 5 PM
Charles Latham, Strawberry Moon @ The Camel – Free!
Suddenly, after decades, I’ve been hearing the term “anti-folk” again. What’s anti-folk mean in 2018? Well, it’s not quite folk-punk, which uses folk instrumentation to play punk songs; but it’s not just straight-up folk music either. Artists like Charles Latham, who hails from Durham, NC and comes to us in support of his 2017 LP Little Me Time, do their most effective transgressions of the folk idiom through their lyrics. On Little Me Time opener “American Traditional,” Latham takes aim at the hypocrisy and contradictions at the heart of the American dream — it’s a fitting folk song for the Trump era.
Latham has songwriting chops aplenty, though, no matter what genre you want to tag him with. The sharp side of his tongue might make you think of Loudon Wainwright III (you know, Rufus and Martha’s dad), but his charming voice and pleasant acoustic tunes are more likely to remind you of fellow North Carolinians The Mountain Goats. This free matinee show at The Camel pairs him with up-and-coming local sweethearts Strawberry Moon, to excellent effect. This spring weekend, a folk show is the perfect cool breeze for a Sunday afternoon, but rest assured, Charles Latham will make sure you stay woke.
Monday, May 14, 7 PM
Mdou Moctar, The Messthetics, Time Is Fire @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The music of the West African Tuareg people has existed for many decades in its native land, but in recent years, it’s drawn quite a bit of attention outside of Africa as it’s been fused with electric guitars to create an exciting hybrid of traditional festival rhythms and modern psychedelic noise. Mdou Moctar hails from Niger and is one of the first Tuareg guitarists to integrate electronic sounds into his music. Originally spread through traded cellphone memory cards, his music has spread far and wide with the assistance of releases on international label Sahel Sounds, as well as his starring role in the first Tuareg-language film ever, a remake of Prince’s Purple Rain called Rain The Color Blue With A Little Red In It.
Now Moctar comes to America, and we’re fortunate to have him bring his futuristic, hallucinogenic sound to Strange Matter. He’ll be accompanied by DC band The Messthetics, who are named after a classic early Scritti Politti song and feature Fugazi’s Brendan Canty and Joe Lally, pairing up with jazz guitarist Anthony Pirog to bring us contemplative instrumental tunes with a wide-ranging flair and a multi-genre appeal. The group’s self-titled debut was released in March on Dischord Records, and brings with it the promise of a really killer live sound that we’re all going to want to catch. DC experimental ensemble Time Is Fire will kick the gig off, mixing Sufi poetics, Bauhaus-ish grooves, and funky dance beats into a sound entirely their own. This one is not to be missed.
Tuesday, May 15, 8 PM
Savage Master, Bewitcher, Loud Night @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
A week in RVA without at least one killer metal blowout just wouldn’t feel right, and thankfully, Savage Master will come to town this Tuesday night to make sure this week meets its recommended allowance of metal. This Louisville band may hail from less than a day’s journey away, but they sound like they just flew in from London in 1980, effortlessly evoking New Wave Of British Heavy Metal titans like Angelwitch even as they also capture the gloomy flair of proto-doom ensembles like Witchfinder General. And of course, Stacey Savage’s wicked vocal tones take the whole thing to the next level.
Savage Master are joined on this dark and stormy Tuesday night by Portland rippers Bewitcher, who take things in a faster, darker direction as they evoke prime early sounds from Overkill and Exodus. With tunes like “Wild Blasphemy” and “Harlots Of Hell” (both of which originate from the band’s self-titled 2016 debut), you know you’re in for a treat. Local newcomers Loud Night will open this shindig up, and their raging metal terror fits their unimpeachable pedigree to a tee. This will be a night of serious headbanging, so come prepared.
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] [and yeah, in case you’re wondering, more awesomeness from my cracked and bleeding fingertips is available at GayRVA — come say hey.]
Top Image by Vivienne Lee
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond