Saturday, July 28, 12 PM
Vasen One-Year Anniversary Party, feat. Bio Ritmo, Black Alley, The Bush League, Chance Fischer, Illiterate Light, Toxic Moxie @ Vasen Brewing Company – $5 – 30 (order tickets HERE)
You know, when I used to live in Scott’s Addition, it was dead on the weekends — and really even on weekdays once 5 PM rolled around. I used to go for walks down its empty industrial streets in the evenings and marvel at the solitude I was able to achieve in the middle of a hustling city. What a difference a decade makes, huh? These days, Scott’s Addition is the hot neighborhood in town, with a thriving scene of breweries, arcade bars, and all that other fun stuff. One of the recently arrived mainstays of that area is Vasen Brewing Company, and they’re planning an all-day party this weekend to celebrate their one-year anniversary that is sure to have Scott’s Addition jumping all day!
This isn’t just a music thing, either — the party brings together a whole bunch of other breweries in the area, all of which will be on the scene to serve you, as will be plenty of food trucks. Presentations with an environmental-conservation theme from groups like GroundworkRVA as well as the James River Park System will take place at various points, and you’ll have the opportunity for a variety of entertaining activities, from fly-casting lessons to miniature golf! There’s a ton to do at this event.
But of course, here at RVA Must-See Shows the main thing we care about is the music, and there’ll be a ton of this too. Vasen have brought together talented artists from all over the Virginia area to give you an eclectic trip through multiple genres. Local salsa mainstays Bio Ritmo are headlining the musical portion of the festivities, and they’ll be joined by DC-area modern soul group Black Alley. Richmond’s underrated electric-blues veterans The Bush League will be on hand to lay down some heavy grooves in the tradition of Howlin’ Wolf and Junior Kimbrough, while Chance Fischer will let loose his A-plus lyrical flow on some killer hip hop beats. You’ll even get the energetic alt-rock of Illiterate Light and the disco-punk bounce of Toxic Moxie in the bargain. What more could you ask for? Best of all, for non-drinkers like myself, the cheapest option for this day of fun in the sun is the designated driver’s ticket — only $5! For once you’ll be rewarded for not joining your friends in partaking of the demon alcohol. And by a brewery, no less! I don’t know about you, but I’m sold.
Wednesday, July 25, 9 PM
Marcus Tenney Quartet @ Vagabond – Free!
It flies a bit under the radar, at least locally, but there’s a really strong jazz scene bubbling just under the surface in this town, if you know where to look. And these days, the place to look is often Vagabond, the spot where illustrious soul-jazz quintet Butcher Brown recorded a real stunner of a live album released just this past year. And it’s no real surprise, therefore, to find Butcher Brown’s Marcus Tenney returning to that spot to celebrate the release of his latest set as bandleader, Moment. This new release, out today on local label American Paradox (home of Kenneka Cook and Sid Kingsley, among others), is Tenney’s first at the head of a quartet. However, the group is merely an expansion of his prior trio, which was responsible for the excellent As You See It half a decade ago.
The Marcus Tenney Quartet is like a lot of other jazz ensembles from this particularly prolific corner of the scene — in that, other than keyboardist Calvin Brown, all of its members are also in Butcher Brown. This is a familiar situation for veterans of the similarly incestuous punk, metal, and screamo scenes, and it happens for the same reason with jazz groups as it does for the more heavily-inclined of the music world. Different people have different things they want to express. You can’t get all of them into the same band and still have a cohesive band identity. So you start another group, as Tenney has here to lay down some traditional bop jazz that would be right at home in the clubs Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins were playing 60 or so years ago. The smooth sounds of Moment are currently only audible in 30-second preview clips on Amazon, but they’ll delight far more fully when given room to stretch out tonight at Vagabond. The show is free, but that only frees up some cash for you to pick up a copy of the Marcus Tenney Quartet’s new release for yourself.
Thursday, July 26, 7 PM
Jigsaw Youth, Cyber Twin, Weird Tears @ Gallery 5 – $5
This one’s gonna be a great big bunch of noisy fun. Your headliners, Jigsaw Youth, are a trio of teenage girls with a ton of rage to get out, as they did on with aplomb on their 2017 debut LP, America’s Sweethearts. While the band’s name betrays an obvious debt to Bikini Kill, there’s a grungier sound at work in this trio’s music, making them closer to the melodically-infused alt-rock snarl of L7 and 7 Year Bitch than any straight-up riot grrrl vibes. What’s more, there’s an obvious sense of humor leavening the rage here too — clearly visible on songs like “Aunt Jenny’s Got My Back” and “But You’re Not Dave Grohl :(” (yes, the emoticon is part of the title).
Jigsaw Youth are joined on this bill by Harrisonburg’s Cyber Twin, a still youthful but not quite teenage crew led by singer-guitarist Mike Flaig, who you’d be forgiven for mistaking at first listen for a young Billie Joe Armstrong. Cyber Twin have a definite Green Day feel, though they come at it from an unusual angle and as a result end up sounding far more original than you’d expect a clearly Green Day-inspired band to sound. They’re really worth a closer look, which you can give them at Gallery 5 tomorrow night. And of course, you can catch the opening set from mysterious locals Weird Tears as well — I know they’ve got members of Bad Magic, Cherry Pits, and Unmaker, but that doesn’t really tell me much. We’ll all find out when they take the stage, won’t we?
Friday, July 27, 9 PM
Gritter, Percussor, Descendency @ Wonderland – $5
Damn — this is the end of an era. I first saw Gritter a decade ago, back when they were still called Rube, and they’ve been on the Richmond scene ever since, cranking out dark, powerful metal riffs in the vein of classic work by Pantera and Lamb Of God, among others. They’ve released four albums over the course of their decade as a band, but member shakeups and financial setbacks have prevented them from ever going as far as they liked; they expressed their frustrations in the title of last year’s full-length, Nobody Cares. But now Gritter are calling it quits, playing their last show ever at Wonderland this Friday night — and if Richmond really doesn’t care, this whole city is blowing it in a big way. Go enjoy their existence while you still can; god knows we’ll all be worse off without them in this city.
Gritter isn’t the only reason to come out to Wonderland Friday night, though — they’re joined on this show by two killer death metal groups from up the Eastern Seaboard, and all you headbangers would be fools to miss either of them. Philadelphia’s Percussor have their roots in the Northeast death metal scene of the 90s, and carry on that tradition perfectly on 2017’s Remnants Of Horror. This album’s classic brutal death metal attack is delivered with venomous rage — as song titles like “Rejoicing Your Death” and “Fuck Your Opinion” make extremely clear. The bill is rounded out by Delaware’s Descendency, who have the sort of thrashing yet somehow groovy rage that reminds me of early-90s experiments in the genre by Pro-Pain, John Bush-era Anthrax, and Biohazard. These guys will get you moving for sure — show up on time and ready to mosh!
Saturday, July 28, 8 PM
Agents Of Good Roots, Regan @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
When you think of Virginia alternative bands who got signed to major labels in the post-Nirvana feeding frenzy of the 90s, Agents Of Good Roots probably aren’t the first name that pops to mind (though, like the guy you’re thinking of, Agents Of Good Roots did have a saxophone player). However, this Richmond band certainly had a good run back in those days; their 1998 major-label debut, One By One, spawned a minor hit, “Come On,” and was certainly a fun listen. It remains one, even now, but Agents Of Good Roots have long since disbanded.
These days, sax player JC Kuhl and drummer Brian Jones remain active in the jazz scene around Richmond. However, last year’s reunion show, a tribute to their deceased manager, Jeff Peskin, was the first time in over a decade that Agents of Good Roots graced a Richmond stage. Fortunately, they had enough fun that they’ve decided to keep playing, and they’ll come to The Broadberry once again this weekend to give us all a great set encompassing their career highlights. From the bouncing rock n’ roll of their big hit, “Come On,” to the funky reggae tunes and smooth-swinging ballads that dotted their albums, this band has a lot of great songs to bring to you once again, and you’re sure to find yourself “Smiling Up The Frown” once again when they hit the stage this Saturday night. Whether you loved them in the 90s or just discovered them last year, you should definitely grab this opportunity to go see Agents Of Good Roots. After all, who knows how many more times they’ll do this?
Sunday, July 29, 6 PM
The Native Howl, The Gasoline Gypsies, Vegan Llamas @ The Canal Club – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
You know, if I hadn’t heard it, I never would have believed it was a thing, but it’s all true: The Native Howl are a Michigan band who use instruments typical to the bluegrass genre (mainly banjos and acoustic guitars) to make thrash metal music that veers from Iron Maiden-ish triumphant power to straight-up black metal riffage. Of course, there’s still a fair bit of bluegrass styling in there — though some of that seems more due to the fact that even some of Iron Maiden’s more melodic riffs would have a down-home feel if you played them on banjos. This strange convergence of metal and country sounds has been on the rise for years now; groups like Huntsmen and Liberteer have shown unexpected ways in which these two wildly different sounds can coexist, and I suppose The Native Howl is just the latest example of that unlikely union.
The group is just about to release their fourth LP, Out Of The Garden And Into The Darkness, and preview single “Into The Darkness” manages to combine the spooky feel of foreboding mid-20th century country ballads with the ominous riffage of Scandinavian metal. No matter which side of the line between these two genres feels more at home to you, you’re sure to be thrown by your first listen to The Native Howl. But stick with it for a while, and you might be surprised to discover how much you enjoy what you’re hearing. They’ll come to town with fellow Michigan residents The Gasoline Gypsies, who might want to reconsider that band name but are definitely on the right track when it comes to music; their catchy blend of blues, Southern rock, and country sounds manages to be equally reminiscent of the Allman Brothers and Blind Melon, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. This show will be a fun way to wrap up your weekend — even if you don’t know what to make of it at first.
Monday, July 30, 8 PM
Zeke, US Bastards, Loud Night @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh damn, this is gonna be a wild one. Zeke is a wild n’ crazy punk band who got their start in the 90s. At the time, they were a bit of an anomaly; despite writing riffs with the rollicking rock n’ roll spirit of classic garage punk, they played so fast that their tempos were closer to hardcore than anything else. On albums like Flat Tracker, they left other punk bands in the dust; the only band that could come close to hanging with them was The Dwarves. Lyrically, they were preoccupied by concerns relating to racing; the title of their 2007 EP, Lords Of The Highway, told the story.
After that EP’s release, Zeke dropped out of sight for a while, but they’re back in 2018 with their first new release in over a decade, Hellbender. This album shows that from lyrical preoccupations to typical tempo, Zeke hasn’t lost a step during their time away. Songs like “Two Lane Blacktop,” “Ride On,” and “Redline” find this band still singing about fast cars at a pedal-to-the-metal tempo sure to appeal to fans of legendary hardcore bands like 9 Shocks Terror and Career Suicide, even as it draws in the New Bomb Turks and Reverend Horton Heat fans who don’t mind having their hair blown back by sheer speed. Local openers US Bastards and Loud Night know how to crank up the speed, power, and fury, and will be the perfect appetizer for the knuckle sandwich Zeke’s gonna feed you.
Tuesday, July 31, 7 PM
Charmer, Stars Hollow, Downhaul, Two Cars @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As a supposed music scholar, it’s a little embarrassing for me to admit this… but I didn’t realize that Richmond-based thrash quartet Charmer wasn’t the only band with that name. What’s more, when I realized that the non-Richmond Charmer (who, in case you haven’t guessed, are the band with that name headlining this show) were an emo band signed to No Sleep Records, I was even more ashamed. I love stuff like this! How did I miss these guys? I’m making up for that now — their brand-new self-titled debut album has been knocking me out ever since I found out about it, and its mixture of tangled Algernon Cadwallader-style guitar leads and the pensive moods of prime Hotelier material has won me over in a big way. (Don’t worry, RVA Charmer, I still love you too!)
Charmer are coming through town with Stars Hollow, and this equally emotional trio from Ames, IA have an emo sound as well. However, excellent recent EP Happy Again displays a nervier, more energetic take on the genre, stirring some of the anxieties given evocative expression by bands like Snowing and Joyce Manor. And as tightly wound as this EP sounds, blasting it through headphones offers a comforting catharsis that really needs to be appreciated in a live environment. These two groups are sure to bring an incredible show to Gallery 5 Tuesday night, and they’ll be ably abetted by local up-and-comers Downhaul and newbies Two Cars, both of whom have emo-ish vibes of their own to offer.
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.]
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