Saturday, August 13, 5 PM
Vocal Rest Fest, feat. Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers (Photo by Ashley Travis), Justin Golden & The Come Up, Devil’s Coattails, The Great Beforetimes, Tess Fisher, Ward Harrison, Brady Heck, Chuck Jones, Mackenzie Roark @ Gallery 5 – $15 (order tickets HERE)
It’s always interesting when new labels spring up around Richmond. Back when I was still young, they mostly had to do with punk rock, but these days we get Richmond-based labels representing all genres, from Spacebomb’s scholarly funk to Citrus City’s indie-dance to Tired & Pissed’s metallic punk (OK, some of the labels here still traffic in that sort of thing). The latest addition to this local panoply is Vocal Rest Records, which only started about a year and a half ago, and has already added some formidable local artists to its stable. All of those artists will be appearing at this Gallery 5 showcase, making for a pretty amazing day of music that you’re not going to want to miss a moment of. So, based on this lineup, what can we say about the type of music Vocal Rest Records purveys? It’d be easy to throw around a term like “Americana” here, but we’ve gotta make sure to point out that this lineup is considerably more diverse than you might expect from that term. What I mean is, the Vocal Rest roster isn’t just a bunch of straight white people. Thank god for that!
At the top of the bill here is Cassidy Snider, who along with her Wranglers made a great EP last year called Losing Lovers. Streaming services will tell you it’s a blues record, but I don’t think that really captures the full heart of what’s happening here. I hear everything in this EP from Tom Waits and Ani DiFranco to Sixteen Horsepower and Gogol Bordello. Folk, country, blues, old-time Appalachian sounds, and more will all jump out at you from moment to moment while you listen to Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers’ multivalent music. Justin Golden & the Come Up are also up toward the top of this bill, and if you’ve paid any attention to the recent press Justin’s Hard Times And A Woman album has gotten, you know that this man really is bringing a modern electric flavor to some strong traditional blues sounds. Whether you’re into Muddy Waters or the Black Keys, you’re gonna dig what Golden has to offer.
There’s a lot more coming your way from this truly stacked lineup, and I don’t have that much time to talk about it all, so let’s get to what we can, shall we? Devil’s Coattails, who feature Vocal Rest founder Trey Burnart on guitar and just released their self-titled debut a couple months ago, have a swinging honky-tonk vibe that fans of old-school country are sure to love. The rootsy, minimalist folk of The Great Beforetimes is quite engaging, and they’ve also got a recent self-titled debut they’ll be showcasing at this show, so keep an eye out for that one. Former Petrichor vocalist Tess Fisher will bring to the stage some of that powerful doom-folk vibe she’s always carried with her. Meanwhile, Devil’s Coattails vocalists Mackenzie Roark and Charlie “Chuck” Jones will each play solo sets, Holy Roller’s Brady Heck’s coming along for the ride with some solo tunes of his own, and even former Hackensaw Boy Ward Harrison’s coming by to lay a set on us. Oh my — so much great music in the offing! Don’t mess this one up, folks.
Wednesday, August 10, 7:30 PM
“Weird Al” Yankovic, Emo Philips @ Dominion Energy Center For The Performing Arts – $39-$99 (order tickets HERE)
I don’t know why this is a thing, but almost everyone I know had a “Weird Al” phase back when they were very young — like, prepubescent. For a lot of people, “Weird Al”‘s the first musician they were really into. Maybe when you’re young, the sheer novelty of songs that make fun of popular hits all your peers in elementary school are really into attracts a certain type of kid. As a comic-book loving nerd with a high ambient level of resentment toward most of my peers (who all made fun of me constantly), I was definitely that type of kid. A lot of my friends were too. But it’s relatively few of us who stuck with “Weird Al” long enough to develop a sophisticated appreciation for the entirety of his catalogue. Not just the hit parodies, like “Amish Paradise” or “White and Nerdy,” or even deep-cut parodies like “My Bologna” or “Another One Rides The Bus,” but the final “Weird Al” frontier: the actual original tunes that “Weird Al” often buried deep in the running order of his albums.
I’m not knocking it; some of those songs are pretty great. Pretty much everybody knows the theme for Al’s legendary cult film, “UHF,” but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as any fan of “Dare To Be Stupid,” “I Was Only Kidding,” or “Mr. Popeil” can tell you. And I guess Al himself feels the same way, as the tour that brings him to the Dominion Energy Center tonight is what he’s calling The Unfortunate Return Of The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour — a tour on which he’s playing only originals. If your love for “Weird Al” Yankovic only goes deep enough to want to hear “Eat It” or “Smells Like Nirvana” on the occasional nostalgic playlist, this performance may not be for you. However, if you recognize the actual musical genius that “Weird Al” has been putting into his music for the past several decades, and are able to appreciate it separately from his genius for parody, this one’s definitely for you.
Thursday, August 11, 7 PM
Holy Fuck, Penelope Isles @ The Camel – $16 (order tickets HERE)
Check it out, y’all — it’s the return of Holy Fuck. And no, we’re not talking about the Demi Lovato album (which actually still isn’t out for another two weeks); instead, this is the long-running Canadian electronic indie group. Over the past two decades, they’ve distinguished themselves by generating sounds that sound like someone’s programming them on a laptop, even as they’re playing live just like a regular rock n’ roll band. In addition to bass, drums, and multiple keyboards, these guys incorporate everything from 35 millimeter film synchronizers to toy phaser guns into their expansive sonic palette. The result is a catalog of songs that make you want to jump and dance, but also rock hard as fuck. Holy fuck, in fact.
The latest release from Holy Fuck is a brand new single called “Ninety Five,” a total banger built on a rock-solid groove and augmented with sheets of danceable noise. You can dance to it or headbang to it — either one works. Their last full-length, 2020’s Deleter, showed off a more varied sound across its nine tracks, incorporating everything from postpunk nervousness to house music blissouts. You can undoubtedly expect a variegated mix of all this and more when Holy Fuck come to the Camel tomorrow night, and whether you come to bang your head or move your feet, they’re sure to supply you with a perfect soundtrack.
Friday, August 12, 6 PM
Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, NC17, 40 Reps @ SB’s Lakeside Love Shack – Free!
I love it when I come across a completely new venue for live music here in Richmond, one that I had no idea even existed. In fact, when I heard that this venue bore the name “SB’s Lakeside Love Shack,” I figured this show was taking place at someone’s house. However, the flyer I saw broke the cardinal rule of post-Y2K house shows and listed the venue’s address, which made me wonder — is this an actual place? Well, yes, Google has since confirmed it: SB’s Love Shack (apparently named after owner Sarabeth and that one B-52’s song) is a local restaurant with two locations, the Lakeside Avenue location of which is hosting this free Friday evening punk show. I love it!
Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, the long-running folk-punk project of Richmond punk-rock lifer Matt Seymour, was dormant for a long time, but did return to action after over half a decade away back in 2018 with the Come Back Home EP, and has since followed it up with last year’s two-song, five-minute blast, Get Stoked! It’s good to have them back on the RVA scene, and the fact that the reconstituted version of Pedals is a good deal more punk than folk these days is also a nice thing to see, at least if you ask me. The catchy anti-capitalist anthems are still plentiful, though, so if you loved ’em back in the day, I have no doubt you’ll love ’em today. This bill also features the catchy, energetic punk melodies of Richmond newcomers NC17, plus relative newcomers 40 Reps, who don’t sound like the bigtime lifting bros their name makes me think of but are instead another catchy local punk band. We could always use more of those! Go take in all three of these, and save your cash for a “Love Rules Burrito” (I gotta try one of those).
Saturday, August 13, 8 PM
Teenage Halloween, The Mitras, Dead Billionaires @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Where vague yet evocative band names are concerned, you really can’t go wrong with Teenage Halloween. I swear, as soon as I hear this band’s name, a Stranger Things episode starts playing in my mind. That said, this New Jersey crew doesn’t sound anything like Kate Bush, or early Metallica. Instead, on their self-titled LP, released in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, they dish out catchy, frenetic emo-punk that stands out due to the sextet’s inclusion of saxophone and keyboards in their lineup. Don’t worry, those instruments aren’t an awkward fit; indeed, if you’re not paying attention to the fact that Teenage Halloween includes sax, you might just think of the melody lines it creates as weirdly distorted guitar riffs.
Indeed, it’s the way Teenage Halloween’s music comes together so smoothly, despite the members coming from such diverse musical and personal backgrounds, that really makes them stand out. Whether they’re singing heartfelt laments about queer awakenings and unrequited crushes or bashing out a frantic punk banger about how hard it is to make enough money to survive, the songs are always excellent and the lyrics are always heartfelt and touching. This is a really great band that you should check out, and the fact that Richmond talents The Mitras and Dead Billionaires are also playing this show only sweetens the pot. Get in there.
Sunday, August 14, 4 PM
Tossed Aside, Jivebomb, Stomping Grounds, Ulamog, ROTWLCFTSCBMH @ Vasen Brewing – $10
This is one of those shows I had to dig through the depths of Instagram to find out about. As always, the effort paid off, as this ripping hardcore matinee that’ll be taking over Vasen Brewing on Sunday afternoon is sure to be an absolute rager. Vasen isn’t exactly the sort of space I’d expect these bands to be playing, and I hope everyone is at least a little discreet on the dance floor so that no one at the brewery regrets letting this happen. That said, I don’t know how anyone’s gonna be able to stand still for Tossed Aside, a fast, brutal hardcore band with decided grindcore touches and enjoyably confrontational lyrics. The EP they released in early 2020 crammed nine songs into less than eight minutes, and I would imagine that the sheer short-sharp-shock energy of this EP will come through magnificently when they bash these songs out live.
Tossed Aside are the first reason to come to this show, but far from the only one. Baltimore’s Jivebomb are our other out-of-town headliner, and while their 2021 EP, JVBM, took over eight minutes to get through six songs, the slight drop in speed compared to Tossed Aside does nothing to diminish the power and velocity this group will bring to the stage. If anything, the slight drop in speed just enables Jivebomb to hit that much harder. Get ready. The rest of the bill will include the aggressive mid-tempo hardcore of Virginia Beach’s Stomping Grounds, the metal-thrashing rage of VA’s own Ulamog, and to get it all started, Richmond solo grindcore project R.O.T.L.W.C.F.T.S.C.B.M.H., which apparently stands for Rise of the Little Weird Creatures from the Small Creek Behind My House. Love it. Show up on time for this one; come straight from brunch if you have to.
Monday, August 15, 7 PM
Meltt, Nancy Raygun @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $10 in advance, $14 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Here’s an intriguing way to spend your Monday evening. Over at Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House, Vancouver quartet Meltt are going to lay down some psychedelic indie alt-rock sounds, and you’re going to want to be there. They’ve apparently been working on the follow-up to their debut full-length, 2019’s Swim Slowly, for a couple of years now, and if the advance singles that have come out from it thus far are any indication, it’s an off-kilter pop gem in the making. Dabbling in the electronic end of the indie universe, songs like “It Could Grow Anywhere” and “Within You, Within Me” definitely give me hints of fellow Canadians M83, perhaps mixed with a little of that whole Kate Bush/Cocteau Twins sensibility that is rather in favor of late. With a full new album potentially in the offing, this performance will stand as an excellent preview. Don’t miss it.
Make sure you show up on time too, because Richmonders Nancy Raygun will be opening this gig, and their brand of psychedelic alt-rock is always a fun listen. It’s been a little while since they graced us with their last release, 2020’s Late Nights, so hopefully by now they’ve begun augmenting their sets of time-tested local faves with some lovely new tunes. Only one way to find out — and won’t it be a blast to do so? You know what to do.
Tuesday, August 16, 8 PM
Stanley Jordan Plays Jimi @ The Tin Pan – $45-60 (order tickets HERE)
Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan has quite a name in his own right. With a distinctive guitar style that’s evolved across his four-decade career, involving complex melodies created through a two-hand tapping playing technique, he’s been in high demand as a collaborator for a long time, working with everyone from Quincy Jones to The String Cheese Incident. You might have seen him on Letterman or the Grammy Awards; you might have seen him make a cameo in the movie Blind Date. However, none of that will prepare you for what he’ll be bringing to The Tin Pan this Tuesday night.
Because here’s the thing: Stanley Jordan Plays Jimi is a completely different type of performance than what Stanley Jordan does normally. Instead, it sees the legendary jazz guitarist heading up a power trio featuring fellow jazz musicians Gary Kelly on bass and Thierry Arpino on drums. They then perform what Jordan considers to be his “fantasy Jimi Hendrix concert” if the “Purple Haze” guitar legend were still alive and performing today. To some extent, this is just three well-known and incredibly talented jazz musicians doing a Hendrix tribute performance. However, the details and flourishes a guitar-shredding talent like Stanley Jordan is able to bring to these songs are unlike anything anyone else might offer. This is a fresh new take on songs that are as familiar as the back of our hands for a lot of us. And it’s well worth tuning in for. It’s not a cheap ticket by any means, but if you’ve got the scratch, it’s certainly a rewarding experience.
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]