Friday, June 10, 7 PM
Tyler Meacham, Dead Billionaires, Anna Leonard @ Gallery 5 – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Putting out records in the streaming age is weird. Let’s take Tyler Meacham’s debut album, Into The Fray, for an example. You’ve been able to buy the CD and mp3 versions on Bandcamp since February, and streaming’s been full steam ahead since that same time. Hell, I’ve streamed it on Apple Music a few times myself (don’t get it twisted, I still kinda hate all streaming services, but my wife says it comes with our phone plan, so… I mean, if I’m already paying for it… [this has gotta be the most middle-aged thing I’ve ever written in a show column, which is really saying something]). But this Gallery 5 show on Friday, which caps off Tyler’s two-week East Coast tour, is still a record release show. Because at this show, the vinyl finally comes out.
That’s what’s important to us all now, right? CDs are quickly losing relevance. Cassettes are strictly for nerds (proof: I own thousands of them). Buying mp3s is cool as a gesture of support, but you can get em for free if you want to, and a lot of people do. Streaming is like throwing a penny — one single penny — in a busker’s instrument case. But vinyl is the last remaining real deal. If you have an album on vinyl, it’s because you laid down some actual coin of the realm. And nothing beats that warm crackle when you drop the needle onto it, that big, glossy picture sleeve with easily readable liner notes. By releasing Into The Fray on vinyl, Tyler Meacham has arrived.
Honestly, she deserves no less. There’s a tendency in some circles to think of local musicians as off-brand versions of nationally known musicians, but sometimes even total philistines have to admit that that girl from just down the street really does have world-class talent, even if you do see her at the coffee shop at least once a month. The last time Richmond realized a world-class talent was in our midst, it was Lucy Dacus. Maybe Tyler Meacham’s new album won’t catapult her to the level of fame Lucy’s achieved, but if it doesn’t, it won’t be because she’s not as good. Into The Fray mixes pop-style production touches into a sound that is fundamentally based in rock, folk, and Americana sounds. It’s full of memorable hooks and emotional choruses. Those who’ve been going to see Tyler Meacham locally for a while know she brings her A game for live performances, too. As good as her new record sounds through your car speakers, it’ll sound way better to hear her perform these songs live at Gallery 5 this Friday night. Do yourself a favor and be there. Do I even need to tell you to bring cash for a vinyl copy of Into The Fray? By now, I think you should know.
Wednesday, June 8, 7 PM
Destroy Boys, Scowl, Destructo Disk @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $16 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, once said, “Girls created punk rock. Not England. Not New York. Girls.” She was being somewhat metaphorical to make a point, but it was a good one: in our day to day society, it’s girls who really have the most reasons to lash out against the establishment. That was true in the mid-70s when The Runaways first came out, and god knows it’s true today when Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health has just come out. The fact that a punk band called Destroy Boys is playing in Richmond on this very night just seems appropriate, in light of everything else that’s going on in the world.
The fact that the sociopolitical environment for girls and women in the United States is kinda toxic right now isn’t the only reason to go rock out to this Sacramento-based punk band, though. Their 2021 LP, Open Mouth Open Heart, offers plenty of reasons that are entirely musical in nature, the first being that this band is no one-trick pony. While raging blasts of melodic punk that resemble White Lung or Be Your Own Pet definitely make up a healthy portion of their repertoire, they’re able to bust out a variety of different genres, from lovelorn ballads to upbeat alt-rock numbers, without ever diminishing in quality even slightly. So whether you’re feeling frustrated about the state of the world today or just wanting to dance around to a really great rock band, Destroy Boys at Richmond Music Hall is the hot ticket for you tonight.
Thursday, June 9, 9 PM
Mel Machete, Comino, Material Boy @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8 in advance, $10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
If you’re a true rock n’ roll warrior, your weekend starts on Thursday. And the first night of your rock n’ roll weekend this week should definitely be spent at Fuzzy Cactus, where a killer mini-tour featuring two mid-Atlantic rippers is rolling through town to blow your hair back. Mel Machete should be familiar to any musically inclined Richmonders by now — this five-piece is pure 100% rock swagger and punk stomp, and the two songs they’ve released into the world at this point show off that fact with aplomb. If you’re down with Sheer Mag, The Dead Boys, or even early Cheap Trick, you’re gonna love Mel Machete — so get ready to rock.
And then keep it going for Comino, who hail from the Carolinas and also have exactly two songs available in the world. If there was any justice in this world, both of these bands would be touring together supporting one 45-RPM single apiece, but pressing plants take years and charge way too much these days, so it’s really not practical. Whatever — if I can admit I listen to streaming services now, you can too. And you can go stream Comino’s two songs wherever you do such things. You should do it; they rip. Soundwise, they’re a little tougher and thicker than Mel Machete — maybe hinting at a rollicking Candy Snatchers or New Bomb Turks-style approach. It all adds up to a perfect touring partner for our local rock n’ roll heroes, and a wonderful way to kick off your three-day rock n’ roll weekend. Get there.
Friday, June 10, 6 PM
Stand Atlantic, With Confidence, 7ru7h, No Love For The Middle Child @ The Canal Club – $20 in advance, $23 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Y’all know me by now, which means that you know I’m an OG emo girl from way, way back. Therefore, when one of my younger friends started talking to me last weekend about how excited he was to go see Stand Atlantic when they come to town Friday night, I felt a little embarrassed that I had no idea who he was talking about. Then I gave their music a listen, and felt really embarrassed. After all, if anyone was going to know about a band who had managed to bring back the sound of early Paramore, before the Farro brothers quit and Hayley decided she just wanted to make pop records, it should have been me. And yet, here I was getting schooled by a guy who’s almost young enough to be my son. It made me feel about a million years old.
I got over it quick. Mainly because Stand Atlantic is so much fun to listen to that it’s hard to feel anything other than euphoric when you’re playing one of their records. The new one, f.e.a.r., brings some pop production touches into the mix, pulling the band slightly afield of their straight up mall-emo/pop-punk foundations, but these songs are still absolute rippers that you will not be able to sit still for. The snarky lyrics full of f-bombs and snarky takedowns like “I don’t have time for all your fake bitch energy” (from “Pity Party”) brings that same rebellious teenage energy that makes so many pop-punk bands so much fun to listen to. Really, everything about Stand Atlantic screams “these guys will be an absolute blast to see live,” and considering that they’re from all the way in Australia, who knows when they’ll be able to make it back to the USA. If you’re gonna go see ’em — and you should — now’s the time.
Saturday, June 11, 4 PM
POST-RVA Fest, feat. Night Idea, Fight Cloud, Colin Phils, Blunt, Hotspit, Youth League, Closet Space, Takyon @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes a show comes along and you’re like “I’ve certainly heard and seen all these bands before,” and yet you still know you’ve gotta be there, because it’s going to be such a goddamn good time. If you’re into math-rock, post-rock, post-hardcore, emo, alternative rock or pretty much any genre that at least sometimes involves people with guitars creating complicated melodies you can’t help but tap your feet to, then this show is a must attend. While not every Richmond-based band who makes the nebulous kind of music we’re talking about is on this bill, it’s certainly more than enough to keep any Richmond-based fan of the genre very satisfied.
In particular, it’s lovely to see Night Idea at the top of this bill. These guys have been around for a long time, of course, but in recent years, they’ve been largely inactive. Their last album came out five years ago, and while they occasionally play live, it’s not all that easy to catch up with ’em these days. This show is, of course, your perfect opportunity. The rest of the bill amounts to an embarrassment of riches, with local math-rock legends Fight Cloud, major RVA post-rock boosters Colin Phils, and atmospheric emo-shoegaze geniuses Hotspit delivering guaranteed doses of brillance, even as more up-and-coming talents like Takyon and Closet Space do their best to prove themselves in front of an audience pretty much guaranteed to be receptive. As shows go, you know exactly what you’re getting from this one. But when what you’re getting is this good, there’s absolutely no reason to feel anything but glad about it.
Sunday, June 12, 9 PM
Cumgirl8, Shawnis And The Shimmers, Beef @ Fuzzy Cactus – $10
I remember reading about the first Lollapalooza lineup at the breakfast table in my parents’ copy of USA Today, back in 1991, and tripping out at the fact that the newspaper had censored the Butthole Surfers’ name to “BH Surfers.” Over 30 years later, I imagine NYC’s Cumgirl8 has been the victim of similar misguided attempts at repression. The liner notes for their synth-driven new single, “Dumb Bitch” mention the “puritans, TERFs, and homophobes” who’ve attempted to keep them off social media. That’s an unfortunate reality of our modern times — while racist assholes scream about “free speech” from the platforms of billionaires to widespread applause, noise-punk weirdos creating unorthodox artistic presentations get shouted down as evil. I know the 90s are back, but is the satanic panic back too? Once was more than enough.
Anyway, let me climb down off my soapbox and explain why a band with a name as admittedly intense as Cumgirl8 deserves your time and attention regardless of how freaky they decide to get. For one thing, their live shows really are as freaky as the hype might lead you to believe; they’ve been called a “punk band of sex positive superheroes” by Vice, and the fact that members of the group have backgrounds in modeling, dance, and experimental art should prime you for an active stage performance that will be completely free of dull or predictable moments. What’s more, they’ve got a strong musical sound that’ll work for anyone who digs the nervous tension generated by postpunk bands like the Bush Tetras or the dark, driving punk of Ex-Cult. Where boundary-pushing, artistically-fueled rock n’ roll is concerned, Cumgirl8 is the real deal. The fact that they’re joined on this bill by a similarly transgressive and artistic project like Shawnis And The Shimmers only seals the deal. You gotta make it out to this one.
Monday, June 13, 7 PM
The Curls, Asylum 213, Dolphin Group, Debrider @ The Camel – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Leave it to The Camel to ensure that, on a Monday night that could easily be a wicked comedown from a summer weekend full of joyful hijinks, there’s still some good rock n’ roll fun to be had within the borders of the river city. This night sees Richmond receiving a visit from Chicago band The Curls, whose brand new LP, Smothered And Covered, not only evokes the best part of every Waffle House visit — ordering a triple hash browns with seven or eight toppings on it — but also delivers a heaping helping of fun-filled synth-driven alt-rock tunes that bring a slight flavor of disco to proceedings that are closer, on the whole, to peak-era Talking Heads. It’s a blast to hear, and it’s sure to be an even bigger blast when this band hits the stage to chase away your case of Monday night blahs.
Hailing from significantly farther south — Chattanooga, Tennessee, to be specific — Dolphin Group bring a similar synth-driven sound to the proceedings, delivering the same sort of bouncy bops they laid down on last fall’s self-titled LP to a Richmond audience in dire need of a pick-me-up to keep us all going for the rest of the week. The local groups on this bill, Asylum 213 and Debrider, will also dabble at least intermittently with synth and disco vibes, but on the whole have a darker, more hypnotic feel that will provide an intriguing contrast to the out-of-town bounce. On the whole, it’s a recipe for yet another Monday survived with all senses intact and the will to live secured for yet another work week. And don’t we all need that?
Tuesday, June 14, 7 PM
Black Matter Device, Circuit Circuit, Armagideon Time, Terror Cell @ The Dark Room – $10
OK, now we’re talking my kind of chaos. Black Matter Device deliver the exact type of metallic hardcore that I am most often listening to when I’m sitting around with headphones on, tuning out the world. It’s hard to sit still when you listen to their new LP, Autonomous Weapons, which combines frantic blasting hardcore, surprisingly groovy interludes, and unbelievably chaotic metal breakdowns into a weapon of ferocious noise awesomeness. Fortunately, at the Dark Room, you won’t have to — you can get up and freak out with the rest of the maniacs who know how to appreciate this stuff.
Murfreesboro, Tennessee natives Circuit Circuit are on pretty much the same page with Black Matter Device; their self-titled 2021 EP is an absolute rager that uses more distorting effects but just as much metal and hardcore chaos to create a whirlwind that should also translate into massive waves of energy in a live environment. Then there’s Armagideon Time, who has got to be the most intriguing metallic hardcore band this city has produced in the post-pandemic era. Haven’t you ever wanted to hear one of the city’s most talented rappers scream and spit rhymes overtop of killer chugging riffage? That’s what this band offers. How can you turn that down? Really, this show’s got everything you could possibly want from it and more, all on hand for you. Make it happen.
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]
Top Photo by Andre Mags