Prsmcat Birthday Bash Minifest
Friday, January 24, 8 PM
Spooky Cool (Photo by Joey Wharton), Deau Eyes, Kate Bollinger, SHE
Saturday, January 25, 8 PM
Sleepwalkers, Majjin Boo, Castle OG, Hollywood Cemetery
@Poor Boys – $12 in advance/$15 at door/$20 two-day pass (order tickets HERE)
It’s my birthday today; I am 44 years old, which means I’d only be considered “young” if I was running for President. But Prsmcat Presents is definitely younger — the up-and-coming RVA show booking concern is less than a year old at this point. Therefore, the Prsmcat Birthday Bash Minifest happening this weekend at Poor Boys is not actually a celebration for the booking group’s birthday but that of Prsmcat leader and Majjin Boo guitarist Zavi Yueske, who is… (checks notes) 16 years younger than me. Wow.
Let me stop worrying about how old I’m getting and move on by saying: Happy birthday, Zavi! His birthday gift is for the entire city’s music scene, as he’ll celebrate with this two-night, eight-band extravaganza of talented musicians from around Richmond and the central Virginia region. On Friday night, we get the double-dose of Richmond indie melodicism that is Spooky Cool and Deau Eyes. Both of these groups have exercised a “less-is-more” philosophy where recordings are concerned, which means you’ll surely hear some unrecorded tunes during both sets, and that’s a lovely thing from two world-class talents like these. Friday night will also feature Charlottesville singer-songwriter Kate Bollinger, whose laid-back, tuneful approach should pair well with the others on the bill.
Then Saturday night, Zavi gets to strut his stuff with Majjin Boo — who, in case I haven’t made it clear in this column before now, released the Richmond records I loved the most last year, the “Tension Rod”/”One Wing” single and Egghunt Records full-length Go Between. These guys are essential listening and will surely remain so going forward in 2020. They share Saturday night’s bill with fellow Richmond mainstays Sleepwalkers, who you should all know and love by now, as well as smooth-sounding indie mainstays Castle OG and difficult-to-google newcomers Hollywood Cemetery. Celebrate the wonderfulness Zavi Yueske brings into the world while enjoying that very wonderfulness all weekend at Poor Boys!
Wednesday, January 22, 7 PM
The Adicts, No-Heads, Talk Me Off @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets HERE)
If you’ve paid attention to UK punk anytime in the last four decades, you’re sure to have heard of the Adicts. This catchy melodic punk band styled themselves after the droogs of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and have been cutting a memorable figure in the world of punk since they broke out with 1981 debut LP Songs Of Praise. Their singalong choruses are infectious enough that they’ve had chart hits in the UK with tunes like “Viva La Revolution” and “Bad Boy” — songs you’re sure to remember if you’ve heard them even once.
The Adicts’ heyday was in the 80s, but they’ve never really stopped recording and touring; they’ll be coming through RVA in support of their 11th album, And It Was So!, released by Nuclear Blast in 2017. The group’s core members have stayed the same throughout the past four decades, and their entertaining costumed live performances are still a fun, active spectacle. If you’ve never caught the Adicts live before, this is the perfect time to do it, and wear your best Malcolm McDowell eye makeup while you’re at it.
Thursday, January 23, 8 PM
Kai Orion, Kill The Druid @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Every musician is creative, but it’s rare to find a musician out there who dismantles every assumption about musical orthodoxy with each new song they create. However, that is exactly how Kai Orion creates. The DC-based songwriter plays over a dozen instruments on his latest album, Start To End, some of which can only be described as “instruments” (vacuum cleaner, lawnmower, wine glasses, etc). He often works by himself, creating thickly layered compositions through use of a microphone, a loop creator, and a menagerie of voices, instruments, and random objects he has at hand.
The result is a collection of catchy and enjoyable tunes on his records, and a fascinating spectacle to behold in a live environment. At Garden Grove Brewing this Thursday night, you’re sure to see Orion create songs out of all sorts of random sounds, and you’re sure to be impressed how beautiful the end result is — especially with his Peter Gabriel-ish vocal chords unleashed overtop. Richmond post-rockers Kill The Druid will open this one up with an instrument-switching set that’s sure to both set the stage for Orion and remain much closer to a conventional rock show. The whole evening is sure to be a blast.
Friday, January 24, 9 PM
Fat Spirit, You’re Jovian, Alison Blue @ Fuzzy Cactus – $5
Fat Spirit have settled into a solid role as utility players in the Richmond alt-rock scene. They haven’t released any new material since 2017’s Nihilist Blues, but they continue bringing their raucous, exuberant performances to local venues on a regular basis, keeping the spirit of the slacker-rock 90s alive and evoking the spirits of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. with their loud, guitar-driven tunes. You know what you’re getting with Fat Spirit these days, but that’s certainly not a strike against a band who always delivers a rockin’ good time.
They’re joined on this occasion by Hampton Roads residents You’re Jovian, who have a solid dose of the 90s embedded in their sound as well. On 2019’s Singles, this group shows themselves as occupying a similar territory to that of Fat Spirit, though Elliott Malvas’s more ethereal vocals definitely push the needle away from grunge and toward shoegaze — in the original Ride/Swervedriver/JAMC sense, rather than the MBV-plus-postrock context its taken on in the past decade. Putting these two groups together on a single bill makes for a great evening, especially if you’re the sort of guitar lover who can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet fuzz. Youthful VA Beach shoegazing fuzz-lovers Alison Blue will kick the whole thing off with a further dose of what you’ve been looking for, so don’t miss a minute of this one.
Saturday, January 25, 9 PM
DJ Williams’ Shots Fired @ Fuzzy Cactus – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Saturday night, and it’s right back to Fuzzy Cactus, this time for a homecoming show by one of Richmond’s favorite sons, DJ Williams. Around town, he’s known for his time fronting the DJ Williams Projekt, but this talented, blues-inclined guitarist has achieved more widespread fame beyond these shores in recent years with his work in Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. He’s also put together an all-star cast of sidemen for a new group called DJ Williams’ Shots Fired, who released a mostly-live LP called Live From Over Where back in 2018.
The funky, bluesy, Southern-tinged rock n’ roll that group shows off on their debut LP is exactly what they’ll bring to Brookland Park Boulevard when they show up at Fuzzy Cactus this Saturday night. I can’t tell you for sure who will be firing the shots behind Williams during this performance, but the group has included Williams’ fellow Tiny Universe members, as well as musicians from Dave Matthews Band, Slightly Stoopid, and Lenny Kravitz and Dr. John’s respective backing bands. Rest assured, no matter who DJ Williams brings with him on this jaunt, they’ll be talents equal to the kind of firepower he lays down. And as anyone who’s been paying attention around here for a while knows, that’s some serious six-string pyrotechnics.
Sunday, January 26, 6 PM
RVA Rap Elite Season 3 Premiere, feat. BASIC, Easalio, Tr3demark, Bravo vs. Chance Fischer, Team 804 Cypher (Vintage A, Henny LO, Habeeb, Tone Redd, Yung Sums) vs. Team 757 Cypher (BASIC, Will Jung, Amir Driver, Illien Rosewell, Eastcoast Mikey), Music by Hip Hop Henry & Melodic, plus Open Cypher @ The Dark Room – $10
Hip hop shows take research, y’all. For one thing, there are always a ton of people on the show (indeed, the Open Cypher on this bill will feature another 20-plus rappers I decided not to even attempt to list). For another, there are never any website links listed for any of them. And sometimes, you have to do some digging just to even get a list of who’s on the show. But I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining; the fact is, it’s all worth it when you encounter a show like this, full of a murderer’s row of talented MCs battling it out for lyrical supremacy.
There’s been a renaissance of battle rap on the Richmond scene over the past year or two, and RVA Rap Elite has been right at the heart of it, so it’s no surprise to see what a stacked lineup they’re bringing for the premiere edition of their third season. Personally, I’m most excited for the throwdown between world-class lyricists Chance Fischer and Bravo, but the Team 804 vs. Team 757 cypher battle promises some serious fireworks as well. And really, the overall atmosphere is the best part of all this; when RVA Rap Elite is happening, everyone wants to bring their A game, and the results are sure to delight any true hip hop head. So end your weekend at the place The Cheats Movement says is “making its claim to be the [hip hop] venue of choice” — The Dark Room at the Hofheimer.
Monday, January 27, 9 PM
Dark Thoughts, Sensual World, Ugly Muscle @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
Dark Thoughts is the sort of band name that might lead you to expect a sound resembling that of Christian Death, or TSOL — punk, but a decidedly gothic take on punk. However, as the band’s fans well know, Philadelphia’s Dark Thoughts are made of much catchier stuff than those classic LA death-rockers. Their new LP, Must Be Nice, came out last month on Stupid Bag Records and is loaded with tracks that split the difference between snotty Dead Boys-style rockers and the Ramones at their most clumsily lovelorn.
Dark Thoughts play classic punk for classic punks, and since it’s the middle of a freezing January here in Richmond, you officially have no excuse for not breaking out your leather jacket for this shindig. You’ll get a bonus as well, in the form of two great local punk bands filling out this bill with their own excellent sounds. Sensual World brings a sort of forlorn jangle to their downbeat rumble, almost Gun Club-ish in execution; Ugly Muscle strip down their sound into a pounding, minimalist attack fueled by atonal synths and screaming. The whole thing is sure to delight any among you who appreciate the articulate aggression that punk rock is all about.
Tuesday, January 28, 6 PM
Shadow Of Intent, Signs Of The Swarm, Inferi, Brand of Sacrifice, Seraph @ The Canal Club – $15 (order tickets HERE)
It’s been 50 years since Black Sabbath’s debut album acted as the starting gun for the metal genre. Bands have progressed in all sorts of far-flung directions from that initial ground zero in the intervening half-century, and it’s difficult to find any band still playing a pure form of metal that would have been recognizable to Ozzy Osbourne in 1970. Nonetheless, there are a lot of outstanding musicians at work in the genre, producing milestones that may very well appear equally seminal once they’re 50 years in the rearview.
Shadow Of Intent’s 2019 LP Melancholy may or may not be one of those (though MetalSucks certainly likes it), but no matter how you slice it, the New England quartet definitely gave us a memorable slab of truly redoubtable heaviness when they released their third album last year. It’s both the deepest, darkest death metal and a particularly impressive display of musical omnivorousness, integrating orchestral melodies and gothic lyrical themes into their always-brutal sound in a manner that allows room to breathe while still pummelling listeners with a wonderfully aggressive efficiency. Seeing all of this brought to life on the Canal Club stage is sure to inspire a veritable forest of banging heads. Join the raging sea this Tuesday night, and celebrate the ongoing bounty that is the music of metal.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Thursday, January 23, 6:30 PM
Blackalicious, Black Liquid, Waasi, Grayling Skyy, DJ Almighty @ The Southern Cafe (Charlottesville) – $25 (order tickets HERE)
Hip hop has always been a genre that focuses on skills, but there are some hip hop artists that stand out even in a crowded sea of fantastic MCs and DJs. Blackalicious, the duo consisting of rapper Gift Of Gab and producer Chief Xcel, is one of those, and has been for the past two decades. They haven’t exactly been prolific in that time; they’ve only released three LPs since 1999 debut Nia. However, regardless of how long they take to bring out new material, it’s impossible to deny that Blackalicious continues to make some of the most challenging, intricate, and talent-loaded music in the hip hop world.
The current Blackalicious tour is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Nia‘s release, so you can certainly expect a set list that leans heavily on that initial statement of purpose. Nia dropped right in the midst of the bling area and showed an entirely different worldview in the way Chief Xcel’s beats created mellow, soulful landscapes for Gift Of Gab’s witty lyrics about life and love. Blackalicious has remained on their own wavelength ever since, and if you’ve kept up with their less-than-prolific release schedule, you know that anything they want to bring us is more than worth the wait. That said, who knows when they might be back to VA after this? Get to their gig at The Southern this weekend while the getting’s good.
Saturday, January 25, 7 PM
Black Mass//Un-Baptism, feat. Xeukatre, Serpentshrine, Athame @ Pourhouse of Norfolk – Free!
Black metal is a notoriously intense genre, and while keeping it real did go wrong for a while in the mid-90s when the scene’s leading lights were killing each other and destroying thousand-year-old architecture, you have to admire the people who make this music’s commitment to the evocation of evil. That’s why I can’t help but be impressed to see three black metal bands from the MD/VA area teaming up with Satanic Norfolk this Saturday night for an honest-to-Lucifer black mass at Pourhouse of Norfolk.
Norfolk’s Serpentshrine, who occupy the middle slot on this bill, are musical advocates for Satan themselves, and the trio cranks out some old-style gritty riffage on latest EP Occultum Exordium. You Bathory fans out there will get a big kick out of these guys. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s Xeukatre kick out some guttural lo-fi roars and classic tremolo-picked riffs on their split with Hagerstown’s Athame, who round out both that split and this triple bill with the fastest and filthiest take on black metal of these three bands, Transilvanian Hunger-style. But of course the big event is the black mass; how intense is that gonna be? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to show up. Bring your own blood.
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]
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond