Friday, May 31, 8 PM
New Lions, Doll Baby, Fat Spirit @ The Camel – $6 in advance/$8 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Remember when Trump won and, alongside everyone who fucking hated it, there were a few people babbling about how “at least there’ll be some good angry music again”? Let me just say right now: it wasn’t worth it, especially for all the women, people of color, and LGBTQ people who’ve found themselves in the crosshairs. But if the return of New Lions is any indication, I’ll go ahead and grant it to those people — y’all were right.
New Lions, which is what Clair Morgan and his band are calling themselves now that they’ve accepted their past several years of existence as a full band, are celebrating the release of their latest EP and first new record in three years, End Story, at The Camel Friday night. With a band name drawn from the final Clair Morgan album, New Lions and the Not-Good Night, they’re clearly building on what has come before. But where previous Clair Morgan LPs mixed Clair’s mathy post-hardcore guitar style with melodic indie riffing, End Story finds this band writing in a decidedly more aggressive vein, with political lyrics and a harsher vocal sound that pushes them almost all the way to the border between post-hardcore and outright screamo.
If the Trump era can get an indie band this upset, imagine what it can do to all the marginalized communities the administration is taking aim for (though actually, you don’t have to imagine — it’s reality). At least we’ll have a killer soundtrack for the battle lines. Or for a Friday night at the Camel, trying to forget it all and enjoy a truly positive thing for this city — the return of one of the city’s leading musical lights to full-throated action. Doll Baby and Fat Spirit will open this one up, and you should definitely bring some extra cash to grab yourself a copy of End Story. You’re gonna need this one by your side this summer.
Wednesday, May 29, 8 PM
Tired All The Time, SameStory @ McCormack’s – $?
Tired All The Time have given themselves the perfect name for this era of millennial burnout and rapidly increasing income inequality. If you’re not one of the rare elites driving a $100,000 European sports car to your fantastically outfitted corporate office, you’re part of the vast assemblage of the rest of us, driving a used 10-year-old European sedan for Uber and panicking at the thought of an unexpected car repair. Is it any surprise that so many of us are, yes, Tired All The Time?
This DC band who wryly uses corporate-style text and iconography to send up the aforementioned elites, may not be able to keep you from having to replace your water pump in six months, but they sure can rock away your cares for one night. Tonight at McCormack’s, down in lovely Shockoe Bottom, they’ll bring their keyboard-laced postpunk sounds, displayed adroitly on last year’s Be Well EP, to the upstairs stage. And it won’t be long before you’re moving your feet with a big smile on your face. Don’t worry about tomorrow morning — just this once, you can wait til 9:30 to sign into the app. We promise.
Thursday, May 30, 9 PM
Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser, Newscaster, The Firnats @ Wonderland – $6
Rock n’ roll never goes out of style, and that’s why the arrival of Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser at another Shockoe Bottom mainstay, Wonderland, is a very welcome fact. Katzman has a Florida metal background and it comes through in spades on 2018’s Quarter Life Crisis, a true wailer of an album whose best tracks would have fit right in next to Van Halen and Judas Priest on early 80s hard rock radio.
But hot licks and killer riffs aren’t the only things Katzman’s DeGreaser have to offer the discerning patron of rock power. Their songs are incredibly well-constructed and have a subtle intelligence at work underneath all those Trans Am-rattling anthems. You can really tell when you check out the lyrics to songs like “Too Old For Retail,” “Goodbye Wi-Fi,” and “Cool Points Don’t Pay The Rent” — these guys know the struggle. And they’re coming to town Thursday night so we can all put it aside for just one night, and rock! You know you need it; let your hair down for this one.
Friday, May 31, 8 PM
Sleepwalkers, Wolcott’s Invisible Hand, Angelica Garcia @ The Broadberry – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Sleepwalkers have been an active force on the Richmond music scene for years now, but recently, with their debut full-length, Greenwood Shade, five years in the rearview, it has started to feel like they were fading a bit. Thankfully, that has all turned around in the last few months, with the group signing to Spacebomb and preparing to end the five-year drought of new Sleepwalkers tuneage with a new LP, coming later this year.
It’s not out yet, but the group is celebrating this weekend nonetheless. The first single from the new LP, “Fault Is Me,” came out a couple months ago. Now, Spacebomb is releasing a limited-edition cassette containing remixes of the single by noteworthy local producers including DJ Harrison and Giavos, and Friday night’s show at the Broadberry is your first chance to grab it for yourself! It’s also sure to give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with some of the other material Sleepwalkers have in store for their full-length Spacebomb debut later this year. Be there and get in on the ground floor.
Saturday, June 1, 9 PM
The Cryptkeeper Five, The Vansaders, Decide By Friday, Dead Format, American Television @ Mojo’s – $5 suggested donation
You might think this is the band Bobby “Boris” Pickett was singing about back in 1962, but no — that was actually the Crypt-Kicker Five. The Cryptkeeper Five are actually a quartet, and they play rollicking punk n’ roll tunes that are sometimes augmented by a Springsteen-style expanded band, complete with horn section. The stage at Mojo’s can’t accomodate all that, but the original four-piece will rock you all the same this Saturday night.
On their latest LP, The Stronghold — which was released on local powerhouse Say-10 Records, not coincidentally the label putting on this entire show — The Cryptkeeper Five come across like a strange combination of the Smoking Popes, Alkaline Trio, and Titus Andronicus, and if you dig any of that (or, for that matter, the subtle Springsteen mention above), you’re sure to have a blast when they hit the stage. Tourmates the Vansaders are actually from Asbury Park, but their acoustic folk-punk sound is a bit less Boss-ish and more reminiscent of The Waterboys or The Pogues. Both of these bands and some killer local groups as well will be combining powers to make this Saturday night musical extravaganza one to remember. Bring cash for the donation pot, and bring your card to buy a cheesesteak — they’re delicious.
Sunday, June 2, 6 PM
Matron, Kristeva, Deer Eats Birds @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Free shows to end your weekend are always fun, and there are multiple places around town willing to hook us up with such things on a near-weekly basis. It’s just another wonderful thing about living in RVA. Matron are not from RVA — they come to us from New Orleans — but they’re bringing some wonderful sounds to our town that are sure to wrap up your weekend right. Their latest EP, Standing Water, shows off their unusual hybrid between energetic, mathy post-hardcore and synth-driven alt-rock weirdness, and the group is sure to blow us all away with it once they hit the stage.
We’re lucky enough to get some wonderful local sounds on this bill too — in fact, one or more of these local bands may play after Matron (I’d put one before and one after, but I stopped booking shows a while back due to a permanent case of exhaustion so I may not be the one to ask). No matter when these bands perform, we can be sure that the brilliant, epic post-rock of Kristeva and the complex, melodic alt-rock of Deer Eats Birds will add additional spice and flair to our weekend’s all-too-imminent end. And that’s wonderful.
Monday, June 3, 7 PM
Amy Klein (Photo by Orlando S. Gondar), Black Plastic, SLOGAME, Strawberry Moon @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
You might know Amy Klein from her days in Titus Andronicus — she played guitar on the band’s early high-water mark, The Monitor — from her politically-informed online writings, or from her 2016 solo debut, Fire. But Klein is taking things to a whole new level with her upcoming sophomore LP, Winter/Time. Not only does the LP’s lead single, “Nothing,” show both a driving punk energy and some serious postpunk/new wave melodic chops, the album as a whole will apparently tackle complicated narratives constructed from an imaginary world that Klein nurtured in her mind as a child, known as a paracosm.
That might sound like pretty insane stuff at first blush, but album-as-high-concept-fantasy-novel is a familiar trope across the history of intelligent, unorthodox rock n’ roll, from Rush’s 2112 to The Who’s legendarily unrealized Lifehouse. With the album on the eve of release, it seems likely that Klein will go the way of the Rush classic rather than the Who’s nervous-breakdown-fueling collapse, and that’s certainly a great thing. If nothing else, it offers us the tantalizing possibility of a whole album full of songs as good as “Nothing” — which will certainly be a lovely treat for us all this summer. Get ready by heading down to the Camel and rocking with Amy Klein this Monday night. It’s a great way to start your week.
Tuesday, June 4, 7 PM
Justus Proffit, Camp Howard, Big Baby, Lobby Boy @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
You know, I can’t say I’m familiar with memorably-named LA singer-songwriter Justus Proffit, but he’s apparently somewhat of a prodigy, having played in touring bands since he was 16 or so. Now he’s 25, and if you’re thinking, “Oh, is this kid the next Jay Reatard then?” you’re not entirely on the wrong track. His new album, LA’s Got Me Down, is full of psychedelic garage tunes, doused in noisy guitar distortion that can’t quite hide the brilliant melodies at its heart.
Proffit’s tunes of LA struggle reference drugs, death, and a culture of false allegiances, but they’re kept aloft by his flawless ear for pop melodies. There’s an ever-present psychedelic weirdness as well, just to keep the whole thing glowing with the sunlight of a slightly overexposed photograph. The combination is unique, arresting, and memorable, and if Proffit carries on in this fashion, he’ll be hugely famous before you know it. Get in on this movement before the rest of the world catches on, and spend your Tuesday night at Gallery 5. You won’t regret it.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Thursday, May 30, 8 PM
Phobia, Diseased Earth, Organ Trail @ The Golden Pony – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Legendary California grindcore ragers Phobia have been around for damn near 30 years now, and despite many different trials and tribulations over that time, they continue rolling along at full speed — their forthcoming LP, Generation Coward, is something like their 16th release, and that’s not even counting the million split EPs they’ve done over the years. They’ve still got the fire in their bellies, though, as is clear from the new LP’s advance single, “Internet Tough Guy.” We’ve all known a few of those, am I right?
Anyway, Phobia are coming to Harrisonburg’s Golden Pony tomorrow night, and they’re going to rock the place like crazy. Roaring, growling vocals, grinding thrash guitar riffs, and super-fast blast beats aplenty await the fortunate souls who stumble into the Golden Pony. It’s going to be awesome, especially with regional powerhouses Diseased Earth and Organ Trail (not the computer game you played in middle school — oh my, no) dropping a bomb loaded full of death-metallic grind power on you to kick this night off. Be ready to bang your head, because you’re going to be doing a lot of that.
Saturday, June 1, 8 PM
Blue Streak, The Great Noise, Bacchae, W I S H, Wring Out @ West Beach Tavern – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Hardcore isn’t just a sound, it’s a culture. Want proof? Check out hardcore bands like Angel Du$t, or Culture Abuse — bands that are both beloved in the scene and bear no resemblance to Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains, or any of the other agreed-upon touchstones of the sound. But their members have played hardcore music before, so hardcore kids are willing to check them out. Blue Streak might be another one of those bands; featuring members of Give, Red Death, and — sure enough — Angel Du$t, this group nonetheless brings a sound that comes much closer to indie pop and alternative rock than anything approaching hardcore.
Will the kids love it nonetheless? It’s an open question with this relatively new band, who’ve only released two singles thus far. However, considering the quality of the songs on offer, they certainly should. And those of you who couldn’t care less about hardcore might want to consider doing so as well. Fans of everything from Sloan to Braid to The Breeders are going to hear things they really like in this band’s sound — regardless of cultural affiliation. They’ll be playing with a bunch of other melodic indie, alt-rock, and shoegaze groups as well, so you’re sure to have a full night of joy with fellow DC power-poppers Bacchae, Hampton Roads killers The Great Noise, and even Richmond’s own hazy-guitar maestros, W I S H. What are you waiting for? Get down with it.
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]
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