Saturday, October 21, 7 PM
Beach Slang, Ann Beretta, Pet Symmetry, Positive No @ The Broadberry – $17 in advance/$20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Beach Slang is back, and it’s hard to feel anything but awesome about that. This band burst onto the scene several years ago by electrifying younger and older punks alike with their heart-on-sleeve sincerity and killer tunes. Leader James Alex Snyder started out playing punk rock guitar in Weston back in the 90s when he was still a very young man. Later in his career, he sought to recapture the yearning, do-or-die energy that had made his younger days feel so vital, to reignite his life instead of giving up and fading quietly into middle age. He formed Beach Slang to accomplish this goal, and what do you know, he pulled it off with flying colors! They’ve released several EPs and two full-length albums, simultaneously capturing the hearts of today’s punk kids and galvanizing an older generation who suddenly realized they were fading quietly into middle age themselves, and didn’t like the realization.
Perhaps it’s only a coincidence that Beach Slang’s co-headliner on this gig is Ann Beretta, a Richmond melodic punk band that was most active in the late 90s and early 00s, returning to action a few years ago after a decade off. They’ve got a couple of new albums coming out in the next year or so, one of which is rerecorded old songs (the old “we don’t have the rights to the original albums anymore” move), and one of which is entirely new material! A 7 inch single on Say-10 Records earlier this year gave a preview of both, with a rerecording of their beloved classic “Forever Family,” and a brand new tune called “Kill The Lights,” which has as much punk fire and melodic sweetness as ever. This show will see the release of the album of rerecorded old songs, so whether you missed them the first time around or you just wanna hear a new twist on some beloved tunes of your youth, you’ll definitely wanna grab a copy–and of course, catch the set from Ann Beretta, who still have a lot to offer even lo these many years later.
Opening up the evening will be a double whammy of awesome bands that are just as worth your attention as the headliners. Chicago’s Pet Symmetry brings us Into It. Over It. mastermind Evan Thomas Weiss in the role of pop-punk bandleader, dishing out some killer bouncy melodic choruses that still manage to bring that same emotional flavor that we’ve all come to love from his main project. Meanwhile, RVA’s own Positive No will join Ann Beretta in celebrating a brand new album at this show, as they’ll release their second LP, Partners In The Wild, the day before. Pre-release singles have seen the group continuing to emphasize their indie-shoegaze melodic chops while simultaneously cranking up the energy and taking more overt political stances, which is always refreshing. So basically in other words this is a stacked lineup from top to bottom and you’d be a fool to miss it.
Wednesday, October 18, 7 PM
Aura Noir, Mutilation Rites, Battlemaster, Bewitcher @ Strange Matter – $20 (order tickets HERE)
Aura Noir are a Norwegian trio whose members go by the notable sobriquets of Apollyon, Aggressor, and Blasphemer. At this point I feel like I’m sorta being redundant to tell you that they’re a thrashy old-school black metal band, but it’s never a bad idea to emphasize this sort of information when you’re dealing with a band like this one. Because Aura Noir are one of the thrashiest black metal bands ever. You might expect some modulation in the fury, some sort of atmospheric invocation or melodic break or something, but if so, you’d be disappointed. However, if it’s one-thousand percent nonstop metal fury you’re looking for, you’re in luck, because this band just does not stop. It’s been a few years since their fifth album, Out To Die, was released, but these guys haven’t slowed down one iota.
They’re joined on this gig by Brooklyn’s Mutilation Rites, who may not have the same level of black metal cred–New York isn’t as grim and frostbitten as Norway–but make up for it with a filthier, sharper attack that proves new school bands can be just as furious and unstoppable as the old-school originators. These guys also haven’t had a new LP out in a few years, but chances are they’ve got a whole new batch of ripping metal noise with which to slice your head off. In the best possible way, of course. Veteran RVA rippers Battlemaster will hold down one of the opening slots, so you know you’ll get some top-quality riffage early on. And the evening will kick off with a set from Bewitcher, a Portland band with a thrashy sound perfectly in line with the other bands on this bill. Nonstop headbangs–that’s what you can expect from Strange Matter tonight. Start lining up now.
Thursday, October 19, 8 PM
Natural Velvet, Toxic Moxie, Orange Drink @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Looking at the picture of Natural Velvet above, you might think that they’re gonna be one of those 90s-style lounge revival groups, like The Coctails or something (no one under 35 has any idea what I’m talking about right now). However, the truth is far different–and far more appealing, if you ask me, because I could never get into all that silly retro crap (one of my long-ago exes is scandalized). In fact, Natural Velvet being paired with Toxic Moxie makes a ton more sense once you check out their great new album, Mirror To Make You, which came out last June.
There’s less of a dance-funk edge to what Natural Velvet do than there is to Toxic Moxie’s sound, but that spooky, energetic vibe, which draws equally from the Fugazi-influenced post-hardcore of the mid-90s and the UK postpunk scene that birthed Siouxsie And The Banshees and Bauhaus, is all over the place. And it really makes this band cook–their new LP has an intensity to it that is sure to come across in spades live. You don’t want to miss this band any more than you want to miss one of Toxic Moxie’s rare but always-unforgettable performances. And what do you know, you’ll get both on this night, so you’re twice as blessed! Milwaukee-based, RVA-bred solo act Orange Drink will kick the evening off with some unpredictable yet always danceable tuneage. Get stoked!
Friday, October 20, 8 PM
Tower, Desert Altar, Grim Sleeper @ Wonderland – $7
When I see names like these on a bill, I always figure I’m in for some 70s-retro doom metal. Often, that’s exactly the case, and I find myself less than enthused. However, this gig at the always-excellent Shockoe Bottom dive bar Wonderland has plenty to offer to get me excited. First and foremost, there’s headliners Tower, who hail from New York and know how to keep the tempo high and the vocal crescendos higher–though it doesn’t hurt that they have a female vocalist shooting for those Dickinsonian wails. This band is clearly deriving quite a bit of influence from metal hall of famers like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and have absorbed from their idols the ability to dish out pedal-to-the-metal riffs perfect for triumphant high-speed burnouts on back country roads and late night highways.
They’re joined on this bill by locals Desert Altar and Grim Sleeper, and while my previous disinterest in retro doom (sorry, y’all, but it’s getting played out) might make you think I’m not down with these bands. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true to say that Desert Altar are bringing those sorts of 70s proto-metal thud influences to bear, but they have a plentiful dosage of desert legends Kyuss in the mix, and that makes up for a lot. Meanwhile, Grim Sleeper bypass that whole doom thing and head straight for the filthy depths of sludge, drawing far more from that whole post-My War Eyehategod/Noothgrush/Cavity axis than anything that happened in the 70s. If you ask me, this is always the right move. So yes, come out to Wonderland for this show, and stick around for the whole thing. True classic metal is in the house this night.
Saturday, October 21, 8 PM
Grails, Brutal Measures @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
You can expect a psychedelic journey through inner space from this night. Grails have been known for quite a while as leading purveyors of instrumental experimentation, tapping into everything from German cosmische sounds to Middle Eastern folk music, recontextualizing and redelivering it all through a unique worldview and a lineup full of incredible musicians with an extensive pedigree (OM, Steve Von Till, M. Ward, etc). The group’s latest album is called Chalice Hymnal and was released by Temporary Residence earlier this year. It synthesizes a variety of sounds Grails have explored in the past and proceeds to move through them all with an energy that is both intense and hypnotic. Like I said, a psychedelic journey.
Things will be much freakier during the performance from Brutal Measures, the name given to a duo combining the talents of Lydia Lunch and Weasel Walter. Lunch has been a caustic singer and poet fronting harsh postpunk bands since her youthful debut in the atonal, terrifying Teenage Jesus And The Jerks. Weasel Walter has done a million things, mostly in the milieu of experimental punk-damaged jazz–see his best-known and longest-running project, the Flying Luttenbachers. Of course, the fact that he’s also been in bands like Lair Of The Minotaur and Behold The Arctopus should tell you that he’s got some strong metal tendencies as well. So what happens when these two come together to take the stage? Simply put, Lunch reads harsh poetry while Walter bashes on a variety of instruments and creates a disturbing sound bed for Lunch’s equally disturbing words. The noise freaks will eat this up like candy–as will anyone who likes it when performers challenge their expectations and deliver something wholly unique.
Sunday, October 22, 8 PM
TV Girl, Brothertiger, Keep @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s something you don’t encounter every week. TV Girl is an LA band with some serious LA vibes–their lush retro melodies combine with hip hop-style samples and programmed beats to create an impossibly hip blend of French pop, Spector-esque girl-group sounds, and the drugged-out post-party introspection of The Weeknd. Recent LP Who Really Cares features a caption on Bandcamp reading, “An album about Sex, or lack thereof, and its consequences, or lack thereof.” Songs like “Cigarettes Out The Window” and “(Do The) Act Like You Never Met Me” perfectly capture the sort of ennui-laced mid-20s melodrama that makes growing up so hard to do–especially when you still kinda wanna party all the time.
One good hip-town project deserves another, and therefore it’s apt that Brooklyn’s Brothertiger will also appear on this bill. A hazy synth-pop project with some 80s UK vibes (think Pet Shop Boys or New Order), Brothertiger also manage to do a little bit of chillwave evocation in their music, and channel some straight-up 1986 Top 40 sounds for their unforgettable choruses. They’ll get you swaying and smiling in the club, especially if you’re the sort of person who is still wearing sunglasses on the dance floor at 11 PM. Local up-and-comers Keep split the difference between the more synth-driven melodic sounds of the bands they’re sharing this bill with and the more 80s UK guitar-driven postpunk sound of bands like The Sound and The Chameleons. Either way, they’re awesome, and they fit right in on this bill, putting this evening’s hipness quotient right off the charts. Wear something pastel to blend in.
Monday, October 23, 7 PM
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Ian Sweet, DJ Adam Against @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Big news, y’all! Ted Leo is back. One of the great punk rock troubadours of the Dubya era, who kept the faith with killer albums like Hearts Of Oak and Shake The Sheets, took a long break after 2010’s The Brutalist Bricks, needing some time to regroup after professional difficulties and personal tragedies assailed him in rapid succession. Since that album, he’s made one album in collaboration with veteran singer-songwriter Aimee Mann under the name The Both, but this summer’s The Hanged Man is the first new music we’ve heard from Ted in seven years. It’s a darker, more introspective album than any of his previous work, and while first single “Can’t Go Back” sees him returning to the sort of uptempo power-pop sounds that he made his name on, a lot of this record is slower, quieter, and moodier than anything we’ve previously heard from Leo.
Does that mean he’ll have a different live show than when you saw him back in 2008 or so? There’s only one way to find out for sure. However, considering he’s back with his longtime backing band, The Pharmacists (who were for the most part not involved with the new album), it’d make sense to have some expectation for revival of our favorite uptempo moments from Leo eras past–though ultimately, who knows? Dude’s been through a lot. He will help lift our spirits regardless of what songs he chooses for his set list, though, just because it’s always nice to see Mr. Leo onstage in Richmond again. Tourmates Ian Sweet are pretty much the leading lights of the modern Brooklyn shoegaze-pop sound, so they’ll certainly satisfy you with their killer set, while legendary Young Pioneers frontman Adam Nathanson will put everyone in the mood with some time behind the turntables as DJ Adam Against. You won’t want to miss a moment.
Tuesday, October 24, 6 PM
Soulfly Does Nailbomb, Cannabis Corpse, Noisem, Lody Kong @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets HERE)
Nailbomb, a band who once proclaimed themselves “Proud To Commit Commercial Suicide,” existed for about a year in the mid-90s, during which they recorded one studio album, Point Blank, and played one live show before breaking up. The group’s main creative forces were Sepultura/Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera and Fudge Tunnel guitarist Alex Newport, both of whom played guitar and traded off on lead vocals. Their sound was an exploration into both Newport’s industrial-tinged leanings and Cavalera’s interest in hardcore punk. The band ceased to be a going concern after that one show, and has never come remotely close to reuniting.
However, in this era of 90s nostalgia, one can’t be but so surprised to see Cavalera’s current project dusting off those old Nailbomb songs and taking them out for a spin once again. Sadly, Alex Newport is not involved in this current project, meaning that it won’t quite be the same. Nonetheless, Soulfly is a pretty killer metal band in their own right, and Nailbomb fans who weren’t lucky enough to make it to Dynamo Open Air in 1995 can’t be blamed if they wanna finally get a chance to mosh it up to these (admittedly incredible) metal tunes. The tour features a variety of killer modern openers to sweeten the pot, too, and while Harm’s Way won’t make it to RVA, Soulfly/Nailbomb will be joined here by our own Cannabis Corpse, as well as Baltimoreans Noisem and Arizona sludgers Lody Kong. This last group shares a member with Soulfly in that Max Cavalera’s son Zyon plays drums in both; his other son Igor sings and plays guitar in Lody Kong as well. This is turning out to be quite the family affair. All the more reason to mosh it up.
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] [the rvamag address isn’t working for some reason, I haven’t had time to look into it! Bear with me]