Saturday, February 7, 8 PM
A Benefit for Jay Moritz feat. Pink Razors, Cloak/Dagger, Brainworms, Sundials, Modern Things @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://savejay.eventbrite.com)
RVA punk rockers, get stoked! This show is for a good cause (more about that later), but even if it weren’t, it’d be a momentous occasion.
This show will resurrect the heady days of RVA circa 2006–back when shows were at the Bike Lot or the Bonezone, every band had a MySpace page, and Pink Razors, Brainworms, and Cloak/Dagger were ruling the scene with their awesome tunes. As I mentioned before, it’s for a good cause–Brainworms/Snack Truck/Antlers bassist Jay Moritz is currently battling cancer, and these bands are getting together to raise money so he can pay his medical bills (side note: it is a goddamn travesty that anyone has to do something like this to make sure someone can get the medical treatment they need. OK, rant over). But don’t expect an air of solemnity to dominate the proceedings, because it’s impossible not to have a blast when these bands are playing.
Pink Razors are probably the biggest deal of the three old-school bands playing this show, because they haven’t performed in Richmond or anywhere else in something like seven years. Guitarist/singers Jeff Grant and Erin Tobey moved to Bloomington Indiana quite a while ago, but they never officially broke up, so don’t call it a comeback! Pink Razors are super-catchy in that old-school pop-punk way that was a bit of a throwback even when they were around the first time, but if you love stuff like early Jawbreaker, pre-fame Green Day, and first-LP Lemonheads (yes, seriously), you’ll get a big kick out of this band. And if you need to brush up on their tunes so you can sing along, go grab whatever you need from their bandcamp page–proceeds from all downloads will also go to help Jay!
Cloak/Dagger and Brainworms still show up on local stages occasionally, but it’s a rare occurrence, so you better be in the house for this one. Cloak/Dagger have a loud, fast, out-of-control sound that lives at the borderline between garage-punk and old-school hardcore, and singer Jason Mazzola is always a live wire onstage, so these guys will be 100% worth it. And Brainworms have an upbeat, energetic sound that harks back to the days of late-80s post-hardcore bands like Dag Nasty and Soulside, so their set is sure to get you dancing as well. With perennial RVA faves Sundials and newcomers Modern Things opening up, this is gonna be a blast from beginning to end. Let’s party like we’re at Best Friends Day 5!
Wednesday, February 4, 9 PM
Hudson Falcons, Dressed For The Occasion, Never Wrong @ Wonderland – $5
I realize it’s just the middle of the week right now, and you might be thinking “Dude, if I go down to Wonderland this early in the week, I’m not gonna recover until like Sunday.” But since I don’t drink anyway, I kinda don’t understand what the big deal is, so I’m going to urge you to listen to the devil on your shoulder and make a trip down into Shockoe Bottom with two business days left in the week–after all, if your weekend doesn’t start on Wednesday, can you really claim to be a true rock n’ roll warrior?
You’re gonna want to make that claim if you’re heading down to see Hudson Falcons. These guys are heading down from New Jersey (home of working-class troubadours since Bruce Springsteen was still a teenager) to bring us a set of heartland rock n’ roll both old and new. They just successfully Kickstarted their next album, Peace Of Mind, last fall. And while I can’t be sure whether the album is actually out yet or just about to come out, I can tell you the songs are done and these guys will be ready to play them for you! They’ll be joined by Dressed For The Occasion, a Boston band with much the same sound as Hudson Falcons, perhaps with an extra tinge of old-time country and folk music thrown in. RVA oi-punks Never Wrong will open things up, and while these guys are a bit harder-hitting than the touring bands will be, they’re coming from much the same place spiritually. So come hoist a brew and sing along with these hard-working rock n’ roll bands–and call in sick tomorrow morning if you have to.
Thursday, February 5, 6 PM
Black Veil Brides, Memphis May Fire, Ghost Town @ The National – $25 in advance/$28 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Every once in a while I pick a show for this column and even as I’m picking it out, I’m like, “No one is gonna take me seriously about this show.” But truly, I promise I am not trolling you–I think this show is gonna be awesome. Black Veil Brides are part of that weird subgenre of metalcore that’s known as “scene” (as if every other genre of music doesn’t also have a scene around it…), and that stuff comes in for a lot of ridicule, but as someone who grew up loving glam metal, I actually think it’s kinda awesome. I mean, Black Veil Brides look like a cross between My Chemical Romance and Motley Crue, and they sound like Def Leppard jamming with At The Gates. What’s not to love? OK, they’re getting a bit more “nu rock” in recent years–I won’t deny that. But they’re still gonna play all the awesome old songs that jump from deathcore breakdowns and blazing guitar solos to glammed-out Bon Jovi-style chorusss every 30 seconds, and those all rule. Hell yes I’m serious.
Memphis May Fire singer Matty Mullins has been up to some seriously goofy bullshit where his solo material is concerned lately, and I want to make clear that I do not in any way endorse crap like this. But damn if I can deny how entertaining older Memphis May Fire material was. I suppose both of these bands are groups I would rather have seen a couple of years ago. But realistically, I’ll take what I can get, and if nothing else, it’ll be fun to see how glammed up the other fans of these bands get for this show (I’ve become a big fan of getting glammed up recently). Ghost Town, who are almost too goth to even be “scene” (which kinda rules), will open this up. Let’s do this, y’all.
Friday, February 6, 9 PM
Utmost Co presents Goth Money/Divine Council/Generation92 showcase feat. Black Kray, Hunned Mill, Karmah, Lex, Lord Linco, Cyrax!, $ilk Money, Kons, Charles Diamond @ Strange Matter – $5
This is awesome. A locally-oriented hip hop show happening at Strange Matter is always excellent, but the great thing about this one is that it’s a completely different segment of the local hip hop scene than you’re probably used to seeing. That’s right, there are VA hip hop artists at work in this town who have no connections with Slapdash, the New Juice Crew, and Charged Up–and some of them are up to some pretty interesting stuff! For this show, Utmost Co, the latest street/skate style clothing line to open a local store down near VCU, are bringing in DC crew Goth Money to collaborate with the local rappers from the Divine Council and Generation92 crews and put on an evening of awesome hip hop sounds just for you!
If you’ve been reading our coverage of the local hip hop scene for a while, you’re going to recognize some of these names. Lex, Black Kray, Lord Linco, Charles Diamond, and Kons were all affiliated with what was once known as the Seven Hills Crew, and the fact that you don’t see their projects appearing under that name anymore doesn’t mean they’ve slacked off at all. For starters, Black Kray has an odd, hallucinatory style that he’s calling “traphouse” these days, and I can’t disagree with that. Meanwhile, Kons is still making his particular brand of psychedelic, third-eye-powered hip hop, as you can see in his latest video, “Elegy of Entrapment.” I honestly know a lot less about the DC/NoVA rappers coming down representing Goth Money, but based on what I’ve heard from Goth Money’s well-stocked Bandcamp, I’m expecting good things. Come out and see a whole other side to RVA and DMV hip hop–you won’t regret it.
Saturday, February 7, 5 PM
WRIR X Release party feat. The Ar-Kaics, The Invasion, Big No @ Hardywood – Free!
Hardywood’s busting out another one of their music-and-beer focused free parties this Saturday afternoon and evening, and even though as usual I know nothing about beer, I can’t resist writing about it just because the sounds you’re gonna hear will be so so good. Plus there’s something going on related to WRIR getting their own beer or something, and I’m sure a lot of you will care about that. Show up at 2 PM to spend three hours enjoying the brews on tap before the music starts if that’s what floats your boat. But if you’re like me and you’re just up for some tunes, show up at 5 PM for an evening of garage/punk awesomeness.
The Ar-Kaics are the band in demand for this fine evening, and the rudimentary yet incredibly catchy tunes they immortalized on last fall’s self-titled debut full-length are sure to get Hardywood denizens who’ve been hitting the taps to do the twist–or at least to tipsily bob their heads back and forth. The Ar-Kaics will be joined by a brand new band with a similar raison d’etre and a nicely stacked lineup of ex-member superstars–Young Sinclairs, Diamond Center, Peace Beast (I’m sensing a trend; could Kyle Harris be in this band? Maaaaaybe), and RPG are all former credits of these guitar slingers, which is a nice recommendation in and of itself. Big No will kick things off with their sunbaked Spacemen 3/Black Rebel Motorcycle Club psychedelic rock n’ roll styles. Get down with it.
Sunday, February 8, 8 PM
Kevin Devine, Into It. Over It., Laura Stevenson @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$17 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As the emo revival continues along with its reviving ways, more and more great musicians who couldn’t get arrested five years ago show up in RVA riding high on newly revitalized careers–and I am into it. I remember Kevin Devine from back in the day, when he spent the late 90s and early 2000s fronting the now-mostly-forgotten emo group Miracle Of 86. Since that band broke up, he’s had a pretty wild career, at one point getting signed–then quickly dropped–by Capitol Records. He’s putting out his records himself these days, switching back and forth between solo acoustic tunes (like he did on his 2013 album Bulldozer) and full-band performances (as you could hear on the simultaneously-released Bubblegum). His latest project is a series of split EPs, and he just released his side of his split with Matthew Caws of Nada Surf today! Check that out here, and luxuriate in the beauty of his mostly-solo cover of Nada Surf’s “Inside Of Love.”
Then show up at The Broadberry this Sunday, because not only will you get to see Devine bust out a variety of tunes from his decade-long solo career, you’ll also get to enjoy a performance by Into It. Over It. Last time Evan Weiss came through town, he was backed by a full electric band, but somewhat more appropriately for his tour with fellow solo artist Kevin Devine, this set will see Weiss playing all by his lonesome. For a completely different look at what the man does than you got at Strange Matter last spring, you’ll want to be there. And you’ll want to catch opener Laura Stevenson, who will be without her longtime backing band The Cans to make this a full evening of excellent solo sets. Come to think of it, you might want to bring your hanky, because the sad sweetness of a solo show like this is bound to get emotionally overwhelming at some point. Which is kind of what it’s all about though, right?
Monday, February 9, 9 PM
Sidewalk Chalk, DJ Williams Projekt @ The Camel – $5
Monday is always tough–starting out a new week of soul-deadening work will leave you tired and listless more often than not. Luckily for you, though, The Camel has a sure cure for those start-of-week blues, with a fired-up funk show to rejuvenate you Monday night before you launch back into another four days of work. Sidewalk Chalk are an eight-person group from Chicago, who come armed with a soulful vocalist, a skilled MC, a swinging horn section, and a lock-tight rhythmic backbone to get everyone dancing and getting down. They’ll be bringing plenty of the fine grooves they laid down on 2014’s Leaves, an album full of upbeat spirit that’s perfect to chase your blues away.
And of course, you also have the best in local dance grooves to look forward to. The DJ Williams Projekt has a bit more of a Hendrix-y thing going on–which is only appropriate when a band is led by a guitar virtuoso like Williams–but they’ve definitely got the groove as well, and you can expect plenty of swinging horns and bouncy rhythms from these folks as well. Plus, we’ve been promised guest appearances by local music luminaries like Devonne Harris (Butcher Brown/Jellowstone) and Kai Eason (Grease Trigger/The Rift), among others. This is gonna be a blast–be there!
Tuesday, February 10, 6:30 PM
The Sidekicks, LVL UP, Manatree, Close Talker @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://thesidekicks.eventbrite.com/)
It’d be easy to get cynical in this day and age, and assume that labels don’t mean anything anymore. And you could probably come up with compelling evidence for that argument, if you wanted to make it. Personally, though, I still can’t help but be impressed when a band I’ve followed for a while takes a leap to a bigger label and suddenly gets way more exposure than I’ve ever seen them get before. All of this is to say: The Sidekicks have hit the big time. Their brand new album, Runners In The Nerved World, came out last month on Epitaph Records. Not only does this represent a big improvement for Epitaph over dubious recent releases like Bring Me The Horizon and Falling In Reverse (they just signed Defeater too–perhaps there’s hope for you yet, Epitaph), it also means that The Sidekicks are gonna get a huge push for this record. And they deserve it, because Runners In The Nerved World is totally amazing. Its ringing guitars and lovely vocal melodies have a real 90s alt-rock feel to them, but with a bit of that 80s UK postpunk sound as well. But really, it’s not about what you compare them to–these guys are doing their own thing, and they’re doing it very, very well.
LVL UP are joining The Sidekicks for this tour, and they’ve got a different but equally enjoyable sound for you. Think jangly early 80s British bands like Orange Juice, but with a bit of 90s emo-style tangled, mathy guitar stuff going on. It’s pretty rad–as are locals Manatree, who have really taken a step up over the past six months or so. These guys are planning to release a full-length album anytime now, and based on the new songs they’ve been playing at recent gigs, it’s gonna rule. So if you haven’t already, come to this show and see what they’re all about. Close Talker, the messily heartfelt RVA pop punk band who we’re also hearing rumors about a new album from, will open this shindig up–which of course means you better be there as soon as doors open. You don’t wanna miss a minute.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.