Friday, December 7, 9:30 PM
Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performs Suspiria @ The Byrd Theatre – $35 (order tickets HERE)
This is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you pretty much need to be there if you have any interest at all in horror movies, spooky European prog rock of the 70s, or both. Here’s the deal: the Italian prog group Goblin did quite a few soundtracks for horror movies back in the 70s and 80s, including several for legendary Italian horror director Dario Argento. In 1977, they did what is probably their most famous work in the score for Argento’s most famous film, Suspiria. Now, in a weird tie-in to the 2018 remake of the film, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin are on tour performing the Suspiria score live along with the film. This Friday night, they’ll be doing so at The Byrd Theatre. How cool is that?
Goblin has been made up of many people over the years, and at this point in history, there are several active or dormant projects that have used variations on the name in the past decade or so. Claudio Simonetti, the group’s longtime keyboardist, is currently leading a trio featuring the members of his late-90s/early-00s metal band, Daemonia, and that’s the version of Goblin that will be coming to the Byrd. Anyone who’s seen Suspiria or soundtracked an awesome Halloween party with the soundtrack album will recognize the essential role Simonetti’s keyboards play in the film’s music; basically, if there were to be one original member of Goblin involved in this performance, you’d want it to be Claudio Simonetti.
Basically, this is the closest any of us will get to seeing the original Goblin play this music. And better yet, the group will follow its performance along with the film by another set of music drawing from the highlights of Simonetti’s lengthy career, which has included film scores for dozens of classic horror flicks (Deep Red, Dawn Of the Dead, Demons, Nightmare Beach, The House of Witchcraft… so many more). And if that tantalizes you, here’s the best part of all: you’ll get to see Argento’s original Suspiria on the big screen. Who can pass that up? Not you, if you’re smart.
Wednesday, December 5, 7:30 PM
Generation Axe Tour, feat. Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, Tosin Abasi @ The National – $39.50 in advance/$43 at the door (order tickets HERE)
The 90s have been the nostalgia decade of choice for a while now, and somehow we got there as a culture without ever dealing with that late 80s era of leather pants, hairspray, and wild shreddy guitars that everyone remembers now as “hair metal.” There was a lot to that era, y’all, and a lot of it was great. From 80s power metal that got wrongly lumped in (Iron Maiden, anyone?) to the true classics of the glam generation (Shout At The Devil is one of the best metal albums of that decade — yeah, I said it), we’ve chosen to leave a lot of great things out of the cultural narrative. I guess this is what people mean when they say “guilty pleasures,” huh?
Generation Axe comes to The National to let us all know that it’s time to stop feeling guilty about all the shred-heavy guitarists with feathered hair and lightning-speed arpeggios whose tablatures we all studied obsessively in the back pages of Guitar World while we were supposed to be finishing our algebra homework. The king of the shred, Steve Vai, who is known not only for his epic instrumental solo albums (and “solo” is indeed the word) but his time in Whitesnake, David Lee Roth’s solo band, and many more, got this whole project together, recruiting fellow instrumental shred king Yngwie Malmsteen (it’s pronounced “ING-vay,” and in the time it took you to read this parenthetical aside he’s played at least 800 notes), Ozzy/Black Label Society legend Zakk Wylde, former Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, and Animals As Leaders, um, leader Tosin Abasi to form a five-guitar monster of razor-sharp licks and tour the world. At the National, you’ll see everything from spotlight sets by each of these five guitarists to duets and collaborations between three or even all five string-benders to wow you with hours and hours of shred-thrash fireworks. It’s going to be so goddamn amazing you’ll surely want to dig through mom’s attic over Christmas until you dig out your dusty old Ibanez and books of guitar tabs. Get fired up.
Thursday, December 6, 7 PM
The Ar-Kaics, Christi, Piranha Rama, Weird Tears @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Strange Matter’s long goodbye continues this week, and we’ll be sending you there quite a bit before we wrap up this column. This is because, even in their final throes, this best of all Richmond venues continues to pack the place each night with brilliance. This particular garage-psych focused bill is centered around 60s revivalists The Ar-Kaics, who’ve spent the last several years wowing us with the charm of their many 45 RPM singles, recapturing the fuzzed-out glory of the Nuggets era. After a couple years away from the spotlight, they’ve returned in a big way with In This Time, their second full-length. On it, they mix the primitive charm of their garage-rock roots with some increased melodic elements that make these tunes catchier than ever.
Rejoicing at the return of the Ar-Kaics is a big reason to come to this show; however, it’s not the only one, as local power-pop legends Christi are returning to live performance after a year and a half away from the stage. I would say this makes sense, since longtime Ar-Kaics drummer Patty Conway was also in Christi, but by the time Christi broke up she wasn’t in that band anymore — and at this point, it seems like she might have left the Ar-Kaics as well. So this could all be a big coincidence. Either way, the double-dose of old-school rock n’ roll with some killer vocal harmonies overtop is coming for you, and it’s going to rule, so you really should just be at this show no matter what. Local up-and-coming garage-pop group Piranha Rama and the ever-mysterious Weird Tears will get this show rolling in fine fashion.
Friday, December 7, 8 PM
Sleep, Weather Warlock @ The National – $21.50 in advance/$25 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Where doom metal, or “stoner metal,” or whatever you want to call it, is concerned, Sleep are pretty much the north star. Having evolved out of apocalyptic crust band Asbestos Death at the dawn of the 90s, Sleep went on to define the stoner-doom genre with their 1992 classic, Sleep’s Holy Mountain, before either attaining doom godhead or flying too close to the sun (depending on your point of view) with the long-delayed legend of an album, Dopesmoker (which consisted of one 74-minute song. I know, right?). However, while record companies were less than stoked at the idea of marketing a one-song double LP, leading the group to disband, their legend grew in their absence — fueled by the biker-metal heroics of guitarist Matt Pike’s post-Sleep project, High On Fire, and the epic drone of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros’s Om, which has incorporated elements from Tibetan Buddhist chants into their moody darkness.
After receiving rapturous responses to a series of reunion tours, Sleep became a fully functioning band again about five years ago, recruiting Neurosis’s Jason Roeder to replace retired original drummer Chris Hakius. This year, they followed up two excellent post-reunion singles with their first full-length album in over 20 years, The Sciences. What is obvious from the first listen is that this group hasn’t lost a single step over the intervening years, mixing the biker-doom headbanging of High On Fire into Om’s droning low-end hum to create newborn classics like the Egyptian pyramid-Black Sabbath pun reference in “Giza Butler,” or the 21st century stoner anthem “Marijuananaut’s Theme.” They’ll bring all of this to us at mind-shearing volume and with soul-pulverizing power when they take the stage at The National, and all of you stoner warriors of the astral plane are going to want to touch down and experience it firsthand.
Saturday, December 8, 12 noon
Dry Spell, Mensroom, Cloak/Dagger, Nosebleed, Haircut, Sinister Purpose, Butt, Deviant @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
These days, it seems, hardcore bands never really die — they just go dormant for longer and longer periods, only returning to play a show on occasions momentous enough to resurrect them from their suspended animation. Strange Matter’s closing is definitely a momentous occasion, and one way you can tell is that this noontime Saturday show is headed up by not one, not two, but THREE mostly-dormant hardcore bands that have returned to action for the first time in at least a year (OK yes, Cloak/Dagger played a few shows nine months ago. Point stands).
Dry Spell’s big period of activity is about a decade in the rearview now, and their midtempo rockin’-hardcore rage sounds fresher than ever when you revisit it in 2018, so this set bringing together members from up and down the East Coast to perform together once again should be a real blast. Mensroom disappeared from the Richmond musical landscape about three years ago now, so the new jacks may not remember them, but any young punks who love the psychedelic-sludge take on hardcore that Slump has been dishing out for the past couple years are definitely gonna want to catch their set (being billed as a “reunion/last show”), as these guys were doing that sort of thing before Slump ever got going. As for Cloak/Dagger, these rip-roaring maniacs have made some killer sounds by finding the line between garage-punk and hardcore and staking out a position just to the “hardcore” side of that line. Get ready for some raw rock n’ roll power when these guys take the stage. And be sure to set your alarm, because if you’re not there right at noon, you’re sure to miss some of the many excellent openers — and that would be a very bad move.
Sunday, December 9, 7 PM
Cloud Nothings, The Courtneys, Russ Waterhouse @ Strange Matter – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Cloud Nothings may not be coming to Richmond specifically to celebrate the life and legacy of Strange Matter, but that’s no reason to skip this show — it’s gonna be every bit as good as everything else that has become a part of the Strange Matter Closing Series. Cloud Nothings are an incredible band from Cleveland, who have built themselves quite a reputation by simply putting their heads down and continuing to crank out excellent no-frills tuneage that both rocks hard as hell and has the ability to stick firmly into your head all day.
Where a lot of other rock bands have fallen into the pattern of taking three years or more between records, Cloud Nothings have stayed prolific, releasing five full-length albums and one collaborative album with Wavves since 2011. Their two most recent albums, Life Without Sound and Last Burning Building, both came out within the last year and a half, and both bring us excellently written songs with fire and passion, landing somewhere between prime mid-period Replacements and the best work of legendary UK punk rockers Leatherface. If anything, Cloud Nothings just seem to get better as they go on, and that’s reason enough to catch them whenever they come through town. Rest assured, they’ll blow you away. Excellent support from Canada’s The Courtneys, who bring us their shambling indie-pop brilliance under the auspices of legendary New Zealand record label Flying Nun, only sweetens the pot — as does a solo set from Blues Control’s Russ Waterhouse to kick it all off. Get with this one.
Monday, December 10, 6 PM
Cult Leader, Primitive Weapons, God Mother, Asylum, Shark Eyes @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$13 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I read a novel from 30 years ago this past week, and at one point, a character referenced “heavy metal.” The term, once ubiquitous in my own musical vocabulary, struck me as archaic to an almost amusing extent. When I pondered why it felt that way these days, I realized that it’s mostly because, while we still use both words separately to talk about certain types of music, we pretty much never use them together. There’s metal music, there’s heavy music, but instead of combining to become “heavy metal,” they really seem like two completely separate genres today.
I bring all this up to point out that Cult Leader, who released their second album, A Patient Man, less than a month ago, are definitely on the “heavy” side of that divide. A Patient Man is a crushing listen, full of volcanic riffs that feel less like discrete breakdowns than a continual overpowering onslaught of low-end rumble and harsh, roaring noise. The fact that this quartet hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, makes their sheer brutality a bit more understandable — it’s got to be hard to grow up in such a repressive social environment. All that repressed tension’s gotta come out somewhere. The way it comes out might not be metal, exactly, but it’s certainly heavy. The same is definitely true of tourmates Primitive Weapons, who hail from Brooklyn, and God Mother, who come to us from Sweden. Apparently heaviness can emanate from anywhere. Let’s all go soak it up.
Tuesday, December 11, 6 PM
Strange Matter’s Final Hip Hop Show, feat. Black Liquid, Nickelus F, Mutant Academy, Moon, Michael Millions, Chance Fischer, Dr. Millionaire, Cole Hicks, Octavion X, PT Burnem, Young Flexico, Grayscale, Cakes, Reppa Ton, Fuggin Doe, Cha$e Royale, Goad Gatsby, Big Dev, Van Silke, 1NF1N1T8, Lovesick, Dogfuck, God Goldin, Frankenstein Reyes, Skinnyy Hendrixx, Skuzii, Chris Haskins, Rack Squaresoft; music by DJ Bandolero, DJ Banga, Hip Hop Henry @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
All these Strange Matter closing shows have been jampacked with local talent, which means that when you’re going to a hardcore or metal show, you might see 10 or 12 bands instead of the usual four or five. But what happens when a hip hop show goes mega? After all, a regular hip hop show can easily feature 10 rappers, and Black Liquid’s long-running monthly Face Melt Friday nights at Strange Matter rarely featured less than 20. So what does a really epic hip hop show look like? Well, if this bill is any indication, it looks like at least 30 rappers and several different DJs holding down an entire evening full of awesomeness. And I think we’d all have to say that’s outstanding.
RVA’s hip hop world often looks like at least half a dozen parallel worlds, many of which don’t intersect frequently by any means. However, if there’s one thing Black Liquid has always tried to do with his Face Melt Fridays, it’s to bring the entire scene together under one roof, so everyone can appreciate each other’s talent. The same thing is true of this show, which pulls together everyone from local legend Nickelus F and hot up-and-coming talents Mutant Academy to local veterans like Dr. Millionaire and Chance Fischer and Face Melt Friday mainstays like Goad Gatsby. Plus, there’s a lot of lesser-known talent lurking around the lower reaches of this bill — bizarre names like Dogfuck and 1NF1N1T8 come with solid track records. And of course, with Black Liquid presiding over it all, the vibe is gonna be like the Face Melt Friday to end all Face Melt Fridays… regardless of the fact that it’s actually happening on a Tuesday. So hey, don’t sleep on this one. There won’t be another.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, December 7, 7 PM
Boxford, Invaluable, Accident Prone, Scotty And the Steiners, Eric & Aviana, I Fight Vampires @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $5
I love pop-punk. I’ve never hidden that, never tried to play it down… I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. It makes me smile and it rules and more people should try to understand its charms. But I’ll tell the truth — I’m very aware of how navel-gazing the whole genre can be, and how male-dominated… to the point where some otherwise-great bands are self-centered enough to take a downright douchey approach to some otherwise incredible hooks. It’s a bummer.
Thank god for bands like Virginia Beach’s Boxford, who actually seem to care about the world outside their own rooms. This show is a release party for their latest EP, Facade, a three-song collection that focuses on the sort of mental health struggles that too many pop-punk fans can relate to (yes, including me. No shame). And for their record release show, they’re doing more than just singing about it, turning the entire show into a collaborative fundraiser with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, who will be on hand to talk to attendees between bands about ways we can all lend a hand to the struggle within our communities for greater mental health. This is important stuff, and I don’t want to trivialize it by saying that it comes with a legitimately great soundtrack. But it must be mentioned that Boxford’s Facade is an excellent record, and openers like Invaluable and Accident Prone have quite a bit to offer as well. This will be a fun show with a very serious purpose. And that’s just about perfect.
Saturday, December 8, 6 PM
Blind Justice, Paper Trail, Red Vision, Watchdogs, Combust, Flatline, Semtex @ 37th And Zen – $12
An alert for Central Virginia’s hardcore kids: if you can find a fast enough ride, you can fill your entire Saturday this week with incredible hardcore sounds. Not only do we have an excellent slate of hardcore bands here in RVA with a noon kickoff time, the excellent Jersey-shore hardcore band Blind Justice will be headlining a killer bill featuring multiple Richmond bands at Norfolk’s 37th and Zen that night. Travel time between the two is just 90 minutes if you’ve got a lead foot… and if the tunnel doesn’t screw you over. It’s worth a shot, right?
This is especially true in light of Blind Justice’s latest LP, No Matter The Cost, which dropped this summer and knocked everyone out. The energetic approach this band takes to their music, and particularly vocalist Mike Botti’s ridiculously intense vocals, are a recipe for bowling you over in a live environment. These guys are sure to get the pit moving with a vengeance when they hit the stage at 37th and Zen. Richmond bands Red Vision and Watchdogs are also on the bill, and both bands are celebrating their brand new releases. Red Vision brings us their hard-as-hell new full-length, Stake Your Claim, while Watchdogs give us a dark, metallic new EP called Sanguinary. They both rule, and I’m sure these sets will be ones to watch. A whole bunch of other bands, including Virginia Beach mainstays Paper Trail, are on hand to sweeten the pot on this killer. Gas up your tank before the Strange Matter show, because you’re gonna want to catch this one too, and you’ll have no time to waste.
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] [and yeah, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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