Friday, June 14, 7 PM
Earth (Photo by Sam Gehrke), Helms Alee @ Gallery 5 – $16 (order tickets HERE)
It’s hard to believe that Earth have been cranking out their pulverizing minimalist drone epics for nearly 30 years now. But it’s true, and despite the band’s incredibly slow pace, bandleader and only constant member Dylan Carlson has never fallen behind when it comes to glacial heaviness. Earth’s early works were a crucial influence on doom-drone cult heroes Sunn 0))); beginning with their fourth album, 2005’s Hex, they became a prime mover in the push to find a bridge between the most apocalyptic end of metal and the sweeping melancholy of American folk and country music.
It’s now been five years since Primitive And Deadly, the group’s eighth album and first in over 20 years to feature vocals. Now they’ve returned with Full Upon Her Burning Lips, released only two weeks ago by a stripped-down lineup that finds only Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies remaining from the four-to-five-member lineups that made their last five albums. The sound has been stripped down, too; while still retaining some of the folk and country flavors that differentiated their more recent albums from their early drone-uber-alles efforts, Full Upon Her Burning Lips finds Earth focusing once again on the almighty riff. Songs are long, slow, and repetitive, but rather than being boring, they are transcendent, placing you in the kind of hypnagogic headspace so awesomely attained by the legendary Earth 2.
Expect all of that and more when Earth hits the Gallery 5 stage, amps cranked to the maximum. No matter what stage of Earth’s evolution pleases you the most, their current incarnation will have plenty to offer you. And with Seattle psychedelic rangers Helms Alee on the bill, you’ll get a special bonus headtrip that’s worth the price of admission in itself. The group’s epic post-metal sound attains new heights on their latest LP, Noctiluca, and their set will act as the perfect appetizer for Earth’s full serving of epic riff triumph.
Wednesday, June 12, 9 PM
Space Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Sherman), Zooanzoo, Gardener, Donnie Dale @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Things are sure to get interesting tonight at The Camel, as the city will be graced by a visit from Space Cubs. Actually hailing from right here on Earth, this group comes to us from Buffalo and features a strange mix of strong riffage, programmed electronics, and outright weirdness, all driven by the unforgettable vocal presence of frontwoman Suzanne Bonifacio. Sometimes the songs are dancefloor calls to action, sometimes they’re ambient mind-expanders, sometimes they’re completely indescribable. But they’re always awesome.
Space Cubs are accompanied on this trip to the ol’ RVA by Zooanzoo, a Harrisonburg-based project with a similarly indescribable gender-hopping sound. Last year’s Neck Out is a beat-heavy mixtape from outer space, moving from jazz to ambient techno to bedroom-pop and boom-bap beats all in the space of a single song. What form this will take onstage is certainly open to question, but it’s sure to be captivating. Gardener, the solo project of experimental musician Dash Lewis, and Donnie Dale, a moody electronic project with a great deal of soul, will open things up. Get there.
Thursday, June 13, 9 PM
Florida Man, Prayer Group, Copperhead @ Wonderland – $10
We all know about Florida Man — the descriptor generally attached to a person in the news who has done something totally insane and often hilarious. From throwing an alligator through a drive-thru window to wearing a “Fuck The Police” shirt to court, Florida Man is always up to something. It’s that zany anti-social spirit that the band Florida Man — who actually come from South Carolina — conjure up on their latest LP, Tropical Depression.
While it’s easy to come up with adjectives to describe this band’s music — loud, fast, intense — it’s much harder to slot it into a pre-existing genre. Maybe it’s punk, maybe it’s metal, maybe it’s noise-rock or grunge… the truth is, it’s probably a little bit of all those, along with quite a few more. But it’s sure to get you moving and rock you hard when Florida Man rolls into Shockoe Bottom’s punkest club, Wonderland, and that’s what really counts, isn’t it? (Yes.) Florida Man will be joined by Richmond noise-metallers Prayer Group and Copperhead to make this a truly powerful bill that you won’t want to miss out on.
Friday, June 14, 9 PM
Ohbliv, DJ Harrison, Nat Digga, Floppy Sisk @ The Dark Room – $10
Forget what you’ve heard about love and money — beats make the world go round. How would you get out of bed in the morning, or walk down the street to your job, without a good beat? When the world is difficult, beats keep your head up and help you to move ahead. And that’s why, after a long hard week, you just might need a good healthy serving of beats. Never fear, because that’s what you’re going to get at The Dark Room Friday night. Four talented producers at the top of their class both in this city and in the world as a whole will drop a series of deep, hard, head-nodding beats upon you, and you will enjoy every second of it.
The big name here is, of course, Ohbliv, who followed up his immortalization in a Nils Westergard mural with two full-length albums of stone-cold classics so far this year — Soulphonic in January, and Give Thanks last month. An artist this prolific is sure to have some surprises up his sleeve — don’t miss out. He’s joined by the equally formidable DJ Harrison, who in addition to his plentiful work with a variety of jazz ensembles around town, is always giving us beats to move to, most recently with last winter’s IndieGiver. Nat Digga (I see what you did there), formerly known around town as Sound Genesius, remains a mysterious and powerful beatmaker who is decidedly underrated by the city at large. Floppy Sisk, the production alter ego of local jazz musician Griffin Sisk, starts the whole thing up. Come to the Dark Room and let the vibes overtake you.
Saturday, June 15, 6 PM
The Dangerous Summer, Have Mercy, Modern Chemistry, Black Liver @ The Canal Club – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Summer can indeed be dangerous — last summer, Maryland emo band The Dangerous Summer ended a tour by having all of their equipment stolen from their van. But they didn’t let it slow them down; they just made a video about it and carried on. Then they headed home, put together their next album, and got ready to tour again. The group’s fifth album, Mother Nature, comes out this Friday — coincidentally, the day before they come to Richmond and rock the Canal Club. And if you’re as big a fan of moving, powerful, melodic rock music (think Manchester Orchestra) as I am, then you’re definitely going to want to be there.
Fellow Marylanders Have Mercy have a new album coming this summer too — it’s called The Love Life and will be out in August. For now, only one song has been released, but “Clair” shows that the emotionally powerful lyrics and sure-footed melodies of their 2017 comeback, Make The Best Of It, have held true, and that the reconstituted group (only frontman Brian Swindle remains from the lineup that made their first two albums) is moving forward stronger than ever. Either one of these bands on their own would certainly reach must-see levels, but this double-shot of emo power? Absolutely unmissable. Plan accordingly.
Sunday, June 16, 9 PM
Omen Stones, Crystal Spiders, CB/BJ @ Bandito’s – Free!
These days we talk about a ton of different genres that make the Richmond music scene as powerful and outstanding as it is, from jazz and hip hop to indie and Americana. But the genre that first put Richmond on the map is definitely metal, and in 2019, the city’s metal scene remains as rich (no pun intended) as ever. Case in point: Omen Stones, a new trio of Richmond heavy hitters who’ve come together to crank out some powerful grooves in predictably mindblowing fashion.
Omen Stones brings together Tommy Hamilton (Druglord), Erik Larson (Avail/Alabama Thunderpussy), and Ed Fierro (Desert Altar/Tel) into a unit that’s even greater than the sum of its parts. On their recent self-titled EP, this group crafts its formidable stoner-metal lineage into a collection of memorable anthems that forgo doom-metal’s sludgy tempos in favor of some serious Camaro-rattling riffage. Fans of Red Fang, Kyuss, and yes, any of these talented musicians’ former groups certainly need to be on the lookout. And what better place to do it than Bandito’s, where the admission is always free, the sound is always great, and the nachos are always delicious? I sure can’t think of any. Enjoy sets from NC fuzz-jammers Crystal Spiders and local riff titans CB/BJ in the bargain — you won’t regret a second of it.
Monday, June 17, 9 PM
Overo, Ostraca, Eliza Battle @ Cary Street Cafe – $10
It’s always fun to see completely unexpected sounds invade the hippie sanctum that is Cary Street Cafe. No offense to the Deadheads amongst you, but if you ask me, variety, not cannabis, is definitely the spice of life. So shake it up this Monday night, and check out Overo, a new emo-core outfit hailing from Houston, TX, and featuring former members of Football, etc and Perfect Future. No American football-themed song titles this time around (more’s the pity), but the group’s two-song debut single show them moving smoothly and nimbly between driving screamo crescendos and gorgeous melodies. This is definitely a band to watch in 2019, and you can start doing so in just a few short days.
They’ll be joined by Richmond’s foremost practicioners of gloomy metallic screamo, Ostraca — who, coincidentally enough, also feature former members of Perfect Future. Having brought us three full-length albums in the past four years, Ostraca is on a prolific pace, but their music has remained top-notch throughout, and chances are they’ll blow you away with at least one or two new songs at this show. Dark hardcore up-and-comers Eliza Battle will kick this one off with some powerful fury to get you in the mood. Every minute of this will rule — even if none of these bands have dancing-bear stickers on their amps.
Tuesday, June 18, 7:30 PM
Todd Rundgren @ The National – $25 – $43 (order tickets HERE)
For at least half a century now, Todd Rundgren has been one of pop music’s most aggressively original talents. And even now, at 70 years of age, he shows no signs of slowing down. His most recent album, 2017’s White Knight, focused on the sort of electro-synth stylings that are much more common to artists half a century younger than he is, and brought in a variety of celebrity guest vocalists, including everyone from Trent Reznor to Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen to Swedish pop legend Robyn.
But there’s far more than Rundgren’s latest album to recommend seeing him live. His back catalog includes everything from his classic 1972 pop breakthrough, Something/Anything?, to his decade fronting prog-rockers Utopia, to his mid-90s “interactive albums,” which still stand as unique and unreplicated experiments in the possibilities inherent in digital music. While Rundgren has rarely been at the top of the pop charts, he’s built up a strong and loyal cult over his 50-plus year career. Come to the National this Tuesday night and find out why. Expect to have your mind blown in the bargain.
Elsewhere Around the State:
Thursday, June 13, 6 PM
New Boss, The Zolephants, Woodsy Pride @ The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative – $?
Back when I was in high school and lived in the country outside Charlottesville, I knew what was going on with the music scene in that city. But I graduated and left the area over 25 years ago, so my recent attempts to catch up with things in my former sorta-hometown have been quite illuminating. One fascinating discovery has been New Boss, the local headliners atop this particular bill. On their most recent release, 2018 EP No Breeze, I hear a technicolor spectrum of psychedelic pop, one that pulls from sources like XTC, Guided By Voices, and Of Montreal, as well as the members’ own history in the DIY music scene. It’s a fascinating sound, one that is certainly worth delving more deeply into.
We’ll all get that chance this Thursday night, as New Boss share the bill with some upstate friends with a similar delightfully off-kilter musical vision. The Zolephants are tough to pin down, though it’s certainly fair to point to a fair bit of surf guitar in their mostly-instrumental soundscapes. But The Zolephants aren’t just a post-Y2K take on Man or Astro-Man? — their use of analog synths bring quite a few unusual sounds into the mix, and make the whole thing a lot more fun. They’re accompanied on their trip through C-Ville by Woodsy Pride, a rootsy yet experimental folk-rock project that won’t completely make sense until you hear them. So I recommend you head over to The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative and do just that.
Saturday, June 15, 8 PM
The Muckrakers, Crab Action, Savage Kenny @ The Golden Pony – $7
Here at RVA Magazine, we don’t often get the chance to engage in proper muckraking — there just isn’t too much shadowy intrigue to dig up when you’re on the arts and culture beat. However, in its own way, the arrival of punk rockers The Muckrakers at Harrisonburg’s The Golden Pony this Saturday night is a huge scoop for all of the music fans on our staff — and in our readership.
The Muckrakers originate from New York, and take the original punk rock credo of being yourself and playing the music you want to hear quite seriously. On 2018 EP The Album’s Off, their sound is fast and furious, simultaneously full of pop-punk melody and metallic hardcore intensity. The result sounds like what you’d get if Bad Religion and Iron Reagan made a record together — and if that sounds awesome to you, then you’re on our wavelength for sure. Head out to the Golden Pony this Saturday night and do some headbanging muckraking of your own. You heard it here first!
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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