Thursday, February 20, 7 PM
Bracewar, Division Of Mind, Combust, Mutually Assured Destruction, Guardrails @ The Camel – $15
There’s a lot going on in the Richmond music scene these days, within all sorts of different genres. And that’s wonderful! But if you want to talk about the styles of music that have a fertile, longstanding tradition in this town, you probably can’t do better than bringing up the Richmond hardcore scene. Going back to the dawn of the 80s and extending all the way to today, Richmond has been a town in which hardcore thrives, and this show at The Camel on Thursday night is the proof that this continues to be true in 2020.
At the top of the bill is Bracewar, one of those Richmond hardcore elder-statesman bands who moved into “plays a few shows a year but is otherwise inactive” mode at least seven years ago, but did thrill us all by releasing their first new material in almost a decade in the form of 2018 EP Colossal. They’ve maintained a slightly higher profile since then, but a Richmond Bracewar show is still a relative rarity, and if you delight in their signature brand of powerful breakdowns peppered with moments of high-speed thrashing, you’ll certainly want to catch this one.
Beyond Bracewar, this bill mostly focuses on current all-stars of Richmond’s straightforward hardcore scene, most predominantly Division Of Mind. This group’s recent self-titled LP on Triple B Records demonstrates that, while they are very skilled at the mosh, they have quite a bit more going on, and are worth your time and attention even if you don’t still find diving into an energetic pit to be the best way to spend a band’s set. Combust are actually from New York, but released a 12-inch EP on RVA’s own Edgewood Records last year, and will bring an energetic and welcome NYHC attack to the Camel’s stage. Plus, there’s Mutually Assured Destruction, who are taking heavy hardcore in an adventurous direction that doubtless owes a bit to Life Of Agony and Twitching Tongues, and the first show ever from Guardrails, who will kick this one off with a ton of pissed-off energy. Carry on the tradition, Richmond — be at this show.
Wednesday, February 19, 9 PM
Lifters, Weird Tears, Neat Sweep @ Fuzzy Cactus – $6
Punk rock has been enshrined in pop culture as music with something important to say, and I think that’s great, but one thing punk rock has always had room for, one that gets de-emphasized when we focus on The Clash and forget about the Ramones, is pure no-frills rock n’ roll melody. Durham’s Lifters might not qualify for punk rock if you’re expecting some sort of sophisticated political critique to emerge from their catchy tunes, but if you’re conversant with the genre’s history, the connection is undeniable. And that’s as it should be.
Tonight, if you’re looking for some catchy, fun tunes, played with plenty of energy but not that much polish, and reminding you of great groups like Radioactivity, Teengenerate, or the aforementioned Ramones, you’re going to want to point your feet toward Brookland Park’s own Fuzzy Cactus. There, Lifters and local melodic punk stalwarts Weird Tears and Neat Sweep are going to sweep you off your feet and get you caught up in the toe-tapping joys of punk rock. It all happens tonight; plan your evening accordingly.
Thursday, February 20, 9 PM
Excitable Boys, Daniel Case, The Dolphins @ Fuzzy Cactus – $7
It’s always interesting when you know enough about a band to care what they have to offer, but have no idea what they actually sound like. Such is the case with Excitable Boys, a band seemingly named for Warren Zevon’s most famous album, and made up of three different musicians one usually wouldn’t expect to see grouped together. In this case, those musicians include country-folk singer-songwriter Benjamin Shepherd, former Southside Stranglers guitarist Kevin Guild, and Irish-by-way-of-New-York indie-folk artist Cal Folger Day — who isn’t even a boy, putting a lie to the bandname in a far more entertaining fashion than the millions of all-male “girls” bands.
Anyway, that’s certainly an intriguing trio to bring together in one musical combo… but what exactly do you get when you mix an Irish indie-folk troubadour, a punk rock guitarist, and an Americana singer-songwriter? There’s only one way I know of to find out, and that’s to show up at Fuzzy Cactus this Thursday night and see what happens when the three of them take the stage together. It’s sure to be interesting; perhaps even, dare I say… exciting! (Sorry, y’all, but I couldn’t resist.)
Friday, February 21, 7:30 PM
Yamato Drummers present: Jhonetsu — Passion @ Altria Theater – $35 – $43 (order tickets HERE)
It’s not often that an opportunity for something truly unusual comes across our desk here at RVA Must-See Shows headquarters, so when something like this shows up in the local live music environment, we’ve got to make the most of it. Therefore, I encourage you to suck it up, deal with the higher-than-average ticket prices that accompany any night spent at the Altria, and go see Wadaiko Yamato, aka Yamato Drummers, this Friday night.
This group hails from Nara, Japan, a city once known as Yamato, and plays the sort of ensemble drumming native to Japan that’s known in the West as taiko. Wadaiko Yamato are a group made up of around a dozen different drummers, who explore the possibilities of percussion through polyrhythmic dynamics and highly choreographed theatrical dance performances. If you recognize the deep, transformative power of the beat that lies at the heart of music, you’re sure to be captivated and energized by what Wadaiko Yamato bring to the stage. It’s not the kind of thing you’ll see every weekend, either — that’s for sure. Make seeing this one a priority.
Saturday, February 22, 7 PM
Enforced, Alfred, Louderhead, Brain Tourniquet, Serqet @ Gallery 5 – $10
The war on drugs has been a highly damaging initiative of the US government over the past half-century or so. While it has failed to make a significant dent in the use and trafficking of mind-altering substances, it has allowed for a massive increase in the percentage of the US population that is incarcerated, a phenomenon that’s had a disproportionate effect on African Americans and low-income, marginalized folks across the country. This is why it’s heartening to see the first tentative steps being made here in Virginia to move beyond carceral methods of dealing with drug use and trafficking and toward decriminalization and harm reduction initiatives that grass-roots activist groups have been pushing for years.
This Saturday’s event at Gallery 5 will offer you the opportunity to both support these efforts and become part of them yourself… as well as hearing some great music, of course. The evening will begin with a free naloxone training session, then move on to music from Richmond leading lights like dark metallic hardcore ragers Enforced and psychedelic hip hop lyricist Alfred. There’ll also be a performance from Louderhead, who I am guessing is a Motorhead tribute band (always fun). And of course, DC power-violence freaks Brain Tourniquet and local goth-punk heroes Serqet will be in the house as well. The music will be great, the cause is just as great… get involved in this one.
Sunday, February 23, 9 PM
Catfest 4, feat. Cadillac Cat, Young Apollo, Gemi Jhay, Ley Cash, Pyrex Pedro, Civonnee, Balu, Delow, Cassius Kay, Qash, Skyy With 2 Y’s, Lowlifeball, Rasul, Don Chase, Ceo, Dee16Hunna, Mia Money, Lxrd Sleeza, Kaywan, Rascal Grimez, Tyrone Leake Jr., Moochiee @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
It’s hard to keep up with the Richmond hip hop scene, and that’s not just because there’s a ton going on in this city. It’s also because hip hop is one music scene that doesn’t seem to have much use for the non-social-media internet, so information is at a premium, and google searches can only do so much. That said, I have been hearing the name Cadillac Cat for a while, so the fact that this jam-packed Sunday evening at The Camel is his fourth annual Catfest isn’t that much of a surprise.
If you also know the name Cadillac Cat, it’s probably because he’s produced a variety of material for Noah-O, including their 2017 full-length collab, Face/Off. These days, he’s working on a project called God Status, and if the video for first track “Free Shine” is any indication, this is going to be a hard-as-fuck street-level attack full of pounding beats and braggadocious flows. Expect something similar from his headlining set at this event. As for the 20-plus other artists performing, expect a crash course in an entire segment of the mid-Atlantic hip hop scene, one that’s sure to teach you a whole lot of shit you can’t learn from the internet.
Monday, February 24, 8 PM
Halfcast, Linden Row, Afib, Madison Turner @ The Camel – Free!
These free “Industry Night” shows the Camel has been throwing lately are intended to give all the people who work difficult shifts in the world of food service every weekend an opportunity to celebrate the end of their week’s busiest time. However, they also help out the Richmond live music preview industrial complex, an industry that I’m pretty sure consists entirely of me. So I’m really glad these exist, as they are sometimes the only thing remotely worth paying attention to on a Monday night — and that’s definitely true this week.
This week’s event offers a pretty strong local lineup, especially for a show that will cost you zero dollars to attend. That lineup is topped by Halfcast, a local trio who mix a chops-conscious metallic approach with alt-rock sensibilities to create crunchy melodic gold. Then there’s Linden Row, an alt-rock combo with plenty of energy and the same sort of mischievous surf-punk feel that shines through prime Pixies material; their set is sure to be a blast. I haven’t heard Afib, but they feature Truman drummer Dylan Anderson stepping out from behind the kit to pick up a guitar and play some indie/emo tunes, and that’s certainly an intriguing concept to me. And of course, Madison Turner, who’ll be playing her alt-punk-indie-folk tunes accompanied by a full band at this gig, is always worth seeing. So show up on time and catch it all. The price is more than fair.
Tuesday, February 25, 7 PM
GARZA, Jouwala Collective @ The Broadberry – $20 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Do you like to dance? If you do and you’ve spent any time at all in the state of Virginia, you’re sure to be familiar with the work of Rob Garza, better known as one half of the legendary DC duo Thievery Corporation. Thievery Corporation has been active for over two decades and show no signs of slowing down; indeed, they recently announced a new LP coming in the spring. However, Garza’s creative mind is always restless, and so he has brought us GARZA, a project initially born from his desire to write music for other people.
In the end, he couldn’t bear to give the music he’d come up with away, and it was released late last year on an EP entitled Where The Moon Hides, which finds Garza collaborating with vocalists Seann Bowe and EMELINE to create some lovely, immersive electronic melodies that increase the pop quotient of Garza’s Thievery Corporation work without losing that pulse that always keeps your feet moving. GARZA will utilize a whole ensemble of singers and live instruments to wonderfully recreate these tunes in a live setting at the Broadberry this Tuesday night. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes for this one.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Thursday, February 20, 7 PM
Summer Salt, Okey Dokey, Breakup Shoes, Berries @ Elevation27 (Virginia Beach) – $17 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Groundhog or no groundhog, the fact remains that summer is far away at the moment. Therefore, it’s an especially welcome breath of fresh air that brings Summer Salt to Virginia Beach’s Elevation27 this Thursday night. This Austin Texas group mixes the sweet beach pop of Brian Wilson and the Brazilian bossa nova of artists like Gilberto Gil and Joao Gilberto into a base that is fundamentally indie-pop in nature. The result is the sort of lovely sound that’s sure to please fans of both Paul Simon’s Graceland and Animal Collective’s Feels.
In other words, it’s the perfect late-week listen for a Virginia locked in the late-winter doldrums. And it’s sure to bring a smile to your face even if you do have to don your heavy coat to walk from the club back to the car at the end of the night. The evening will also feature performances from catchy psychedelic indie group Okey Dokey, who hail from Nashville, and some electro-pop sounds from Arizona’s Breakup Shoes. Plus, VA Beach’s own Berries will kick off the evening with some charming indie-pop of their own. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Sunday, February 23, 7 PM
Tommy Stinson, Dashdown @ Hive Collective (Norfolk) – $25 – $100 (order tickets HERE)
Wrap up your weekend by spending an intimate evening in the company of Tommy Stinson and his acoustic guitar at Norfolk art gallery the Hive Collective. If you’re not familiar with Tommy Stinson by name, his time as bass player in The Replacements, Guns N’ Roses, and Soul Asylum should certainly let you know why he matters. But what really makes it a good idea for you to go see the man perform solo is the strength of his material as singer and songwriter, both under his own name and as the frontman for Bash And Pop.
That quartet, which released one excellent LP called Friday Night Is Killing Me in the wake of The Replacements’ early-90s breakup, then went their separate ways, got back together a few years ago for a long-awaited, much-belated follow-up called Anything Could Happen, which proved that they still had the spark that made their earlier work so wonderful. Stinson’s relatively recent solo LP, 2011’s One Man Mutiny, was just as great and heartfelt, and you can expect to see the sort of sloppy, sincere talent that’s always been the hallmark of his work on display at this intimate performance, so I highly recommend you get there.
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]
Top Photo by Gabe Becerra/Twitter