Sunday, January 27, 6:30 PM
Street Muse Kenya Screening, feat. Gull (Photo by Joey Wharton), Lobo Marino, Mighty Joshua @ Gallery 5 – Free!
Being the only person in your band means never having to worry about breaking up. This is probably a big part of why Nathaniel Rappole, who started Gull over a decade ago, has kept on going strong over a career full of metamorphoses and setbacks that could have destroyed a band that had the ability to go their separate ways. But Gull has persevered. The group has grown from its origins as a one-man noise unit playing chaotic, speedy punk rock by playing guitar with one hand, drums with the other (and both feet), and screaming into a miked-up mask, into its current incarnation, in which Rappole is liable to depart from his guitar, or his drum kit, or his mask, or all three at any given time, in order to generate a sound that has matured into borderline-uncategorizability.
Over the years in which this evolution occurred, Rappole — who’d done his fair share of busking on the street in Richmond neighborhoods like Carytown — got bit by the travel bug in a major way. This culminated in his 2012 trip to Kenya with a camera crew. The result of this crowdfunded trip was a documentary film, Street Muse Kenya, which was completed two years ago and will be shown in full at Gallery 5 on Sunday night.
In 2017, Gull used time in which Rappole was laid up with a broken leg to create an album, Lurcher, that was constructed mainly on analog synthesizers and sequencers — a far cry from his hardcore-punk origins. Now that he’s up and around once again, he’s itching to get back onto the road, so at this event, Rappole and his crew will elaborate on the next step in the Street Muse project: a trip to Southeast Asia, for which they are raising funds right now. Then, once they’ve given you all the pitch, Gull will perform a full set, to let you know where his head’s at these days. The musical portion of the evening will also feature a set from equally peripatetic and uncategorizable duo Lobo Marino, and will be MC’d by local reggae musician Mighty Joshua. There’s a lot going on at this one, and some of it is sure to catch you by surprise. But one thing we do know for sure — you won’t see a show like this anywhere else in town this week. You know what to do.
Wednesday, January 23, 7:30 PM
Gamelan Raga Kusuma, Richmond Symphony Orchestra @ Modlin Center for the Arts – $36 (order tickets HERE)
It wouldn’t surprise me if you weren’t familiar with gamelan. This Indonesian music, which originates on the islands of Bali and Java in Southeast Asia, is traditionally played by orchestras consisting mainly of percussive instruments, which sometimes perform accompanied by dancers, or shadow puppet performances. These orchestras work together in complicated arrangements with rapidly changing tempos, and create ringing melodies with an entrancing beauty that is unique in the many musical forms of the world. Here in Richmond, Gamelan Raga Kusuma is a local ensemble that works under the auspices of the University of Richmond, dedicated to bringing the sound of Balinese gamelan to the central Virginia community in a variety of unique ways.
At the Modlin Center tonight, they’ll be doing so in collaboration with the Richmond Symphony, bringing to life a reconstruction, assembled by Javanese gamelan musician and scholar Sumarsam, of the gamelan music heard by influential French composer Claude Debussy at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1889. Gamelan had a profound influence on Debussy, who in turn influenced the vast majority of the 20th century’s best-known classical composers. For that reason, it’s of interest to both Gamelan Raga Kusuma and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra to follow that thread back to the very source. That’s what they’ll be doing at the Modlin Center tonight, and the trip promises to be fascinating for all you musical omnivores out there. The event will feature a variety of other performances, including a performance by a Balinese shadow puppet master of a new play, set to music by Debussy. It’ll all come full circle tonight, and if you love music, there’s nowhere else you should be.
Thursday, January 24, 7 PM
Grails, Helen Money, Serqet @ Gallery 5 – $15 (order tickets HERE)
It’s easy to say that Grails is a fascinating band, but describing exactly what sort of music they’re making is much more difficult. The term “post-rock” seems tailor-made for a band like this one, which is formed around the sort of core instrumental lineup (two guitars, bass, drums, keyboards) that often shows up in the world of rock music, but is here being used to decidedly different purposes. However, I wouldn’t want any use of that term to make you think Grails sound like Explosions In The Sky or Mogwai — what they do is more complex, less likely to rely on the quiet-loud transitions and gestures toward epic grandeur that bands like the ones most people think of when you say “post-rock.”
So if that term doesn’t work to describe Grails, what does? Well, let’s ditch any attempt at genre classification right here, and instead say that their instrumental music moves all over the place, doing all sorts of things in all kinds of unpredictable ways. It’s certainly heavy, at least at times, and it’s certainly mysterious — at times — and at moments it gets downright beautiful. But the main thing we can say about Grails is that their music, besides being intriguing and challenging, is always an enjoyable experience. You’re sure to get a lot out of their performance at Gallery 5 tomorrow night, and the fact that Chicago-based avant-metal cellist Helen Money and local goth-crust anarcho-punks Serqet are on the bill only makes this whole evening that much better. Don’t miss it.
Friday, January 25, 9 PM
Occultist, Enforced, Slump, Essex Muro @ Bandito’s – Free!
It has been extremely refreshing to see Occultist return to action in recent months after such a long period in which this incredible Richmond-based blackened-thrash quintet kept a very low profile. They’ve been promising a new record coming sometime in 2019, which will mark their first new release featuring original material in over five years, and if you’re not hyped, I suggest you check your pulse. This show is your first chance to see Occultist in 2019, and it sweetens the deal considerably, not only by being free and at Bandito’s (whose nachos are always an essential treat), but also by featuring several other great heavy-as-heck bands from around the region. What a deal!
This show is being held in solidarity with Black Flags Over Brooklyn, a two-day fest happening in New York on the same weekend, which exists to put out a strong anti-fascist, anti-racist message in the metal community — something any cool person should back, and sadly something we need now more than ever, in this age of Trump and the alt-right. To make this show as awesome as possible, Occultist have joined up with local ragers Enforced, who straddle the line between rough n’ tough hardcore and outright metallic thrash, and have landed on quite the musical sweet spot in the process. Whether you like to headbang or mosh it up, you’ll find yourself loving Enforced. The bill is rounded out by RVA’s fave psychedelic hardcore weirdos, Slump, and Raleigh noise-punk chaos ensemble Essex Muro. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Saturday, January 26, 9 PM
Vomit Stain, Murder Method, Murdersome @ Wonderland – $5
Unless you’ve been around this town for quite a while, even the diehard metalheads among you might not know the extent of Richmond’s history with brutal death metal. However, one of the leading lights of our current twisted brutal metal underground, Vomit Stain, seem to have a surprising amount of awareness, if their choice of record label is any indication. This raging quartet just released their latest album, Piles Of Human Debris, on Sevared Records, the long-running death metal label owned by onetime Richmond resident Barrett Amiss II.
Back at the turn of the millennium, you could find Barrett manning the drum kit for local death-crust outfit Rasp, and around that time, Sevared released the lone full-length by Richmond’s Disinterment, who gained little notice at the time but contained future members of Darkest Hour, Deathcrown, Iron Reagan, and many more. Amiss returned to his native New York some time ago, but clearly Sevared’s relationship with Richmond metal isn’t a thing of the past. At Wonderland this Saturday night, Vomit Stain will make clear exactly why they’re perfectly suited to carry on the underground tradition of Richmond death metal, dishing out the growling gore, thrash-tastic riffs, and headcrushing double-bass pummeling we all love so much. They’ll be joined by up-and-coming Richmond ragers Murdersome, who feature some talented local metal vets themselves, and will also be celebrating the release of their newest EP. Pennsylvania quintet Murder Method will round out the bill with some old-school Florida-style death for all you headbanging maniacs. Hit the pit.
Sunday, January 27, 7 PM
Daniel Romano, T. Hardy Morris, Deli Kings @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
It’s easy for Americans to trick ourselves into believing that Canada is just like America. After all, our neighbors to the north speak English with mostly the same accent we do (er, well, if you’re west of Quebec they do), and their culture looks pretty similar to ours from the outside (except that they have Tim Horton’s and Pizza Pizza where we have Dunkin Donuts and Little Caesar’s). But if you start checking into Canadian music, that whole understanding falls apart. Daniel Romano’s a great example of what I’m talking about; like the Tragically Hip and Sloan, among many others, he’s a Canadian artist acclaimed enough to receive multiple nominations for Canadian music awards like the Polaris and the Juno. Meanwhile, here in America, he’s a relatively obscure folkish alt-country singer-songwriter who is probably best known for having been part of melodic punk group Attack In Black a decade or so ago.
Hopefully that will change at least within the borders of our fair city, though, as Romano has been proving for close to a decade now that his work deserves to be just as well-regarded in the good ol’ USA as it is in his home country up north. Last year (almost wrote “this year” — January always takes some adjustment), he simultaneously released two albums, Human Touch and Nerveless (the fact that he didn’t name the latter Lucky Town seems like a huge missed opportunity, but maybe he’s not as much of a Springsteen fan as I am). Between the two, they show off the full breadth of his enormous talent, ranging between skeletal folk tunes with the feel of old-time murder ballads, and incredibly catchy power-pop that simultaneously evokes modern indie and lush 70s AM radio pop tunes. All of it makes clear why Daniel Romano has won the hearts of so many of his countrymen. Catch on to the best parts of what our neighbors to the north have to offer at The Camel this weekend; it’s likely that before too long, that decision will give you major bragging rights.
Monday, January 28, 7 PM
Amen Dunes, Arthur @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$17 day of show (order tickets HERE)
What’s going on with Amen Dunes? The answer depends upon the year. Band mastermind Damon McMahon doesn’t really focus on any particular sound or style in his music, instead following his creativity wherever it may take him — which, from album to album, can lead to very different results. He got his best results yet on Freedom, the project’s fifth album, released last year to widespread acclaim. The spiritually-driven mission of Amen Dunes is brought into the sharpest focus on Freedom, resulting in an album that takes a number of different sonic detours but always features a uniting vision grounded in urban-folk melodies and psychedelic haze.
Expect Amen Dunes to create a palpable mood when they take the stage at the Broadberry, one that will only be enhanced by the opening set from tourmate Arthur. Arthur, which is also a de-facto solo project, also dabbles in psychedelia — but it’s a very different sort than that trafficked by Amen Dunes. On Woof Woof, the latest full-length the project has released, Arthur explores bizarre corners of the psychedelic pop world, using heavy vocal effects and unexpected switches between acoustic and electronic sounds to brew up a melange of sounds that could remind you of everyone from The Beatles to Ariel Pink to the Flaming Lips and a whole lot more. This show will be a full-on headtrip from beginning to end, so be prepared to take a trip. One thing’s for sure — it’ll brighten up your Monday night.
Tuesday, January 29, 8 PM
George Clanton, Surfing, Satin Sheets + Esprit, Aaron Shadrow @ The Camel – $12 in advance/$14 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Strangely hypnotic electronic-based music has really come into vogue over the past few years, especially around Richmond. If you’ve been paying attention to its bizarre rise here in the river city for several years now, you’re bound to know the name George Clanton — or at least, to remember his early work under the name Mirror Kisses. His synth-based sounds were much darker at that time than they are today, as Clanton takes a trip down from his current home of Brooklyn to blast us all with waves of digital bliss.
His latest LP, Slide, is full of danceable pop gems that both retain a hefty dose of the strange atmospheres his music has always created and hooks right into the deepest impulses of your lizard brain to perfectly satisfy your craving for unforgettable melodies and singalong choruses. The result should appeal to fans of Duran Duran’s mid-80s prime just as well as it connects with fans of modern trailblazers like Elite Gymnastics. And what’s even greater for all you weirdo-electronica fans is the fact that Clanton will hit town with a coterie of fellow electronic travelers who record for his 100% electronica label, including a collaborative set between Clanton’s own alter ego, Esprit, and New Zealand’s Satin Sheets. Australians Surfing and frequent Clanton collaborator Aaron Shadrow will also be on the bill, so this show is sure to be a treat for all you fans of bizarre synth delectability. And I know in Richmond, there are a lot of you.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, January 25, 7 PM
Arcane Haven, The Earth Laid Bare, Wait For The Day, Vain/Void, Bo Scurvy And the Hounds, Detachment @ RiffHouse Pub – $10
I love metal in all its forms, and if you’re even close to being on that same page, you’ll definitely be interested in this stacked six-band bill coming to RiffHouse Pub in Norfolk on Friday. RiffHouse — the very name says “this is a metal club,” and as far as this show goes, they certainly aren’t belying that name by having Arcane Haven headlining. This Pennsylvania band released their self-titled debut full-length last summer, and it finds them dealing in everything from absolute brutal mosh madness to emotionally-powerful melodies with a heavy undercurrent. This quintet definitely has a sensitive side, and they’ll show it to you, but don’t get too comfortable, because before you know it, they’ll be charging full-tilt back into headbang territory.
They’re joined on this tour by Kentucky’s The Earth Laid Bare and Ohio’s Wait For The Day, who have a significant share of metal rage to offer in their own right. The Earth Laid Bare’s latest album, Flow, shows the group dabbling in the same sort of industrial-influenced low-end that has marked recent releases from Sworn In and Harm’s Way, even as their death-metal roots show through in the best possible way. Meanwhile, Wait For The Day traffics in more complex, almost proggy flourishes, but at heart focuses on the same sort of emo-metalcore hybrid sound fans of Underoath and Poison The Well have come to love. All three of these bands have a lot to offer, and the three excellent local openers only make this show an even better deal. Do you like to headbang as much as I do? You do? Good. Go to this show.
Saturday, January 26, 8 PM
Mirador, Spitty, Single-Use Plastic @ Pourhouse of Norfolk – Free!
I’ve been covering the music scene in the Tidewater/Hampton Roads area for a while now, and I’m starting to learn that it has quite a bit more breadth than I initially thought. And in my quest to look beyond the hardcore, metal, and dance music, Mirador is one of the more impressive lesser-known examples I’ve located. This quartet dabbles in indie melody, math-rock guitar sounds, and alt-rock vibes on their Become The River EP. The result is incredibly catchy and fun, and it was released when all the members were still in high school, so that’s even more impressive.
Do we have the Norfolk version of Manatree on our hands here? Time will tell, but one thing that’s already certain as of right this minute — these guys are definitely worth heading over to the Pourhouse on Saturday night in order to see. The fact that this show is free makes it even more worthwhile, and best of all, two other local groups — alt-rockers Spitty (great name) and skate-punkers Single Use Plastic (pretty rad name as well) — will be tearing it up before Mirador’s set. So you get great tunes, you get to keep all your money, and you get to engage in a firsthand exploration of the musical variety Norfolk has to offer. Sounds like a win-win all around!
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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