Friday, July 15, 8 PM
Toward Space, Bad Larrys, Scare City, Station Aries @ City Beach – Free!
When I think of Richmond in the summer, I can’t help but think about punk rock. This isn’t exactly a universal experience in our gentrified, playground-for-the-rich city circa 2022, but fifteen or so years ago, Richmond summers were all about punk rock. Sweaty outdoor shows at The Bike Lot, the death-defying ridiculousness of Slaughterama and Best Friends Day, and of course, “pool” parties out at Hadad’s Lake, where punks in cutoff jean shorts and croptops they’d made out of old Avail t-shirts splashed the sweat off with cans of PBR in hand. Slaughterama and Best Friends Day came to graceful ends, and I don’t even know if the punks party at Hadad’s anymore — I got old and married; these days when it’s hot outside I sit by the AC unit.
What I do know, though — what I will always know — is that any good Richmond summer needs to include at least one punk rock beach party. And while City Beach isn’t a beach in the usual sense, this Cary St. party bar will certainly do just fine. After all, it’s a lot closer to home than Hadad’s, let alone Virginia Beach, and depending on how much PBR you imbibe (none for me, thanks), you might have to make the trip home on foot. As for your entertainment at this punk rock beach party, what better band could there be to represent the current state of Richmond’s punk youth than Toward Space? This rollicking trio has been mining Ty Segall/Jay Reatard-style riffage and feeding it through a sophisticated sense of melody for over five years now, and songs like “Female Trouble” and “I Won’t Do Crack (Without Heroin)” bring the classic punk spirit of transgression forward into the 21st century in glorious fashion.
Toward Space will be headlining this banger, and capping off what’s sure to be a memorable evening of kicking out the jams, but they’re hardly the only reason to show up. Two touring punk bands from up Massachusetts way are also on the bill, and they’re gonna be a real treat for your sunburnt ears. Bad Larrys mix a jangly guitar sound and lovely, well-sung vocals with driving tempos and serrated-edge guitar riffs to keep your energy high. They recently followed up on 2019’s Perfect Trim LP with a single called “Ugly And Proud,” a semi-ironic anthem for every woman who cares more about being herself than impressing the boys. Scare City have more of a sloppy garage-punk spirit, evoking the kinds of singles Lux and Ivy from the Cramps used to rescue from thrift-store bins back in the late 70s (the ones where they found songs like “Goo Goo Muck” and “Green Fuz”). They’re modern enough to use a drum machine, though, so this will still be a pretty intriguing set. Local newcomers Station Aries get things started on the right foot. Best of all, this show is free, so you really have no excuse not to be there. Use the extra cash to buy some PBRs — but try not to spill em in the pool. People swim in there, you know.
Wednesday, July 13, 6 PM
Guyville, Tyler Meacham @ Hardywood Richmond – Free!
One good free show deserves another, right? And here’s a pretty fun one that’ll give you the opportunity to head over to Hardywood. God knows, back in the pre-pandemic days, we all used to end up at shows there pretty regularly, right? That doesn’t happen nearly as much lately, but it is nice to be able to say that there’s a pretty fun little show happening over on Ownby Lane on this very evening. Guyville are our headliners; this Los Angeles duo is clearly influenced by the bold lyrical declarations of legendary 90s alt-rocker Liz Phair, having named themselves after Phair’s first LP. Bandleaders Emily Hulslander and Kat Hamilton are both talented songwriters with a knack for adding pop flair to lyrics that strike a snarky, defiant tone on songs like “Nothing” (about no longer caring about your ex) and “Boys & Girls W/Guitars” (about screwing up potential music collabs when attraction comes into play).
Guyville make a perfect pairing with rising Richmond star Tyler Meacham, who will be performing a solo set as part of this Wednesday night bill. Meacham is a talented vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter who recently took her career to the next level with the release of her first full-length LP, Into The Fray. She really puts herself out there on songs like “Better Than I Used To Be” and “You Mean Self,” on which she expresses uncomfortable but real emotions about sensitive topics like grappling with the repressive actions of the faith you were raised in, or trying to make peace with former enemies who might not be ready to hear it. This gathering of talented women playing gorgeous songs that talk about real life is certainly going to be a treat for any music fan. You really don’t want to miss out.
Thursday, July 14, 6 PM
A Benefit Show For Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, feat. Deau Eyes, The Great Beforetimes, Ms. Jaylin Brown, Chuck Jones @ Gallery 5 – $10-25 donation (order tickets HERE)
And speaking of faith being used as a tool of repression… ugh. UGH. I hate even having to write this, but in case anyone needs to know: abortion is still legal in Virginia. And if we’re going to keep it that way, the defenders of reproductive rights in this state are going to have to remain vigilant and do whatever we can to help out, from volunteering to voting for pro-choice candidates to donating cash to organizations who do the really tough work most of us don’t really have much time to focus on (because we’re too busy living our lives). This is where the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project comes in; by supplying monetary and practical support for women and other people needing to access abortions, they ensure that no one gets left on their own when they’re in need. They also work on grassroots campaigns for reproductive justice, do skillshares and fundraising… they’re just an all-around great organization getting a whole lot done to ensure that all of us can access safe and legal abortions.
This Thursday night event at Gallery 5 is an opportunity to offer this organization support at a crucial time, when Republicans in our own statehouse and General Assembly are attempting to use that terrible recent Supreme Court decision as a springboard to take rights away here in the Commonwealth. Show up at Gallery 5 and throw down some cash to help fight back against all this terrible stuff, and when you do, you’ll also get some great Richmond music in the bargain. Can’t complain about that, right? A solo performance by Deau Eyes tops the bill here, with singer-songwriter Ali Thibodeau bringing us a selection of tunes that’s sure to include some of the great jams on Deau Eyes’ recently released second LP, Legacies. There are some other excellent Richmond musicians on the bill too, including the moody folk of The Great Beforetimes, Ms. Jaylin Brown’s poetic, minimalist balladry, and some folk tunes by Chuck Jones — who, it turns out, is not the director of classic Daffy Duck and Tom & Jerry cartoons, but actually the solo project of a main contributor to local folk/blues/rock group The Devil’s Coattails. So now we know! Anyway, you should definitely do what you can to ensure that reproductive choice remains available in Virginia. But as far as that goes, I can’t think of a much better way to do so than to enjoy some fine sounds from these talented local artists. Do it up.
Friday, July 15, 9 PM
Celler Dwellers, Dead Billionaires, Grant Claytor, Anna Leonard @ The Camel – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Figuring out how to learn about new local bands in this era of social media, walled-garden streaming services, and a general move away from centralized web presences has been one of the toughest parts of my return to show column writing in the post-pandemic era. Celler Dwellers are just one of quite a few new local bands who’ve come around since live music started back up last summer who completely baffled me. I knew they existed, and that was about it. That is, until last week, when the air of mystery surrounding them was dispelled instantly by the arrival of an email in my inbox from one of the band’s members. He let me know that the band is a quintet with roots in the Richmond area who’ve been jamming together since high school days, and that they were playing this headlining show at The Camel in support of a brand new single, “Don’t Stop,” which would be debuting on the same day as the show. He even sent along an advance mp3 of the new single! In other words, mystery solved!
After a couple listens to “Don’t Stop” — which follows up on Celler Dwellers’ first professionally-recorded single, “Who Are You?”, released back in May — I can tell you that this band has a catchy alt-rock sound that at times invokes classic 90s acts like Local H, or Weezer’s 90s work (the only Weezer records that matter pre-date Y2K. Yeah, I said it), while at other times showing off a power-pop sensibility that makes me think of 80s legends like Joe Jackson or Huey Lewis and the News (Sports is a classic, don’t @ me). These guys have an eclectic sensibility that I’ve been assured is even more clear in their live shows, and since this is the first time they’re headlining here in Richmond, it seems to be that this is a great time to jump on the Celler Dweller train. Dead Billionaires are also on this bill, and we all know Warren Campbell and co. bring the rock. Plus, Philadelphia singer-songwriter Grant Claytor is on the bill, and his latest single, “Dead Surfer,” strikes me as a surefire hit with any Richmonders who miss Lance Bangs, or wish Camp Howard would play out more often. Richmond’s own Anna Leonard will kick this one off in fine, fun fashion, and every note from first to last is sure to be a blast. Get to the gig.
Saturday, July 16, 7 PM
Bazookatooth, Too Hectic, Stay True, Diegression, Contactees @ The Bike Shop – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
You Aesop Rock fans are gonna recognize the name of the band headlining at The Bike Shop this Saturday night, but rest assured, Bazookatooth sound nothing like the Aesop Rock album they took their name from. Instead, this Tennessee quartet is a full-on rage machine, starting from a hardcore baseline and bringing in metallic crunch, grinding speed, and a political sensibility that stands with the best punk rock. They even have a little bit of a screamo thing, which shows through most obviously when frontman Ben Mueller and guitarist Audra Mueller (spouses, not siblings) trade harsh screams back and forth over raging choruses. So yeah, if you like heavy music, any kind of heavy music, Bazookatooth is a band for you.
Their brand new EP, Kingdom Of Pain, just might be the best thing they’ve done yet. Seeing them lay waste to Richmond from the sales floor of a local BMX shop is probably the best thing you’re gonna do all week. So don’t blow it, punk! While you’re at it, you’ll get the opportunity to check out new hardcore bands from around the region, like Richmond’s own Too Hectic (who are pretty much impossible to find online other than a couple of Reddit threads, but what’s a girl to do?), Virginia Beach moshcore maniacs Stay True, Maryland metalcore pun-sters Diegression (get it?), and Tidewater punk rock weirdos The Contactees. So really, what could be better? I have no idea. You know what to do.
Sunday, July 17, 7 PM
Goldpark, Films On Song, No Moniker @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There’s definitely a wave of new American indie pop bands sweeping the nation at the moment, and I’m starting to pick up on some common trends, not all of which I’m a huge fan of. In light of all that, I’m that much more stoked to discover Nashville group Goldpark, who thankfully manage to avoid all the trends that I’m starting to get tired of. Instead of resurrecting an 80s top 40 sound no one under 35 except the members of HAIM remembers (though you can easily rediscover it by googling “Rick Springfield” or “Corey Hart”), on recent singles, especially the excellent “Covered In Sunshine,” Goldpark evokes a sound that was much bigger in the UK than it ever was in America. Their glittering, multilayered guitar pop avoids tropes like “shoegaze” or “Britpop” in favor of a distinctive sound that can only be compared to groups no one this side of the pond remembers: The Verve pre-“Bittersweet Symphony,” House Of Love, maybe James or The Wonder Stuff…
I know, I know, you have no idea who I’m talking about. That’s OK! All that really matters at this point is that you go catch Goldpark when they hit Richmond Music Hall this Sunday night and find out for yourself what can still be done with a modern indie-pop movement that is in danger of getting way too codified and confined. They’re joined on this bill by some Virginia bands who show significant sparks of originality in their own right: Charlottesville’s Films On Song, for one, who incorporate a languid mood that makes me think of The National (the band, not the venue) into songs with a strong New Wave pulse that makes me wanna tap my feet. For another, Richmond’s own No Moniker, who’ve done a lot in recent months to distinguish their sound from the run-of-the-mill indie bands out there, and are certainly worth any time and attention you haven’t given to them already. Bottom line: this is going to be a show of catchy guitar-based pop tunes — the kind you won’t hear on modern rock radio. Immerse yourself in it.
Monday, July 18, 6 PM
Neck Deep, Magnolia Park, Games We Play @ The Broadberry – $35 (order tickets HERE)
Y’all, I’m not even gonna try to kid you at this point. If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you probably already know: interests come and interests go, but at the bottom of her heart, Marilyn Drew Necci will always be an emo kid (even though she’s rapidly closing in on 50). OK, enough of me talking about myself in the third person. Let’s talk in the third person about Neck Deep, an excellent emo-punk band that absolutely ticks all the boxes to make me fall in love with them. Considering they did a split with Knuckle Puck back in the day, and I’ve loved Knuckle Puck since their early EPs, I probably shoulda done a deep dive (no pun intended) on Neck Deep before now. However, this Welsh group has only caught my attention in the last few months, with the release of their latest single, “STFU.” It’s a great, straight-down-the-middle slice of emo-pop-punk that my heart is gonna knock out of the park every time.
And that makes me excited, because this very Monday, Neck Deep will be right here in Richmond VA, rocking all our socks off at The Broadberry. Digging deeper into Neck Deep’s catalog, as I have done over the past few weeks, it seems that “STFU” was not just a lucky shot; this band has a ton of absolute bangers in their catalog, from their earliest work to 2020’s All Distortions Are Intentional. If, like me, you’re a huge mark for bands who lead with their emotions and follow with devastating hooks and killer guitar crunch — bands like Real Friends, State Champs, or The Story So Far — you’re gonna love Neck Deep. And you really gotta get to this show, even if the tickets are… not cheap. Hey, gas is expensive — especially the gas it takes to fuel transatlantic flights. Who knows when these dudes will make their way back through town? That’s a good enough reason for me to unreservedly recommend that you get your ticket for this show right now.
Tuesday, July 19, 7:30 PM
Jackson Browne @ Altria Theater – $40 – $128 (order tickets HERE)
When I was a kid, riding in the shotgun seat of my mom’s station wagon down the streets of Petersburg in the mid-80s, I listened to a lot of XL102. It wasn’t the station modern Richmond residents would recognize today (it’s even changed it’s name… again); instead, it mixed the “classic rock” format of the day (rock songs from the 60s and 70s) with the sort of “new rock” that was likely to appeal to baby boomers who were just starting to hit their mid-30s back then. If any particular radio station deserves the blame for my knowing every 80s Steve Winwood and Pete Townshend single by heart, it’s XL102 as it existed circa 1987.
Here’s why I’m telling you all this: because back in those days, ten-year-old me always got stoked if a Jackson Browne song came on the radio. Classics like “Running On Empty,” “Boulevard,” and “That Girl Could Sing” had a literary sensibility that pulled me right in, making me want to know the stories Browne told in his lyrics, even as his indelible choruses sank into my brain and made a permanent home there (I still find myself thinking of the “caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender” part of “The Pretender” at least once a week). What’s more, the stuff he was doing in the mid-80s was still great — gutsy anti-war anthem “Lives In The Balance” was his new one back then, and even if XL102 didn’t play it, I heard it on MTV. Today, Jackson Browne is still making heartfelt songs from a nuanced, literary perspective; believe it or not, his latest single, “Minutes To Downtown,” is as good as what he was doing back in the 80s when I first became a fan. Anyway, I’m about out of space, but if I haven’t convinced you by now to buy a ticket and go see Jackson Browne at the Altria on Tuesday, I doubt anything could. And that’s a shame, because this dude is an absolute legend. So hey, do yourself a favor.
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]