Thursday, December 19, 7 PM
Gritty City For The Kids 5, feat. Gritty City Records (Photo by Jake Cunningham), Segga Spiccoli, Radio B, 3WaySlim, Reppa Ton, Scuba, Bandolero, Illa Styles, Versace Chachi, Shawn Mike, Starr Nyce, A.Day, Gritty City Sound Machine @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Y’all, when you’re the editor of a magazine that focuses on the entirety of the music scene in a mid-sized American city, let me tell you, a lot of pressure gets put on you. Specifically, the pressure to say that every single thing from that city is equally great. And that’s an easy job most of the time, because Richmond really does have a tremendous musical scene. But sometimes, especially in this column, I like to drop the facade a little bit and let y’all know how I really feel. This is how I really feel: in Richmond, if you want hip hop, the best place to go is Gritty City Records.
If you ask me, there isn’t even a convincing argument against it. Without even mentioning their formidable, nearly decade-deep back catalog, just look at the wide cross-section of Richmond talent that released projects on Gritty City this year alone! We’re talking Ant The Symbol, Noah-O, Fan Ran, Johnny Ciggs, Rah Scrilla, and more. And look at the wide cross-section of talent appearing on Gritty City’s annual holiday extravaganza this year. From label stalwarts to all-star guests, this one is truly stacked with talents that bring a wide variety of Richmond hip hop flavors to the table.
For example, there’s Illa Styles, whose latest album, A Quarter Til A Mil, released just a month ago, is the kind of hip hop masterwork we’re lucky to get in any year. There’s Radio B, whose work with AGM always dominates the city and remains highly underrated in the world at large. Plus Segga Spiccoli, Versace Chachi, Reppa Ton, Bandolero… the list goes on for quite a while, and it’s all top-quality. Plus, this show is affiliated with Punks For Presents, so cash and toys donated will help add to the annual bonanza that group delivers to the Children’s Hospital. There are a million reasons to be in attendance for this, so you really should just go ahead and do it.
Wednesday, December 18, 9 PM
Mister Goblin, Pet Fox, Baby Grill, BigDumbBaby @ Wonderland – $10
Two Inch Astronaut had a lengthy career full of high points in melodic, emotional postpunk, and it was a real bummer to hear that this Maryland band was ending last year. Thankfully, frontman Sam Woodring didn’t slow down at all, and only a year later, we’ve already got the debut album from his post-Two Inch Astronaut project, Mister Goblin. Is Path Warm?, which sounds like a badly translated subtitle in a foreign film, was released just a few weeks ago by Exploding In Sound Records, and now Woodring and co. are coming to Richmond to bring us some excellent sounds, live and in person.
Mister Goblin might sound like a hip hop or electronic project, but the band isn’t much different than Two Inch Astronaut, really — maybe a little moodier, with a slightly more wistful vibe, but really, if you were into the last Two Inch Astronaut LP, 2017’s Can You Please Not Help (now THAT’s a great album title), you’re not going to find anything not to love in what Mister Goblin’s bringing to you now. They’ll be coming to town accompanied by Bostonians Pet Fox, in which Ovlov drummer Theo Hartlett is stepping out from behind the kit to front a trio with strong melodic inclinations and maybe just a bit less crunch than his other band. If you dig Ovlov, though, you’ll want to catch Pet Fox on their way through town. So spend your midweek evening at Wonderland tonight — you’ll be glad you did.
Thursday, December 19, 7 PM
Post Sixty Five (Photo by Joey Wharton), Nah., Colin Phils, Fullscreen @ Poor Boys – $5
Prsmcat, the new show-booking crew from members of Majjin Boo, have been running things in a downright familial manner over at Poor Boys, and it’s been really nice so far. They picked up the banner of locals-only shows that fell to the ground with the sad departure of Strange Matter, and have been doing shows featuring known and up-and-coming groups regularly over at Poor Boys. This latest, the last before the holidays, is a birthday celebration for Hicham Benhallam, who is not only the soundman at Poor Boys but the frontman for Post Sixty Five. And, not coincidentally, Post Sixty Five will be headlining this show.
The ambient indie group with its roots throughout Virginia haven’t been all that active in recent years — their last EP was released in early 2017 — but if anything, that makes it more exciting to get a set from the quintet to cap off a celebratory evening. What’s more, we’ll also hear from Nah., a DC-based group who stretches the definition of “local” but has a welcome synth-spiced indie-postpunk sound that will go perfectly with that of Post Sixty Five. With local faves Colin Phils and newcomers Fullscreen filling out the bill, this one’s gonna be a wonderful time all around.
Friday, December 20, 8 PM
Ty Sorrell, Bon Ki, Billy Capricorn @ Gallery 5 – $8
One of the greatest things about Richmond label Citrus City is their eclectic palate. From electro-pop to indie-psych to erudite hip hop, they release music from any genre that strikes their fancy, and rapper Ty Sorrell’s brand-new Citrus City cassette, At God’s House, makes that all the more clear. The release, a co-production with Boston’s Disposable America, is what we’ll be celebrating at this show, and it’s certainly worth a party, considering how well Sorrell displays an engaging combo of erudite rhymes and multi-layered beats on this project.
Sorrell brings in all sorts of guests on At God’s House to sweeten the pot and enliven the proceedings, and we should see a similar sort of thing going on at this Gallery 5 throwdown, especially since psychedelic indie space rangers Bon Ki, who appear on the album, will also be playing a set this evening. Will we see folks like Alfred and Rob Gibsun joining Sorrell onstage as well? There’s only one way to find out.
Saturday, December 21, 8 PM
Elizabeth Owens, Spartan Jet-Plex, Melul, Persephone @ Garden Grove Brewing – Donations for VAVP appreciated
Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Owens has been making a name for themselves around Richmond for a couple of years ago. Backed by The Live Bats, they created a moving indie-folk song cycle entitled Coming Of Age in 2018. That album explored the difficulties of finding oneself amid an alienating, oppressive world, through a story of a young princess finally escaping a mystical imprisonment after years of isolation. Now, in 2019, Owens is bringing us another take on that tale with an acoustic EP entitled Still Coming Of Age, which reimagines some of the standout tracks from the original album in a bare-bones solo context.
It’s that EP that this performance at Garden Grove celebrates, and for this release party, Owens will join with other performers to create an intimate, personal evening of solo musical endeavors. Hard-working local collective Grimalkin Records has been Owens’ label of choice for a while now, and fellow Grimalkin artist Spartan Jet-Plex will be one of the performers on this bill, bringing their haunted balladry to the Garden Grove stage. The evening will be rounded out by the dark ambient atmospheres of Melul and a solo turn from Aesthetic Barrier’s Persephone. Plus, Owens will have holiday gifts for friends who attend, so this show is sure to bring a little of the positive holiday spirit into your heart.
Sunday, December 22, 5 PM
R4ND4ZZO BIGB4ND (Photo via VPM/Facebook) @ Fuzzy Cactus – Free!
Last time we were in this space, we talked about Richmond’s own jazz bassist extraordinaire, Andrew Randazzo, and his efforts heading a variety of ensembles here in town. At that time, I told you that there was at least one more opportunity awaiting you to see Randazzo’s foremost orchestra, the R4ND4ZZO BIGB4ND, engaging in their excellent yearly interpretations of Vince Guaraldi’s immortal soundtrack for best Christmas special ever A Charlie Brown Christmas. Well, if you didn’t mark your calendars then, you definitely should now, because that time has come.
Guaraldi’s original soundtrack was performed by a simple trio, with Guaraldi’s piano backed solely by bass and drums. The R4ND4ZZO BIGB4ND treatment is something else entirely, though, as it augments a crack rhythm section featuring Randazzo and some of his Butcher Brown compatriots with a dozen or so horn and reed players, plus even some occasional guest vocals, for a massive big-band treatment of quite a few absolute classic Christmas season tunes. Are you struggling to find the spirit this year? Look no further — R4ND4ZZO BIGB4ND will put you in the proper mood.
Monday, December 23, 7 PM
Sons Of The Beasts @ Chiocca’s – Free!
Relaxing holiday times are much the same throughout the year — the closer they get, the more relaxed things are around the music scene. And when things are relaxed, musicians inclined towards jamming truly come into their own. That’s when we see mainstays of the scene take stages to get loose and explore what can happen outside the confines of a standard set list, and it’s where all kinds of one-offs and improptu supergroups find time to shine.
You’ll see exactly that kind of thing taking place at Chiocca’s, that little sandwich shop in a Museum District basement, when Sons Of The Beasts get together again for the first time in quite a while, in order to unleash some rockin’ acoustic fun times. If you’re not familiar with the name, you still know the musicians — members of The Southern Belles, The Congress, Jackass Flats, and more are represented in this quartet, and they’ll be dishing out a variety of tunes from their other projects along with some fun covers and unexpected delights. We all know no one gets anything of substance done the week of Christmas, so start the week off with some fun and rock out with Sons Of The Beasts at Chiocca’s.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Wednesday, December 18, 8 PM
Turnover, Men I Trust, Renata Zeiguer @ The NorVA (Norfolk) – $23 in advance/$26 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Turnover’s gone through a lot of changes over the years, from their roots as a melodic, emotional post-hardcore group to their middle period as a shoegazing dream-pop combo. Now, with their brand-new fourth album, Altogether, they’ve integrated an 80s New Wave synth sound that finds them progressing yet again — to a land somewhere between Vampire Weekend, ABC, and 60s tropicalia. That’s a long way to go in six years.
However, it’s a trip that’s worth taking with these Tidewater boys, who keep finding fantastic new ways to express their ever-renewing pop sensibility. So join the Turnover crew as they return home for the holidays with a big party at The NorVA. They’ll be accompanied by Men I Trust, a hypnotic bedroom-synth group from north of the border, as well as up-and-coming torchy Brooklyn songwriter Renata Zeiguer. It won’t be a stage-dive fest of old, but if you appreciate good music, Turnover’s latest transformation will please you every bit as much as their previous incarnations.
Thursday, December 19, 6:30 PM
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society benefit, feat. Super Doppler, No BS! Brass Band @ Naro Cinema (Norfolk) – $15 (order tickets HERE)
The holidays bring out the giving spirit in everyone, and our favorite local bands are no exception. Punks For Presents is far from the only example, and live music collective LAVA Presents proves that on Thursday by joining with two of the best bands in Virginia right now — rockers Super Doppler and funk-jazz party-bringers No BS! Brass Band — to throw a hellacious wingding at Norfolk’s Naro Cinema to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
As charity events go, you’ll have more time writing this one off on your taxes than you will pretty much anywhere else, and rest assured that between our two musical hosts, we’re sure to get plentiful opportunities for smiles, singalongs, and dance parties. What better way could there be to kick off the last weekend before Christmas? (Goodness knows, if any weekend starts on Thursday, it’s this one.)
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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