Friday, March 13, 8 PM
Caverns Of Pine, Unmaker, Big No, VV @ Gallery 5 – $10 (order tickets HERE)
We’re heading into St. Patrick’s Day weekend and meanwhile coronavirus has got me out here writing new lyrics for “Paranoid Chant” by the Minutemen. So what do you say we all make the choice to forgo events drawing a large crowd in favor of some more intimate gatherings? Sounds good to me, personally. That’s not the only reason to head for Gallery 5 this Friday night, but it is certainly one of them.
However, what’s really great about this show is that it represents the first time that Caverns Of Pine, a studio project led by Brad Perry (Worn In Red, Forensics, Operation Icy), will perform live. In 2018, the project released a great post-hardcore album called Disassociate, which focused on themes relating to surviving sexual violence and overcoming the associated trauma. As Brad and the other members all had their own projects to focus on, they never played any shows, but now, with the opening of All Instinct, a group art show inspired by Caverns Of Pine’s lyrics and curated by Bizhan Khodabandeh, they’re breaking the silence and finally gracing us all with a live performance.
Considering how excellently intense these songs actually are, this is sure to be one hell of a show. The fact that Caverns Of Pine will be paired with Unmaker for it is also eminently appropriate, as Unmaker have a similarly heavy and somewhat foreboding post-hardcore sound, only with a stronger postpunk influence that gives them a decidedly gothic edge. It’s a perfect double bill, one that is only made even awesomer by the inclusion of Big No and VV, two rad bands in their own right. To top it all off, all profits from this event benefit Force, an anti-rape culture, pro-consent activist group based in Baltimore, so you can know that your admission funds are going toward something positive in the world.
Wednesday, March 11, 8 PM
Lux, Vittna, Gumming, Dummies @ Mojo’s – $8
Here’s a really fun way to spend your Wednesday evening — going to Mojo’s. And not just because it’s a rad place with delicious food, either, though those are good reasons to spend ANY evening there. No, we’re sending you tonight specifically because Barcelona punks Lux are coming to town, and they’re gonna rock the hell out of Mojo’s tonight. One of the many bands to come out of excellent UK punk group Good Throb, Lux have less of that band’s caustic approach and a more rockin’, fun sound that keeps things at a swinging rock tempo and integrates a good deal of vocal melody even as their aggressive riffing makes it impossible to mistake them for just another power-pop group.
Lux released their latest EP, New Day, back in November, and it’s full of catchy tunes that will get you dancing. Meanwhile, Raleigh’s Vittna bring the speed and vitriol that you true punk freaks might miss in Lux’s set, and give you a chance to get the circle pit swirling right there inside Mojo’s. Just don’t spill anyone’s drinks, that ain’t cool. Local noise punk heroes Gumming will open this one up, along with a brand new band featuring members of Haircut and Sweeties called Dummies. How dumb will their take on punk be? The name certainly offers some clues, but we won’t really know until tonight — so be there, and end the mystery.
Thursday, March 12, 6 PM
Brower, Josephine, The Ar-Kaics, Piranha Rama @ Hardywood – Free!
If the Lux show at Mojo’s is an example of old-school hardcore punk, then this free DIG Records-sponsored Thursday night showcase at Hardywood is even older-school than that, taking things back to the powerful melodic energy that defined punk in its earliest days. Brower, who top this bill, are a project headed by Queens resident Nat Brower and featuring a similar rudimentary pop energy combined with scrappy punk stylings as that of some long-ago Queens residents, the Ramones — though there’s some definite Matador Singles-era Jay Reatard to be found in the mix here as well. Their catchy tuneage is bound to put a smile on your face — and in light of how things are going these days, we all need it.
They’ll be visiting Richmond in the company of fellow DIG Records artist Josephine, a singer, songwriter, and drag performer from New York who, along with her band, creates power-pop gold on her brand new debut LP, Music Is Easy. Fans of classic 70s Bowie and Odessey and Oracle-era Zombies are sure to thrill to this one. The always-enjoyable Ar-Kaics, Virginia’s best pure garage-rock revivalists, will be on hand to bring a heaping helping of their own rock n’ roll vitality, and the whole thing will kick off with the maximalist genre-hopping power-pop of Richmond’s own Piranha Rama. It’s the sort of evening that would be a thrill at any price — but since you can save your cash for the tasty craft brews, it’s even more so!
Friday, March 13, 8 PM
Peaer, Strange Ranger, Gnawing, SHE @ Poor Boys – $8 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I have no idea if Peaer are actually named after a misspelling of a fruit or if it’s all just a happy coincidence, but I am certain that this New York band make music every bit as sweet as their possible misspelled namesake. Their 2019 LP, A Healthy Earth, is math-rock at its most melodic and delicate, the sort of complex guitar figures that are the hallmark of the genre fading into the background in favor of charming vocal harmonies and intriguing lyrics often detailing the sort of modern, everyday anxieties that make up the background noise of all our day-to-day lives.
Thankfully, even as they express these neuroses, their music acts as a soothing balm, one that will feel even more like a relief in the context of Poor Boys’ Voodoo Room this Friday night. Better yet, they’ll come to us in the company of Strange Ranger, a group that has an approach both less mathy and less quiet than that of Peaer, but just as sweetly melodic and full of catchy vocal harmonies to make you swoon. This is a killer double bill, and with local stalwarts Gnawing and SHE rounding things out, it’ll be even more delightful. Let yourself sink into this one — it’s sure to be a delight.
Saturday, March 14, 9 PM
Sexbruise?, The Last Real Circus Show, Sid Kingsley @ The Dark Room – $5
Ever had a random night with not much going on where you found yourself sitting around with some friends making up ideas for ridiculous bands you’re gonna start and laughing hysterically? I have too, but like most of you, I’ve never actually followed through on those kinds of goofy ideas. That’s the difference between us and the members of South Carolina band Sexbruise? though — they actually went through with it, creating a pop group they straight-up admit is “fake” and satirical in intent, but nonetheless cranks out some pretty outstanding danceable throwback jams.
What’s more, they turn every live show into a party the whole crowd is invited to, using improvisation and audience participation to spice up their performances of their catchy, silly tunes. On an evening when the total hedonistic mess that is Shamrock The Block will be taking place in close proximity to The Hof, Sexbruise? will offer a much needed pick-me-up. Better yet, they’ll be accompanied on this mission by DC/VA folk-rockers The Last Real Circus Show and Richmond’s own Sid Kingsley, making this a true night to remember. You’ll be chuckling fondly over this one on Monday morning at work — assuming you don’t take Sexbruise’s advice to “quit your job” (RVA Magazine has no official position on the matter).
Sunday, March 15, 2 PM
To Pimp A Butterfly 5th Anniversary party, feat. Kaelan Brown, Alec Sullivan, Michael Bradley, Alex Kehayas, and many more @ The Dark Room – $5
Kendrick Lamar might just be the best hip hop artist of the last decade, and the argument in favor of that idea begins right here, with his second album, To Pimp A Butterfly. Where his full-length debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, was an outstanding contribution to the tradition of hip hop, To Pimp A Butterfly took things to the next level, moving beyond the basics of beats and rhymes to tackle epic themes and integrate the full spectrum of black music, from jazz and gospel to funk and soul. Working with talented musicians from legendary bassist/producer Thundercat to former Butcher Brown guitarist Keith Askey, Kendrick made a widescreen album full of true musicality, and brought a pile of classic tracks into the world in the process — everything from “How Much A Dollar Cost” to “King Kunta” to the massively enjoyable “I.”
Now, in an effort to commemorate the fifth anniversary of this epochal musical achievement, a bunch of the most talented musicians in Richmond are coming together on the Dark Room stage to perform the album live, with new expanded arrangements brought into the world by nearly 20 different musicians, all fronted by talented young Richmond MC Kaelan Brown. Jazz/classical composer Alec Sullivan will conduct the massive horn section, local bass talent Alex Kehayas will play the Thundercat role on the low end, and an assortment of gifted young players will all work together to bring To Pimp A Butterfly to life onstage before your very eyes. If that’s not a great way to cap off your weekend, I seriously don’t know what is.
Monday, March 16, 9 PM
Horse Lords, Halfcast, Hellawes @ Cary Street Cafe – $10
Monday night is a great night to get weird, and with Baltimore’s Horse Lords in town, we have the perfect opportunity. Earlier in the column, I talked about Peaer’s sweetly enjoyable form of math-rock, and now it’s time to talk about the opposite. On their brand new album, The Common Task, Horse Lords use dissonant guitar figures and constantly shifting polyrhythms to keep listeners constantly unsteady on their feet, as if they’re standing on the deck of a pitching, yawing pirate ship.
If you find musical thrills in everything from New York-style No Wave to the styles of the nomadic Saharan guitar slingers who’ve come to so much prominence over the past several years, and further appreciate Baltimore’s legacy of total weirdness, from Oxes to Dan Deacon, you’re sure to flip for Horse Lords. Local psychedelic rangers Hellawes will prove their own ability to destabilize the room with their sound a quite formidable one in its own right, while Halfcast will create a relative oasis of discernability with their catchy indie-rock tunes at the center of the bill. You might walk home sideways from this one, but you’ll have a great time getting there.
Tuesday, March 17, 8 PM
Diana Rein @ The Tin Pan – $18 (order tickets HERE)
Our culture is full of tales about former child actors who came to bad ends, from Corey Haim to Jonathan Brandis. But it’s certainly possible for people who acted as children to grow into completely functional creative adults, and blues guitarist Diana Rein is a great example. You might not remember her name, but you probably remember her from her role as Sondra McCallister, one of Macaulay Culkin’s many cousins in the Home Alone film series. Today she’s all grown up, and while she no longer acts, her musical endeavors prove that she has plenty of creative energy still to get out.
For those who enjoy classic electric blues in the vein of BB King and Buddy Guy, Rein’s got a throwback sound you’re sure to love. On her latest LP, Queen Of My Castle, she mixes original tunes that follow in the footsteps of classic Chicago blues jams with some more wide-ranging efforts that show she’s got range, reaching into the realms of Bonnie Raitt-style blues-informed rock without ever losing track of the powerful chops that act as her calling card. The fact that Rein was once in a movie you watched a hundred times on VHS when you were little might be what initially catches your interest, but it’s the talent she’s showing off today that makes this show 100 percent worth your time.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, March 13, 7:30 PM
Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers @ Hampton Coliseum (Hampton) – $26-$86 (order tickets HERE)
Sturgill Simpson is an artist who has remained consistently interesting to me ever since I first became aware of his music over half a decade ago. He grabbed me with his second album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, on which he attempted to get outside the moribund Nashville mainstream that has made country music into a cookie-cutter genre, and he’s just kept upping the ante ever since. After his third album, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, he engaged in a busking-style public protest against the Country Music Awards’ refusal to speak about the more uncomfortable political issues that had come up in the wake of the mass shooting at a Jason Aldean show in Las Vegas. His approach to both his music and his role as an artist was incredibly refreshing to see.
Now, with last year’s Sound And Fury, Simpson’s taken things even farther once again, creating a suite of songs that are strongly informed by the current political climate and stand musically at so far a remove from the world of country music that some would say there’s no country left in what he’s doing, that he’s become a rock n’ roller using synths and crunching guitars to make a full-on alternative-rock album. But why get hung up on genre? Like the Drive-By Truckers before him, Simpson has a unique approach to a set of influences that is both wide-ranging and inextricably American, and hearing him bring them to bear on a strong creative effort is worth all our time, regardless of what genre it ends up sounding like. Don’t worry about country music, worry about good music. This show is going to bring plenty of it to you — I recommend that you be there.
Saturday, March 14, 3 PM
St. Patrick’s Day Punkarade, feat. 430 Steps, Brandy And The Butcher, ChargedCam36, Drunk Buseys, Lettermans, Like No Tomorrow, Locomotive Gun, Nervous System, Rad Taco, Rotten Stitches, The Jasons, The Moneys, Whiskey Warfare, Worser @ Pourhouse of Norfolk (Norfolk) – $5
It seems that Saturday, three days before the actual holiday, is the accepted date for celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in 2020. And I guess it makes sense; it’s the most “blah blah blah, drink” holiday of every year, and we may as well hold it on the weekend, so that everyone has a day to be hung over and feeling horrible before they have to go back to work. But let me say, if you really are insisting on tying one on this weekend, you’ll be better off doing so in Norfolk. There, instead of Shamrock The Block, the advertisements for which tell you they have “live music” on offer, but not who’s playing — always an ominous sign (I googled, it’s a couple of tribute acts and some cover bands) — you get the St. Patrick’s Day Punkarade at Norfolk’s Pourhouse.
Kicking off early in the afternoon and lasting far into the night, the Punkarade will bring together bands from all over the east coast, all of whom have a strong punk rock sensibility and all of whom will make you want to raise a fist in the air and sing along. Highlights of this bill include South Carolina punk hellraisers Brandy And The Butcher, Pennsylvania grindcore maniacs Worser, Norfolk punk goofballs Rad Taco, NoVA old-school punkers Like No Tomorrow, and topping off the whole thing, Ramones/Misfits-loving horror punks The Jasons. There’s way more happening on this bill as well, more than I could possibly find the space to tell you, but suffice it to say that if you like punk rock, it’ll be the best St. Patrick’s Day throwdown you could ever ask for. One word of advice, though — if you’re heading down from Richmond, you might want to book a motel room in advance. It’s better than sleeping it off in the backseat of your car, right?
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 Zach Wish with Stefanie Lutz, via Caverns of Pine/Facebook