Sunday, May 26, 12 noon
Jonny Z Fest 2019, feat. Kenneka Cook, Washers, Gull, Josh Small, Night Kid @ Hardywood – Free!
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since we lost Jonathan Zanin, known to all and sundry as Jonny Z. To get personal right out the gate, he was a longtime friend, and I still can’t think too much about his death without getting upset. For those of you who didn’t have the fortune of knowing him, all I can tell you now is that he was a really positive dude who poured a ton of energy into music, art, and activism, and absolutely made Richmond a better place for the entire time we were lucky enough to have him here.
It still makes me sad to think of Jonny being gone, but I am nonetheless very glad that Bizarre Market — an organization Jonny was heavily involved with — have kept his memory alive with their yearly Jonny Z fests. The latest one is happening this Sunday afternoon at Hardywood, and you should absolutely come out and celebrate the life of a great guy gone too soon by enjoying all that Bizarre Market has to offer. There will be dozens of vendors on hand, as well as interactive art, play areas for the kids, raffles, and of course Hardywood’s selections of fine craft brews, which I hear good things about from those who dabble in that sort of thing.
And of course, this is a music column, so we can’t forget the music! Some major Richmond mainstays, many of whom were also friends of Jonny Z, are on this bill. The always-talented electro-soul goddess, Kenneka Cook. The incredible, indescribable one-man band hijinks of Gull. The catchy punk goodness of Washers, a relatively new trio featuring members of Sports Bar, Worn In Red, and more. The emotionally-driven acoustic folk sounds of Josh Small. And then there’s the obscure but talented solo singer-songwriter sounds of Night, Kid. All of these artists will offer enjoyable sounds by which to dance, smile, and remember. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Wednesday, May 22, 6 PM
The 1975, Pale Waves, No Rome @ Virginia Credit Union Live – $39.50 – $59.50 (order tickets HERE)
When I first discovered the 1975 six or so years ago, they only had a couple of EPs out. I thought of them as kind of a poppy emo band, and longtime readers of this column won’t be surprised to hear that I therefore loved them immediately. They’ve released three albums since then, all of which have hit number one in their native United Kingdom. And clearly they’re pretty popular here in the US too, since they’re playing the 6,000-capacity Virginia Credit Union Live! venue, out at RIR. And it hasn’t sold out yet, so you should certainly grab a ticket make sure you’re there.
Because the 1975 aren’t just another emo-pop group with a few crossover hits. On their more recent material, they’ve tapped a very deep vein of multi-layered melodies that draw from both 80s R&B and New Wave, as well as a bunch of other classic genres. And on their latest LP, 2018’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, they’ve become fearless social commentators; popular single “Love It If We Made It” makes harsh and condemnatory references to modern social ills from Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police to Kanye West’s inexplicable and depressing embrace of Donald Trump. In some ways, they remind me of the best bands from the 80s New Pop movement — Scritti Politti, ABC, The Human League — all of which brought an incisive intelligence derived from punk rock straight to the top of the charts. In other ways, they remind me of Radiohead circa OK Computer and Kid A, when they were simultaneously enormously popular and relentlessly challenging. In all ways, I think they are great. AND! They’ve got UK goth-poppers Pale Waves, who made one of my favorite LPs of 2018, opening for them! What more do you need?
Thursday, May 23, 10 PM
Positive No, Young Scum @ Bandito’s – Free!
Positive No may not be one of the most active bands in Richmond, but if you ask me, they have been one of the best and most worthwhile bands this town has to offer for at least five years now. Their excellent music, which mixes post-hardcore energy with shoegaze melody and a delicate, ethereal presentation that sometimes explodes into fury, is always worth showing up for. Their two LPs and many EPs and singles have given us a wealth of excellent music, which may not be aired all that frequently in the live arena, but becomes a rare treat when they play the occasional gig.
This is one of those occasional gigs, and it’s free, so you really need to be there. Positive No will be releasing a new two-song single at the event, and for you vinyl nerds, it’s a lathe-cut EP, which means instead of being pressed at a plant, each copy is individually carved one groove at a time. Understandably, there are only limited copies available, but even if you aren’t able to snag one, Positive No’s performance will be more than worth staying out late with work in the morning. Better yet, Young Scum will also be on hand to delight the masses with their charming, witty indie pop. It’s gonna be a night full of awesomeness, whether you’re a vinyl collector nerd or not. Don’t blow this one.
Friday, May 24, 8 PM
The Felice Brothers, Johnathan Rice, Dogwood Tales @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $15 in advance/$17 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The Felice Brothers have been making fine folk-rock sounds for over a decade now, and older releases of theirs like Yonder Is The Clock and Celebration, Florida have earned praise from earlier generations of RVA Mag reviewers. In more recent years, though, they’ve largely kept a low profile, with frontman Ian Felice making a solo album in 2017 while his brother James played in Conor Oberst’s backing band.
But earlier this month, the group released Undress, their first album in three years. And it has made abundantly clear that The Felice Brothers have still got it. Ian and James have been joined on this record by a new rhythm section, and the resulting stripped-down four-piece has a driving energy that returns The Felice Brothers to first principles and shows that they still know how to make energetic, memorable tunes that’ll get you dancing and singing along. The group’s heartfelt sound is at its peak on Undress, and seeing this lineup live is sure to be a treat. Indulge.
Saturday, May 25, 9 PM
The Accused AD, Occultist, Enforced @ Wonderland – $10
Here’s some hardcore drama for you — there are two different versions of classic crossover-thrash skate-and-destroy ragers The Accused currently in existence. One still uses the band’s original name, due to the fact that original guitarist Tommy Niemeyer is still in the band, even though the other current Accused members are johnny-come-latelies Niemeyer recruited within the past decade. The other, The Accused AD, features vocalist Blaine Cook, who sang for the band for 20 years and six albums, along with guitarist Alex Sibbald, who played bass with The Accused for 18 years and five albums.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which has a more valid claim on the name at this point in history, but one thing I will mention in the Accused AD’s favor is that they’ve actually made a new album within the past decade — Ghoul In The Mirror, released a few months ago. If you loved the Accused’s classic 80s LPs, chances are a good part of that was due to Cook’s wild, unhinged vocal attack, and to the metallic hyperspeed riffs that came roaring at you nonstop. Rest assured, The Accused AD has both of those in spades, and their new LP proves it. Now all that’s left for you to do is head down to Wonderland Saturday night and let them prove it to you live and in your face. It’s sure to be a thrashing good time.
Sunday, May 26, 2 PM
Alright, Gnawing @ 6131 Records Storefront – Free!
There’s a new record store in town! It’s not open that often — only Fridays and Saturdays — but it will allow you an opportunity to shop in-person at the home of Richmond’s own 6131 Records. Not only do they put out a ton of good releases for bands both local and outside the state, they’ve got a pretty bodacious distro, full of vinyl, CDs, stickers, t-shirts, and tons of other stuff, all of which you can get in-person access to by visiting them.
6131’s storefront won’t normally be open on Sundays, but they’re making an exception and opening up the store for this unique afternoon of acoustic performances. Singer-guitarist Sarah of North Carolina band Alright will be treating us all to stripped-down versions of that band’s excellent melodic punk tunes. Meanwhile, John, who not only plays drums for Alright but also plays guitar and sings in Richmond’s own Gnawing, will deliver a set featuring bare-bones versions of Gnawing songs for us all. It’ll be a quick way to both hear some great tunes for zero dollars and get acquainted with a brand new brick-and-mortar spot to buy records in Richmond, and if that isn’t a good way to follow up Sunday brunch, I don’t know what is.
Monday, May 27, 9 PM
Deterioration, Van Hagar, MSD, Oozing Meat @ Cary Street Cafe – $10
To quote the Damned, “Noise noise noise.” That’s what you can expect when Cary Street Cafe’s usual Deadhead-sanctuary vibe is disrupted Monday night by an invasion of grindcore bands. Deterioration are at the head of the parade, and this Minnesota trio pride themselves on their supersonic attack and irreverent approach. Expect gratuitous samples and ridiculous song titles, but mostly you can expect insanely fast blast beats and lots of furious screaming. Sounds like fun to me.
A trio of locals will round out this bill with some grind insanity of their own. My former roommates Van Hagar can always be relied upon to bring the noise, and that’s exactly what they’re doing here — no cabo wabos about it. Expect some tunes from their forthcoming LP, which one can certainly hope will make it to us sometime this year. And then there’s newcomers MSD, whose dirty, crusty approach to grind is sure to bring a smile to the faces of those who can never get enough high-speed low-end rage. Finally, there’s Oozing Meat, whose recently expanded lineup features members of Suppression and Fake Object, and whose sound straddles the line between grindcore at its most extreme and outright experimental noise. This one will rattle the walls for sure.
Tuesday, May 28, 7 PM
Model Zero, Slump, Nightcreature @ Gallery 5 – $6 in advance/$8 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you’re a fan of that dark arena in which the lines between garage rock and gloomy postpunk get too blurry to fully make out, Model Zero is the band for you. Formed by former members of Ex-Cult and Jack Oblivian’s backing band, The Sheiks, these guys have deep roots in the Memphis scene that’s spawned everyone from Jay Reatard to 68 Comeback. Model Zero definitely capture a bit of the analog-synth/primitive-beatbox feel that Reatard’s synth-punk project, Lost Sounds, displayed, but there’s also a whole lot of dirty gutbucket rock n’ roll mixed in here, and you wouldn’t be wrong to detect a strong hint of The Cramps there as well.
Model Zero’s self-titled debut LP will be officially released on Slovenly Recordings a few days after they perform in Richmond. You may or may not get a chance to grab early copies of the vinyl, but what we can guarantee for sure is that you’ll get to hear this band’s loud, dark, and energetic sound up close, personal, and at top volume, and it’s sure to rock you. Don’t miss that, and definitely don’t miss the two RVA-based openers either. Slump’s psychedelic take on hardcore punk is always a treat, and Nightcreature’s unique approach to their own garage-punk flavor is sure to get the show rolling on a high note.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, May 24, 8 PM
Helgamite, Crystal Spiders, Krode @ The Golden Pony – $7
“Stoner doom” is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the metal scene, but what it means isn’t always clear. While it can lead you to bands cranking out played-out third-rate versions of Saint Vitus riffs — and I certainly don’t blame you if that makes you somewhat gunshy — sometimes it’ll send you straight towards some of the most creative, weird, and original sounds being made in metal today. Fortunately for us all, Helgamite are firmly in the latter category.
Helgamite hail from the tiny town of Rileyville, which lies somewhere between Front Royal and Luray in the mountainous western part of the state. All that isolation can be surprisingly good for creativity, and on their 2016 LP, Hypnagogia, this four-piece showed just how creative they can be, fusing epic sludge-metal riffs with psychedelic atmospheres and otherworldly jazz vibes provided by saxophonist Casey Firkin. If the idea of Hawkwind and Neurosis collaborating to create a Pentagram LP gets your synapses firing, you definitely want to make your way to Harrisonburg Friday night to see these freaks come down from the mountains and blow your mind.
Saturday, May 25, 8 PM
Natural Velvet, Clary Sage, Mirador @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $10 in advance/$13 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Baltimore’s Natural Velvet aren’t easily described. Their use of “postpunk” as a genre tag is certainly accurate, but if you’ve followed the evolution of that term over the past four decades, you certainly know that it covers a wide range of sounds. Natural Velvet explore many different facets of that genre, as well as quite a few others. On 2017’s Mirror To Make You, vocalist/bassist Corynne Ostermann channels both Alice Bag and Siouxsie Sioux in her powerful, gripping vocal approach, as the band’s pounding, off-kilter attack pulls off some decided Birthday Party-style rages before pulling it together to rock you in the most straightforward of fashions. Just for a second, though.
This is all sure to add up to something unpredictable and unmissable when it’s presented on a live stage. And therefore, I can’t help but recommend that you NOT miss it, especially if you’re already in the Hampton Roads area on this pre-Memorial Day Saturday night. You’ll also get an intense and unpredictable set of synth-noise-punk awesomeness from Norfolk’s own Clary Sage, as well as some moody shoegaze bliss from up-and-coming Norfolk locals Mirador. This one’s going to be wild — make sure you’re 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]
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