Friday, November 22 & Saturday November 23
Raw Mom Weekend, Night 1: Alfred, Trapcry, Archangel, F.R.E.E.
Night 2: Gumming, True Body, VV, Lance Bangs, Sofia Lakis
@ Gallery 5 – single night: $8 in advance/$10 at the door. Weekend pass: $15 in advance (order tickets HERE)
Hope everyone’s getting their wallets limbered up, their psyches strengthened, and their cars fit for traveling, because it’s that time again! Yes indeed, folks, the holidays are coming sooner than you think — Thanksgiving is a mere eight days away, and Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa are only a month past that. It’s coming time to see the fam, with all the happiness and terror that entails. But before the holiday season officially kicks in, let’s celebrate our river city fam with the first ever Raw Mom Weekend at Gallery 5.
My old pal Rivanna Youngpool has really outdone herself with this one, bringing two nights of incredible local talent together on the Gallery 5 stage to celebrate the ever-renewing wellspring of talent that is the Richmond music scene. Night one is the night on which we will all dance, featuring hip hop, ambient electro, and psychedelic dance grooves from several different politically-informed artists of color. Rapper Alfred will headline and bring his lysergic beats and tongue-twisting rhymes to keep your ears burning and your feet moving. Trapcry, meanwhile, brings powerful electric funk with a strong social conscience, as Archangel explores spaced-out anime-inspired breakbeats.
That’s Friday night, and on Saturday, night two brings us a whole different approach that’s sure to be equally invigorating. The noisy, quirky, brilliant, powerful punk rock of Gumming tops the bill and promises to trip you out and rip your head off all at the same time. Things will get more gothic at points with sets from True Body and VV, while Lance Bangs will bring you an always-pleasing dose of slack indie rockin’. Sofia Lakis will kick things off with some beats to ensure that there’s plenty of dancing on this night as well. What better way do we have to celebrate the last weekend before the holidays spread their ambivalent malaise across the next six weeks? I can’t think of one.
Wednesday, November 20, 9 PM
Ant The Symbol, GIANT, Johnny Ciggs, Reppa Ton, Rah Scrilla, Jarv, C Shreve @ The Richmonder – Free!
Over here at RVA Mag, we’ve been following the work of Ant The Symbol for a solid decade now, since back when he was still Just Plain Ant of the Just Plain Sounds crew. He’s been growing and maturing as a producer and musician ever since, and over the past few years, his massive collaborative albums have become event listening for the entire RVA hip hop scene whenever he releases one. THE WHAT?! is the latest in a string of Ant The Symbol releases on his post-JPS home of Gritty City Records, and it shows that as time goes on, the man just gets better at making incredible music for the city’s best to spit rhymes over.
That doesn’t mean he’s getting predictable — even his latest crew of collaborators can acknowledge that. The first thing Kels says on his THE WHAT?! track, “My Way,” is, “I love you, Ant, but this beat’s weird.” Speaking personally, that’s why I look forward to each new Ant The Symbol project — where others get predictable, he gets creative. He’s put out so many records I’ve honestly lost count, and he still hasn’t come anywhere near repeating himself. That’s why you should make a point to show up tonight at Gritty City’s longtime live home, which is called The Richmonder instead of Emilio’s now but is still the same dope spot. Ant The Symbol’s gonna join with his Gritty City crew and a whole bunch of other talented rappers from Richmond and beyond to bring you the freshest new sounds this city has to offer, in the form of his new album. Don’t be left asking, “the what?” Show up tonight so you know the answer.
Thursday, November 21, 7 PM
Wild Pink, Addy, Recluse Raccoon, Beeline @ Poor Boys – $5
If you’ve been seeing the phrase “Prsmcat Presents” on a bunch of good shows lately, you’re not the only one — this new booking project from members of Majjin Boo has brought a cornucopia of excellent live music to the city over the past couple months, and established themselves as a name to look out for. This visit from Brooklyn’s own Wild Pink is just the latest positive result of Prsmcat’s efforts around town, many of which have involved the return of rad live sounds to the backroom stage at Poor Boys, the venue formerly known as Flora and, before that, Balliceaux. I can’t imagine anyone having any complaints about that.
Wild Pink are definitely worth spending a Thursday night in the aforementioned back room. On last year’s Yolk In The Fur, it’s clear why this trio dedicated their latest album to the memory of Tom Petty — that recently-departed heartland rocker is an obvious influence for Wild Pink, one they feed through a 21st century sensibility that evokes the best work by The War On Drugs. It’s smooth, comfortable, and ever-so-slightly melancholy, in a manner sure to evoke a sad smile of recognition. Wild Pink will be joined on this weekend-preview night at Poor Boys by some excellent local indie groups as well, foremost among them Recluse Raccoon. The results are sure to charm you.
Friday, November 22, 7:30 PM
Bonsai Trees, Dropping Ugly, Linden Row @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Damn, y’all, I love it when this happens — when I’m poking through a list of bands, all of which I’m unfamiliar with, trying to find the makings of a killer show. I always find something good — this is Richmond, after all; we do live music RIGHT. But it’s rare that I am totally blown away by a band whose name I’ve never even heard before. However, Connecticut’s Bonsai Trees are that rare band.
This talented quartet’s recently-released Learn To Grow LP came out of nowhere to blindside me with its incredible collection of melodic, emotional alt-rock tunes. The more I listen to it, the more stoked I get. At this rate, I’ll be bouncing all over the room by the time they even take the Garden Grove stage Friday night. And whether you’ve heard them before or not, I pretty much guarantee that once they start playing, you’ll be just as over the moon as I am. The fact that their show is free and also features talented RVA combos Dropping Ugly and Linden Row merely sweetens the already-delicious pot. Is that how that particular cliche works? Oh, who cares. All I care about is you going to see Bonsai Trees Friday night. Seriously, do it.
Saturday, November 23, 8 PM
David Shultz, Nick Woods, Jonathan Vassar, Trey Burnart Hall @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $8 (order tickets HERE)
By now, you’re probably used to seeing “singer-songwriter night” tagged onto certain performances that take place around this city, and you’ve come to expect certain things — talented solo performers who are for the most part just getting started with their musical careers, playing a selection of tunes you probably won’t have heard before but you just might love. This Saturday night show at Capital Ale House’s Richmond Music Hall could accurately be termed a singer-songwriter night as well, but if it were, it’d be a particularly stacked one, featuring as it does multiple Richmond musicians who’ve built decade-plus careers here in the river city.
Take David Shultz, for example. From his days fronting alt-country combo The Skyline to more recent solo acoustic outings and now some brand new tunes created with the assistance of multiple Spacebomb-affiliated creators (perhaps a harbinger of positive things to come?), Shultz has quite the track record going for him — and he’s clearly far from done as a creative musical force. His old pal Nick Woods is similar — once the Richmond-based frontman of indie-folk group Orioles, these days he’s making country-style acoustic music down in Nashville. And of course, Jonathan Vassar’s heartfelt folk-Americana sounds have been a constant here in Richmond for over 15 years now. Trey Burnart Hall is a relative newcomer by comparison, but he’s an incredibly talented one. If it’s a showcase for some of the most talented singer-songwriters this city’s ever produced that you crave, you’re in for a major treat at Capital Ale House this Saturday night.
Sunday, November 24, 6 PM
RVA Rap Elite Season Finale, feat. Team Radio (Radio B, Michael Millions, Cole Hicks, Cane, Intalek) vs Team Petey (Nickelus F, Big Sty, Easalio, Illa Styles, Fan Ran), Bravo vs. Chance Fischer, Big Sty, BlackLiq @ The Dark Room – $10
Battle rap is a strong tradition that dates back to the very dawn of hip hop, but it’s had its ups and downs over the decades. Freestyle battles between talented rappers are definitely on the upswing here in Richmond, though, and have been for the past few years, from the work of the Southpaw Battle Coalition to the star-studded presentations by RVA Rap Elite. This particular event constitutes the 2019 Season Finale for these events, which have relocated with the closing of Champion RVA to The Hofheimer Building’s Dark Room.
RVA Rap Elite majordomo Radio B is really pulling out all the stops for this last event of 2019, too — he and his AGM partner Nickelus F have each formed five-MC teams that will battle it out in a cypher sure to have faces melting and heads exploding all over the Hof. Between Radio B’s enlistment of heavy hitters Michael Millions, Cole Hicks, and more; and Nickelus F’s recruitment of Illa Styles, Fan Ran, and other world-class talents, it’s hard to predict who could prevail in this clash of the hip hop titans. Meanwhile, Bravo and Chance Fischer will strut their own stuff in a battle that’s guaranteed to showcase some devastating rhymes from these two top-level rhyme spitters. And of course, BlackLiq and Big Sty will each bring the fire with sets of their own. If you care at all about hip hop in RVA, you have got to make it out to this one — it really doesn’t get better.
Monday, November 25, 7 PM
Jimbo Mathus @ The Canal Club – $15 (order tickets HERE)
It’s entirely possible that right now, you’re thinking what I was thinking when I first saw this listing: “Jimbo Mathus… do I know who he is?” You almost certainly do, but chances are you know him better as the co-founder and leader of the Squirrel Nut Zippers than you do as a solo performer. Everyone remembers the Zippers from their late 90s hit, “Hell,” but that quick taste of success did them a disservice, as their old-time Dixieland jazz approach got them swept into the “swing revival” dustbin with the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and old VHS copies of Swingers when the turn of the millennium rolled around.
Meanwhile, Jimbo Mathus was and remains a world-class talent with a wide-ranging creative sensibility that finds him dipping into the worlds of folk, blues, and Southern soul, as he’s proven with his 2019 solo album Incinerator — his fourth under his own name. The album sees him collaborate with former Zippers bandmate Andrew Bird, as well as Lily Hiatt and members of the Drive-By Truckers. The result isn’t that much like your memories of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, but it’s sure to be a hit with anyone who loves heartfelt American music created by truly unique characters that haven’t been homogenized by our country’s creeping suburban wasteland. That’s what you’ll get from Jimbo Mathus, and you’re going to love it.
Tuesday, November 26, 8 PM
La Dispute, Touche Amore, Empath @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets HERE)
One of the first articles I wrote for RVA Mag, nearly a decade ago, was about Touche Amore and Pianos Become The Teeth coming to town to perform. While La Dispute wasn’t part of that gig, they were, along with those other two bands, part of the loosely-aligned group known as The Wave. This was a cadre of half a dozen or so bands who formed an affiliation based on their mutual status as groups attempting to thread the needle between emo and hardcore at the dawn of the 2010s. Those groups have gone in a variety of musical directions since then — Pianos Become The Teeth have dropped the screaming and found a deep well of melodic emotion to draw from, Touche Amore have remained closely musically aligned to hardcore even as their exploration of deeply fraught lyrical content has cut ever closer to the bone.
As for La Dispute, 2019 has seen them sign to Epitaph Records and release their first LP in five years, Panorama. On it, vocalist Jordan Dreyer — always the most literarily inclined of The Wave’s songwriters — has gone deeper than ever into his novelistic inclinations, exploring his own emotional responses to trauma and tragedy in the lives of those he cares about over the course of the album’s 10 songs, even as the rest of the band generates dynamic compositions that move from quiet introspection to overwhelming crescendos in a matter of minutes. The result is an incredible musical journey that will have a powerful impact on all who witness it — especially in the live environment La Dispute will create at The Broadberry this Tuesday night. Let it impact you. Be there.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, November 22, 6 PM
Femme Funk, feat. Shagwuf, Ships In The Night, Harli & The House of Jupiter, Dropping Julia, Marti @ The Southern Cafe (Charlottesville) – $15 (order tickets HERE)
This Friday night in Charlottesville, The Southern Cafe will bring us the third annual celebration of C-ville’s showcase of femme musicians, Femme Funk. This year’s event is set to benefit Planned Parenthood of Charlottesville, and with the kind of peril reproductive rights and women’s health care face in Trump’s America, you’d be hard pressed to find a better cause than this one. Plus, you’ll get to hear a highly diverse set of sounds from Central Virginia performers of a feminine persuasion, and that’s always a joy.
It’s especially a joy when the evening is headlined by the unrestrained rock n’ roll passion of Shagwuf, whose blues-inflected alt-rock has been blowing minds around VA and beyond for quite a few years now. The evening will also feature as wide a variety of sounds as is possible to find in one room on one evening, from Harli & the House Of Jupiter’s powerful soul-punk fusion to Ships In The Night’s dark, ambient electronic sounds to the rootsy pop of Dropping Julia and the indie rocking of Marti. See how much femme artists have to offer the world of Virginia music and take a drive up 64 this Friday night for Femme Funk — you won’t be sorry.
Tuesday, November 26, 7:30 PM
Immortal Technique, GOOGZ @ Elevation27 (Virginia Beach) – $20-$25 (order tickets HERE)
If you’ve just been following the lists of new releases over the past eight years or so, you could be forgiven for thinking that Immortal Technique had retired from the hip hop game. We haven’t gotten any new music out of the most radical rapper in the game since his 2011 collection, The Martyr, and while he swears he’s still working on long-promised fifth album The Middle Passage, there’s no release date as yet. That’s all the more reason to head to Virginia Beach this Tuesday and see Immortal Technique murder the mic, live and in person.
While these days he’s probably better known for his radical left-wing politics due to multiple appearances on the shows of Joe Rogan and (uh) Alex Jones, Technique’s hip hop mixes those politics with some incredibly harsh lyrical content, leaving him somewhere between political rap and outright horrorcore — a dichotomy clearly visible in songs like “Point Of No Return” and “Dance With The Devil.” Regardless of whether you agree with everything Immortal Technique raps about (personally, I’ve never been a fan of his casual use of homophobic slurs), he’s an incredibly talented and provocative MC of the sort who doesn’t come around very often at all. So go see him, because there’s no telling when you’ll get the chance again.
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: Gumming, by Joey Wharton, via Twitter
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