Saturday, June 18, 8 PM
No Moniker, Piranha Rama, Lobby Boy, Gnawing @ Black Iris – $8 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Ever notice how the music scene’s activity always gets ramped up in the summer? School’s out, everybody’s feeling alive again, and big plans are being made. One of the great things that comes from all that are new albums from bands who’ve spent the winter woodshedding. Of course, this year summer is extra crazy, because we may as well call it the first summer in three years, at least where the music world is concerned. So: is it any surprise that bands we haven’t heard from in years are suddenly springing into action with entire albums’ worth of new material? I certainly don’t think so.
No Moniker’s been around the Richmond scene for a dang minute now, and while members have come and gone, singer-guitarist Jordan Scott has remained at the helm the entire time, even if her pronouns have changed in the interim (so much love for that). Since No Moniker’s last release back in 2019, she’s paired up with drummer Madison Hinson and stripped the band down to a duo that has spent the past couple of years putting together a brand new set of deliciously off-kilter alt-pop tunes. That entire set will enter the world this Saturday under the name Let’s Don’t (an excellent album title if I’ve ever heard one). That album is the reason for the season where this big throwdown at Black Iris is concerned; not only will Let’s Don’t be available in its entirety, No Moniker will also be delivering us a headlining set full of awesome new tunes.
If you’ve been paying attention to what this band has been up to over the past year or so, you’ve heard a few of these tunes already — “One To One,” released as a single last month, was the fourth teaser track from Let’s Don’t to enter the world, and all of them are a blast in their own right, with a common thread of bouncy postpunk basslines, introspective lyrics, and tasty pop melodies tying all of them together. If you’re as inclined as I am to respond by saying, “More of this, please,” then Black Iris is where you need to be Saturday night. And while No Moniker’s LP release set is going to be enough to constitute a full evening’s worth of entertainment, you’ll get a massive bonus helping of Virginia indie in all its forms, as they’re joined by nine-piece indie-surf-pop supergroup Piranha Rama, upbeat postpunk/new-wave popsters Lobby Boy, and jangle-grunge noise-rockers Gnawing. It’s a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of amazing music — and if you’re still hungry for sound, grab a copy of the new No Moniker LP on your way out the door. There, that’s your whole weekend sorted. You’re welcome.
Wednesday, June 15, 7 PM
Gag, Under Attack, Killing Pace, Caustic Agent @ Cobra Cabana – $8
I love hardcore. I cut my teeth in Richmond’s hardcore scene, and even as this city’s music scene has exploded across a thousand different genres, I still am always looking for the great hardcore shows that prove this city is still in touch with its roots. My favorite kind of local hardcore show is one like this one — at a venue big and legal enough that I can safely write about it, without being driven by some label-sponsored four-band package tour that keeps any local openers from getting onto the bill. Places like Cobra Cabana and Fuzzy Cactus are bringing that energy these days, and it’s been too goddamn long if you ask me, so I am super glad to see it.
Let’s talk about who is actually playing this show, though. Gag hails from Olympia, Washington, but if you’re expecting Beat Happening, you couldn’t be barking further up the wrong tree. 2020’s Still Laughing, released on Iron Lung Records, is a raging, out-of-control blast of degenerate hardcore, full of reverbed vocals and noise-rock riffs even as it goes a thousand miles an hour and packs a dangerous punch. If you love Poison Idea or Verbal Abuse, this band is squarely in your wheelhouse, but fans of everything from the Laughing Hyenas to the Dwarves are sure to get a lot out of the Gag set at Cobra Cabana. Thankfully, you’ll also get a great window into the Richmond hardcore scene circa 2022, with sets from ripping-fast old-school thrashcore combo Under Attack (who just released a split with legendary Dutch hardcore band Seein’ Red), metallic crust-core sickos Killing Pace, and pummeling old-school hardcore newcomers Caustic Agent. Richmond hardcore is still a real thing; come out tonight and find out for yourself.
Thursday, June 16, 7 PM
Gillian Carter, Infant Island, To Forget, In Wolves’ Clothing @ The Bike Shop – $10
It’s probably been at least five years now since I stopped worrying about whether the term “screamo” has any validity. While my objections to it (which are many, drop me an email if you’re really curious) still stand, I’ve accepted the fact that, when people use the term “screamo” today, they’re talking about a style of music I really love — one that incorporates melody, metallic influences, hardcore tempos, and yeah, a whole lot of really emotional screaming. It’s great stuff, and I really feel bad for anyone who is totally blowing it by letting the fact that the name for the genre is pretty goofy keep them from listening to its many excellent practitioners.
A lot of said excellent practitioners come from right here in Richmond, but the first name on this bill is that of Gillian Carter, a long-running Florida trio who, just in the past couple of weeks, have finally followed up their outstanding 2019 LP, …This Earth-Shaped Tomb, with a new EP called Songs Of Summer. At a total length of 3:28, it blows by so fast that you might miss it if you go in the other room for a soda, but Gillian Carter’s rich back catalog means they’re more than ready to give you a nice full set at The Bike Shop tomorrow night. And when they do play those two new songs, it’ll prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they continue to operate at the peak of their powers — as they have for years now. With a bill featuring two of the foremost currently active Richmond-based screamo practitioners (Infant Island and In Wolves’ Clothing), plus the excellent Charleston, SC-based trio To Forget, this show will be a festival of the senses that won’t soon leave your mind. That’s true regardless of how goofy the genre name is.
Friday, June 17, 10 PM
Two Thumbs Down, Combat, Rikki Rakki, Kat Nap @ Ipanema Cafe – $10
Earlier this week, I watched that Roger Ebert documentary, Life Itself, so when I see a band on this week’s upcoming-show roster called Two Thumbs Down, I gotta admit that’s the first place my mind goes. That said, unlike the way Siskel and Ebert felt about Lost Highway or Faces Of Death, I really dig New York’s Two Thumbs Down, an energetic, upbeat band who mix indie vibes, pop-punk songwriting touches, and the occasional third-wave ska influences into a tasty smoothie on 2021’s End All Be All. That album’s been out for over six months now, but their original tour was booked for the moment when the Omicron wave was spiking, so they had to delay everything, and there’s no way they won’t be stoked to hit the stage and give these songs their all at Ipanema late Friday night.
Another touring band on this bill is Combat, who hail from Baltimore and are apparently just bandleader Holden Wolf and a laptop on this tour. I’m not convinced that’ll do anything to drain the massive amount of energy this band displays on their new EP, Text Me When You Get Back, because I’m honestly not sure anything could. The frenetic, nervous brand of jangly pop-punk they dish out here is a ton of fun, and even hearing a guy and a computer recreate it should still be a blast. This bill is rounded out by some equally charming and peppy homegrown Richmond all-stars, by which I of course mean alt-garage rockers Rikki Rakki and indie-folk newcomers Kat Nap. This show is at Ipanema, which has only recently started hosting shows again after three years or so out of the game. Yay for venues getting back into the swing of things!
Saturday, June 18, 7 PM
Beatles Party, feat. Goldrush, Warren Campbell, David Long @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
My wife is a big Beatles fan. I mean, I think everyone who digs rock n’ roll music has to give the Beatles some credit, and sure, I had a Beatles phase back when I was 12 or 13 like a lot of other people, but I’ve heard way more Beatles tunes since I got married five years ago than I had in the previous 25 or so years. And my first takeaway from that renewed immersion was: damn, I forgot how great the Beatles really were. If you also have forgotten how great the Beatles were, Richmond’s got a show coming this week that’s perfect for acting as a strong reminder. I’m not talking about the Ringo Starr show out at the racetrack on Tuesday, either (sorry Ringo). I’m talking about this Gallery 5 event, which is not only honoring Sir Paul McCartney on his 80th birthday but is also bringing Goldrush back into action!
If Prabir Mehta isn’t Richmond’s biggest Beatles fan, he’s certainly one of them, and the fact that he’s reunited with his classically-trained pals Matt and Treesa Gold to bring Goldrush back into action for the first time in three years probably has a fair amount to do with all that. They’re promising an evening full of Beatles and solo McCartney tunes to make all the Fab Four fans happy, but I gotta say, y’all — upon revisiting, I’d found I’d forgotten how great Goldrush really were too. So I for one hope at least a few originals grace our ears as part of the festivities. Regardless, this will be a fun evening that is sure to be far less boomer-saturated, not to mention friendlier to your wallet, than the aforementioned big Ringo throwdown. Send Mom and Dad off to that one. Go to this show yourself.
Sunday, June 19, 7 PM
Arlie, Nordista Freeze @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Every week there’s some new band I discover and fall in love with during the process of making this column. This week, Arlie is the one. I’d never heard of them before receiving a press release two weeks ago touting their upcoming Richmond Music Hall date and their new LP, Break The Curse. As is my usual process, I filed away this information in preparation for the day when I would decide which shows I was writing about this week (usually, this two-to-three-hour process takes place on Monday afternoon. This week, it took place this morning, in case you were wondering why the column came out at 4 pm today), but when I finally got around to cueing the album up on my Apple Music account at like 10 am this morning, I was blown away.
A big part of that is Arlie’s hybrid approach to the indie-flavored pop sound within which they operate. Since Haim made it big six or seven years ago, I’ve heard a lot of bands within the alt-pop world follow their lead in much more overtly pulling from the sounds of the 80s — not Prince and Madonna either, but less-remembered talents like Rick Springfield, Corey Hart, or Joe Jackson. Arlie do that, for sure, but more on a sonic level. Where actual songcraft is concerned, these guys are much closer to modern emo-pop goodness, and when they really nail the combo, as they do on tracks like “Poppin” and “Landline,” the result is absolutely undeniable and will get you up out of your chair dancing around every single time. That’s what really matters in this business, so my honest advice is not to worry about all the pop-crit pontificating I’ve been doing for the past two paragraphs. Follow your heart, and your feet, to the dancefloor. I promise you won’t regret it.
Tuesday, June 21, 8 PM
Sonoa, Cyber Twin, Tanglewood Revival @ The Camel – $7 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Tuesday night isn’t necessarily the most active night for live music, but there are a lot of hidden gems that could easily slip under your radar if you don’t pay attention. This Tuesday night show at The Camel is a great example of what I’m talking about, and far be it from me to advocate for FOMO, but if you don’t show up this Tuesday night and catch Sonoa — yet another band from this week’s crop of shows that I totally wasn’t expecting, but was delighted to find — you really will be missing out.
Sonoa are a New Jersey combo who’ve got one foot in the introspective indie world and the other in the most spaced-out corner of the modern math-rock landscape. Vocalist Gabriel Yoder Shenk has a voice that can’t help but remind me of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, but on Sonoa’s 2021 LP Forward Motion, he lays it down overtop of riffs and melodies that are much stronger and contain far more inspiration and energy than anything Death Cab’s done since at least Narrow Stairs. The fact that Sonoa aren’t afraid to crank up the distortion on their guitars is a very welcome fact as well. They’re sure to liven up a humdrum midweek night at The Camel this Tuesday, and god knows we all need more of that in our lives. You know what to do.
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]