Thursday, June 7, 5:30 PM
Doll Baby, Gladie, Hurry, Clayton England @ The Lilly Pad Cafe – Free!
Let’s start from first principles: music is the literal best thing in the world, y’all. Nothing else can be relied upon the way music can be. And music is best when you’re seeing people make it right in front of you; that subjective statement is a fundamental building block of this entire column. But having said all that, it’s understandable if after a while the same clubs and sounds week after week leave a person wanting… something different. Something more.
Whenever I find something that fits that description, I immediately focus on it. Because let’s face it, I get restless too. If you, like me, are ready for a break in your normal routine, I’ve got a real treat for you this week. The Lilly Pad Cafe, which is located on the banks of the James River out by Osborne’s Landing, has been booking free shows on Thursday nights. And this week, they’re presenting a lineup that makes it the perfect night to take a short trip out of the city and watch the sun set while you watch bands play on a boat dock.
I’ve written a whole bunch and now we’ll have to rush through the actual bands, but the fact that the bill is topped by the jangle-punk pop angst of Doll Baby gives us all reason to be there right from the jump. They’re playing with a couple of Philly-based touring projects; Gladie is a duo featuring members of Cayetana and Three Man Cannon and making some excellent heartfelt melodic punk sounds on new EP Everyone Is Talking About You. Hurry is normally a band, but they’re touring as a solo act, and their pastoral indie-punk sounds should adapt well to the stripped-down format. These bands are both excellent pairings for local faves Doll Baby, and with Lilly Pad mainstay Clayton England kicking things off with some sad acoustic tunes, this will be an evening full of feels. Plus, for those of you who care about these kinds of things, you can apparently get buckets of Tecate for $10. Me, I’d rather just enjoy the view.
Wednesday, June 6, 7:30 PM
Japanese Breakfast, Eternal Summers @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
The modern shoegaze revival continues on full-steam ahead and we all benefit from it once again, as a couple of the higher-quality bands to explore this sound in recent years now find themselves coming to the Broadberry on the same night, for the same show. Japanese Breakfast is the solo-ish project of Michelle Zauner, also of Little Big League and Post Post, and her 2017 sophomore LP, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, uses synth washes and programmed beats alongside retro-psych touches straight out of Swinging London — the harpsichord sounds on “Boyish” are a particularly charming surprise.
Now, how all this will translate live is always a question, but the songs themselves glow with such a warm spirit that the results are sure to be excellent regardless. And even more assuredly excellent is the set we’ll get from VA faves Eternal Summers, who have returned to action after a few years off with their brand-new fifth LP, Every Day It Feels Like I’m Dying. There’s been no diminishment in the melodic prowess or the sharp guitar attack this band brings to the table, and fans who’ve been wondering how the group could possibly follow up 2015’s excellent Gold And Stone (and may have started to worry that they wouldn’t) will be overjoyed at the payoff the new album represents. All that’s left is to see them bring it to life onstage — you won’t want to miss that. You know what to do.
Thursday, June 7, 8 PM
A Place Both Wonderful And Strange, True Body, Little Black Rain Clouds, Gothic Lizard @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Things are getting pretty wild in the world of electronic music these days. And by “wild,” I mean, people are actually starting to bring visible influence from 80s 4AD Records releases into the modern world. For those of you too young to remember the glory days of Dead Can Dance and Clan Of Xymox — OK, yes, I know, that’s most of you — let me assure you that this is a very positive development. Hearing Brooklyn’s A Place Both Wonderful And Strange pull off spooky ambient textures and moody vocals alongside dance beats that get your feet moving and making all of it work together in the most excellent, unified way is the kind of blast from the past that I’d love to get more of.
They’ll be conjuring up the Batcave right inside Strange Matter this Friday night, and they’ll have some formidable local help in doing so as well. True Body may have evolved out of the weirder corners of the hardcore world, but their most recent single, “Over It,” finds them going full-on moody goth, evoking the glittering moroseness of early-80s Cure and Sisters Of Mercy material with the sort of postpunk backbeat that’ll keep the Interpol fans happy. Long-running local spooksters Little Black Rain Clouds and ambient goth newcomers Gothic Lizard will round out this lineup with all the black light and black clothing you could possibly ask for.
Friday, June 8, 8 PM
Peach Kelli Pop, Piranha Rama, Big Baby @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
It’s hard not to love stripped-down rock n’ roll with a killer melodic sense and plenty of delightful energy, so of course recommending that you all go see Peach Kelli Pop this Saturday night is a true no-brainer. Allie Hanlon’s been doing this project for damn near a decade now, and has retained a top-quality sound throughout, as can easily be heard on Peach Kelli Pop’s brand new LP (the first not to be named with a Roman numeral), Gentle Leader. On it, the band bounces back and forth from uptempo tunes that straddle the line between garage-pop and old-school melodic punk, and prettier acoustic tunes that focus on Hanlon’s gorgeous voice and plentiful hooky choruses.
Peach Kelli Pop have a ton to offer the discriminating fan of outstanding music, but they’ve been lucky to come together with a couple of equally powerful RVA locals who offer much the same brand of can’t-miss rock n’ roll talent. Piranha Rama sees a bunch of local vets coming together to crank out some organ-fueled psychedelic garage raunch stomp, and their new single lives up to every bit of potential the early hype offered up. Meanwhile, Big Baby — who charmed the entire city and beyond with last year’s gorgeously downcast Sour Patch EP — know how to combine forlorn melody and jangly bounce for the best possible results. If you haven’t discovered the excellence of their indie-pop tuneage yet, this is the perfect time to find out what you’ve been missing.
Saturday, June 9, 8 PM
Celeste, Infernal Coil, Ostraca, Lunger @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There are a lot of right-wing idiots out there who’ll tell you that France is a country full of wimps, and I gotta tell ya, I wish I could drag every single one of those fools down to Strange Matter this Saturday night so they can find out how wrong they are when Celeste hit the stage. This powerful French band may not be as well known as Deathspell Omega, but their brick-solid mixture of roaring metallic hardcore, blasting black metal, and passionate emotional rage is if anything more likely to knock you on your ass than their more popular countrymen. 2017’s Infidèle(s) is a jet-black slab of pure fury, and when Celeste dish those songs out onstage, you’re going to feel it.
Celeste are joined on this trip through our local environs by chaos merchants Infernal Coil, whose unique and challenging sound may have some roots in the band’s origins in Idaho. What the heck is in Idaho? If Infernal Coil’s 2017 EP Bodies Set In Ashen Death is to give us any indication, it’s apparently a bleak, apocalyptic wasteland of noise and smoke… but I was in Twin Falls last year, and it was nothing like that, so who knows. Either way, Infernal Coil’s incredibly dark mix of death metal low-end, noisecore fury, and grindcore insanity is going to mess all of us up. In a good way, of course. Local metallic hardcore veterans Ostraca and dark grinding newcomers Lunger round out this bill with some unmissable sounds from right here in the river city, so don’t dawdle.
Sunday, June 10, 7 PM
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, McKinley Dixon & Friends, Alfred & Yung Pockets @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’ve been enjoying the growth over the last few years of a more alternatively-minded hip hop scene here in RVA; it’s a gratifying thing to see the DIY principles that have fueled the punk rock underground for years being embodied by people from completely different scenes, especially hip hop (which, as much as I love it, can sometimes focus overmuch on mainstream goals of money and fame for my taste). Here in Richmond, the chief example we have of this newer approach to hip hop is of course McKinley Dixon, an MC with absolute top-quality lyrical skills who recruits top of the line musicians to back him up and goes on DIY tours in a van just like all the punk bands do. He and his Friends will be giving us a killer set on this bill, and of course everyone in RVA should already know to be there for it.
On this show, Dixon is playing with Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, a DIY musician from Chicago who integrates his wide-ranging musical background into an excellent hip hop sound on his breakout 2017 LP, Drool. Like McKinley Dixon, Ogbonnaya knows all about getting in the van and going on tour, and he’ll hit Gallery 5 in the company of his Nnamdi Ensemble Quartet, which will provide dynamic backing for his playful, complicated lyrical flow. And of course, Alfred. & Yung Pockets, an MC-producer duo who’ve drawn a lot of attention since last year’s excellent So Sensitive release, will open things up with a set of slightly off-kilter beats and rhymes that show a ton of soul. This one’s gonna be outstanding throughout.
Monday, June 11, 8 PM
Immortal Bird, Glacial Tomb, Occultist, Hoboknife @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
There can be little that is a better bet for the end of a long Monday back at stupid ol’ work than heading down to Strange Matter and getting your soul cleansed by some high-volume, high-quality metal. Immortal Bird is coming to us this Monday to deliver exactly what the doctor ordered where that’s concerned, and while the group’s been quiet on the recording front since 2015’s Empress/Abscess, that’s no reason to expect anything other than a thorough head-crushing in the live environment.
Since their last album, Immortal Bird’s core lineup has expanded to a four-piece, giving frontwoman Rae Amitay more room to rage instead of being trapped behind a drum kit, and that can only bode well for the ass-kicking we’ll all get from this brutal, chaotic Chicago quartet. Immortal Bird is joined on this tour by Denver low-end marauders Glacial Tomb, whose deft merging of thrashy crust, sludgy metal, and hardcore punk is tough as nails and ready to knock you out. Local support from thrash-metal vets Occultist and death n’ roll maniacs Hoboknife renders this an evening of absolutely unfuckwithable metal power. Start practicing your headbangs now.
Tuesday, June 12, 6 PM
The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Pianos Become The Teeth, Teenage Wrist, Captive @ The Broadberry – $17 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
About half a decade ago, when I was going through a pretty rough emotional spot, I discovered TWIABP and immediately fell in love with their complicated, heartfelt, and beautiful sound, which combined emo, post-rock, metal, and pop into a style entirely their own. The music they were making back then was incredibly important to me, but their rapid musical evolution and personal upheavals over the next couple of years almost left me behind. However, with the release of their third LP, Always Foreign, I discovered that despite all the lineup changes and instrumental reconfigurations, there was still a truly talented band lurking underneath it all. It’s going to be partiuclarly nice to welcome a reconstituted TWIABP to RVA once again, where they can remind us all just how great they continue to be.
Pianos Become The Teeth have been through a similar trajectory, although it was a musical change that caused my personal concerns about losing track of them. When singer Kyle Durfey switched to an entirely-melodic vocal approach for their 2014 third LP, Keep You, I was afraid that the urgency and emotional intensity of Pianos’ passionate post-hardcore sound would depart along with it. However, Keep You surprised me by being one of that year’s favorites, and with the release earlier this year of incredibly powerful follow-up Wait For Love, it can no longer be denied that Pianos Become The Teeth is every bit as strong and memorable a band even without the screams. And thank god for that. This show will give longtime fans a perfect opportunity to commune once again with these two excellent bands at the top of their respective games, and skipping out would be an awful idea. Alt-rockers Teenage Wrist and local up-and-comers Captive are on the bill too, but for this one at least, it’s really all about the headliners.
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] [and yeah, in case you’re wondering, more awesomeness from my cracked and bleeding fingertips is available at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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