Saturday, May 19, 7 PM
Iceage, Empath, True Body @ The Camel – $13 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow, Iceage is back! This mostly-teenage Danish group grabbed a good bit of attention back at the beginning of the decade with their gothic take on hardcore, and I for one was a big fan (which you’ll remember if you’ve been reading this site’s music coverage for a good long time — here’s a refresher for you newbies). Their 2014 third album, Plowing Into The Field Of Love, was a bit of a difficult transition, broadening their horizons in a manner that was somewhat awkward. But after four years, they have finally released another album, and Beyondless simultaneously pushes further into unclassifiable vaguely-postpunk weirdness and confirms that Iceage’s ability to cast a morose, nihilistic mood with their music remains undiminished.
So what will their live performances be like now? Will frontman Elias Ronnenfelt’s baleful stare and terse air of simultaneous aggression and detachment remain intact? There’s only one sure way to find out, and that’s by heading down to The Camel this Saturday night. In past performances here in Richmond, Iceage’s stage presence was energetic in an almost threatening manner, with the band always evoking a faint air of menace that matched their dark approach to hardcore sounds. These days, they’re far beyond the dark UK crust vibes of their earliest material, but fans of Antisect and Amebix will probably still find a good bit to enjoy in their live performance.
Indeed, if the openers on this bill are any indication, it seems that some aspects of the hardcore scene from the earlier part of this decade have found themselves growing in a similar direction to that of Iceage. Philadelphia’s Empath brings us a blown-out lo-fi pop sound that trades the occasional horn flourishes of the new Iceage album (believe it or not, it works!) for a fuzzy synth sound, which lies overtop of a dark, bashing take on indie-pop. Meanwhile, local post-hardcore group True Body has moved in an almost gothic-cabaret direction with their most recent single, “Over It,” and feature the sort of dramatic vocals that any fan of Elias Ronnenfelt — or, for that matter, Ian Curtis — is sure to appreciate. Wear your best all-black outfit to this one.
Wednesday, May 16, 8 PM
Lace, Fried Egg, Slump, Horse Culture @ Strange Matter – $8
From one band with a spooky, atmospheric take on hardcore to another — Lace is coming to Strange Matter tonight, and if this Texas band don’t actually have too much in common musically with Iceage, their dark, foreboding vibe and background in hardcore aggression certainly matches. Recent LP The Human Condition is a refreshing, excellent take on modern hardcore, integrating chaotic touches with gothic drama and postpunk experimentation to simultaneously bring to mind Dead And Gone, Swing Kids, and Ex-Cult. Whether you’re into garage rock wildness, hardcore fury, or the pure spirit of experimentation that keeps bands from falling into genre-based predictability, you’re going to find a lot to like about Lace.
The VA-based openers on this bill all descend from the venerable lineage of American hardcore, but all have different takes on the form. Fried Egg are raging hardcore rippers with a noise-rock edge, like Pissed Jeans doing Negative Approach covers — or vice versa. Slump (who apparently already dropped the “-oids” from last time I wrote about them) push things in a stretched-out, psychedelic direction with their lengthy post-hardcore space-noise epics. Horse Culture are full on sludge-noise, pounding and howling at a dirge-like pace and a volume that will cave your head in. This show will definitely not get predictable, and it will definitely not be quiet. Get stoked.
Thursday, May 17, 7:30 PM
Restroy, Voice Of Saturn @ Black Iris – $6-10
The increased presence of jazz in this column lately might lead some to think I am getting old — and you wouldn’t be wrong! But honestly, if you love a wide variety of music, you probably should be paying attention to jazz, and not just dusty old records you find in thrift stores, either! (Not that those aren’t often really good, but still.) New and intriguing things have been happening in the local jazz world recently, and Black Iris has been taking a big role in helping the word get out — which is an awesome and welcome contribution to the local scene, so keep it up, y’all!
This week, Black Iris is bringing us a performance from Restroy, a shifting ensemble led by Virginia bassist Christopher Dammann, which integrates acoustic jazz improvisation with electronic textures and experimental noise to create a surprising new hybrid which still beats with the unkillable heart of jazz tradition. Restroy for this performance finds Dammann teaming up with drummer extraordinaire Scott Clark — who we told you about in last week’s jazz-at-Black-Iris coverage — and a quartet of electronic musicians who will also add textures of piano, trumpet, and cello to the mix. The result will be hard to predict, tough to pin down, and impossible to forget. The evening will begin with a performance by mysterious local electronic combo The Voice Of Saturn, and will only get more intriguing from there. Don’t miss it.
Friday, May 18, 8 PM
Yeni Nostalji, DJ OINuBi, Keilan Creech @ Gallery 5 – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Yeni Nostalji’s record release show at Gallery 5 is guaranteed to be unlike anything else you’ll see this week. For one thing, Yeni Nostalji’s music is of a type that doesn’t exactly come through town on a weekly basis. Yeni Nostalji is a group that brings Turkish and American musicians together to create a hybrid pop sound equally influenced by Leonard Cohen and Dolly Parton and by European pop radio sounds of decades past. American-born vocalist Christina Gleixner fell in love with the sounds of Turkish music via singer Tanju Okan, and decided to sing in Turkish in Yeni Nostalji as a tribute to the inspiration she found in Turkish music. This soon led her to collaborations with musicians from around the globe, and the result is Yeni Nostalji’s self-titled debut album.
At Gallery 5 this Friday night, the group celebrates the release of this album on Philadelphia label Ropeadope — which RVA music heads may remember from their links with local label Jellowstone. It is unique in that it is likely the first album released by an American label with entirely Turkish lyrics. But it’s also unique in that it brings the deep, smooth sounds of Yeni Nostalji to life. That same thing will take place on the Gallery 5 stage this Friday night, and you should really be there; this group’s alluring, romantic sound will make you feel like you’ve just stepped into a European nightclub from half a century ago. It’s not something you’re likely to encounter again anytime soon, and honestly, you’d be a fool to miss it.
Saturday, May 19, 5 PM
Clever Girls, Elizabeth Owens & The Live Bats, Abby Huston @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This Saturday matinee gig is looking like a real treat, first and foremost because it’ll bring Vermont’s Clever Girls to town. Their 2017 EP, Loose Tooth, is a killer example of a sound I haven’t gotten tired of yet, and doubt I’ll ever lose my taste for. Their jangly guitars and energetic tempos combine with the killer vocal melodies of singer Diane Jean to ensure that these songs lodge in the pleasure centers of your brain and do not let go. Plus, they’ve got that same hint of midwestern twang that comes through in the work of fellow killers Hop Along, and that’s never a bad thing. Best of all, they aren’t yet another band using the word “girls” in their name but featuring only male members! Granted, only their vocalist is a woman, but still, I’ll take it. Progress!
We have two pretty great local acts opening this one up, too. Elizabeth Owens and their band, the Live Bats, have been generating a bit of buzz around the local scene recently, and their quietly beautiful music manages to simultaneously charm and unsettle with a vaguely ominous atmosphere that never fully dissipates. Recent EP Growing Pain has a lot to recommend it, from its glittering acoustic guitar melodies to the empathic lyrics bringing a caring emotional focus to open discussion of mental illness. Abby Huston is new to me, but the melodies present on recent EP Rich are a sure winner, offering a perfect enticement to get more familiar with what she brings to the table. Show up on time for this one.
Sunday, May 20, 8 PM
Songs: Molina – A Memorial Electric Co., Elephant Micah @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
It was a really sad thing when Jason Molina died so young, at only 39 years of age, in 2013. The singer-songwriter, who made incredible music under the names Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. as well as under his given name, delved into a deep well of emotional darkness that many related to, including myself. That darkness, which he was given to suppressing with alcohol, ultimately claimed him. However, during his abbreviated life, he brought us some incredible music, which combined folk, country, and loud rock n’ roll to produce quite a few classic albums, including Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain (2002) and Magnolia Electric Co.’s What Comes After The Blues (2005). In recent years, members of both of his backing bands have been working to keep Molina’s memory alive with semi-regular performances under the name Songs: Molina – A Memorial Electric Co.
That ensemble comes to Richmond this Sunday night, and whether you have memories of Molina’s legendary Virginia shows — at VCU with The Mountain Goats in 2003, on the steps of the Harrisonburg courthouse during MacRock many years ago — or you never had the pleasure of seeing him perform, this show has something to offer you. Elephant Micah leader Joe O’Connell will be joining the group to provide vocals and guitar in place of their departed frontman, and the show will begin with a separate set from Elephant Micah. Molina may be gone, but his music will live on for a long time to come.
Monday, May 21, 8 PM
American Pleasure Club, Special Explosion, Downhaul @ Strange Matter – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
American Pleasure Club is the latest name under which singer-songwriter Sam Ray and his backing band are performing, and while it’s certainly not the best name ever, it’s certainly better than their old name — Teen Suicide, which really might be the WORST band name ever. So hey, every little bit helps, right? Ray, who has also recorded under the names Joy Void and Ricky Eat Acid, among others, has a lot going on in his music, moving from grungy alt-rock tunes like “This Is Heaven & I’d Die For It” to strange screwed-n-chopped underwater R&B songs like “Let’s Move To The Desert” in relatively short stretches of time on A Whole Fucking Lifetime Of This, American Pleasure Club’s new LP.
How’s all this going to transfer to the live setting? You might well ask, but it seems safe to assume that the guitars will be making the trip, and they will be dishing out some rockin’ songs to get your feet moving at least at some points during the set. It might also get weird at other points, though, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. Seattle’s Special Explosion are on tour with American Pleasure Club, and they offer a fitting counterpoint to that band’s melange of unexpected genre juxtapositions on recent release To Infinity. They show equal facility with dance beats, twinkly emo-gaze guitars, and ethereal yet unforgettable vocal melodies. Locals Downhaul kick things off with some relatively straightforward emo-pop, but like the touring bands, they’re neither predictable nor forgettable, so arrive at the designated hour for best results from this show.
Tuesday, May 22, 8 PM
Pillorian, Appalling, American @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Black metal started out as a ferocious, blood-spattered beast of a genre, but once it had been around for a while, musicians around the world started recognizing the various possibilities the genre offered, and taking off in exploratory directions that were often quite surprising. Pillorian follows in the footsteps of one of those groundbreaking black metal acts, Agalloch, who explored the potential enriching elements that folk melodies and atmospheres brought to black metal. Former Agalloch frontman John Haughm formed Pillorian in the wake of Agalloch’s breakup, and the group’s debut LP, Obsidian Arc, saw the group ably continuing Agalloch’s legacy.
Part of the reason Haughm started Pillorian was to tour more often, and since the release of their first LP last year, they’ve remained on the road, touring the world and hitting the festival circuit. Now they’re heading to our little town of Richmond, which is only logical because as we all know, this place is metal as fuck. Openers Appalling and American offer a taste of what homegrown musicians are doing with the black metal template; the former takes it in a dark, crusty direction sure to appeal just as much to fans of dirty US hardcore bands like Tragedy as it will to the dyed-in-the-wool kvltists. Meanwhile, American — who kinda pulled a ninja move with such a generic-yet-unusual name — take things in more of an epic, rage-heavy direction on last year’s Violate And Control, a dark, pounding listen that’s sure to translate into serious brutality in the live setting. This one’s a headbanger’s paradise, so don’t sleep on it.
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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