Friday, April 12, 9 PM
Horsewhip, Infant Island, Eliza Battle @ Wonderland – $5
The loss of Strange Matter at the end of 2018 was, as everyone reading this knows firsthand, a devastating blow to the Richmond music scene. We were really feeling its departure in January of this year, when it became a real struggle some nights to find a place where good bands were playing. Thankfully, though, the Richmond scene has shown its longtime resilience in the face of setbacks; these days, we’re starting to see a new normal establish itself. Indie bands that would previously have played Strange Matter have a number of potential alternative destinations — The Camel and Capital Ale House’s Richmond Music Hall among them. As for the heavy bands, they’ve got Wonderland.
Wonderland’s always been a good spot to see a punk or metal show on a Saturday night, but it seems of late that their stage is seeing a good bit more use, and by more high-profile bands, than ever before. That’s certainly a positive development, especially when it gives bands like Horsewhip an opportunity to play in town. These Florida-based hardcore veterans released an absolutely pulverizing self-titled mini-LP last year, and they’re set to bring the noise to Shockoe Bottom this Friday night.
The group’s lineup is packed full of multi-decade DIY hardcore vets, featuring members of Early Grace, Reversal Of Man, Order of Importance, and the Sutek Conspiracy — and if you weren’t around in 1999 to hear the sounds they were cranking out at the time, rest assured they’ve lost not an ounce of power as they’ve aged. Their self-titled debut brings all the hectic chaos of prime 90s chaotic hardcore bands like, well, the ones they used to be in, as well as packing a heavy-as-fuck wallop that draws strength from bands like His Hero Is Gone and From Ashes Rise. Joined by a couple of Virginia bands representing the new generation of a similarly heavy, chaotic, and noisy hardcore sound — Infant Island and Eliza Battle, to be specific — Horsewhip is set to terrorize Shockoe Bottom this Friday night with some essential high-volume rage. Bring your earplugs.
Wednesday, April 10, 7 PM
Life In Vacuum, Ostraca, Manzara @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
One night of chaos deserves another, so let’s move forward in the show column as we move backwards in time from Friday night to tonight, when Canadian trio Life In Vacuum rolls into town and sets up shop at The Camel. This group might not have Horsewhip’s sheer heaviness to draw on, but their chaotic energy more than makes up for it; last year’s All You Can Quit finds the group drawing on frenetic influences from multiple decades. I hear everything from Angel Hair to Single Mothers in this band’s sound, and all of it sounds great when they do it.
So yeah, get ready for some manic chaos with a quirky, mathematical feel when Life In Vacuum take the stage, and stay stoked for the local openers. Though, having said that, I should admit that at least in my heart, Ostraca are headliners in their own right. And considering the sheer power of their dark, heavy take on chaotic hardcore, as displayed most recently on their third LP, 2018’s Enemy, they should be headliners in your heart too. They will pair well with Life In Vacuum’s less heavy but just as chaotic approach, and the opening set by local psychedelic postpunk gloom merchants Manzara will get things started off on the perfect note. This one’s gonna rule.
Thursday, April 11, 7:30 PM
The Bones Of JR Jones, Angelica Garcia, Erin Lunsford @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 (order tickets HERE)
This one’s gonna be fun, because The Bones Of JR Jones is an honest-to-god one-man band, and I always enjoy those. JR Linaberry sits behind a highly abbreviated drum kit he plays with foot pedals, singing and playing rootsy countrified rock n’ roll on a hollow-body guitar. The results sometimes appeal in a similar way to gutbucket roots-rockers like Hasil Adkins and Scott H. Biram, but there’s an undeniable tinge of heartfelt emotion and sincerity that comes through in the group’s more melodic moments.
The overall feel is somewhere between high-lonesome country and noisy garage rock, and that’s definitely a good place to be. 2018’s Ones To Keep Close LP showed Linaberry’s talented songwriting capability, but you won’t get the full feel of what The Bones Of JR Jones are about unless you go see them live, in all their foot-stomping one-man glory. Local songwriting excellence will come to us in the form of talented openers Angelica Garcia and Erin Lunsford. This one will be glorious.
Friday, April 12, 9 PM
Suppression, Hewolf, Destruct @ Bandito’s – Free!
It’s always great to see local veterans at the top of their game show off their prowess in an intimate venue, and we’ll get multiple chances to see that exact thing go down at Bandito’s this Friday night. Suppression’s coming close to three decades of existence, and their sound has mutated multiple times over the course of that lengthy history; their recent revival as a hyperspeed powerhouse of lo-fi grind, as captured on last year’s Placebo Reality LP, has been a real blast to watch and enjoy. When they start tearing it up at Bandito’s this Friday night, there’s no telling what chaos will result from the wave of sonic destruction they unleash. The prospect is thrilling.
But what’s really fun about this night is that it offers us a bonus chance to see what some multi-decade scene stalwarts are up to these days. In this case I am talking about Hewolf, a new trio with a grunge kick and some killer riffage to dispense. Out-of-towners might not completely know what’s up, but longtime local showgoers will know exactly what I mean when I say this band brings together members of Alabama Thunderpussy, Darkest Hour, and the almighty Crackhead to dish out some Slianglaos-style heavyosity. It’s gonna be fun as hell, in a Headbangers Ball-flashback sense, so get ready to throw some devil horns. Destruct starts the evening off with some blown-out Negative Approach-meets-Discharge old-school hardcore punk to get your juices flowing. Grab some tacos and settle in for a long night of awesomeness.
Saturday, April 13, 7 PM
The Machinist, Filth, Alukah, Black Matter Device @ McCormack’s – $12
It’s a heavy week in Richmond, y’all. And Saturday night might just be the heaviest of them all, as New York deathcore crew The Machinist rolls through town on a tour celebrating the release of their debut album, Confidimus In Morte (which apparently translates to “In Death We Trust” — love it). Opening single “No Peace” shows not just how heavy this band can make their breakdowns, but also their extensive rage, as huge chugging riff monsters meet with more melodic, progressive interludes, all topped with vocalist Amanda Gjelaj’s incredibly powerful roars.
The Machinist certainly aren’t just here to sound spooky, either, as their lyrics tackle weighty political topics and don’t hesitate for a second to confront the powers that be who keep us all in chains. Their music is a defiant roar in the face of trying times, and that’s always a huge plus. The Machinist are joined on this tour by Filth — not the Northern California crust-punk group a lot of us may be thinking of right now, but the North Carolina death metal group whose guttural vocals and sludgy tempos add up to a more straight-up take on deathcore than that of The Machinist. One thing’s for sure though — both of these bands are extremely heavy. Like, atomic-weight-of-plutonium heavy. Wear your radiation suits for this one.
Sunday, April 14, 7:30 PM
Papadosio, Cycles @ The National – $15 in advance/$20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I will go ahead and admit I don’t typically pay much attention to the scene from which Papadosio hails, a scene the proponents of which twist themselves into rhetorical pretzels to avoid calling “jam-tronica.” It’s not exactly a term that invites curiosity from wary outsiders, of which I’ve certainly been one at many points. However, once I checked out the latest LP from Papadosio, 2018’s Content Coma, I found myself surprisingly intrigued. It seems that perhaps I have sold this band short.
What I found when I listened to their music, the sound they will present onstage at the National this Sunday night, was a band with almost none of the post-Phish “jam” tendencies I feared. Instead, they tend towards a proggy vibe with a lot of spaced-out ambient melodies. At its more digital moments, Content Coma has an atmospheric feel; when things kick in, they get downright epic. I hear moments reminiscent of everything from Yes and Soft Machine to Tangerine Dream and Tame Impala. And thankfully, it never makes me think of Disco Biscuits. So yeah, if you’re bored Sunday night, you should head over to the National and groove with Papadosio. It’ll do you no harm.
Monday, April 15, 9 PM
Allison Shearer (photo by Drew Bordeaux), Weekend Plans, Calvin Presents @ The Camel – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It seems not a week goes by lately without me writing about live jazz in the show column, and I for one am stoked about that! Let’s keep the ball rolling this week, shall we? Alison Shearer is coming to the Camel this Monday night with her quintet in tow. This New York saxophonist has both jazz and hip hop cred due to her founding membership in PitchBlak Brass Band, who worked with everyone from Pharoahe Monch to Snarky Puppy during her tenure with the group.
These days, she’s heading up her own quintet, which mixes together the rockin’ jazz sound of fusion and the groovy bounce of hip hop. Their instrumental tunes are sure to get you moving and shaking on the Camel’s dance floor. What’s more, they’ll be in good company! Local brass-heavy ensemble Weekend Plans have a good bit of hip hop sound in their jazzy mix as well, having done Slick Rick covers during past Camel sets. Maybe we’ll get more of that this time around? We’ll certainly get some soulful keyboard-driven jazz tunes from Calvin Presents to start off the evening, and that’s sure to be wonderful. Give the grey start of the work week a delightful splash of color with this one.
Tuesday, April 16, 7 PM
Plini, Mestis, Dave Mackay @ The Canal Club – $18 in advance/$20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Remember the Generation Axe tour that came through town back in December? It packed practically all the legendary shredders of the 80s and 90s — Malmsteen, Bettencourt, Vai, etc — onto one single stage for a night of metallic fingertap gymnastics. I bring this up now because the arrival of Plini in Richmond could easily be heralded as the new generation of axe.
The man’s playing is not just skillful in the manner of too many guitar-store showoffs — million-note runs going nowhere in particular over generic backing beats. Instead, on releases like his latest EP, Sunhead, Plini shows that he’s actually got riffs and songs to make his guitar instrumentals not just worth admiring but worth listening to. Best of all, his tunes aren’t just triumphant, in the Iron Maiden-ish power-metal sense, but downright jubilant. If you never thought a performance by an instrumental guitar shredder could lift your mood and make you smile, you should definitely go to the Canal Club Tuesday night and check out what Plini has to offer. Your therapist will definitely thank you for it.
Bonus Hampton Roads Pick:
Saturday, April 13, 7 PM
Pet Name, Jim Shorts, Shake Your Baby, Mas Y Mas @ Toast – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
For indie/alt-rock/power-pop types, the name to watch in the Virginia Beach area is LAVA. They book a lot of other shows too, but it seems like this particular conglomerate gives particular shine to groups playing jangly, melodic sounds with a quirky feel. That’s certainly what you’ll get at this show over at Toast Saturday night. Headed up by Norfolk locals Pet Name, this bill is chock-full of charmingly amateur-sounding indie tuneage.
Pet Name’s self-titled EP from last year lets you know that, while you can’t expect major volume or heaviness from this crew of popsters, you can expect catchy tunes delivered with a winsome charm that’s sure to win you over. Meanwhile, Maryland’s Jim Shorts, who’ll be in town on a solo jaunt by frontman David Haynes (who has recorded a fair amount of the group’s tunes on his own anyway), bring a bit more of a Weezer-ish alt-rock kick to their powerful pop sounds. How that’ll translate when brought to life by just one guy isn’t entirely clear, but we do know that he’s got some incredibly well-written and memorable tunes to work with. Expecting great things is a safe move. Punk rockers Shake Your Baby (not actually a good tip, like, at all) and energetic indie kids Mas Y Mas open this one up. Get ready to smile!
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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