Saturday, July 21, 10 PM
PT, Fan Ran, BC Music 1st, Reppa Ton, Rah Scrilla, Johnny Ciggs, Starr Nyce, Ben FM, Been Official @ Emilio’s – Free!
Richmond hip hop is an endless well of delights. There are so many different corners of the scene that merit keeping up with, and it can be tough to give equal attention to it all. But if you really want to be aware of what’s happening in Richmond hip hop, you can’t sleep on Gritty City Records. They’ve been cranking out quality hip hop for close to a decade now, and over the course of their lengthy, prolific run, they’ve expanded their roster to feature quite a few local talents who got their start separately from the label. Talk about supporting the scene.
The latest RVA stalwart to fall into Gritty City’s orbit is PT, a veteran rapper who is not to be confused with PT Burnem, a completely different veteran RVA rapper. PT and Fan Ran have a new album coming out on Gritty City called Airtight (or Ear-tite… or both?) and the first single, “Ain’t Made My Way,” finds PT spitting some raw, real-as-fuck lyrics over local production superstar Fan Ran’s smooth-as-silk yet vaguely ominous beats. It wouldn’t be a bad bet to expect this same level of high-quality hardcore hip hop from the entire album, and you can get a lengthier preview — and a chance to purchase a copy of Airtight for yourself — by swinging by Emilio’s this Saturday night. It doesn’t even cost anything to get in; what have you got to lose?
You’ll get a lot more for your zero-dollar investment as well. Triple-threat rhymer/director BC Music 1st will step out from behind the camera to grab the mic and lay down a set, which one assumes will draw significant material from his latest album, Prayers Are Appreciated. You can pick up a copy of that one at the show too — and you’d be well advised to do so. The rest of the bill brings together Gritty City mainstays like Johnny Ciggs and Ben FM with RVA leading lights like Rah Scrilla and Reppa Ton. Even Atlanta’s Starr Nyce, who got his start in RVA, will deliver a set. If you want to find out what’s going on in 2018 RVA hip hop, Gritty City is your one-stop shop — and this free Saturday night show is the perfect opportunity for you to get on board.
Wednesday, July 18, 7 PM
Strawberry Girls, Night Verses, Andrés, pulses., The Sun In The Sea @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Instrumental prog-metal. It’s a thing. There’s this whole scene out there for this kind of music that a lot of us probably forget about, ignore, or flat-out never knew existed. And I know there are probably a lot of you who think it’s nerdy, who roll your eyes and dismiss the whole idea of such a genre without ever giving it a proper listen. But I urge you to reconsider, as groups like Strawberry Girls and Night Verses might just twist your whole head around if you give them a chance. Admittedly, Strawberry Girls are one of those groups with a female name and an entirely male membership, and I’m sick to death of that whole trope. But musically, this group has quite a bit to offer, from their chunky, complex, yet always engaging instrumentals to their occasional vocal tunes featuring a variety of smooth-voiced guests.
One of those guests is Andrés, a smooth-voiced soul singer with some Miguel vibes on his solo work. He recently collaborated with Strawberry Girls on a track called “Party Nights,” which manages to keep the tech-prog vibe going at the same time as it sounds sorta like Chromeo. (I know, right?) Andrés is on this tour too, and in addition to a set of guitar-driven R&B jams of his own, I’d be amazed if he didn’t join Strawberry Girls for at least a few minutes of their set. Night Verses, the LA band who’ll occupy the slot between Strawberry Girls and Andrés’s sets, are strictly instro and get a little heavier and more electronic with their sounds, but they’ve got a lot in common with Strawberry Girls and are sure to get you rockin’ out even as you admire their intricate fretwork.
Thursday, July 19, 8 PM
PC Worship, Buck Gooter, Magnus Lush, Fat Spirit @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
If you’re anything like me, the second you see a band name like “PC Worship,” you think “this is gonna be some weird electronic stuff.” It’s a fair expectation, to be sure — but in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, this Brooklyn band gets down n’ dirty, wading around in the same sort of muck that classic NYC sludge-scummers like Pussy Galore and Surgery. They bring in some artsy inclinations as well — folk-associated instruments like violins show up right in the middle of slacker jams that will have you thinking of early Pavement and obscure “only 90s kids will remember” groups like Red Red Meat.
Mainly, PC Worship seem to be a band that has found a way to dig deep enough in the muck to find psychedelic transcendence. And whether you’re the type to love sloppy blues-damaged shambling or astral-traveling space music, you’re sure to find something that will appeal to you in PC Worship’s decidedly non-electronic approach. Things will get even weirder when honestly undescribable VA stalwarts Buck Gooter take the stage for their set, while openers Magnus Lush and Fat Spirit each contribute their own spin on emotionally-driven alt-rock, with Magnus Lush taking things in a more ethereal direction as Fat Spirit dig their toes into the grunge vibe. This is gonna be a fun one.
Friday, July 20, 9:30 PM
Piranha Rama, Minor Poet, Big No @ Strange Matter – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This is going to be a big night. Piranha Rama has been bouncing around the RVA scene for a while now, but they’ve kept a low profile in the world of recording, mainly choosing to prove themselves on stages around town. They didn’t release their first EP, Beach Body, until a few months ago. But clearly, they were just waiting until the right time, because now, only a couple of months after that first release, they’re following it up with a self-titled full-length that will be available for the first time at this musical extravaganza. Which is to say: if you had plans for Friday night, you better reschedule.
Piranha Rama is a band bringing together members from a variety of local rock n’ roll combos, including Lady God, The Milkstains, and Warren Hixson, and while their first EP was a pretty solid continuation of the sound those groups led us to expect, they’ve got a lot more than that up their sleeves. Their new LP features contributions from local musical superstars like Kenneka Cook and Reggie Pace, and incorporates a variety of unexpected sounds, from spaghetti-western-soundtrack twang to Latin syncopations and lounge-style synth. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll hear plenty of rock n’ roll at this show — but that’s far from the only thing Piranha Rama have to offer. Investigate further if you haven’t already. And if you have, show up for a renewed dose. You need this band in your life.
Saturday, July 21, 7 PM
Dylan Carlson, Dorthia Cottrell, Eric Benson @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Even after setting trends and blazing trails in the world of music for over a quarter-century, Dylan Carlson is remains relevant and interesting. His time with Earth saw him basically create the sludge-beyond-sludge sound that Sunn 0))) has immortalized, before moving on to a sort of ambient folk approach that retained the droning doom vibes of their earlier material while incorporating lush melody and an almost inviting sound. For the last five years or so, Carlson has been working mainly on his own, creating evocative soundscapes with nothing more than his lone electric guitar. It’s this sort of playing that he showcases on his first full solo album, Conquistador, released earlier this year.
Carlson describes Conquistador as “an imaginary Western” (word to Leslie West), and its five tracks, which total just over half an hour (there were single Earth songs this long!) evoke the exact sort of mood and atmosphere that you’d expect from such a thing. While Sergio Leone is a definite influence here, there’s a subtle melodic undercurrent that will remind fans of later Earth material, even as the most droning moments will evoke Earth’s early days of massive heavyosity. Carlson is well-paired on this show with a solo performance by Dorthia Cottrell, whose work separate from doom-metal heroes Windhand has a menacing, windswept vibe of its own, one that could definitely be termed “dark folk.” Meanwhile, Lugweight leader Eric Benson brings us a solo set that may or may not be full of his own take on droning guitar noise — that’s what the last Lugweight stuff I heard had to offer, but it’s been a while now.
Sunday, July 22, 8 PM
Machines Of Living Death, Pain Generator @ Fallout – $5
OK, before we go any further, let’s get one thing out of the way — this is not the band Machines Of Loving Grace. I’ll give you massive 90s-kid Crow-soundtrack-rocking industrial-metal props if that was what you thought, but Machines Of Living Death are an entirely different proposition. Their take on industrial metal is fast, furious, war-hungry, and downright brutal. If anything, this band is death metal — their 2016 album The DOS Of War shows their facility with thrash riffs, guttural vocals, and speedy drums.
But they make it more interesting, not to mention harder-hitting, by incorporating programmed beats, harsh samples, and the sort of technological bleakness that once characterized the best work of Ministry. Imagine “Thieves” or “Stigmata” if they were written by Napalm Death, and you’re on the right track. Whether you’re down with the dour, pounding power of classic industrial or the headbanging thrash rage of death metal, you’ll find something to love in Machines of Living Death. Get into it.
Monday, July 23, 8 PM
Bible Of The Devil, Twisted Tower Dire, Desert Altar, DJ Die-Hard @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The days of muscle cars doing burnouts in parking lots while Judas Priest blasts on the stereo are gone. LONG gone, in fact — I can remember the days when Heavy Metal Parking Lot was a day to day reality at a certain pool hall in my hometown, but I was a little kid at the time, and I’m old! Thankfully, there are bands out there keeping that rip-roaring metal sound alive into a darker modern era when most metal bands are persistently pessimistic. Don’t get me wrong, those bands have a million very good reasons to go all-dark all the time, and scream in dimly lit rooms about how fucked we all are, but sometimes you just want to hear a guitar-slinging band crank out some mega-fun riffs to put a smile on your face and let you forget about [insert insulting nickname for our president here] and all the other garbage that’s an inextricable part of our world in the 21st century.
I’m talking, of course, about Bible Of The Devil, the Chicago crew with a two-decade history of triumphant heavy metal power. This band splits the difference between early Van Halen, early Iron Maiden, and prime New Wave Of British Heavy Metal awesomeness like Angel Witch and Tygers of Pan Tang — and they do it with a joie de vivre sure to light up your Monday night and get your week off to a great start. They’re accompanied on this trip to RVA by North Carolina’s Twisted Tower Dire, who are a bit more straight-up early 80s power-metal, but still share Bible Of The Devil’s devil-may-care joy at showering us all with triumphant metal delights. Desert Altar, a local retro-doom quintet who’ve recently brought an excellent Kyuss-style riff monster of a self-titled debut album into the world, offer local support, and round out this bill full of pure headbanging glory.
Tuesday, July 24, 7:30
Zac Clark, Bob Oxblood, Long Arms @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Gotta be honest with y’all here — I don’t know who Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness are. The fact that Zac Clark is a member of that group is being touted as his foremost qualification for your attention, and it just makes me feel tremendously out of the loop. However, I’ve never been the sort of girl to worry more about the hype than the music, and a single listen to Clark’s 2015 solo LP, I Am A Guest, was enough to convince me that it doesn’t matter what other bands this dude is in. Clark’s songwriting is imbued with equal dashes of 70s singer-songwriter-style melodic introspection (think Jackson Browne and James Taylor — who are both great, in case you weren’t sure) and alt-country pensiveness (here I’m referring to guys like Patterson Hood and Jason Isbell — who, yes, were both in the Drive-By Truckers).
The point here is that you shouldn’t be going to see Zac Clark because of whoever he normally plays with — you should be going to see him because he’s a really good musician and will share some excellent songs with you. The same can be said of Bob Oxblood; he’s played in Jack’s Mannequin and done guest vocals on at least one Kid Is Qual tune, but his solo work — which combines some delicate finger-picked guitar with an intriguingly syncopated backbeat, at least on new EP Domino — is the reason for the season. Openers Long Arms brought us a killer LP last year that might just be the best thing James Menefee’s been responsible for yet (and he was also in Fun Size and River City High, so that’s saying something!) This will be a night of excellent songwriters singing excellent songs. You really shouldn’t miss 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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