Sunday, August 25, 7 PM
Red Death, Enforced, Dead & Dreaming, Loud Night, Mutually Assured Destruction @ The Camel – $10
We here at RVA Mag have had quite a bit of discussion, both in this very column and in other places, about Enforced’s brand new LP, At The Walls, so to call it a hotly anticipated local release would certainly be more than fair. Now the official release celebration for the album has finally arrived, and rocking out at this jam-packed hardcore/punk/metal show is sure to be the perfect capper to your weekend.
DC residents and recent Century Media signees Red Death, who share members with Enforced and are preparing to release a new LP of their own, are at the top of the heap here, and while it’s Enforced’s party, these guys stand out as guests of honor on their own behalf. 2017’s Formidable Darkness LP was the first with their current four-piece lineup and finds them leaning hard into the thrashier aspects of their crossover metallic hardcore sound, bringing to mind both 80s legends like Exodus and Dark Angel as well as current rulers like Power Trip and Richmond’s own Iron Reagan. These guys are going to lay waste to the Camel, so get ready.
And you also need to be ready for Enforced, whose dark thrash-core sound is both terrifying and galvanizing, and is sure to get you hella excited for thousands of At The Walls needle-drops to come. But we hope you’re parked close by, because you’re gonna want to get that LP to the safety of your car before the set starts and the pit starts moving. With three other incredible bands on the bill, including the first local show for RVA HC all-stars Mutually Assured Destruction (it’s Ace’s new new band, and his vocals are at a whole new level), you’ll really just want to get there the second they open the doors.
Wednesday, August 21, 8 PM
God Module, Finite Automata, Absynthe Of Faith @ Fallout – $8 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
If you’ve paid attention in the goth-industrial music world of the past 20 or so years, you’re sure to recognize that Metropolis Records has brought us a lot of the best work that’s come out of that genre — from Front Line Assembly to VNV Nation, and beyond. God Module may not be one of the first names that comes to mind when you think of that label’s rich history, but they have been one of the more consistent groups on Metropolis over the past 15 years or so, moving from early dancefloor classics like “Spooky” to their recently-released 11th LP, The Unsound.
On The Unsound, Jasyn Bangert and co. continue to work magic with the combination of dark synth moods, pounding electronic beats, and sinister yet somehow inviting vocals, which has situated them right on the borderline between industrial pound and gothic atmosphere throughout their lengthy career. At Fallout tonight, they’ll be bringing the pounding beats to get your shiny black Docs stomping on the floor, even as their downbeat melodies fill your heart with passion. It may be the heart of August, but black attire is definitely recommended for this one no matter how hot and humid it is outside.
Thursday, August 22, 7 PM
Death Valley Girls, Craig Brown Band, Piranha Rama @ Gallery 5 – $12 (order tickets HERE)
I’m not sure the cliched stereotype of the “valley girl” has any cultural currency in the year 2019, but back in the early 80s when Frank Zappa (and his daughter Moon Unit) had a novelty hit called “Valley Girl” while Nic Cage starred in a movie of the same name, it definitely meant something. That stereotype of a rambunctious teenage girl who hangs out at the mall (do people even go to malls anymore?) and is always on the phone (OK, this part still rings true) is what Death Valley Girls are subverting, both in their name and in their dark yet catchy psychedelic sound.
Considering they come from LA, they’re sure to have plenty of inspiration for such a subversion. They let it loose on albums like 2018’s Darkness Rains, which channels everything from The Stooges and Jane’s Addiction to Romeo Void in its foreboding tales of West Coast excess. When Death Valley Girls hit the stage at Gallery 5, they’ll bring plenty of lysergic noise, but you’ll still have a ton of catchy pop hooks to dance to underneath it all. With accompaniment from Third Man recording artist Craig Brown, formerly of the Terrible Twos, and his band, plus Piranha Rama acting as an excellent local opener, this one’s sure to knock your socks off. That’s OK — dance barefoot.
Friday, August 23, 8 PM
Gary Clark Jr, Blackillac, Peterson Brothers @ The National – $44 in advance/$47.50 day of show (order tickets HERE)
We’ve known for a while that Gary Clark Jr. is an incredibly talented guitarist who brings a 21st century feel to the classic-rock-radio staple genre of electric blues. However, if you thought (as I did for a while) that genre was too played out for even a talented player to truly breathe new life into it, you really need to give Clark a second look this year. His third album, This Land, is fueled by the juxtaposition of his fiery chops and some real anger about the state of the world today, specifically in Trump’s racist America.
The album’s opening title track is startling in its harsh, confrontational lyrics, and hits all the harder for it. On that track and others, like “When I’m Gone” and “Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow,” Clark fuses modern R&B and hip hop sounds with his always-killer riffing and powerful, soulful vocals. It’s a sound sure to delight a wide spectrum of music lovers, and while there’s no shame in having overlooked him up to now (I did too), the time has come to give Gary Clark Jr. your attention. Do so at the National this Friday night — you won’t regret it.
Saturday, August 24, 7 PM
Psychic Graveyard, Hex Machine, Bermuda Triangles @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Things are gonna get downright weird over at Capital Ale House’s Richmond Music Hall on Saturday when Psychic Graveyard arrive, and if I tell you that this band features former members of Arab On Radar and Chinese Stars, that might just clue you in on how weird it’s gonna get. Psychic Graveyard maintain the same sort of tenuous connection to postpunk’s experimental fringe that was present in their previous bands, but interjects a greater emphasis on programmed beats and synth-driven sounds — though it’d feel more than a little disingenuous to call their music “danceable” in any conventional sense.
What it is is noisy and bizarre, the same sort of unconventional strangeness that fans of the members’ previous bands loved so much. Therefore it’s no surprise to find them sharing this bill with fellow noise veterans Hex Machine and Bermuda Triangles, both of whom have unique sounds of their own to offer. Hex Machine’s heavy, metallic postpunk sound shines on recently-released LP Cave Painting, their first in nearly six years and a much-desired return to action from this stomping RVA trio. Meanwhile, Bermuda Triangles are carrying on with the same percussion-driven mutant space funk they’ve been dishing out for years now; their presence on this bill certainly warrants bringing your dancing shoes, even if Psychic Graveyard kinda doesn’t.
Sunday, August 25, 7 PM
Big Business, A Deer A Horse, Tel @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Big Business is back once again, and this power duo is now going on 15 years of proving that you don’t need a guitar to be heavy as hell. Bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis spent several years making up one-half of the Melvins, so their pedigree is certainly not in question, but their sixth LP, The Beast You Are, released earlier this year, shows that they can bowl you over just fine on their own. They’ll do so with aplomb when they hit Capital Ale House this Sunday for their first appearance in Richmond in over a decade (raise your hand if you also saw them last time they were here, when they opened for the Blood Brothers).
Big Business excels at ferocious riffs that continually batter your brain and compel you to furious headbangs, so it’s only appropriate that they share this bill with Brooklyn’s A Deer A Horse, who do much the same on recently-released EP Everything Rots That Is Rotten. From bombastic sludge to foreboding doom, the many moods of A Deer A Horse are all powerful, and all dark. Local sludge-doom powerhouse Tel will kick this one off with a slow-motion rumble that’ll set the whole night off onto a powerful course. Make sure you’re on board this train.
Monday, August 26, 9 PM
Bask, Manzara, Crimson Heat @ Cary Street Cafe – $10
Let’s keep the heaviness rolling straight on into the working week, shall we? With Bask coming to town from their NC mountain home, we certainly will! This metal powerhouse brings epic song structures, killer riffs, and soaring vocal prowess together to create masterful metallic beauty on their 2017 LP, Ramble Beyond, and whether you dig Led Zeppelin, Spirit Caravan, Neurosis, or Queens Of The Stone Age, you’re sure to find something to love from these talented North Carolinians when they take the Cary Street Cafe stage.
They’ll be joined there by a couple of shining examples of Richmond musical excellence. The first is Manzara, whose energetic yet spaced-out postpunk has been making a mark on the local scene for a while. If you’re not up on it, this is your perfect opportunity to get familiar. Plus, you’ll get a performance from a brand new Richmond supergroup, Crimson Heat, which features veterans from past RVA stoner warriors like Sinister Haze, Stone Woman, and Heathens. Get into this one — it’s gonna start your week off right!
Tuesday, August 27, 8 PM
Super Low, Manatree, Gnawing @ The Camel – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s a heavy week here in RVA, but not every show has to crush your head, right? If you’re ready to trade in the headbangs for some charming pop melodies that’ll make you smile, The Camel’s got you covered this Tuesday night, as Memphis pop artisans Super Low roll into town with some downright delightful indie pop sounds. They showed off their talents earlier this summer with the release of their self-titled debut LP, and you’ll definitely want to hear all of those excellent tunes in person when they roll through town this Tuesday night.
This show will also feature the latest incarnation of Manatree, now a trio with a stronger focus than ever on electronic textures in addition to their complex, talented indie song structures. They showed off this Radiohead-meets-Four Tet approach on the Rough Designs EP, released last spring, and it will certainly be fascinating to see them recreate these multi-layered, synth-rich tunes in a live environment. We’ll also get a performance from Gnawing, a killer local grunge-rock combo who certainly know how to bring the Dinosaur Jr and Superchunk vibes, if last year’s self-titled debut EP is any indication. And I’d say it probably is.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, August 23, 8 PM
Corrosion Of Conformity, Crowbar, Quaker City Night Hawks, Lo-Pan @ Elevation27 – $25 (order tickets HERE)
I’m sure there are a lot of old heads out there like me, for whom the name Corrosion Of Conformity summons up memories of the North Carolina band’s early days as progenitors of the crossover hardcore sound of the mid-80s. However, we’d by lying if we pretended that this band weren’t better known in 2019 for the sludgy Southern-fried metal boogie sounds they cranked out throughout the 90s and early 00s. Fans of that COC sound may have been a little bummed when the band spent several years at the beginning of this decade in their original trio lineup, focusing on their early crossover work.
However, they’re bound to be stoked that COC has reunited with vocalist Pepper Keenan to crank out another heaping helping of that powerful metal roar on 2018’s No Cross No Crown. COC will be firing on all cylinders when they bring the classic Deliverance/America’s Volume Dealer lineup to Norfolk this Friday night. They’ll be accompanied by their longtime compatriots in New Orleans’ own swamp-sludge metal heroes Crowbar, who remain at peak form after nearly 30 years as a band, as shown on 2016 LP The Serpent Only Lies. This hellacious bill is rounded out by Texas rock n’ roll groovers Quaker City Night Hawks and Norfolk’s own Lo-Pan, this is gonna be a night to remember — one full of headbangs.
Saturday, August 24, 8 PM
BRAINxTOILET, Needle, Neck Breather, Ixias, Ancient Torture Techniques, Redundant Protoplasm, Kept In Line, Cybernetic Warkrab @ RiffHouse Pub – $8
Hey speed demon — are you feeling unfulfilled by the excess of sludgy heaviness on this week’s docket? Well then you better break all speed records heading down 64 East this Saturday night, because you’ve got a show full of absolute grindcore madness waiting for you at RiffHouse Pub. I’m talking about this show, which features several different maniacal grind ensembles from around the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as quite a few homegrown VA talents to keep your head spinning with hyperspeed blastbeat mayhem.
North Carolina’s BRAINxTOILET are at the top of the bill, and their ferocious power has the same sort of grotty rage built into it that we saw from past NC grind maniacs Dead In The Dirt. DC’s Needle have a cleaner b but no less maniacal approach to their grind blitzkrieg, recalling DC-area grind legends of the past like Daybreak and early Pig Destroyer. Where locals are concerned, Tidewater grind legends Ancient Torture Techniques appear to have gone from broken up to doing occasional reunions back to full-time action, so that’s always a cause for celebration. Meanwhile, Chesapeake’s Kept In Line has brought us my favorite demo of 2019 so far, in any genre, so you definitely don’t want to miss them. Pissed-off straight edge grindcore, I love it! There are four more bands I haven’t even talked about on this bill, but I’m sure I’m pushing the limits of the attention span for all you grind freaks, so I’ll just wrap it up by saying: get thee to RiffHouse Saturday night, where all your blastbeat cravings will be satisfied.
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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