Thursday, February 6, 8 PM
Cary Street Cafe’s 25th Anniversary & Big Ol’ Whoopty Doo feat. Whistler’s Mother, Craigslist Jerry @ Cary Street Cafe – Free!
This column is ostensibly about music, but if you want to get technical about it, it’s really about shows. And sometimes the best, most important show of the week is about way more than just the music. Such is the case with the 25th anniversary “Big Ol’ Whoopty Doo” being thrown by Cary Street Cafe this Friday. Oh, there’ll be music — more on that in a minute — but the most important aspect of this event is just the occasion of celebrating a constant source for live music in Richmond over the past quarter century, and the work of founder Robyn McManis to bring it to us, especially in light of the fact that McManis is in the process of selling the place.
If you’ve been a longtime Cary Street Cafe regular, the music on offer this Thursday night should please you; the two groups that will be performing two sets each represent both the early and recent eras of this venue’s standard fare. Whistler’s Mother were one of the first bands to play the place, and had a Friday night residency in the cafe’s early days that lasted years. Having since evolved into projects like the Harrison Deane Band and the Tin Can Fish Band, they’ll be coming back together to rock Cary Street Cafe once again. Craigslist Jerry, who currently perform during happy hour every Friday at Cary Street Cafe, will offer two sets focusing on the Grateful Dead and Dead-inspired material that has been the place’s stock in trade since day one.
Make no mistake, the music on offer on this night should be a real treat, especially if you’re tastes are inclined to bring you to Cary Street Cafe on a regular basis anyway. But what this evening is really about is giving thanks for a venue that, in a constantly-changing landscape of short-lived venues for live music, has remained a consistent source of live performances since the early 90s — a time before a good many of our readers were even alive! Spend your Thursday night showing your appreciation with a night of celebratory jams.
Wednesday, February 5, 7 PM
Emily Wolfe, Tom West, Righter @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Let’s rock! Austin-based singer-songwriter Emily Wolfe is coming to town, and while you may be used to hearing that term as a coded signifier for “dignified Americana-folk sounds played on acoustic instruments,” Wolfe is quite a different prospect, using her loud n’ proud electric guitar and her wailing voice to create quite the storm of distorted blues-rock riffology. Her self-titled debut LP, released about a year ago, finds her at the head of a storming power trio that has much more in common with Jack White’s solo work than that of Carole King. Follow-up single “Ghost Limb Gambler,” released last week, has much the same fighting spirit, and thank god for that.
But Wolfe sometimes performs solo as well, letting her guitar, some effects, and her magnificent voice dominate the stage. Which version of her live performances we’ll get when she hits the Camel tonight isn’t something I can predict, but the fact that it’ll be great fun to watch is a sure thing. Wolfe will be joined on this gig by Australian singer-songwriter Tom West, who does hew a bit more closely to that whole folk thing, though “Americana” would surely be a misnomer for a troubadour from the land down under. Local indie-folk project Righter will get this whole evening kicked off, and it certainly should be a blast.
Thursday, February 6, 8 PM
Humungus, Mega Colossus, Children Of The Reptile, Mortal Man @ Wonderland – $10
While they’ve been around for pretty much a decade now, Richmond thrash-metal throwbacks Humungus have never been all that prolific a band — which just makes it that much more exciting when they do release new material. They did so back around Christmastime, bringing their second full-length, Balls, into the world via Killer Metal Records. The fact that most people have already picked their faves of the year by the time December rolls around might have led to this album flying under some people’s radar, but as always with Humungus, missing out on it would be a very big mistake.
This quintet does thrash in a manner not often heard in the modern era, keeping alive not only the incredible leads and galloping riffs of the genre’s prime 80s era, but also the high-pitched vocals and occasional goofy subject matter in a manner that shows how good these metalheads are at deadpan humor. No matter how tongue-in-cheek Humungus are being at any moment, though, their thrashing ability is always serious as a heart attack, and their live performance at Wonderland this Thursday night is sure to get you headbanging with abandon — even if the fans they’re known to bring with them onstage (to get the hair blowing around just so) are still pretty silly. A trio of Raleigh shredders — Mega Colossus, Children Of the Reptile, and Mortal Man — will pack this bill with a ton more metal mastery, but any true Richmond metalhead knows that Humungus is what it’s all about.
Friday, February 7, 8 PM
Leach, Black Dirty, Night Idea @ Poor Boys – $5
It’s always fun to head over to Poor Boys and spend an evening in the Voodoo Room, rocking out in a site that established a noble tradition of great music during previous days under the auspices of Bogart’s, Balliceaux, and Flora. Prsmcat Presents has been bringing some great locally-focused sounds into the place since Poor Boys took it over, and this Friday night is no exception. This evening will be headlined by Leach, who are celebrating the release of their latest EP, A Machine, It Seems, at this event.
If you haven’t checked out what this band, featuring former members of Imaginary Sons, are bringing to the table, the fact that their bandcamp URL labels them “Leach rock band” should be some guide. These guys have a decidedly 90s-style take on rocking, one that reminds me of driving around in my Chevette during my college days blasting Urge Overkill and Dig tapes. They’ll be joined on this bill by Philadelphia’s Black Dirty, who despite the name actually have a pretty clean and delightful math-damaged alt-pop sound. They’re certainly musically simpatico with Night Idea, the Richmond mainstay who rounds out this bill. With the aid of these three excellent bands, you’re sure to have a delightful Friday night.
Saturday, February 8, 7 PM
The Reign Of Kindo, Manatree, Colpa Mia @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $15 (order tickets HERE)
This one kinda came out of nowhere for me, y’all. A band of at least half a dozen musicians who are big enough to tour on the performance of an early release in its entirety, whom I have also somehow never heard of? Well, in truth, that seems to be The Reign Of Kindo’s whole thing. While they’ve been around for nearly 15 years, this New York band has never had a high profile in the mainstream, instead releasing all of their albums independently and focusing on the internet and social media as their path to success. What’s really wild is that it has worked out so well — for the past few years, they’ve been releasing new songs monthly on Patreon, and have racked up nearly 1000 supporters who contribute over $3000 to them each time they release a new song. Not bad, right?
And so, therefore, The Reign Of Kindo (or just Kindo, depending on where you see their name) are definitely worth looking into if, like me, you’ve never encountered them before. Their music could certainly be described as alternative rock, but between the incredible talent of their entire ensemble and the fact that they bring such a wide variety of influences to bear on their creative process, it seems a woefully inadequate description. Genres like jazz, soul, and prog also have to be part of the conversation, and of course you can’t ignore the way frontman Joseph Secchiaroli’s voice takes the whole thing to another level entirely. Even if you’ve never heard of them — heck, especially if you’ve never heard of them — The Reign Of Kindo is a group you should really dig into. You can start this Saturday night at Capital Ale House.
Saturday, February 8, 8 PM
Daughter Of Swords, The Dead Tongues, Andy Jenkins @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Where live music in Virginia is concerned, y’all, it’s all about Richmond. That fact is driven home to me at times like this week, when I hunt high and low for non-Richmond VA shows to tell you about and can’t even come up with two — and meanwhile, I’m having a hell of a time narrowing the Richmond picks down to eight. This week I threw up my hands and decided to work with what I’ve got, which is why you’re getting this ninth Richmond show instead of a second elsewhere-VA show. I work with what I’ve got, folks, and in the end, you the live music fan are the one who benefits.
For example, there is this Saturday night show at the Camel featuring Daughter of Swords. I almost didn’t manage to get this one in here, which is remarkable in light of how good the latest project from North Carolina folk singer Alexandra Sauser-Moning really is. Last year’s Dawnbreaker demonstrated Sauser-Moning’s flawless ability to come up with a series of heartfelt, memorable tunes and deliver them in the most minimal of settings. But this tour, on which she’s backed by members of Megafaun, Dirty Projectors, and Hiss Golden Messenger, will present her with a more fleshed-out but just as brilliant musical canvas. They’ll come to town in the company of the Dead Tongues, a folk project from the mind of sometime Hiss Golden Messenger sideman Ryan Gustafson. The fact that the two picked Richmond as the place to start their current American tour just proves the point I was making a paragraph ago — where live music in VA is concerned, Richmond is what it’s all about.
Sunday, February 9, 9 PM
Faucet, Zima, Zara @ Bandito’s – Free!
Round out your weekend with this triple bill of noise-punk awesomeness at Bandito’s, featuring a couple of new groups consisting of members whose talents have already been well established. To begin with, there’s Faucet, who land firmly on the noise end of the spectrum, with an out-of-control raging approach that evokes classic 80s reprobates like Flipper and No Trend. Featuring members of Ceremonial Scissors, Gumming, Fat Spirit, and Among The Rocks And Roots, this band’s pedigree alone makes them worth looking into — but rest assured, their sounds are intense enough in their own right to warrant your continued attention.
Then there’s Zima, a band whom I’m guessing are named after a clear malt beverage that was quite the trend when I was coming of age in the 90s and is probably totally forgotten by the younger readers among you. What actually inspired their name isn’t something I can tell you, but I can tell you that this project, which features 4/5 of Richmond punk ragers Haircut on different instruments but going off just as hard, is absolutely worth your time. If you enjoy being devastated by raw, aggressive punk fucking rock, that is — and who doesn’t? The bill is rounded out by Zara, an ambient electronic project with the most history of any of these three — certainly a great way to start a musically delicious evening.
Monday, February 10, 7 PM
Horse Jumper Of Love, Keep, Lobby Boy, HotSpit @ The Camel – $8 in advance/$10 Day of show (order tickets HERE)
Is it me, or are there a lot of horse-themed bands running around these days? Just last week I wrote about Brooklyn’s A Deer A Horse and locals Horse Culture. And now, this week, I find myself discussing Bostonians Horse Jumper Of Love. As any journalist will tell you, three of anything is a trend. But it’s not a strictly musical one, by any means — all three of the mentioned bands have very different sounds.
The one we’re discussing at the moment, Horse Jumper Of Love, have revived the slowcore genre that was all the rage in the 90s, when bands like Red House Painters, Low, and Duster were big on the scene. On Horse Jumper Of Love’s 2019 sophomore album, So Divine, they show themselves as capable inheritors of the tradition, knowing when to keep it quiet and when to flip the dynamic switch to loud and crushing… but throughout, always keeping things slow and moody in a manner making their music a perfect soundtrack for listening late at night with the lights off. You can do exactly that at The Camel this Monday night, and we humbly suggest you do so… no matter how you feel about horses.
Tuesday, February 11, 6:30 PM
Have Mercy, Fredo Disco, Selfish Things, Young Culture @ The Canal Club – $17 (Order tickets HERE)
I must say, I really dug the third Have Mercy album, Make The Best Of It, back when it was released in 2017. That album came just after singer-guitarist Brian Swindle had replaced his entire backing band with a new lineup, and I remember thinking at the time “I wonder if that guy’s hard to work with.” Now, after one more equally excellent album, 2019’s The Love Life, Swindle and co. are calling it quits entirely, which only reinforces my previous wonderings. The music was totally great, though, so regardless of what sort of lingering tension may be present onstage for this Have Mercy farewell tour, it’s still well worth showing up at The Canal Club and seeing them one last time.
Baltimore-based Have Mercy existed in an adjacent space to the emo revival, but their sound was always entirely their own, drawing equally from 90s alt-rock and pastoral indie sounds and creating wonderful, enduring tunes with strong, heartfelt lyrics about real, important aspects of interpersonal relationships. They’re the kind of band that it’s easy to let into your heart, and therefore, it’ll be tough to let them go. Hopefully Brian Swindle keeps making music in some capacity after this, but even if he does, this will be our last opportunity to see Have Mercy play their many classic tunes. I suggest you make the best of it.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, February 7, 9 PM
Pain In The Yeahs, Community Witch, Billy Varela, Black Mass Gathering @ Taphouse Grill (Norfolk) – $?
The Tidewater area of Virginia has always been a good source for dark gothic industrial dance sounds, and with Pain In The Yeahs operating in that area, this will certainly remain true for the foreseeable future. Brand new single “Animal Within An Animal” shows that bandleader James K. Ultra still has a deft touch with the postpunk spookiness he’s established through his and the group’s last several years’ worth of work.
There is a strong undercurrent of the goth sound of the mid-80s UK, with Cure and Sisters Of Mercy vibes undeniable in their music, but the new single shows that Ultra and co. bring a pop sensibility to what they’re doing as well; surprisingly catchy choruses and occasional synth-pop hooks add a darkly gleaming shine to the mood Pain In The Yeahs creates. Fear not, it’ll still lend itself perfectly to storming the dance floor in a velvet cape, black lipstick, and shiny polished Doc Martens, in classic Norfolk tradition. Get gloomy, y’all.
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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