Thursday, September 15, 7 PM
Illiterate Light (Photo by Jason Siemer Photography), Palmyra @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Back in the spring of 2020, this column went on a hiatus that eventually stretched out for over 18 months. This hiatus, of course, corresponded with the hiatus that live music in general took during that same time, a basic element of how we were all trying to reduce the spread of COVID by avoiding big groups of close-together people, especially in enclosed spaces — a core ingredient of live music, as you all know. This whole situation left millions of bands trying to figure out what they were going to do with themselves. Some kept making records, or doing livestreams, trying to keep themselves in the public eye. Others decided to lay low, working behind the scenes and waiting until the time was right to return.
Richmond’s Illiterate Light definitely went the former route. After the momentum behind their 2019 self-titled debut was somewhat derailed by the pandemic, they released a live album called In The Moment in 2020, following it with a collaborative single with their pal Devon Gilfillian called “Freedom.” And in 2021, they went back to work in a big way, playing as many of the early post-COVID outdoor live shows they could get on. For a band as reliant on their live energy and the massive crowd reactions it generates, it was a totally unsurprising move. And they haven’t slowed down since; indeed, this Thursday night live show at The Broadberry is one of the first in a two-month jaunt that will see them crisscross the United States multiple times over the next two months.
Luckily for us all, they don’t just have their incredible live performances to bring us on this tour; Illiterate Light have spent their off-times over the past year or so hard at work on the follow-up to their self-titled debut, and the first song from that new batch, “Light Me Up,” came out a few weeks ago, proving that this duo didn’t lose a single step over the pandemic. Their forthcoming LP finds them moving from Atlantic Records to multi-level media conglomerate Thirty Tigers. And while it’ll be a while yet before we hear the whole thing, a great way to get a preview of what the boys have in store for us all is to show up at The Broadberry this Thursday night and let these two lay down the full power of their top-flight rock n’ roll experience before your very eyes. It’s gonna be a heck of an experience — you don’t want to miss it.
Wednesday, September 14, 7 PM
Timothy Eerie, Dream Phases, Ladada, Danet Jackson @ Black Iris Social Club – Free?
Tonight at Black Iris, it’s time to get psychedelic, as Florida musician Casey Lerman, better known as Timothy Eerie, comes into town to take Black Iris Social Club on an astral journey without ever leaving terra firma behind. Timothy Eerie’s most recent single, “I Fear The Void Is Waiting For Me” b/w “Acid Lake,” is a propulsive blast of high-powered rock n’ roll that lives at the chronological point just before heavy acid rock merged into the first wave of heavy metal. If you love Hawkwind and Blue Cheer, or modern analogues like Wolfmother and Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, but your interest directly corresponds with how hard and fast they’re playing at any given moment, you’re gonna dig what Timothy Eerie is up to.
Mr. Eerie and co. come to town in the company of Dream Phases, a Los Angeles band with a hazy psychedelic vibe that is very California, and an approach that is definitely less heavy and more melodic in focus than Timothy Eerie’s. However, I don’t want that to scare anyone off; on last fall’s New Distractions, Dream Phases takes the listener into a lysergic, blissed-out headspace that is every bit as thrilling as Timothy Eerie’s psychedelic riff bonanza. If anything, where Timothy Eerie are piloting a rocketship, Dream Phases are sailing into space on a magic carpet. You’ll find your way into the heavens either way — it’s just a question of what wonderful sounds you’ll hear along the way. If I may stretch the metaphor even further, it’s a pairing of celestial quality. And even though I’m not sure how much this show costs to get in, you can be assured that it’ll be worth it, whatever you have to pay.
Thursday, September 15, 7 PM
Backslider, World Peace, ROTWLCFTSCBMH, Land Speed Record @ Powers BMX Shop – $15
I would never have expected a BMX shop out in the East End to become one of the best places in town to see heavy music. However, no one can deny that, over the past several months, Powers BMX has become a venue to keep an eye out for. This Thursday night throwdown is just the latest example of what this spot is bringing to the table, as Philadelphia’s Backslider rolls into town to deal out some heavy punishment that we’re all gonna enjoy thoroughly. Swinging adeptly back and forth between blazing fast grindcore riffs and neck-snapping breakdowns, all while retaining a thick-as-a-brick sound sure to equally please fans of Harm’s Way and Dead In The Dirt, this band has something for everyone that loves heavy, metallic hardcore.
They’re joined on this bill by California band World Peace, who don’t seem like they’re all that interested in the goal their name sets out, based on their sound. With a propensity for aural blitzkrieg that is virtually unparalleled in the current hardcore scene — their 20-song 2021 LP, Come And See, consisted entirely of songs between 13 and 53 seconds long — this band avoids standard grindcore tropes in order to mix blinding fast riffage with nasty heavy parts that seem tailor-made for hard moshing. That’s assuming, of course, that you can get your big pit moves out of the way in less than 10 seconds. Because trust me, when these guys go into a breakdown, no matter how heavy it is, they aren’t gonna stay there long. The addition of local solo-grind project ROTWLCFTSCBMH and thudding bass-drum fastcore group Land Speed Record to this bill makes for an evening of unrelenting heaviness. Get your mosh on — just don’t fuck up any bikes while you do. Those things are expensive.
Friday, September 16, 9 PM
Los Coast, Jason Jamal, Pharaoh Sistare @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I have a confession to make; Austin, Texas quintet Los Coast were totally new to me as I prepared to write this week’s column. I listened through to a few things that didn’t quite strike my fancy, considered writing about a couple of bands I’ve written about a couple times before, and then, at the last second, I checked out Los Coast. Suddenly, they were the band I was writing about. As soon as I heard last year’s “Summer Samaritan” single, I knew that this band, an intriguing combination of retro-fied psychedelic pop and classic Southern soul, was the one for me.
They’re probably the one for you, too. If the upbeat, catchy vibes — perfect not only for summer 2021 but the summer we’re currently living through the last days of as well — of “Summer Samaritan” don’t convince you, well, I can’t relate to that, but either way, the band’s 2019 debut full-length, Samsara, should do whatever work is left to be done in winning you over and directing your feet down to that long-running club across from the Lowe’s on West Broad. Yes, I’m talking about The Camel, the place that will come alive in a whole new way with the addition this Friday of not only Los Coast but also talented local up-and-comers Jason Jamal and Pharaoh Sistare. Don’t miss out on what’s sure to be a night of moves, grooves, and dancefloor bangers. It’s just what you need to end the week on a high note.
Saturday, September 17, 7 PM
Living Hour, Sour Widows, Catie Lausten @ Gallery 5 – $10 (order tickets HERE)
From there, we charge straight into a Saturday night of synth-driven pop fun, brought to us all by Underground Orchard — the promotion wing of the vast Citrus City empire. You all should know by now that when Citrus City is bringing some new musical experience into town, you’re in for a treat, but if you were still not sure about all that, Living Hour is just another point of evidence in the label’s favor. The hazy, drifting sound this combo creates on brand-new album Someday Is Today is fitting for an ensemble hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, a city notorious for its long, cold winters. The cool, quiet vibes Living Hour put out are the exact sort you’d expect from a group that’s been able to survive and thrive in such climates.
Sour Widows have no such need for adjustment — they come from California, where it’s apparently sunny and warm all year round. At least, so Hollywood tells me. The warmth Sour Widows draw out of their stretched-out, languid tunes certainly gives credence to that media mythmaking, but it also shows a number of intriguing parallels to what Living Hour, a band hailing from an extremely different environment, come up with. This show will be an intriguing study in the parallels of opposites. And the pot will be sweetened considerably by the fact that local opener Catie Lausten, whose phenomenal indie pop EP, Love To Love To Love, has been one of the more pleasantly surprising releases of Richmond;s music scene thus far this year, is celebrating the release of the aforementioned EP on cassette by Citrus City Records. Which, of course, only serves as further proof that those guys over at Citrus City have exquisite taste.
Sunday, September 18, 5 PM
38 Special, The Jared Stout Band @ River City Sportsplex – $5-$31 (order tickets HERE)
Yup, that’s right, we’re doing it — spending another Sunday evening south of the river, enjoying the still-wonderful sounds of yesteryear’s greats out at River City Sportsplex with Chesterfield After Hours. This time around, it’s 38 Special, a band I hadn’t thought about in years; that is, until the first season of Reacher, the Amazon TV show based on one of my favorite crime novel series, came out back in January. 38 Special got prominent placing in one of those episodes, and while it was a comic moment in the show, I found myself listening back to the Reacher soundtrack in the weeks that followed and thinking, “Damn, 38 Special really does hold up. Who knew?”
Now, if you know anything about 38 Special, you know that the band was formed and fronted by Donnie Van Zant, brother to Lynyrd Skynyrd founder Ronnie Van Zant and current Skynyrd vocalist Johnny Van Zant (yes, their parents really did do that with their names). And it is my unfortunate duty to report to you at this point that Donnie Van Zant is no longer in 38 Special; he left back in 2013. HOWEVER, it is also important for you to know that it was the OTHER 38 Special singer, Don Barnes, who sang on all the songs you know by this band: “Caught Up In You,” “Hold On Loosely,” “Rockin’ Into The Night,” “If I’d Been the One”… all of them. And Don Barnes is still fronting 38 Special. So you’re gonna get to hear all the songs that made this band legendary, and you’re gonna get to hear them sung by the guy who sung them in the first place. And listen — those songs really do still sound amazing. They’ll sound even better live. Plus, you can get a ticket to this gig for as little as five bucks. What more reason do you need?
Monday, September 19, 8 PM
Twin Films, Sheetrock, Feigning Grace @ The Camel – $8 (order tickets HERE)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can always count on The Camel. On a Monday night when nothing’s going on anywhere else around town, if you roll past The Camel, there’s sure to be some good music happening. This Monday night, that music comes from Richmond indie group Twin Films, who have an intriguing sound that swings back and forth between delicate indie pop melodies and full-on symphonic psychedelia, with crescendos that evoke Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, and Broken Social Scene, among others. Recent singles might lead you to expect an enormous ensemble to take the stage, but depending on circumstance, there may be as few as three of them up there. However, the noise will be big, loud, and joyous regardless.
Opening support will be supplied by groups I don’t know too much about, but are intriguing nonetheless. Sheetrock — a band whose name impresses even me, an anti-SEO connoisseur, with its difficulty in googling — are a brand new indie rock group from right here in RVA. Their recently released self-titled debut album impresses with its unexpected changes combined with a driving postpunk energy. Fans of local groups like New Lions and Manatree will dig what they find here. Then there’s Feigning Grace, who between their band name and the title of their 2021 debut, Christlike, had me a bit confused at first about whether they were devout Christians or skeptical indie kids. The fact that the title track contains the lyric “I’m getting pretty tired of always feigning grace and trying to be so goddamn Christlike all the time” clarified it all for me, though. Regardless of religion, though, this quartet has some pretty great indie tunes, full of awkward charm and graceful melodies. I don’t know a ton about any of these bands, but all of them are a good bet for livening up your Monday night. Take a chance on them.
Tuesday, September 20, 8 PM
Jimmie Vaughan @ The Tin Pan – $50 (order tickets HERE)
There are a ton of cool shows happening this Tuesday night, like an absurd amount for a night this early in the week. However, none of them jumped out to me quite the way Jimmie Vaughan’s gig at the Tin Pan did. I’m a married woman, as you may know, and we’re Jimmie Vaughan fans around my house — one of my wife’s first live shows when she was still a kid was The Fabulous Thunderbirds, back when Jimmie was still a member. Of course, that was a long time ago — Jimmie left the T-birds in 1990, around the same time his legendary brother, Stevie Ray, passed away in a tragic helicopter accident. This left Jimmie as the only Vaughan alive to carry on the family tradition of powerful electric blues.
He’s done a great job with that task, settling into a long and fruitful career as a bandleader, avoiding the overly glossy production of all that 80s electric blues my dad was all about back then in favor of down-to-earth small-combo blues sets like the one highlighted on his outstanding 2019 LP, Baby Please Come Home. Even today, in his 70s, Vaughan remains both talented and prolific — since Baby Please Come Home‘s release, he’s also brought out the double-disc compilation The Pleasure Is All Mine, as well as a remarkable box set, The Jimmie Vaughan Story, which features not only five CDs collecting highlights from his 60-year career but also a full-length book chronicling his life story. Suffice it to say, Jimmie Vaughan’s got plenty to pull from when he pulls up at The Tin Pan this Tuesday night. And you certainly are going to want to be there to hear, see, and appreciate all of 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]