Sunday, April 1, 2 PM
Brunch For Presents, feat. Good Cretins, And Out Come The Wools, Christmas Jerks @ Mojo’s – $5
Happy Holy Week, everyone! If you’re an observant Christian this week, you’ll probably be in church wearing your fanciest outfit at least once in the next few days. However, music has always been the closest thing to religion I’ve got, and if you’re anything like me, chances are you’d rather spend Easter Sunday rocking out. Don’t worry, it’s for a good cause — Punks For Presents, that Christmas-themed charity that donates toys to local children’s hospitals every holiday season, has been steadily expanding their reach across multiple holiday seasons.
Now, to their domination of December and their summertime “Christmas In July” shows, they’ve added a special celebration of the Easter holiday taking place Sunday afternoon at Mojo’s (which is becoming a pretty consistent venue for live music lately, and that’s always nice to see!). And if you, like me, are the type to worship at the church of music, this is definitely the Easter celebration for you.
“Brunch For Presents” brings us a triple-shot of killer Christmas-themed punk tribute bands. Good Cretins have become veterans of the Punks For Presents lineups and of the tribute band game in general — after all, how many tribute bands do you know of that go far enough to record? The fact that Good Cretins have an EP worth of Ramones covers available for streaming on Bandcamp should prove that they’re serious about bringing you the best-quality Ramones tribute in the business. They’ll be joined on this bill by Rancid-lovers And Out Come The Wools (whose name, I’m assuming, is a Christmas-related joke I just don’t quite get), and by Christmas Jerks, who’ll bring the music of the Circle Jerks to life in this tiny bar. And it’ll all happen while you eat brunch — assuming you don’t make it to brunch until at least 2 PM. Which sounds about accurate for Richmond, so we should all be fine.
Wednesday, March 28, 7:30 PM
Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Rumput, Maria Chavez @ Black Iris – $15 in advance/$20 at the door
Fans of avant-garde jazz, postpunk weirdness, and general atonal insanity should be stoked tonight; Marc Ribot is coming to town! This legendary guitarist has been on the scene since the 80s, first making a name for himself with his contributions to classic Tom Waits albums like Rain Dogs and Mule Variations. He went on to play with a variety of artists with a variety of approaches, from Elvis Costello to John Zorn. He’s also been making solo records since the dawn of the 90s, on which he has teamed up with a variety of talented musicians to create a whole ton of genre-hopping musical madness.
Ribot’s current crew is Ceramic Dog, a trio in which he’s backed by two members of the Mr. Bungle side project Secret Chiefs 3. They’re just about to release their third album and first since 2013, YRU Still Here? Ribot’s work with Ceramic Dog takes a variety of forms, from Grinderman-style angry-old-man noise-rock to instrumental noise-jazz and even the occasional quiet moments. The new album mostly finds Ribot in angry-old-man mode, but for righteous reasons, as is shown in song titles like “Muslim Jewish Resistance” and “Fuck La Migra.” Tonight at Black Iris, he’ll be screaming with his voice and with his guitar, while Ceramic Dog tears your face off with their uncompromising instrumental attack. You’re not going to want to miss this — nor will you want to miss the opening performance by genre-melding folk musicians Rumput, and the post-Ribot DJ set from avant-garde sound artist Maria Chavez. This will be a night to remember, folks. Be there.
Thursday, March 29, 6 PM
Nana Grizol, Loamlands, Benjamin Shepherd @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Early all-ages shows were kind of the lifeblood of the scene back when I was growing up in the 90s. These days, they’re a vanishingly rare breed, at least around here, and the fact that I’m fully twice as old as I need to be to get into bar shows doesn’t make this any less of a bummer to me. So I’m glad to see a rare occurrence of an actual all-ages show happening this week over at Strange Matter. Of course, it’s headlined by Nana Grizol, who’ve been around for 15 years and feature members with resumes dating back to the 90s. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?
Really though, no matter what age you are, chances are Nana Grizol has something to offer you. Featuring former members of Defiance Ohio and Neutral Milk Hotel, they’ve got impeccable credentials in the worlds of both folk-punk and indie-pop, and the winsome, jangly pop sound of their latest album, 2017’s Ursa Minor, is guaranteed to appeal to fans from both of those musical worlds, and quite a few others. Only intermittently active, this group is probably not coming around again anytime soon, so head over after school and catch their set. You’ll still be home in time to beat curfew! And if you show up on time (always a good idea), you’ll also catch sets from Loamlands, a Durham-based alt-country group with tinges of Fleetwood Mac in their sound; and local singer-songwriter Benjamin Shepherd, who’s bringing a full band with him this time out. Make it happen.
Friday, March 30, 8 PM
Deau Eyes, The Pop Up Duo, Calvin @ The HofGarden – $10 in advance, $15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Scott’s Addition is popping off like crazy these days, and though I won’t pretend not to miss the sleepy little abandoned factory town, complete with a random patch of woods over towards the train tracks, that I moved into in 2006, I certainly recognize that Richmond has embraced this area as the new hangout spot of choice. After all, there’s a lot to do over there these days, and the HofGarden is making a pretty significant contribution to that fact all by its lonesome. After all, it’s got three whole floors to offer for your entertainment! I’m not too enthused about the one that’s yet another craft beer spot, but the game room and rooftop pizza joint are just what the doctor ordered on some nights.
And this Friday night, the rooftop’s gonna be the place to be as three excellent local acts kick off the HofGarden’s Finally Friday live series with a performance on top of the Hofheimer Building. Deau Eyes has made some noise around Richmond since the start of 2018 with their crowdfunding campaign to produce their debut album, and while you still can’t hear their excellent 90s alt-rock sounds unless you go watch their Kickstarter video, you won’t have to wait for the album to drop if you head over to the HofGarden Friday night and catch their set, now will you? Deau Eyes are joined on this bill by some musicians of a decidedly different style, including the Pop-Up Duo, a standup bassist and a saxophonist who do some pretty fun material, including Tom Petty covers if their Facebook page is any indication. There’ll also be a solo performance from Calvin Brown, aka Calvin, who plays keyboards in Kenneka Cook’s band but also has some sounds of his own to bring to you. All this while you eat pizza on a roof? What more do you need?
Saturday, March 31, 8 PM
The Mostly Dead, The Donalds, Love Roses @ Wonderland – $5
It’s Saturday night — a great night to head down to Shockoe Bottom and party at Wonderland, which is keeping the punk spirit alive down by the river. This week sees the arrival of The Mostly Dead, a rad band from DC with a really solid post-hardcore sound. You could be forgiven for expecting shows at Wonderland to revolve entirely around old-school punk and crossover thrash, but The Mostly Dead are pushing the boundaries of this place’s usual fare with powerful riffing that draws from DC forebears like Swiz while also incorporating melodic touches drawn from Jawbox and Fugazi.
One need look no farther than their 2014 LP, Wilderness, for solid evidence that The Mostly Dead has the goods. Sadly, that seems to be their most recent release. If anything, that may mean you’ll get a grip of as-yet-unreleased tunes from the band’s set Saturday night, though, and that’s always a good reason to show up. And of course there’s also a double-shot of the old-school punk sound you’ve come to rely on from Wonderland, in the form of local bands The Donalds and Love Roses. These bands will give you plenty of fist-pumping tunes to circle-pit and sing along to — just don’t spill your beer on the dance floor, that’d be a bummer.
Sunday, April 1, 9 PM
Ol’ Sport, Futurists, Eaves, Inthewater @ Emilio’s – $5
Emilio’s seems to go back and forth with how active it is in the live music scene. It’s been poppin’ lately, though, and that’s always nice to see. This Sunday night, the little jazz bar on the corner of Broad and Meadow will be visited by two bands from Charlotte, NC, and if you’re willing to deal with the mess the whole new bus line has made of the street down there, you’ll be rewarded with some excellent sounds. Ol’ Sport are doing the emo thing, which I’ve always admitted to being a sucker for. Last summer’s Grass Stains EP has some great songwriting and does a good job of moving back and forth between quietly downcast moments and loud, anthemic celebrations of angst and emotional struggle. This is what I’m looking for, and if it’s not what you’re looking for too, you should maybe reconsider.
Heck, if Ol’ Sport hasn’t convinced you, maybe their Charlotte-based tourmates Futurists can. They’ve got some of that same melodic songwriting talent that shows up in Ol’ Sport’s music, but Futurists are coming from more of that 90s post-Dino Jr distorted-guitar alt-rock space. They’ve got a spacey feel but underneath that they resemble early 90s Sub Pop signees more than anything. And again, that’s just what I’m looking for. Locals Eaves will further sweeten the pot on this bill with some post-rock-influenced post-hardcore tunes, which were showcased in fine fashion on last year’s LP, As Deeply As You Do. These local kids are making things happen, and I for one am glad. New ambient artist Inthewater will kick things off, easing you into it. Works for me.
Monday, April 2, 8:30 PM
Marbin, Curtana, JJ Speaks @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I’ve tried on many occasions to get y’all into jazz, and here I go trying again. But it’s for a good cause, because jazz music rules. And it especially rules when it’s being played by musicians with talent and originality who are excited about taking it in a new direction. That’s definitely true of Marbin, a quartet that came together almost a decade ago, around the time that guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch left their native Israel to come to Chicago and play heavy jazz. Marbin’s had a variety of players on the bass and drums since then, but regardless of who Rabin and Markovitch are playing with, they continue to make complex, heavy music that brings an obvious rock n’ roll vibe and influence to bear on their jazz approach.
They’ll be doing that at the Camel Monday night, and you should really be there to take in their own unique brand of “Israeli Jazz.” They’ll be joined on the bill by RVA locals Curtana. No, not Cortana, that’s the silly little “desktop assistant” on your laptop. Curtana are a quartet that play instumental prog-rock with a dual-guitar attack that is sure to keep your attention. They certainly have a jazzy flavor at times, but this is straight up rock music with some metal tinges, which makes them both an apt pairing and a delightful contrast for Marbin. JJ Speaks open up with their own instrumental prog sound, bringing a lighter touch to the genre and emphasizing melodies over metallic crunch. On the whole, it’s going to be a delightful evening, during which vocals won’t be necessary. Nor will they be missed.
Tuesday, April 3, 9 PM
That 1 Guy, Dave Watkins @ The Camel – $15
Oh joy, That 1 Guy is back in town! If you’ve been keeping up on the wonderful underground world of the musicians known as “one-man bands” (my wife’s really into this stuff), you’re probably aware of That 1 Guy, a classically trained double bass player and rockabilly musician who has built a few instruments of his own and creates and performs his music entirely by himself on these instruments. Most famously, there’s The Magic Pipe, an aluminum frame with a couple of upright bass strings on it and a whole bunch of sample triggers, all of which That 1 Guy plays, sometimes with a drumstick. Yeah, seriously. It’s wild.
The result of all these musical hijinks is a fun blast of energetic, funky rock n’ roll with elements of Tom Waits (whom That 1 Guy once played with) and Primus, plus the occasional moment of straight-up jazz. His music is not just any one thing, it’s a variety of things all rolled up into one — and that’s always fascinating. The same is true of RVA-based opener Dave Watkins, who veers from acoustic folk played on old-time instruments to avant-garde ambient noise loops played with amps and pedals. Sometimes he does both at the same time, and like That 1 Guy, he’s even made his own instrument — an electric “dulcitar” (part dulcimer, part guitar) — on which to perform his compositions. If you like adventurous, unusual musical explorations, both Watkins and That 1 Guy are musicians you need to see. Luckily for you, you can see both for the price of one this Tuesday night at The Camel! I think you know what to do.
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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