Doors @ 8
Show @ 9
Friday, September 21, 8 PM
Pohgoh, Long Arms, Positive No @ The Camel – $7 (order tickets HERE)
The internet has really changed the music world. At one time, any band that wasn’t hugely famous at the time of their breakup disappeared completely and were never heard from again. But today, when albums from any era of recorded music can find new life on streaming services like Spotify, Bandcamp, and even YouTube, can it be any surprise that many once-forgotten bands of prior eras have returned to find a music world that’s significantly more welcoming and appreciative than the one they left? These days, it seems like a lot of bands from the 90s are doing just that, and Pohgoh is the latest — and one of the best — to make a welcome return after two decades away.
Known for their ties to the midwestern emo scene of the late 90s, mainly due to their 1996 split EP with Braid, Pohgoh actually hail from Tampa, Florida, where drummer Keith Ulrey owns an awesome independent record store called Microgroove. After the band broke up in the late 90s, frontwoman Susie Ulrey was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and while she gets around with a personal scooter and has to sit down to play music these days, her ability to create great music has by no means been diminished. In fact, Pohgoh’s comeback LP, Secret Club, demonstrates that the group is not only still at the top of their game musically, but willing to tackle serious topics in their lyrics. In multiple songs on the album, Susie Ulrey sings openly about her medical issues and the challenges she and her loved ones have had to face due to her MS. The experiences of disabled people are all too often ignored by our culture, so Ulrey’s voice is an important one that we should all listen to.
Plus, let’s be real — the music’s great. From their unforgettable contribution to Volume One of the Emo Diaries compilation series back in 1997, “Friend X,” to the excellent first single from their new album, “Business Mode,” Pohgoh are an incredible band that brings together that classic emo sound of bands like Braid and Mineral with that of 90s alternative rock heroes like Juliana Hatfield or Belly. It’s safe to say that fans of Speedy Ortiz are going to dig this one. And with outstanding local openers Long Arms and Positive No on board, we can be sure that this show will be a rare and valuable night of outstanding sounds from top to bottom. The ticket link is up top. You know what to do.
Wednesday, September 19, 6 PM
Sailor Poon, The Chuggernauts @ McCormack’s – $5
I admit it, I’m a sucker for bands like Sailor Poon. By which I mean, I love bands of women who address feminist concerns in a goofy, raunchy manner rather than a didactic one. Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun to angrily rip asshole dudes a new one, but there’s something so gratifying about treating all of the issues about being a woman in the United States today with a refusal to take any of its obnoxiousness seriously. Any band who will name themselves Sailor Poon, call an EP Yeast Pigeon and give songs titles like “White Male Meltdown” and “Butt Gush” have done quite a bit to win my heart even before I hear their music.
Sailor Poon’s actual music does nothing to bring down my mood, either. This garage-rock trio mixes sloppy Farfisa-driven rock n’ roll with slashing postpunk angularity and skronking sax; it’s like a Mummies jam session crashed by the Bush Tetras and X-Ray Spex. They’ve even had tracks produced by garage-psych wildman King Khan, and if that’s not a symbol of quality, I don’t know what is. Sailor Poon are joined on this bill by C-ville rock n’ roll maniacs the Chuggernauts, who are sure to provide appropriate support, and they tell me there might be another band on the bill, though if it’s still “to be announced” at this point, I have to wonder if it’ll turn into anything by tonight. Regardless, these two bands are all you need — Sailor Poon in particular are going to do a great deal to rid you of the midweek blahs. Get stoked!
Thursday, September 20, 7 PM
Neck Deep, Trophy Eyes, Stand Atlantic, WSTR @ The National – $23 in advance/$26 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Neck Deep is coming to town, and they’re gonna show us all that you don’t have to be from North America to make awesome super-emotional pop punk. I for one am all about it. This Welsh group’s latest single is a cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn,” which makes me think of back when all the 90s skate-rock bands were doing covers of 70s light-rock hits. Neck Deep manage to invest some real feeling in this cover, but I’m honestly way more stoked on their originals.
Last year’s The Peace And The Panic has some truly excellent tunes on it, and does the same thing former split EP partners Knuckle Puck did on their most recent album — trades some of the chunkier melodic-hardcore guitars for stronger melodies. Like Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep finds some real gold in poppier singles like “In Bloom,” which should offer the kids in the crowd a chance to bop around and sing along in the midst of all the punky upbeat anthems. I for one am all for it. Neck Deep will be joined on this bill by multiple other emo-pop-punk groups from around the world, including Australians Trophy Eyes and Stand Atlantic, and fellow Great Britain residents WSTR. This one’s gonna be fun.
Friday, September 21, 7 PM
Scott Burton & Ritual Magick @ Byrd Park Roundhouse – Free!
This one comes completely out of the blue in a manner way too fascinating to ignore. Scott Burton is a local jazz guitarist with his fingers in a variety of pies. He’s played with indie-folk group Luray and jazz-funk ensemble Glows In The Dark, as well as helming a variety of other experimental jazz ensembles, from his duo with noted local percussionist Scott Clark, SCUO, to his Kessel Quartet, a group that features members of CGI Jesus and interprets the music of legendary jazz guitarist Barney Kessel. So yes, it’s safe to say that anything Burton’s involved in is worth your attention.
Ritual Magick is a solo project of Burton’s, which he describes as “an ongoing examination of trance inducing music and the ritual practice.” He and his guitar play off a modular synth, generating improvised melodies and progressions that build up a slowly evolving minimalist melody with a hypnotic allure. And apparently Burton’s going to give his first live performance of this material on Friday evening at the Byrd Park Roundhouse, over by the lake with the paddleboats and the geese. And if you’re thinking, “Is this real? Is this an official event?” believe me, I’m asking the same questions. But if you love intriguing experimental music and minimalist guitar soundscapes, you really can’t go wrong heading down to the Byrd Park Roundhouse on Friday and seeing what’s going on. Maybe Scott Burton will show up with a battery-powered amp and blow your mind. But even if he doesn’t, that’s still a really peaceful spot to sit and take in some nature.
Saturday, September 22, 8 PM
Supersuckers, Holy Roller, Sick Bags @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Hey hey, the Supersuckers are hitting Richmond once again! I’ve been a longtime fan of this wild, uptempo rock n’ roll group for decades now, and on multiple previous occasions, I have urged the readers of this column to go see them. I don’t want to repeat myself overly much or anything, but I gotta tell ya, if you’re ever gonna see the Supersuckers live, this is the time to do it. The group is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and they’re bringing the “Supersuckers Big Show” to town on Saturday.
This means you won’t just be getting one set from the Supersuckers — ohhh no. They’ve got a brand new album called Suck It, which will be out on Friday, and they’ll be bringing us a selection of tunes from this new LP. But they’ll also be doing their first two LPs, The Smoke Of Hell and La Mano Cornuda, in their entirety. At this point, we’re up to at least a solid hour and a half of fast, loud, balls-out rock n’ roll with a definite punk-garage undertone. But there’s still more coming, as the Supersuckers will also celebrate their occasional detours into outlaw country, most famously on 1997’s Must’ve Been High, with a mini-set of shit-kicking country jams as well. Seriously, everything you could ever possibly want from a Supersuckers show will happen at this show. And whether you’re a brand new fan or someone who’s seen them every time they rolled through town for the past three decades, you’d be a fool to miss it.
Sunday, September 23, 9 PM
Thin Lips, Cheer Up, Talk Me Off @ Bandito’s – Free!
OK listen, this isn’t the first time Thin Lips have come through here recently. In fact, I wrote about a show they played less than a month ago. But I didn’t tell you too much about who Thin Lips are and what they’re about at that time, and they really deserve more attention than I gave them. The Philly group’s latest LP, Chosen Family, was produced by members of Hop Along and brings in a hint of that band’s vaguely twangy approach to post-punk melody. But Thin Lips are very much a pop-punk band, and their lyrical wit and catchy riffing has a hard edge to it that makes their new LP a real rocker that’s guaranteed to stick with you.
Fellow Philadelphians Cheer Up, who are along on this particular jaunt down south, are a bit less overtly punk in their sound, and you couldn’t be blamed if you heard a hint of that whole post-Algernon Cadwallader “twinkle” in their guitar melodies on brand new LP Sleep Debt. However, there’s a contrasting undercurrent of mournful melody mixed in there as well, which is sure to connect with the indie types. Add a local opening set from snotty punk rockers Talk Me Off and the always-wonderful food and beverages provided by Bandito’s, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed great way to wrap up your weekend. And you certainly can’t argue with the price!
Monday, September 24, 8 PM
Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, VV, Clang Quartet, Hex Machine @ Strange Matter – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The queen of noise returns once again. Lydia Lunch has been a pivotal figure in the New York scene for four decades now, starting with her first band, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, one of the four bands documented on groundbreaking 1978 compilation No New York. Their harsh, atonal guitar scraping and lurching percussive thump was taken to another level entirely by Lunch’s howling vocals and dark lyrical poetry. She carried this same sort of sound forward into the 80s, as a member of 8-Eyed Spy, Harry Crews, Big Sexy Noise, and more, as well as in collaborations with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, the Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard, The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and a ton of others.
Now, her entire 40-year musical history is being brought to life with the help of a supergroup called Lydia Lunch Retrovirus. The group features guitarist Weasel Walter of noise-core legends the Flying Luttenbachers and prog-metal geniuses Behold the Arctopus, drummer Bob Bert of Pussy Galore and Chrome Cranks, and bassist Tim Dahl of Child Abuse. Backed by this trio of incredible talents in their own right, Lunch runs through material covering the span of her career from Teenage Jesus and the Jerks to Big Sexy Noise, as well as her latest album, 2015’s Urge To Kill, on which she was backed in the studio by Retrovirus. If you’re a fan of Lydia Lunch, you realize what a treat this show’s gonna be. And if you don’t know her music yet, you couldn’t ask for a better crash course. Get your tickets now.
Tuesday, September 25, 8 PM
Dear Blanca, Numbtongue, Hillwalkers @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
They’ve been having a rough time of it down in the Carolinas recently, what with the direct hit the hurricane that fortunately missed us dealt to them down there. Fortunately for Dear Blanca, they hail from the inland capital city of South Carolina, Columbia, which mostly missed out on the devastation. And this means they’re able to bring us their intriguing take on guitar-driven rock n’ roll. The group’s 2016 EP, To Tell A Half-Truth, pairs lyrics adapted from the work of deceased poet Scott Crane (Dear Blanca bassist Cameron Powell’s uncle) with some loping, Crazy Horse-style tunes that inject a post-punk sense of unpredictability into their moody, hard-hitting riffs.
Singer-guitarist Dylan Dickerson’s strong yet quavering voice is the most distinctive element of this group’s sound, and he’s recently been showing it off on some solo tracks, but its natural home is in front of the loud electric backing provided by Dear Blanca, so rest assured, you’re gonna get a great show from this trio when they hit town. They’re joined by Numbtongue, another Columbia project led by Bobby Hatfield of The Sea Wolf Mutiny, which has a strange, unique sound incorporating electronic sounds and strangely funky rock grooves. And of course, RVA’s own Hillwalkers will add their particular brand of mellow, jangly bedroom-indie to the proceedings, just to make you feel right at home.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, September 21, 9 PM
Shormey, The Slims, Flavoured Water @ Taphouse Grill – $7
We’ve got a fair amount of electronic independent artists making excellent music here in Virginia, and not all of them are based in Richmond. Shormey’s made quite the impression with her minimal yet catchy electro-pop sounds down that way, and everyone up and down the I-64 corridor has reason to be excited about her performance Friday night at Norfolk’s Taphouse Grill. Inspired equally by Babyface and The Beatles, Shormey makes lush pop sounds with a soulful undercurrent that should connect with everyone, regardless of genre.
Shormey is joined on this bill by The Slims, a strange group that hails from Pittsburgh and brings us a sound that’s tough to pin down. They refer to themselves as “a jazzy rock n’ roll hip hop conglomerate,” and I can see the influence of all of these sounds in their music, but I mostly hear a sort of languid, lo-fi beat-driven moody ballad vibe from the tracks they’ve got uploaded to their website. Mac DeMarco jamming with RVA’s own Antiphons? Something like that… I think. Norfolk’s own Flavoured Water will open up with some spacy ambient sounds over electronic beats. If you like to dance to amazingly unusual music, this is the show for you.
Tuesday, September 25, 8 PM
Face To Face, Austin Lucas, Thomas McDonald @ Shaka’s – $25 (order tickets HERE)
Y’all know Face To Face, right? This California pop-punk band started over 25 years ago, killin’ it with fun, catchy tunes to blast while you’re grinding curbs and busting kickflips. The sheer catchiness of their material allowed them to transcend the NOFX-affiliated scene they came from, and they were pretty big for a while there, scoring a soundtrack spot for Tank Girl among other big highlights. They may not be as well known these days, but the group’s flawless technique with pop melodies has not diminished an iota.
They’re proving that right now in dramatic fashion, with a full acoustic tour to accompany the recent release of Hold Fast, an album of Face To Face classics rerecorded acoustically. From classic tracks like “Ordinary” and “Don’t Turn Away” to their signature song, “Disconnected,” the new versions are nothing short of revelatory, and showcase a more heartfelt, sensitive side to a group that always was more focused on beautiful harmonies than most of their contemporaries. Veteran Florida indie-folk troubadour Austin Lucas will accompany the band on this trip through the Hampton Roads area, and local singer-songwriter Thomas McDonald of The Record Collection will open things up. You may not need your earplugs for this one, but you’re sure to get just as much of a thrill.
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, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond
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.]
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond
“Hey, Seyla of Toward Space here.
I am hosting this benefit at Sound of Music Studios, June 23rd, in honor of Julia Ann Martinez, my cousin and best friend, who passed away last June due to an overdose. Unfortunately, I know that too many of you can relate to this sort of tragedy. With the current opioid crisis in America, heroin and fentanyl accounting for more and more deaths, I think it’s important that we help organizations such as Daily Planet who have multiple treatment options for those who struggle with substance abuse.
Treatments provided by Daily Planet’s Behavioral Health Clinic include mental health counseling (one-on-one, group and family), substance use counseling, medication management and evaluation, and psychiatric evaluations and assessments.
Daily Planet does not turn away patients with no health insurance.
Lineup of Bands-
Doors at 6, music at 7
100% Of profits will be donated to the cause!”
Saturday, June 23, 6 PM
Rock N’ Roll Benefit for Daily Planet, feat. Toward Space, Ladygod, Long Arms, Venus Throw, Minimum Balance @ Sound Of Music – $10 donation
Music isn’t all fun and games. Often, it helps us get through our toughest moments, when we’re struggling with some of the most intense emotional experiences of our lives. That’s why, as often as live shows are a respite from our daily struggles, they also frequently help us tackle the most pressing issues affecting us as a community. Which brings us to this Saturday’s Rock N’ Roll Benefit for Daily Planet at Sound Of Music Studios. Put together by Toward Space bassist Seyla Hossaini, this show stands both as a memorial to a close friend and relative who passed away due to an overdose, and a benefit for the Daily Planet, which provides treatment options for those who struggle with substance abuse, including those with limited finances and no insurance.
Those who attend this show will be providing valuable support to this organization, which provides essential health care of the sort that too many of us may find ourselves needing at some point in the future. Those who attend this show will also get rocked to the heavens by a group of excellent rock n’ roll bands from the RVA area. Despite the seriousness of the show’s reason for being, there’s still going to be a lot of fun to be had. This all starts with Toward Space, the organizers and headliners of this whole shebang. This youthful garage-rock trio has been working on a full-length for quite a while now, most recently in the studio with Ladygod’s Skye Handler, and the limited amount of tunes they’ve already released are enough to knock this whole city on its ear. Suffice to say, they’re gonna rock your ass when they take the stage.
Speaking of Ladygod, this eclectic, psychedelic group of rock n’ roll troubadours will be on this show as well, giving us selections from their fascinatingly weird and bizarrely catchy 2017 debut LP, Rock N’ Roll Kaliphate. Long Arms will be here as well; James Menefee’s songwriting vehicle started off as an alt-country sort of thing, but by their 2017 LP Young Life had metamorphosed completely into a delivery system for Menefee’s killer Westerberg-esque rockin’ melodic tunes with a ton of heart. If you ask me, they’re better than ever. You really need to see all three of these bands, and for good measure, catch the sets from fellow RVA rockers Venus Throw and Minimum Balance as well. It’s for a good cause, and a great Saturday night out. What more could you ask for?
Wednesday, June 20, 9 PM
Debt Neglector, Park Sparrows, Talk Me Off @ Wonderland – $5
This one is gonna be a blast. Florida’s Debt Neglector might be a new name for RVA music fans, but when I tell you that members of this band used to be part of melodic punk mainstays New Mexican Disaster Squad, as well as Tony Foresta’s melodic punk side project, No Friends, it’s sure to perk your ears right up. And don’t worry, this band has not failed to bring the legacy of those past projects forward into 2018 — last year’s Atomicland full-length shows that their facility for melodic hooks, dirty guitars, and the sort of simultaneously catchy and gravelly vocals that make for the sweetest combination of acid and sugar has not faded in the slightest.
Debt Neglector are joined on this show by Park Sparrows, a local group with a similar sound and a similarly formidable pedigree — members of Landmines, Strike Anywhere, post-Avail group Freeman, and more. Park Sparrows just released a new EP, More Peace, and it is an excellent showcase of what these guys have to offer — a similar sort of melodic punk to that of Debt Neglector, but with both a more introspective feel and a witty, irreverent bite. It’s awesome, and they’ll surely be awesome live as well. Raging local hardcore punks Talk Me Off will kick off this short-and-sweet three-band bill, and it’s all happening at Wonderland, the perfect place to rock out on a Wednesday night with some catchy punk awesomeness. Don’t let the bike ride back from Shockoe Bottom dissuade you — this is gonna be worth it.
Thursday, June 21, 10 PM
PRIDE at Little Saint, feat. Result Of Choice, Deviant, Lipid @ Little Saint – Free!
It’s June, and while some of the more hetero-inclined among you may not take much notice, in the LGBTQ community, this is Pride Month, the time of year when we all stand up and let the rest of the world know that we’re here, we’re not going away, and we deserve the same respect and acceptance given to straight cisgender people. This show at Little Saint on Thursday night brings us a trio of hardcore bands doing exactly that, and the show is headlined by Florida’s Result Of Choice. Straight-up hardcore can sometimes get a little boring, but Result Of Choice do a lot to keep your attention, from their frantic riffing and speedy tempos to their vocalist’s intense fury. They may be playing in a tiny restaurant, but this group is going to bring a huge dose of energy to their performance.
They’ll join two Richmond hardcore bands that wear their pride on their sleeve. Deviant have named themselves after the sort of things that LGBTQ people are often called by disapproving homophobes, and as someone who has always appreciated the way our community reclaimed the word “queer,” I approve. Deviant have a rougher, harsher sound than Result Of Choice, but a similar sort of driving energy and fury that feels angrier and darker. This promises to be intense. The show will begin with a set from Lipid, and I’ve learned more about this band since I last wrote about them. Featuring members of Kuni, Leather Daddy, and No Tomorrow, this band is proudly queer and punk as fuck, and should be a great way to kick off a concisely excellent show with an awesome theme and the perfect price over at Little Saint.
Friday, June 22, 9:30 PM
GELD, Terrorist, Fried Egg, Future Terror @ Flora – $8
Hardcore is apparently getting pretty insane in the land down under. GELD is a great example, hailing from Melbourne and featuring members of Kromosom and a couple other Aussie bands I don’t really know too well. I guess I’m missing out, though, because GELD are pure blistering mania and I want more. This band’s new EP on No Patience Records will rip your face off with riffs that sound like Negative Approach fed through a pile of noise and vocals that sound like a psychotic maniac in full-on meltdown. This band is hectic, and I’m sure they’ll be an imposing presence when they hit the Flora stage Friday night. You might wanna stand back.
GELD are joined on this bill by NYC hardcore crew Terrorist, who have a similarly harsh sound to GELD, though they do have a recognizably human vocalist. That’s not a strike against them, by the way. These guys hit hard and will knock you on your ass. As will Fried Egg, one of the more weirdly named hardcore bands to come out of Virginia — apparently there’s a limited-edition of their vinyl EP with a white and yellow pattern to make the record look like a literal fried egg. I approve. Anyway, these guys have a bizarre name, and their take on hardcore is kind of bizarre too, but it’s sure to draw you in, especially since they have such an energetic live attack. The whole thing will start out with some blown-out hardcore noise from local newcomers Future Terror — this one is sure to appeal to the Discharge fans among you. Kinda crazy to imagine all of this hectic noise happening in Flora’s back room, but it’s sure to be even crazier to see. You know what to do.
Saturday, June 23, 8 PM
McKinley Dixon & Friends, G.U.M.P., Contour, Shormey @ Strange Matter – $6 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I don’t even have to tell you about McKinley Dixon at this point, do I? A young man with a new approach to the rap game, who spits powerful lyrics with a strong political undercurrent, and both performs and records with a killer live band but also has been known to rhyme over powerful hip hop production, as well as taking the DIY-or-die approach to touring and spreading the message that originated with underground punk — how can you not love this guy? This show is a release party for his new Citrus City cassette, The Importance Of Self-Belief, a sort of positive answer to his powerful 2016 debut, Who Taught You To Hate Yourself? It is absolutely essential if you still drive a beater with a cassette deck in the car (the best way to live, in my middle-aged opinion), that you grab yourself a copy of this one and bump it when you’re cruising around town.
It is also essential that you be at this show to score yourself a copy, as the set from McKinley and Friends, while absolutely the #1 reason to be there, is far from the only live musical joy you will experience at Strange Matter on this fine evening. A trio of fine acts from around the Mid-Atlantic region are also on this bill, starting with DC’s G.U.M.P, who capture a similar sort of vibe to that of McKinley and Friends, though there’s clearly a strong influence from heavier sounds running through their music as well — think Rage Against The Machine with a more contemplative vibe. South Carolina’s Contour take things in a jazzier, more psychedelic direction with their hazy, multi-layered music. And Tidewater-area musician Shormey takes a unique approach to singing and songwriting, with electronic sounds mingling with R&B and indie pop in a surprising manner (sometimes including Mac DeMarco covers). This whole show will be an excellent musical experience of the sort you won’t get anywhere else. You really need to come out.
Sunday, June 24, 8 PM
Warpark, Squid., Deli Kings, Black Plastic @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This is a pretty hardcore/metal-heavy week, but we’ve still got a few for the indie-rockers among you, and this appearance by NYC’s Warpark should certainly get your juices flowing. Reconstituting themselves late last year from the ashes of The Lounge Act, Warpark are still a pretty new thing — their “Early Onset Regret” single is all they’ve released thus far. However, that song has such a promising sound that one could be forgiven for getting a little excited about it. It’s incredibly well-played, with layered guitars and melodic vocals that sometimes mingle in a manner reminiscent of sunshine indie groups like Grizzly Bear. However, Warpark knows how to kick on the distortion and floor us with the heaviness as well, and that’s certainly a big part of their appeal. Based on this one song, seeing what more they have in store at The Camel this Sunday night seems like it’s the move.
Squid., from Chicago, are also on this bill, and their Watersports LP (“Not about pee!” reads a disclaimer on their bandcamp page) shows them exploring an emotionally-driven sound that traces roots to both the “emo revival” of half a decade or so ago and the mellower post-Y2K sound of math-rock. It tends to stay quiet a lot of the time, but they know how to give their emotional sound a powerful weight through occasional applications of distortion — something I wouldn’t be surprised if they learned from old shoegaze records. I definitely approve. Local garage rockers Deli Kings and somewhat mysterious psych-rockers Black Plastic open up for a night of varied, yet consistently excellent, sounds.
Monday, June 25, 9 PM
Body Void, Tel, Horse Culture @ Cary St. Cafe – $7
OK, y’all, prepare yourself for some serious, unrelenting doom. In fact, what Body Void delivers is somewhere beyond doom, hitting the realm of crushing, terrifying slowness that marked the best work of Corrupted and Khanate. Body Void’s new LP, I Live In A Burning House, finds the group exploring similar terrain of torturously extended metallic horror. Other than the intro, only one song on the album is under 15 minutes in length, and the slowly-developing epics that Body Void deliver here build an enormous atmosphere that looms over the listener like hurricane stormclouds approaching ominously across a long expanse of placid ocean.
Then, with a sudden shriek of feedback, the storm breaks, and you’re pummeled by waves of distorted chords, pounding drums, and monstrous, otherworldly screams. And it does. Not. Stop. At least not until you’ve slo-mo headbanged yourself into a trance that, were this a horror movie, would make you the perfect victim for the vampires you can totally imagine sneaking up behind you. Don’t worry, that’s just the bartender. Go ahead and order another drink — this isn’t stopping anytime soon. And you don’t want it to, either.
Tuesday, June 26, 8 PM
Mortuary Drape, Volahn, Battlemaster, Voarm @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
This is one for the serious metal scholars. Mortuary Drape hail from Italy and trace their origins back to the mid-80s, when their brand of occult-influenced black/death metal was a new and groundbreaking sound for anyone to tackle. Their landmark debut full-length, All The Witches Dance, is up there with other mid-90s European metal classics, delivering nonstop brutality with a fascinating atmosphere incorporating spectral chanting and what certainly seem to be occult invocations. While the group today only retains one original member, vocalist Wildness Perversion, they have retained their incredible ability to flatten all comers with powerful black/death metal, as proven on 2014’s Spiritual Independence.
But if I’m to be real with y’all, I can’t deny that Volahn is the group I’m most excited about on this bill. Hailing from the American Southwest, Volahn are the founders of the Crepúsculo Negro (aka Black Twilight Circle) label. The bands on this label use their music to explore their roots in pre-colonial Latin America, and the native tribes that were ultimately overtaken by Spanish conquistadors. Volahn and other Crepúsculo Negro bands declare their independence from colonization through fierce European-inspired black metal, which incorporates tribal influences to take their sound to another level entirely. You can hear the explosive results on Volahn’s 2015 LP, Aq’ab’al, which is certainly one of the better black metal releases of the last few years. And you can hear them more immediately by coming to Strange Matter on Tuesday night and letting Volahn work their magic upon you. Don’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.]
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond
Originally printed in RVA #31 WINTER 2017, you can check out the issue HERE or pick it up around Richmond now.
High On 95
Punk rock is the kind of scene that wears a person out. This might sound ridiculous to the kids singing along to “Young Til I Die” covers at the all-ages show, but by the time you’re 29 with two full sleeves of tattoos, sitting at the end of the bar because you don’t have the energy for the pit anymore, you learn the truth. Perhaps it’s not too surprising that Tim Barry, who once led 90s punk heroes Avail, is a decade deep into a solo career as a folk-country artist and shows no signs of looking back. High On 95 is his sixth solo album, and it shows him settling ever more comfortably into the acoustic troubadour role. He only sang in Avail, but his proficiency on acoustic guitar here sees him creating some excellent melodies on songs like “Gumshoe Andy” and “O & DP.” The minimal instrumental backing (slide guitar, violin, the occasional percussion) gives these tunes a rootsy feel and allows you to crank up the volume without bugging the neighbors. The DIY veterans will see the appeal immediately. The kids might not get it yet, but rest assured, their time will come soon enough. (MN)
Old Scars, New Blood
Collections of old songs re-recorded can be a risky move–it may do little more than spotlight the fact that the now-middle-aged members have lost a step. That said, Ann Beretta is lucky enough to retain a vitality that makes the past 20 years seem like the blink of an eye. This one’s worth it even if you have the old records. (MN)
Fine zooms in and out in an incredible way. The EP’s lyrics focus on super-specific circumstances — burning your tongue, going into anaphylactic shock because of a nut allergy — yet the music gradually opens up via savvy guitar work and countermelody, resulting in big, inviting moments. In that way, Fine manages to be personal and universal at the same time. (DJ)
With seven tracks giving us a good sample of what’s to come, Virginia Beach native Ashanti Bragg makes her debut almost two years after dropping the video for opener “My Love.” Featuring a variety of songs showing her musical versatility, the confidence that oozes through her music makes for a fun and energetic experience that leaves the listener wanting more. (KMP)
Get Over Yourself
Presenting itself as an ambitious and experimental project, Get Over Yourself is vast. One second, the structured sound is airy and poppy, and then the next, it begins to wax into blues. Big No has made it obvious that their strongest musical asset is their instrumentation; Heather Jerabeck owns that piano. (CM)
Two words: Unfiltered. Observation. Black Liquid’s obstinate attitude and sharp public commentary on ANTi challenge local perception and opinion through a conversational approach. His poignant flow found on the title track “ANTi” is relentless, barraging the listener with anecdotes that highlight the MC’s natural inclination for hip-hop as an art form. (CM)
Make room, Donny Hathaway–this is one for the ages. Live at Vagabond captures the energy of the crowd and the virtuosity of individual instrumentalists with remarkable clarity, giving listeners a taste of Devonne Harris’ compositional gifts, adventurous approach to keys, and the ensemble’s knack for seizing the moment. This is the Butcher Brown sound at its most cohesive and dominant. (DJ)
What happens when a ragtag group of metal veterans wants to rock? They form a thrash band. Buzzard Dust’s eponymous debut is a 24-minute adrenaline burst of wicked dive bombs, breakneck blast beats, and guttural profanities that recalls the feeling of a dark, sweaty mosh pit. I dare you to not headbang during “Have You Seen Me.” (CM)
Hell Block EP
Doll Baby blesses listeners with yet another phenomenal demonstration of their artistic prowess. Hell Block is a mere five songs, but holds the sustainability of a traditional full-length album. The four-piece’s jam tracks scratch a deeper itch, bringing everyone to their feet. Singer Julie Storey has the most pleasingly unique punk vocals you’ll ever hear. (CM)
More hardcore, boom-bap hip hop from the Southside’s own Fly Anakin & Koncept Jack$on, this time with fellow Mutant Academy brethren Tuamie handling the production. Hearing the duo spitting over one producer’s sound gives this project a different, more cohesive feel from their last full length, but if you’re expecting a drop off in quality, you won’t find that here. (EH)
God Goldin & Duce
Bouncing back and forth over each track, Goldin & Duce have a great chemistry, with Duce’s laid-back flow paired on “Lolo” along with Gold’s more hype flow. The songs feel like these two have been a working partnership for years already. If you need a quick musical boost in your workday, give this a spin. (EH)
Gritter isn’t necessarily reinventing the (steel) wheel on their fourth album, but then again, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Their brand of harsh, caustic metal has some clear NOLA influences but gives it their own muddy James River flavor. This music will give you strength to face life’s frustrations. Don’t leave home without it. (MN)
Fully-formed narrative writing, steady-handed production, and killer performances from top-notch players provide many reasons to disbelieve that Odessa is a debut release. It plays like an expertly crafted survey of styles from the last 60 years, from Stones riffs and heartland rock to country waltzing and soul not unlike Matthew E. White’s. Well-worn and world-class, right out of the gate. (DJ)
For Your Joy
With this monster of a debut full-length, the duo Keep has etched its name among the city’s growing list of musicians on the rise. The group’s sound is diverse and evocative, being deeply rooted in their appreciation of grunge and industrial predecessors. For Your Joy embellishes an introspective atmosphere that lets one track roll right into the next. (CM)
Long Arms began as James Menefee’s alt-country project, but with their latest album, they’ve left those touches behind in favor of the punk-influenced heartland rock that feels like Menefee’s natural mode. It suits him; skipping genre tropes in favor of excellent heartfelt tunes with a heavy Replacements influence makes Young Life is a career highlight. (MN)
Goodbye And Other Lies
An intense, heartfelt slab of pure emotion delivered with power and melody, Goodbye And Other Lies is a worthy contribution to the field of melodic punk rock from a group of veterans who’ve paid plenty of dues. This is music for remembering past struggles and appreciating where you are. With this EP, Mistaker carves out a distinctive niche for themselves. (MN)
My Enemies & I
The Beast Inside
This VA-based metalcore crew draws a lot of influence from angst-ridden early 00’s nu-metallers like Slipknot and Mudvayne, interjecting melodic choruses and moody breaks into a stew of pounding downtuned riffage and brutal breakdowns. The result is an invigorating, gleefully profane blast that brings me back to my youth. If this is what today’s kids are into, sign me up. (MN)
Partners In The Wild
(Trrrash/Little Black Cloud)
This RVA quartet definitely brought the fire this time, cranking up the energy to deliver a louder, more distorted follow-up to debut LP Glossa. The 90s alternative and indie-rock influences that fundamentally inform Positive No’s sound are still dominant, but their punk past is much closer to the surface here–and that’s definitely a good thing. (MN)
(Season Of Mist)
This combo sees Municipal Waste drum-pounder Dave Witte reuniting with his Burnt By The Sun bandmates, John Adubato (guitar) and Mike Olender (vocals), to carry on that band’s brutal, politically-driven metal rampage. Doom-infused metallic hardcore riffs meet grinding blast beats and double-bass mayhem to create an unstoppable steamroller of a record. (MN)
Talk Me Off
Talk Me Off
Some fun, speedy punk with a tendency toward retro stylings. The first song has a borderline-hardcore intensity, but the others get more melodic in a manner reminiscent of early 80s SoCal punk–Agent Orange, first-LP Bad Religion, that kind of thing. The furious anti-white-nationalism lyrics on “Inglorious Bastards” are a particularly nice touch. (MN)
Can music be simultaneously comforting and unsettling? Deep. Honey. makes a pretty strong case in the affirmative. Warm synth sounds and layered guitars lay down pillowy sonic padding, yet Danny Bozella’s singing is manipulated throughout, coming across as uncanny. “I put effects around my voice to hide what I write,” he sings on “Charms,” ringing with a beautifully ironic honesty. (DJ)
Reviews by: Marilyn Drew Necci (MN), Eugene Henry (EH), Davy Jones (DJ), Kiara M.P. (KMP), Christopher Alan McDaniel (CM)
Top Photo Credit: Joey Wharton Photography