Saturday, December 15, noon
White Laces, Night Idea, Fat Spirit, Manzara, Grem Smiley, Don Fredrick, Nightcreature, Billy Neptune, Deli Kings, Ghoul Trouble @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Saturday, December 15, 9 PM
Punks For Presents 2018 Night Two, feat. Good Cretins, London Caroling, Snow Control, Christmas Jerks, X-Mas @ Strange Matter – $10
The time has come. It’s the last hurrah. This Saturday marks the final time that Strange Matter will host any live music. I know a lot of us have been feeling some ways about this, and I’m definitely feeling those feels too. Not just because Strange Matter has been, hands down, the best and most reliable live music venue in Richmond for the past decade, but also because… y’all, I’ve got a column to write every week. I’ve been writing this column for four years, and I can count the weekly installments that went by without featuring at least one Strange Matter show on one finger. When most of the venues around town weren’t even open most random weeknights, Strange Matter could always be counted on to be hosting not just a show, but more often than not, a real banger that I’d put into my column even if it was happening on a Saturday night when every place was hosting something.
Where am I gonna send you now on a random Tuesday night now? We’re gonna find that answer together in 2019, for better or worse. But while Strange Matter still exists, you better believe I’m gonna send you there this weekend. After all, this Saturday, their final day in operation, is going to be a major blowout, featuring not one but two epic shows that will start off around the time you’re paying your tab at brunch and end at last call in the wee hours. What better way could there be for you to celebrate Strange Matter’s truly top-quality decade of operation than to spend about 14 hours within its darkened confines, enjoying over a dozen excellent bands from right here in RVA?
You know the answer as well as I do, so let’s all just mark our calendars now. There’s plenty to get stoked for — a reunion set by White Laces tops off the first epic show of the day, and since it’s always wonderful to see Landis, Jimmy, Jay, and the rest of the gang take the stage together, this will be a can’t-miss moment for any Richmond music fan. The coterie of excellent local faves supporting them on this bill — math-rock kingpins Night Idea, angst-ridden grunge punks Fat Spirit, spaced-out noise-rockers Manzara, so many more — is only matched by the outstanding slate of holiday-themed tribute acts being brought to us on the late show’s jam-packed lineup courtesy of Punks For Presents. Have you ever wanted to hear Clash songs rewritten to feature lyrics about Santa Claus? Or a set of Bad Religion tunes played by people who’ve seen snow on their front lawn at some point in their lives? You’ll get these and many more excellent musical treats at this fun-filled extravaganza. Don’t miss it — if you let your last chance to enjoy Strange Matter while it’s here slip away, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Guaranteed.
Wednesday, December 12, 6 PM
The Milkstains, Sports Bar, Sammi Lanzetta, The Trillions, Cold Beaches, Dumb Waiter, Toward Space, Neat Sweep @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Let’s continue to talk about the outstanding fare Strange Matter will be bringing us throughout their final few days of operation, shall we? The many epic local showcases that have filled their stage over the past few weeks have tended to find a focus in one local scene or another, and this one is no exception, bringing us a smorgasbord of the best alternative rock n’ roll this city has to offer. The fact that I took til the third sentence of this writeup to tell you that the Milkstains will be headlining this show with their first local performance since LAST Christmas might just constitute burying the lede, but I write these columns really goddamn fast, so I hope no one will hate on me too much for letting my journalistic principles slip just a bit.
Anyway, based on the advance promo for this show, it seems likely that this performance by the Milkstains may just constitute their last-ever performance as a band, and considering how much sweat, beer, and surf-grunge wildness this band has dished out to this city over the past decade-plus (they’ve been a thing even longer than Strange Matter has), that’s a real loss to all of us. Celebrate the life and the rock n’ roll power of the Milkstains once again/one last time(?) at Smatter tonight — but don’t just waltz in as they’re hitting the stage, because if you do, you’ll miss out on a plethora of fine musical performers, from the heartstopping alt-rock balladry of singer-songwriter extraordinaire Sammi Lanzetta to the garage-pop brilliance of Sports Bar to the jazz-metal madness of Dumb Waiter. And so much more! Dude… it’s gonna be epic.
Thursday, December 13, 8 PM
Old Faith, Colin Phils, Colder Planets, Kenneka Cook @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I could keep on talking about Strange Matter for every single remaining day of their brief existence, and rest assured, on both this night and the next, there are excellent shows spotlighting indie-rock and grindcore at Strange Matter on these nights. If you were to go, I fully would not blame you. But I would be remiss in my duty as Richmond’s chief chronicler of live local music (I mean, really, who else is there?) if I didn’t tell you about a couple of amazing shows happening at other venues during this final half-week of Strange Matter’s extended wake. Let’s begin with this one, which features an appearance by Greensboro instrumental quartet Old Faith.
There have been quite a few groups that have trod similar musical ground as these North Carolinians now cover, but their ability to evoke perspective, meaning, and emotion through the stunning evolutions of their dual-guitar instrumental epics, as demonstrated on their recently released self-titled LP, puts them in the top tier of the genre, alongside famous names like Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai. When the sounds of their amplifiers grow to fill and surround Capital Ale House’s Downtown Music Hall, the music is sure to take you on an emotional journey. RVA-via-Korea band Colin Phils will also be on hand to bring you their pleasing take on the note-twisting melodic tangles of math-rock, while Colder Planets’s gorgeous alt-rock sounds will put a smile on your face for sure. And of course, there’s Kenneka Cook, the excellent soul singer and amazingly talented electronic-music composer, who’ll bring us an always-delightful set of her amazing tunes. This one’s going to be a delight.
Friday, December 14, 8 PM
Hackedepicciotto, Eric Hubel @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Assuming you’re not hitting Strange Matter, it’s back to Capital Ale House’s Downtown Music Hall on this fine Friday night for one of the weirdest and most intriguing musical experiences you’re going to have anytime in the near future. Hackedepicciotto are coming to town, and while this particular name may not be all that familiar to you, you’re sure to be impressed by their musical pedigree. Alexander Hacke is bassist and co-founder of German industrial godfathers Einsturzende Neubauten; his partner in life and music, Danielle de Picciotto, sang with German postpunk band Die Haut and helped establish long-running Berlin music festival Love Parade.
When they create together, Hacke and de Picciotto make music focused on their interest in yoga and other forms of meditation. Their most recent release is JOY, the second of their albums composed specifically to be soundtracks for meditation, and for that album they worked with New York postpunk guitarist Eric Hubel, formerly of Glenn Branca’s band and a yoga master himself. Now all three come to Richmond to create ambient soundtracks that might have some meditative qualities but also have an intense character that sometimes carries a dark undercurrent and always has the potential to shake your spiritual foundations. It’s hard to say what we’ll see and hear at Capital Ale House Friday night, but one thing’s for sure — it’ll move you.
Saturday, December 15, 7 PM
Genosha, 3:33, Vulcanite, Lounge Lizzard, Treble Lifter, The Mostly Dead, Torino Death Ride @ Sound Of Music Studios – $5
As Strange Matter breathes its last this Saturday night, new life is being born into the Virginia hardcore scene. Metallic hardcore group Genosha will be releasing their latest CD, Our Conspiracy, and while I haven’t yet heard any of the tuneage from it, the two excellent bangers they released earlier this year on a split EP with fellow Commonwealth denizens Treble Lifter (also playing this show; more about them in a minute) give all the reason in the world to expect a powerful slab of dark, brutal moshcore out of this quintet. Being there to see the new Genosha LP being birthed into the world is certainly a fine use of your weekend night, especially if you’re ready for some serious headbangs.
There are quite a few other excellent bands from all around the VA area on this bill as well, and that’s sure to sweeten the pot for the initiated as well as the merely intrigued. Lounge Lizzard in particular are one to watch; this Richmond-based newcomer features members from all kinds of other excellent local bands — Toxic Moxie, Cremains, The Donalds, Skumboyz, and more. Plus, their snarky, catchy old-school punk sound is particularly designed to appeal to fans of The Avengers, which is never a bad thing. The aforementioned Treble Lifter have more of a driving post-hardcore sound, but don’t get me wrong — these guys are plenty pissed off, so you punks are still gonna love it. There are a lot more notable bands on this bill, but I’m running out of space, so I challenge you — learn about them for yourself. Come to Sound Of Music this Saturday night, and find out what’s going on with the new generation.
Sunday, December 16, 7:30 PM
Silent Music Revival, feat. Toxic Moxie @ Gallery 5 – Donations accepted
This should be an intriguing installment of the always-fascinating Silent Music Revival, a long-running series of local shows in which Richmond-area musicians of note create improvised soundtracks for silent films they’ve never seen before. This time around, it’ll be Toxic Moxie who’ve accepted the challenge, and it’ll be fun to see how they incorporate their disco-punk hybrid sound into the world of film score. They’ll have a pretty great candidate for scoring too, as the film on display this week is Jean Renoir’s 1928 picture The Little Match Girl.
Renoir, who shares a surname with Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir because he was his son, was a pioneering French film director who got his start in the silent era before going on to demonstrate what could be achieved in the film medium with classics like La Grand Illusion and The Rules Of The Game. Starring his first wife and based on that totally bleak Hans Christian Andersen story we all heard as kids, The Little Match Girl was one of Renoir’s more notable early efforts, one that he financed by selling off his dad’s paintings. Now it’s being paired with the music of Toxic Moxie, on a Sunday evening at Gallery 5. What a time to be alive.
Monday, December 17, 7 PM
Alright, Smoke Break, Ghouli @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$6 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Never mind the fact that I always, without fail, write it as two words (“all right”); I’m still stoked to see Alright coming to town. These North Carolinians feature Sarah Blumenthal, formerly of the excellent Charlotte, NC band Faye, on guitar and vocals, and while Alright are clearly dipping a little further into the melodic/emotional end of the musical pond than Faye were, this group carries on the crunching guitars and exuberant bounce that Faye did so well.
Their just-released new EP, On The Outs, is the sort of record that will appeal equally to fans of melodic pop-punk groups like the Candy Hearts and garage-rock roustabouts like Sheer Mag. Live, these tunes are sure to get everybody bouncing around with smiles on their faces. It makes them a good pairing with Smoke Break, the melodic, energetic RVA trio featuring members of Sundials, Hold Tight, and Springtime who also grace this bill. We don’t get too many chances to see these guys, and as their 2016 LP Everything Is Wrong proved, they’ve got a lot to offer. So be sure not to miss out on this one — and show up on time, because local newcomers Ghouli have some caustic, frenetic punk to bowl you over with, and you’ll feel real stupid if you hear their last song from outside when you’re walking up. Don’t be that guy.
Tuesday, December 18, 7 PM
Matt Lisk, Justin Golden, Graham Stone, Mackenzie Roark, Pat O’Keefe @ The Camel – Free!
I don’t think this night is part of the official “singer-songwriter showcase” series The Camel’s been doing off-and-on over the past couple years, but it’s set up in much the same way: several local musicians known for excellently-crafted solo material will all get together and play sets one after the other, and you’ll be able to see it all for free. That’s always a good deal, especially since the Camel has burgers and tacos on the menu that become way more affordable when you didn’t have to pay to get in. So show up a little early, get your grub on, and then settle in to enjoy a night of excellent solo sounds that come to you courtesy of folks like Matt Lisk, whose contemplative acoustic offerings are a great soundtrack for an introspective evening.
By contrast, Justin Golden will bring us some rootsy acoustic blues with a soulful feel that take his work beyond the traditional sound of legends like Robert Johnson and Son House, even as it keeps their spirits alive. Mackenzie Roark, who worked with a former member of Hootie And The Blowfish on her last album, has some classic country sounds to offer that are sure to please fans of Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson. And of course, Graham Stone has become a fixture on the local singer-songwriter scene, with his folk feel and deep-blue voice always making an impression. The evening is rounded out by Dalton Dash frontman Pat O’Keefe taking a solo turn that we can imagine will maintain a similar old-time mix of folk, country, and bluegrass sounds that we’ve all come to know and love in his band. All of this for no dollars at the door? You can’t beat that with a bat.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, December 14, 7 PM
The Do-Nothings, Stray Fossa, Party Wave, Plastic Nancy @ Toast – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Something unusual is going on here. The Do-Nothings are holding this show at Toast as an “album release party,” but until recently, there was no evidence of a forthcoming album to be found. Then on Monday, a post went up on their Facebook page that read, “This is not a test. Our album release show set will be recorded live and released as the album we are having the release show to release. Get it? Your participation is very important to us.” And if that isn’t enough to pique your interest, you’re a less curious person than I am.
Research has revealed that The Do-Nothings, who appear to be based in Richmond even though they’re having this bizarre “release party” in Norfolk, are a project led by singer/guitarist Andrew Altman, who, along with an energetic rhythm section, makes wild, effects-laden psychedelic blues-punk tunes that rarely fail to get weird. Their work reminds me in some ways of the early Black Keys, back when their records were way too grotty to ever get within shouting distance of radio, and in others of the totally bizarre early material by New York freaks Royal Trux. How’s that all gonna translate when they both make and release their next album onstage at Toast this weekend? One thing’s for sure — it won’t be boring. Gas up the Hyundai and go see what these weirdos have up their sleeve.
Sunday, December 16, 7 PM
God Of Nothing, One Less Life, Black Lotus, Heft, Stolen Goodz @ Riffhouse Pub – $5
Northern Virginia deathcore brutality merchants God Of Nothing apparently galled a few people by referring to themselves on the internet a few years ago as “the heaviest band on earth,” but we ain’t mad at ’em. Honestly, new single “1075” is pretty crushing, especially with its incorporation of ambient noise and a ridiculous final breakdown that features several totally silent pauses that trick you into thinking the song’s over before blindsiding you with another monstrous riff. These guys are clearly continuing to build on the legacy of downtuned mosh madness they’ve built up over the last several years, and what they’re showing us lately more than makes them worth going to see — even if they aren’t the heaviest band on any earth that also contains Sunn o))).
New Jersey’s Black Lotus are also on this bill, and while they’re more focused on complex, chaotic masses of progressive metalcore (they call themselves a “djent” band, but I’ve never been able to establish a coherent definition for that particular subgenre) than the sheer low-end crunch of God Of Nothing, they should certainly appeal to fans of the headliner, if their excellent Wilted LP from earlier this year is any indication. There’s a lot going on on this album, for sure, but never fear — a brutal breakdown is always just around the corner. One thing’s for sure: the pit at this show’s gonna be a risky proposition. I’ll be protecting my middle-aged bones, but if you love to mosh hard, this one’s gonna put a smile on your face for sure.
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.]
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