Friday, October 5, 6 PM
Bracewar, Cold World, Shark Attack, Day By Day, Victim, Division Of Mind, Mindforce, Downfall, Antagonize @ The Canal Club – $20 (order tickets HERE)
It might be a surprise for the uninitiated to hear this, but hardcore is basically dance music — and hardcore bands know it. So many of them have “Intro” songs they play when they first hit the stage, and big mosh breakdowns that they end their sets with, most of which are introduced by a singer screaming, “Last chance to dance!” I rest my case. Richmond’s Bracewar is one of those bands, and in fact, I’ve often heard other hardcore kids talk about how their “Intro” (from their 2007 Juggernaut LP) is their best or most popular song. It makes a weird sort of sense — for a typically fast-as-hell band, the intro offers a perfect chance to get the kids all fired up before launching into a million-miles-an-hour rager.
Bracewar were super active about a decade ago, but the members have gotten older, and they’ve focused less on the band in recent years, playing the occasional local show but mostly not doing much. However, it appears all that is changing — they’ve got a brand new EP, Colossal, coming out on Triple B Records this week. It’s only three songs, but it’s their first new material in a decade, so we can cut ’em some slack. What’s really interesting is that they’ve got a new intro song on this one, entitled “Introduction.” Will this far more metallic take on the set-starting dance call get the kids moving as much as the old intro did? On Friday at the Canal Club, you’ll probably have a chance to find out.
You’ll also get a chance to see a TON of other rad hardcore bands from the past two decades, giving you a great view on what’s been happening in the world of hardcore since the millennium turned. Well-respected veterans Cold World will be sharing headliner status with Bracewar and bringing their brutal riffs with a slight tinge of hip-hop flavor to keep the dancefloor moving. And of course we can’t forget about Shark Attack, the short-lived but legendary northeast hardcore band that blew everyone’s minds back in 2001 with two incredible EPs, then dipped out leaving everyone wanting more. Their discography LP finally came out this year, complete with some unreleased tracks, and now they’re coming to Richmond to knock everybody on their asses once again. There are quite a few other excellent bands on this bill, from current ragers like RVA’s own Division Of Mind and Florida’s Day By Day to reincarnated VA Beach warriors Victim and the brand-new project from legendary Bane frontman Aaron Bedard, Antagonize. Practice your moves, kids — you’ve got a lot of dancing to do.
Wednesday, October 3, 7 PM
Thrice, The Bronx @ The National – $24.50 in advance/$29.50 at the door (order tickets HERE)
It’s hard not to love Thrice. They’ve been around forever, and despite many sonic evolutions they’ve been through, they’ve consistently remained great. From the ridiculously metallic skate-punk of their earliest work to the progressive, emotionally-driven sound of their Alchemy Index tetralogy to the work they’ve released since their brief hiatus earlier in the decade, everything has been enjoyable in its own way, and on its own merits.
It’s still true, too — their recently-released tenth album, Palms, mixes a variety of different sounds from all eras of their work to create a moving and powerful example of a band carving their own path. I guess you could call it post-hardcore, but even that rather nebulous genre term falls woefully short of describing this band’s capabilities — capabilities they demonstrate every time they step onto a stage. Tonight at the National will be no exception, and the fact that they’ve got irreverent melodic punk rippers The Bronx (speaking of groups who’ve remained consistently great for multiple decades) on tour with them only sweetens the deal. Prepare yourself — this one’s gonna be an experience.
Thursday, October 4, 8 PM
Rotten Mangos, Benjamin Shepherd, Saw Black @ Strange Matter – $7
Psychedelic rock n’ roll is a style of music that’s been around for a long time, but when it’s done right, it still rules. And there’s nowhere they do it as right as they do in Austin, Texas. From the band that started it all, the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, to current phenomena like Golden Dawn Arkestra, Austin is the place to go when you’re looking for wild, crazy psych to blow your mind.
Alternatively, you can let it come to you — and that’s what’s happening at Strange Matter Thursday night. Rotten Mangos, an all-star Austin psych crew featuring members of The Black Angels, former Richmonders The Diamond Center, and a whole lot more, will be rolling through with some pop-infused psych n’ roll that’ll open up your third eye and let the sun shine in. You’ll get a not entirely dissimilar experience from the local singer-songwriters opening up the show — Benjamin Shepherd brings a folky touch to his songs, but he’s not without some side trips into drug-fueled weirdness. Saw Black’s material is both more countrified and spacier; it’s not that predictable, especially on his excellent recent LP, Water Tower, but it’s always fun. This is a show to get your toes tapping even as your mind drifts through the astral plane. Who doesn’t love that?
Friday, October 5, 8 PM
Ragana, Haircut, Listless, Tavishi @ Strange Matter – $7
Things are getting spooky this Friday night at Strange Matter. Ragana is hitting town for the first time in several years, and this California group, only a two-piece, creates a powerful, all-encompassing ambience with their sound, one that’s sure to have a deep psychological effect on the denizens of Grace Street this weekend. The fact that Ragana’s most recent release is a split LP with New Orleans sludge-doom veterans Thou entitled Let Our Names Be Forgotten certainly gives you some idea of what to expect from their performance on Friday.
But it would be unfair to write Ragana off as just another doom metal band. They certainly have their share of loud, crushing moments that roll over you in slow motion like waves… or maybe a steamroller. But they also integrate quiet melodies and ominous atmosphere into their sound, significantly increasing the witchiness quotient of their music while also offering something more than the unremitting punishment dealt out by the typical doom band. For this reason, it makes sense that they’re sharing a bill with three Richmond bands who span a significant musical breadth. Listless’s crust/grind queercore, Tavishi’s harrowing electronic soundscapes, and Haircut’s angry punk noise all have elements in common with Ragana and each other, but every performer on this bill will offer their own unique take on the anguish that plagues us all as we walk through this difficult life.
Saturday, October 6, 7 PM
The Wedding Funeral @ Garden Grove Brewing & Winery – $?
This is a weird one, y’all. The Wedding Funeral is a project brought into the world by Darren Deicide and Ethel Lynn Oxide, a romantically-involved duo of musicians with widely divergent backgrounds. Deicide, an honest-to-god priest of the Church Of Satan, has been playing Robert Johnson-style acoustic blues for years now, while Oxide has a background in choral singing and the voice of an angel. The two of them have come together to create The Wedding Funeral, a sort of noir-folk project that uses rootsy blues-style instrumentation to jump all around the musical map, from pastoral British folk sounds to deep South blues to bizarre noise interludes.
At least, that’s how it seems from listening to the 30-second samples of their as-yet-unreleased debut album, You Are Cordially Disinvited, which they will be premiering for all comers at Garden Grove this Saturday night. Those samples are the entirety of the music they have available anywhere on the internet — their debut EP, Beneath The Floor Boards (Covered In Feces) (how’s that for a title), has been scrubbed from the World Wide Web in the interest of moving on to exciting new sounds, which is an understandable policy, if a frustrating one for a music journalist with a minimum of time on her hands. But I can tell you that you’ll learn a good bit more about what The Weddding Funeral have to offer if you make the trip down to Garden Grove, and in light of how unusual this band truly is, I definitely think it’s worth it.
Sunday, October 7, 8 PM
White Denim, Rotem @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
This one’s gonna be a lot of fun. White Denim, another excellent Austin, Texas band, have been around for about a decade, and in that time, they’ve been traversing a similar trajectory to that of another deep-South rock n’ roll group, The Black Keys. Starting out with a primitive garage-rock stomp that came out sort of like a janglier White Stripes and moving over the past decade into a thicker, funkier take on post-garage rockin’ that is downright impossible to deny.
Discovering their 2016 LP, Stiff, when I heard multiple songs from it at Sheetz (those of you who’ve known me for a while know how stoked I am about the music they play at Sheetz and really about Sheetz in general — don’t @ me, Wawa nerds), I fell in love with their ability to write incredible tunes that made you wanna get up and dance wherever you were when you heard them, but also rocked hard and had real staying power. And the fact that this excellent band is finally, after a decade of touring existence, bringing their live show to the river city has got to be the best news I’ve heard all week. So take my advice: go to this show, and bring your dancing shoes. Don’t worry if you know nothing about this band — just be yourself, and try to have a good time. You’re sure to succeed.
Monday, October 8, 7 PM
Culture Abuse, Gouge Away, Praise, Deviant, DJ Devolved @ Gallery 5 – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
A double-shot of punk rock awesomeness from two of the best bands on the scene today, both of which just put out new LPs that took their already-outstanding sound to an even higher level? Yeah, this one definitely falls into the category of a no-brainer. Both of these bands have a ton of cachet in the hardcore punk world, and for that reason you might expect their music to be on the harsher end of things — but if you like catchy melodies and strong, memorable choruses, you’re in for a pleasant surprise, because both of these bands have a ton of songcraft skills and melodic dexterity to wow you with.
Californians Culture Abuse split the difference between driving punk-damaged power-pop groups like Neon Piss and straight-up goodtime rockers like The Strokes, and on their brand new Bay Dream LP, this approach yields a bumper crop of toe-tappers that are guaranteed to make you smile. Gouge Away are a bit more fired up; on their just-released Burnt Sugar LP, their harsh vocals and driving riffs land somewhere between melodic hardcore a la White Lung and post-hardcore noise-rock along the lines of Circus Lupus or early Rye Coalition (everyone who even got those references knows I’m over 40 now). As if this bill wasn’t stacked enough, Baltimore melodic, emotional hardcore group Praise are also here to get you fired up, and transgressive up-and-coming local hardcore crew Deviant get things started in fine fashion. Get stoked for this one.
Tuesday, October 9, 8 PM
Marbled Eye, Dark Web, Slump, True Body, Smut @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
There’s no particular reason why the genre descriptor “postpunk” needs to mean anything in particular, beyond the fact that a band has taken formative influence from punk rock and brought it with them to a sound beyond that genre’s borders. But let’s be real — when I say that Marbled Eye is postpunk, you know what I mean. You expect the moody vibe, the wiry undistorted guitars, the melodic basslines and deadpan vocals. And you get all of that here. No doubt about it.
But it only takes one listen to Marbled Eye’s debut LP, Leisure, which just came out this week, to realize that this band has a fresh take on this style, one that takes them far beyond the Joy Division clones and Chameleons riff-stealers who’ve been part of the underground musical landscape for quite a while now. Remember how cool that postpunk style sounded over a decade ago, back when no one was really doing it? Marbled Eye still sound that cool. And if that isn’t proof of their standout talent, I don’t know what is. Fellow out-of-towners Dark Web and Smut, along with local mainstays Slump and True Body, provide excellent support to make this bill a top-quality musical evening from beginning to end.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, October 5, 8 PM
Carriage, Nemesis, Catalyst @ Shaka’s – $10 (order tickets HERE)
It’s tough to try to talk to people about 80s metal who weren’t there for that whole era, because they figure you’re talking about one of two things — either Slayer-style thrash (which, don’t get me wrong, rules) or teased-hair glam metal in the style of Poison and Motley Crue (which, don’t get me wrong, also rules — haters to the left). But there was a whole other wave of heavy, powerful underground metal from that time that people today don’t even think about, and it’s that sound that Carriage evokes today.
Their new LP, Visions, is full of the kinds of flourishes that the kids used to call “power metal,” from the kind of high-pitched yowls that Mercyful Fate’s King Diamond made de rigeur for a while there to the epic progressive riffs that bands like Candlemass took from prog-rock giants like Rush and King Crimson. Carriage has all of this going on and more, and their sound is genetically engineered to get you banging your head. This release party for their Visions LP should be full of more denim jackets and flying hair than you can shake an air guitar at, and if you have any love at all for the days of high-flying, triumphant metal, you’re gonna want to get in the mix at Shaka’s Friday night.
Saturday, October 6, 9 PM
Uglyography, Human Services, Unk Al @ Taphouse Grill – $5
The fact that Richmond has long been a hub for the musically unique and downright bizarre should never blind us to the fact that crazy stuff comes out of the Tidewater area on a regular basis as well. This show is a great example of that exact fact, and it all starts with Hamptonites Uglyography, who have been wielding their goofy, uncategorizable sound for over a decade now. They themselves call it “quirkadelic rock,” and if you imagine an alternate universe where Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention, Devo, They Might Be Giants, and 90s noise-rockers Alice Donut were all the same band, you’ve sorta got a general idea of what they’re up to.
But the reality is certainly going to be even crazier than you expect — Uglyography demonstrates just this fact on recent LP Evil Rays, which features ridiculously catchy tunes like “Neighborhood Watch” and “We Want You To Click Play,” then amidst all of the mania delivers a heartfelt ballad like “Imperfect For You.” They’re a group that must be seen to be believed, which is exactly why the Taphouse Grill is an eminently worthwhile destination for all you musical explorers of the new and unusual this Saturday night. They’ll be joined by the heavier but just-as-bizarre Human Services, who also hail from the Hampton area. Plus there will be an opening set from Unk Al, aka The Real Unk Al, aka Unk Al and the Amazingly Mediocre, a strange yet enjoyable bluegrass troupe that hails from Chesapeake. Open your mind and dive in.
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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