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.]
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