Thursday, September 5, 9 PM
Iron Reagan, Nickelus F, Slump @ Fuzzy Cactus – $10
I’ve been doing this column for nearly six years now (I know, time flies), and sometimes I worry that I’m getting a little predictable. I see a show on my exhaustively-compiled master list of upcoming shows and immediately think, “Oh damn, that’s feature this week for sure.” But then I think, “Wait a minute. Is me picking that show a total cliche? Do I need to branch out, lest everyone figure out that I really am just an aging hipster with a strong nostalgic streak?” I don’t know, I’m probably thinking too much.
So let’s put all those thoughts aside and just embrace the most RVA-Mag-catnip show that’s come down the pike in a while: this Thursday-night bill mingling diverse genres under one roof at Brookland Park’s newest hotspot, Fuzzy Cactus. If I gave Shows You Must See awards at the end of every year (what would I call that, the Showies? LOL maybe I’ll start doing that), these guys would already be a lock for Best New Venue. This three-band bill (the perfect length) only further solidifies their hold on that honor — and this is still their first month of operation!
At this point, Iron Reagan’s become just as well established in the Virginia thrash/crossover scene as the longer-lived bands from which they spawned (Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour, Mammoth Grinder), and last year’s split EP with Gatecreeper shows that they continue to evolve their sound in more brutal, more epic directions. If they were going to share a bill with a hip hop artist, Richmond legend Nickelus F is the perfect one. An institution in his own right, he recently followed up last year’s breakthrough LP, Stuck, with a two-volume collection of archival recordings called The Gold Mine. It’s just further proof that, whether you’re listening to his newest banger or songs he recorded a decade ago, Nickelus F’s talent knows no bounds. This show is rounded out with a set from Slump, a psych-noise/hardcore band with a unique sound and a new LP coming on Feel It Records any minute now. Show up at this show and enjoy yourself. Take it from one who knows — life’s too short to think so much.
Wednesday, September 4, 9 PM
Easter Island, Majjin Boo, Colpa Mia @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s been a long road to bring Georgia’s Easter Island to Richmond tonight, but at the end of it, they’re a stronger, better band, and they’re sure to charm all comers when they take the stage. Having broken up back in 2014, the band’s main creative forces, brothers Ethan and Asher Payne, found themselves coming back together a couple of years ago with renewed inspiration and a clutch of excellent new tunes that expand on the band’s sound. They aptly refer to their genre as “post-rock dream pop,” and whether you’re more into Slowdive, The Cure, or Explosions In The Sky, you’re sure to get a boost from their strong yet beautiful music.
While Easter Island haven’t released an actual record in over five years, they’re currently prepping a brand new album entitled Island Nation for release later this year. Preview singles make clear that it’s a new height of excellence for the band, one that you should absolutely experience in the live environment. And with Richmond’s Majjin Boo on the bill as well, this show is twice as nice. Under the name Cardinal, this band released one of my favorite EPs of the year so far back in the spring. They’ve now returned to their original name, and have a bunch more new material to bring us all in the near future. Get a preview tonight — it’ll be worth it! Local indie-pop up-and-comers Colpa Mia kick this one off. Be there.
Thursday, September 5, 9 PM
Kaelan Mikla (Photo by Debi Del Grande), Cloud Rat, Listless, Melvl @ Wonderland – $10
Iceland, the tiny North Atlantic island country in which a sparse population descended from Vikings lives amongst glaciers and active volcanoes, carries an undeniable allure for Americans trapped in our country’s endless suburban sprawl. That allure has been enhanced by the country’s excellent musical exports, including Bjork, Sigur Ros, and chaotic hardcore quintet Minus. Kaelan Mikla is the latest of these, and — true to Icelandic form — sounds nothing like any of them. Instead, this trio uses synthesizers, programmed beats, and layered vocals to create a dark, atmospheric sound that may be closer musically to gothic postpunk, but has an undeniable appeal to metalheads around the globe.
Perhaps this explains their current American tour, which finds them paired with long-running Michigan grindcore group Cloud Rat. This prolific, ferocious band brings a dynamic approach to the short-fast-loud formula, and on advance singles from their forthcoming fifth LP, Pollinator, they introduce epic riffs and harsh ambience to a sound that is still both fast as hell and heavy as fuck. I’d tell you to bring your earplugs, but the fact is that this trio is gonna rip your head right off. Excellent opening sets will be provided by the brutal metallic crust sextet Listless and the dark ambient solo act Melvl, both of which hail from right here in VA. Get stoked.
Friday, September 6, 9 PM
Material Girls, COQ, Dad @ Wonderland – $10
Atlanta quintet Material Girls is coming to town, and it’s time for all of us to get down — to Shockoe Bottom’s own Wonderland, that is. Despite the name, Material Girls bear no resemblance to Madonna’s classic mid-80s material, and instead are much more likely to remind listeners of New York in the postpunk early 80s. Their scratchy, minimalist grooves draw clear inspiration from groups like the Bush Tetras and ESG, while their creative use of saxophone is most reminiscent of early 80s UK noise-punk freaks Essential Logic.
On their 2018 LP, Leather, this group lays down a ferocious clatter, and it’s sure to draw you straight toward the dance floor, even if you don’t quite know what sort of dances to do once you get there. No matter how herky-jerky and frenetic your moves are, though, they’re sure to be perfect. Richmond’s own COQ are on this bill as well, and they eschew groove in favor of some straight-up clangor. Fans of No Wave leading lights like Mars and DNA are sure to appreciate the damaged noise this group dishes out. Locals Dad open this one up with some raw, dark indie sounds, complete with a strong political thread running throughout. This show will give you all the feels.
Saturday, September 7, 9 PM
Photosynthesizers, DJ Billy Nguyen @ Fuzzy Cactus – $10
Though it’s been a while since I’ve heard it, Photosynthesizers is a name that’s been around the Richmond music scene for a long time now. Formed by rapper BarCodez and guitarist Joshua Bryant, this group has featured quite a few different Richmond music notables over the years, and has actually been pretty close to inactive for the past few. But Photosynthesizers are decidedly back, with a newly solidified seven-piece lineup, and are preparing to celebrate the 11th anniversary of their band with the release of their first proper LP, Apollogy.
The album’s first single, “Terms and Agreements,” finds BarCodez’s rhymes in top form as ever, atop a bed of melodic, soulful music that simultaneously evokes D’Angelo and Radiohead. Clearly this band’s time away has not hurt their ability to nail their unique, memorable sound. It’s good to have them back, and this Saturday night, you could do a whole lot worse than heading over to Fuzzy Cactus and catching the full album release show by this returning powerhouse. Photosynthesizers turntablist Billy Nguyen will kick off the evening with a DJ set; then you’re in the band’s capable hands for the rest of the evening. It’s a good place to be.
Sunday, September 8, 8 PM
Dead Animal Assembly Plant, The Destruct Principle, Gothic Lizard @ Fallout – $7 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I love a good fictional origin story, and Portland’s Dead Animal Assembly Plant’s got a great one — something about a German slaughterhouse owner in the days leading up to World War I who snapped and started feeding the townspeople to the livestock, instead of the other way around. A gory horror story like that gives you a very good idea of what you’ll get when you listen to the music of this industrial metal ensemble of costumed maniacs.
On most recent EP OFH: Prime Cuts, Dead Animal Assembly Plant deals out a brutal, pounding sound that lands somewhere between Slipknot and Killing Joke, or maybe Machines Of Loving Grace jamming with White Zombie inside a currently-in-operation automobile factory. It’s heavy, but it’s also metallic in the sense of large sheets of metal clanging into each other. And of course, you can’t neglect the always-present element of gory terror. This band is sure to liven up a Sunday night at Fallout; get ready for some serious headbanging at the goth club.
Monday, September 9, 6 PM
Upon A Burning Body, Of Virtue, Speaking With Ghosts, Seasons, WoR @ The Canal Club – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The week has just started, and already it’s time to headbang once again, as Upon A Burning Body rolls into Richmond with fire in their eyes. This Texas metal band has been raging for nigh-on 15 years now, and it absolutely shows on their latest LP, Southern Hostility. While this ten-song collection of brutal mosh grooves definitely lands on the metal side of the metal/core divide, it’s closer than you might expect, and fans of Killswitch Engage, Pantera, and Sworn Enemy are all going to hear things they enjoy out of this Texas quartet.
Indeed, this is the sort of metal show where you’re just as likely to see spin-kicking mosh pits of doom as you are to see lines of longhairs banging their heads with glee. Upon A Burning Body have a particular skill with brutal breakdowns, so limber up before their set if you don’t want to pull a tendon. They’ll be joined on this bill by Michigan ragers Of Virtue, who have a definite appeal for the Suicide Silence/Whitechapel fans out there, and Chicago’s Speaking With Ghosts, whose new EP finds them blending Sworn In-style gothic moshcore with an eerie electronic undercurrent. This show’s got a lot of variety, but it’s all heavy. Sink your teeth into this one.
Tuesday, September 10, 7:30 PM
The Midnight, Flamingosis @ The National – $20 in advance/$23 at the door (order tickets HERE)
The retro synth wave continues to rise, and LA-based duo The Midnight are riding high on a crest of moody yet melodic gloriousness. The neon-lit nights and pastel bright spots of prime 80s-movie Los Angeles is this band’s metier, and they wield it exceptionally well, creating soundscapes that appeal to the many fans of the Drive soundtrack but also touches a deeper wellspring of emotion that their sound has in common with Euro indie-popstars M83.
On 2016’s Endless Summer and 2017’s Nocturnal, Tim MacEwan and Tyler Lyle struck electro-dance gold with their combination of retro-style production, outstanding melodies, and unabashedly 80s instrumental touches like saxophone solos and vocoder vocals. And this sound is sure to move everyone who takes to the National’s dancefloor this Tuesday night to while away their cares. The 80s weren’t nearly as glamorous a time as our culture remembers it to be, but on this night, you can enjoy that quintessential 80s glamour that previously existed only in movies. Take a trip with The Midnight, and find your own perfect wave.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, September 6, 6:30 PM
Strand Of Oaks, Apex Manor @ The Southern Cafe (Charlottesville) – $18 (order tickets HERE)
There’s a really strong vibe to Strand Of Oaks, one that hits a serious sweet spot — at least for me. The solo project of Indiana singer-songwriter Timothy Showalter, Strand Of Oaks is simultaneously steeped in acoustic folk and awash in post-rock grandeur, like early My Morning Jacket (whose members back Showalter on brand new sixth album, Eraserland) at their spaciest, combined with the late, lamented Secret Machines. Eraserland finds Showalter and co. exploring themes of depression, emotional struggles, and the search for a greater purpose from one’s life. God knows we’ve all had those struggles.
Fortunately, Strand Of Oaks is able to spin melodic gold from feelings of despair, and at Charlottesville’s Southern Cafe this Friday night, they’ll help us all to contemplate those moods while still enjoying some beautiful music. It’ll take the edge off, that’s for sure. Fans of Iron And Wine, Band Of Horses, and Sturgill Simpson will also find a lot to enjoy at this show, even if life’s somehow going really well for you these days. Don’t get us wrong, we’re happy for you — just try not to rub it in.
Saturday, September 7, 8 PM
Kississippi, Mas Y Mas, Deli Kings, Coolzey @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $10 in advance/$13 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I like to keep tabs on the music scene down in Norfolk, but if I’m honest, I’ve probably been to less than a dozen shows in that lovely Tidewater city. So I’m not going to pretend that I know exactly what role TBA Productions has played in that city’s music scene over the past four years. However, I’m glad to have any sort of celebration that includes such excellent music on the bill. And if this is the kind of musical taste they show in their work, I’m sure they deserve every bit of celebratory accolades they get.
Philadelphia’s Kississippi top the bill at this musical party, and they have a lot to offer, as they displayed on last year’s Sunset Blush LP. Fans of Mates Of State or The Anniversary will find a lot to love in this band’s gorgeous indie pop tuneage, which shows the perfect ratio of keyboard-to-guitar sound in order to accentuate the melodic beauty of their tunes while still retaining a strong alt-rock bite. Basically these guys rule, and are worth the price of admission all on their own. Which only makes it that much more special that longrunning Norfolk indie rockers Mas Y Mas, along with sandwich-loving Richmond rock n’ rollers Deli Kings and Iowa hip hop group Coolzey, are filling out the bill with their own excellent sounds. Let’s rock.
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]
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