Monday, May 6, 7 PM
Skeletonwitch, Soft Kill, Wiegedood, Portrayal Of Guilt @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $18 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Monday is traditionally the most difficult night of the week on which to find a rad show at which to rock out. However, there have to be exceptions to every rule, and this week the exception to the Monday rule is hitting us in a big way. Huzzah! This bonanza for heavy music fans rolls into Capital Ale House’s Richmond Music Hall Monday night to decimate the vicinity of downtown Richmond and to make the beginning of our week that much better.
Skeletonwitch are leading this parade, and while this long-running black-death-thrash band has been through some trials and tribulations over the past few years that at one point saw them doing a tour fronted by Richmond’s own Andy Horn (Battlemaster), they’ve landed on their feet. Last year, they released their absolutely killer sixth album, Devouring Radiant Light, introducing permanent new vocalist Adam Clemans into the fold and showing that the removal of their original singer did nothing to diminish their energetic metal power. They’ll be bringing the headbanging rage to Capital Ale House with all the fury you’ve always known from them, so prepare yourself.
And prepare yourself for a trio of diverse and amazing support acts as well. Soft Kill are at the head of this one, and this postpunk group has definitely channeled the feel of fog-enshrouded guitar-driven UK bands of past decades, most prominently the Chameleons, on their latest album, Savior. Your head may not bang during their set, but your heart will be moved nonetheless. As for Belgian band Wiegedood, my less-than-perfect understanding of Dutch leads me to hear their name as something a surfer bro might shout as he catches a really excellent wave, but it turns out it means “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” a fitting name for a band with such a raging, shredding, hyperspeed black metal sound. Expect blastbeats and tremolo-picking aplenty when these guys take the stage. And please, do NOT be fashionably late and neglect openers Portrayal Of Guilt — this outstanding band has arisen from the screamo scene in recent years with some incredibly scathing, heavy, and passionate hardcore that must be heard to be believed. Make the most of your Monday night — go to this show.
Wednesday, May 1, 7:30 PM
Whitesnake, The Black Moods @ The National – $50 (order tickets HERE)
Y’all know I’m old by now, but I’m even older than you realize, because I’m officially stoked that Whitesnake will be in town tonight. And look, we need to set the record straight on Whitesnake — because while I know everyone today only remembers them for that groundbreaking classic of car-dancing, “Here We Go Again” (a great song, to avoid misconceptions), they actually have a 40-year career of heavy-blues awesomeness. Led for their entire career by former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale, Whitesnake included as many as three ex-Purple players in their early days, and has also, over the years, featured guitar-slingers from groups like Thin Lizzy and Def Leppard, as well as the legendary axe-slayer himself, Steve Vai.
These days, Whitesnake — who were already 10 years deep into their career when “Here I Go Again” hit the top 40 — have Reb Beach of honest-to-god glam metallers Winger on lead guitar, and they’re only a week or so away from releasing their 13th album, Flesh And Blood. There’s definitely some of that glam-metal sleaze going on on the album’s first new single, but let’s be real, this night is all about their Zeppelin/Purple-style blues-metal classics: “Fool For Your Loving,” “Still Of The Night,” “Slide It In,” “Love Hunter”… it’s gonna rule. Apparently you can only get tickets through secondary sellers at this point, and they’re going for twice face value, which is too rich for my blood, but if you’ve got the scratch to drop a C-note on a Wednesday night, you’re sure to have a blast at this one.
Thursday, May 2, 9 PM
Pissing Contest, Nightcreature, Railgun @ Bandito’s – Free!
Hey all you punk-as-fuck Richmond ragers out there — take notice of this particular Thursday night gig! And not just because it’s free and there’s beer there. If you like to spike your hair and raise two fingers to the world, Richmond’s own Pissing Contest are the band for you. This quartet’s been venting their speedy, anti-social frustration on this city for over five years now, and they’re releasing their second full-length collection of punk tunes full of, um, piss and vinegar at this free Bandito’s gig. So get stoked.
The new Pissing Contest album is titled The Fountain, and its cover art makes clear that the album’s title is a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s notorious Dadaist found sculpture of the same name — a porcelain urinal of 1910s vintage. That’s proof that these guys are no dummies, and that they understand the process of making powerful art from shunned and rejected aspects of society. No wonder their new album contains songs with titles like “Buttfuck (My Cigarette),” “Boner Forest,” and “I’m Like King Midas But For Shit.” There’s a point being made here, and it’s being made in a loud, fast, furious fashion. The result is the ultimate in catchy punk rock fun. Don’t drink too much beer or eat too many Bandito’s tacos before their set — that sort of behavior does not go well with all the circle-pit action you’ll be partaking of when Pissing Contest hit the stage.
Friday, May 3, 9 PM
Ecstatic Vision, Heavy Temple, Sinister Haze @ Wonderland – $10
Do you like your music trippy? No, more trippy than that — like Hawkwind’s Space Ritual crossed with early Ash Ra Tempel, with saxophones blaring and electronic sounds making you think a spaceship is launching right behind your back even as a really heavy rock groove cranks right through the center of your skull and makes it impossible not to nod along. If so, you’re well on your way to appreciating the sheer enormity of the psychedelic power Philadelphia’s Ecstatic Vision will unleash upon Shockoe Bottom at Wonderland this Friday night.
Ecstatic Vision pull from the exactly the sort of biker-psych fury and German cosmische motorik I was talking about above on their 2017 LP, Raw Rock Fury, making the connection even more explicit on 2018’s Under The Influence EP, where they cover Hawkwind, the MC5, and Zambian psychedelic-guitar legend Keith Mlevhu, among others. Blowing minds is their mission when they come to Richmond, and they’ll be bringing witchy doom-metal crushers Heavy Temple down with them, just to leave us all properly pulverized and in the perfect mindset for the space journey on which we’re all about to embark.
Saturday, May 4, 3 PM
Laundropalooza 2.0, feat. Rebekah Rafferty and the Wakes, Keilan Creech, Weekend Plans, The Wimps, T Star, Deli Kings, The Northerners, Kenneka Cook, Moniker, Elliot Johnson @ Strawberry Street Neighborhood Laundromat – Free!
This is the kind of thing I wouldn’t normally believe could happen in a town like Richmond. An all-day Saturday show… in a laundromat? Get outta here. But don’t be skeptical, because it’s all true, and what’s more, it’s been done before! And why not? Spring is here, the temperatures are rising, the skies are finally clearing, and it’s time to enjoy the world once more. Considering that advance promo for this event advises you to bring a lawn chair and/or a blanket, I’m guessing it’s happening outside — and as I recall, the Strawberry Street Laundromat does have a lovely backyard and patio, so it really does all add up to a lovely afternoon.
The music looks to be pretty great too — the ten excellent Richmond artists performing here are mostly of the sort that don’t need that much amplification and electricity to put their sound across effectively, so expect a lot of acoustic sounds from local stars like Kenneka Cook and The Wimps, intriguing newcomers like Moniker and Elliot Johnson, perennials like The Northerners and Weekend Plans, and a whole lot more! Plus, if you have laundry to do, this is the perfect time to do it. God knows the hours sitting around the laundromat can sometimes get pretty boring — but having a free show break out behind the building just as you throw in your whites is the perfect antidote for that issue. So enjoy washing clothes for once, and head over to Strawberry Street Laundromat after brunch on Saturday. You won’t be sorry.
Sunday, May 5, 10 PM
Black Plastic, HotSpit, CAPTCHA @ Bandito’s – Free!
Sunday night is always a great night to head down to Bandito’s. There aren’t always free shows featuring great local bands happening, but it happens more often than not, and this Sunday is one of the nights where local music is definitely on the menu at my personal favorite local spot to get heaping plates of nachos — so don’t miss out! Black Plastic are a Richmond band who’ve been around for a couple of years but kept the releases to a minimum; thus far, they only have one official single to their name.
However, what that single has made abundantly clear is that they have an excellent songwriting sense and the ability to crank out catchy, memorable, and delightfully off-kilter tunes in flawless fashion. So their set this Sunday night is certainly essential. But the same can be said about HotSpit, who I wrote about only two weeks ago right here in this very column. At the time, I called them “a promising shoegaze quartet with strong vocal melodies and ringing guitars,” and I can’t imagine that much has changed since mid-April, so we’ll go with that once again, and further inform you that, like Black Plastic, big things seem assuredly on the horizon for this outfit. Grabbing a chance to see them for free as you enjoy a plate of tacos is definitely the move. Newcomers CAPTCHA, who are certainly no slouches in the “let’s come up with an ungoogleable band name” sweepstakes, kick this one off. Be there.
Monday, May 6, 7:30 PM
IDLES, Fontaines DC @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$17 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Playing basic three-chord punk can be the sort of decision that leads people to think that a band is untalented; especially today, four decades into the punk rock era, it’s the rare band that can both rage and riff in simple, direct, aggressive fashion and make clear from jump that they are bringing a fierce, critical intelligence to their take on no-frills punk. IDLES did this exact thing on their first LP, Brutalism, with sardonic songs that mocked anti-intellectualism and apathy.
But IDLES went through a lot between that album and their second album, Joy As An Act of Resistance, released last fall. And you can tell; while the raging punk sound remains intact on their second album, this UK band’s approach is significantly more refined, incorporating six-minute dirges and soul covers as well as lyrics that go beyond the first record’s cooking-show references into dark takes on depression, addiction, and death. But in the end, the group’s push is away from nihilism and toward finding positive aspects of life, making it all worth living through and smiling about. They certainly do so with their powerful music, which is if anything getting both more aggressive and more complex; at the Broadberry Monday night, they’ll make you think even as they stir your boots toward the pit. What better way to evoke the spirit of punk in 2019 could there be?
Tuesday, May 7, 6 PM
Psycroptic, Cannabis Corpse, Gorod, Micawber, Crucial Rip, Voarm @ The Camel – $20 (order tickets HERE)
To the uninitiated, death metal probably seems like a lot of undifferentiated low-end noise. However, to those of us who’ve been listening to it for decades, there are many fine gradations that appear in what, to be honest, still is pretty much a wall of unrelenting aggression and brutality. This show at The Camel Tuesday night is definitely an unrelenting evening of death fucking metal in the offing. However, the bands on this stacked bill showcase all sorts of different approaches to the same basic template. And that’s what makes this one truly unmissable. Take Psycroptic, the veteran Australian group headlining this bill. They’re currently on tour in support of their seventh album, As The Kingdom Drowns. On that album — and surely onstage at the Camel Tuesday night — they display mastery of a technical approach to death metal that mixes complex riffing and melodic undertones with powerful brutal breakdowns in a fascinating multi-layered fashion.
Meanwhile, co-headliners Cannabis Corpse, from right here in Richmond, giving their tales of marijuana-infused terror a crushing yet somehow catchy energy, which is pointed straight at your face. Take a big hit of that, and then make sure you give some attention to French thrashers Gorod, whose riffy, progressive approach to the power of death metal shows complex talent while still making sure to rip your head off on a regular basis. There are multiple other bands on this bill, all bringing their own rich understandings of death metal to the stage, all of which will be more than worth your time. Don’t fear the metal — give yourself a chance to understand it. After all, as we all know, the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. And there will surely be excessive headbanging at this gig.
Picks from elsewhere around the state:
Saturday, May 4, 9 PM
Murphy’s Law, The Unabombers @ Taphouse Grill – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Where New York Hardcore is concerned, it doesn’t get much more OG than Murphy’s Law. Formed by singer Jimmy Gestapo (who mostly just goes by Jimmy G these days, for reasons that should be obvious) in 1982, this band’s fun n’ games take on hardcore emphasizes the sort of goofy reprobate attitude that was always the flip side of punk’s iconoclastic, anti-social approach to the world. As a result, over the course of their five albums, Murphy’s Law have often focused on drugs, parties, and avoiding responsibility — themes with widespread appeal among the punk rock masses that may also serve to explain why they’ve been around for over 35 years and, as previously mentioned, only released five albums.
These days, Murphy’s Law are approaching two full decades since their last release of new material, so let’s be clear — this show’s mainly gonna be a big singalong party. From speedy early tunes like “Beer” and “California Pipeline” to midtempo thrashers like “Beer Bath” and “Panty Raid” as well as their many noteworthy ska-infused tunes like “Back With A Bong” and “1%,” you can expect a lot of fun, catchy tunes to be dished out for your slamdancing entertainment. And then you can go home and sleep through work the next day (assuming you have the misfortune of working on Sundays), because as Murphy’s Law would be the first to tell you, living up to adult responsibilities is very overrated. Instead, let’s have some fun.
Sunday, May 5, 7 PM
Acid Dad, Ladada @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
For a fortysomething nerd like me, who grew up parsing the finer differences between My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, and the Catherine Wheel, it’s hard to figure what actually counts as “shoegaze” anymore. But the mere fact that we have to have this conversation about Acid Dad is in and of itself indicative of something — that something being ringing guitars, hazy distortion, laid-back vocals, and heavy beats, all adding up to a sound that is, if not “shoegaze” proper, at least guaranteed to appeal to fans of good old-fashioned alternative rock.
On their self-titled 2018 debut LP, Acid Dad effortlessly conjure memories of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead in their brief but powerful heyday (think Source Tags & Codes), as well as Thee Oh Sees, Ride, and some of the cleaner Sonic Youth albums. They rock hard, is the ultimate takeaway, and chances are they’ll only rock harder in a live environment, where they can really crank up the amps and let it rip. So do yourself a favor; whether you’re a Hampton Roads denizen or a Richmonder with an itch for a road trip, head down to Norfolk and catch Acid Dad at Charlie’s American Cafe. It’ll be the perfect way to wrap up a lovely spring weekend.
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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