Wednesday, March 20, 8 PM
Noisem (Photo by Andrew Hartl), No/Mas, Murdersome, MSD @ McCormack’s – $10
It’s apparently the month for mid-week metal — this is two weeks in a row that the most unmissable show of the week is happening only a few short hours after this column gets posted. Hey, I’m not complaining, especially if Wednesday will keep bringing us the absolute (head)bangers we’ve seen for the past couple of weeks. This time around, it’s the return of youthful Baltimore headbangers Noisem, who are rolling into Shockoe Bottom to devastate Richmond’s most flood-prone streets.
It’s been a while since Noisem had a massive amount of hype as teen thrash sensations, and you might have thought (as I had) that they broke up a few years ago. As it turns out, the truth is a bit more complicated. After 2015’s Blossoming Decay, an internal schism fractured the band’s lineup, and three of the five members left. Guitarist Sebastian Phillips and his drumming brother Harley were undaunted, quickly recruiting new singer-bassist Ben Anft and carrying on as a trio. But their label was decidedly daunted, and quickly dropped them.
Four years later, Noisem have returned with a new label and a brand new album, Cease To Exist. Ben Anft’s vocals replace the hardcore bark of original vocalist Tyler Carnes with a harsh, Carcass-style roar (which I honestly might like better), but otherwise, this is the same headbang-inspiring death-thrash awesomeness you’ve always gotten from Noisem, and it is a welcome return indeed from a band whose members are all now old enough to order a beer before the set at McCormack’s tonight. Expect serious brutality, just like you got from them in years past, as well as some ripping thrash rage from DC’s own No/Mas and local stalwarts Murdersome and MSD. This one is gonna rule.
Wednesday, March 20, 6 PM
The Goddamn Gallows, Scott H. Biram, Urban Pioneers, Channel 43 @ The Camel – $20 (order tickets HERE)
The borders between genres are always intriguing, and one that seems to have excited a lot of people’s imaginations over the past couple of decades is the thin line between punk rock and old-time bluegrass. That might not seem such an easily permeated dividing line, but considering that both genres have a tradition of working-class musicians building their sound from outsider traditions and roots within isolated, tight-knit communities, I suppose it makes sense that there’s quite a bit of crossover.
The Goddamn Gallows are one of the bands exploring that musical borderland; they’ve been doing so for over a decade now, and on their latest LP, The Trial, they manage to move between old-time waltzes that foreground folk instruments like banjo and accordion, and darker moments that use distortion and harsh vocals to accentuate the heaviness. And crazily enough, it all works incredibly well — something you can get an up-close-and-personal view of tonight at The Camel, when The Goddamn Gallows pull into town at the head of a touring caravan that also features one-man outlaw-country band Scott H. Biram and energetic Western swing combo Urban Pioneers. Multi-decade Richmond melodic punk vets Channel 43 kick things off to let us know they’re still going strong.
Thursday, March 21, 8 PM
The Listening Sessions, feat. Space Koi, Sanji The Hedgehog, Awkward Shaman, Dogfuck, Distant Dee, MC Correct @ Addis Ethiopian Lounge – $7
As I’ve said in this column many times, Richmond hip hop is a many-splendored thing, and it can be all but impossible to keep up with it all. Therefore I’m not all that surprised that I wasn’t aware until recently of everything Secret Bonus Level has been up to. This crew of local rappers and producers makes it their mission to include the LGBTQ community in everything they do, with the hopes of eventually helping to normalize the idea of queer and trans participants in the world of hip hop. As a rap-loving trans woman, I can definitely get behind that.
Their show this Thursday finds the Secret Bonus Level crew sharing the stage with Space Koi, a Richmond group whose reggae-rooted sound incorporates surf, punk, and psychedelic sounds. The result is several cuts above the typical reggae-rock hybrids we all hear way too much of on modern rock radio — and thank god for that, am I right? They’ll join the Secret Bonus Level crew in its entirety: the trippy rhymes of Sanji The Hedgehog, the wavy melodies of Awkward Shaman, the stoned mumblings of memorably named rapper Dogfuck, and more. The sounds at this show might very well be weird, but the environment is always welcoming, so come down to Addis Ethiopian and check it out — you might just find your new favorite Richmond MC.
Friday, March 22, 9 PM
Appalling, Mo’ynoq, Hoboknife @ Wonderland – $5
Richmond’s extreme metal scene is as alive and well as ever, and more than ever, Shockoe Bottom is the place to learn all about it. Especially with Strange Matter gone, it seems these days the serious thrashers are gonna have to ride their bikes down a really long hill to get the raging riffs they crave. Take heart, carless metalheads — this Friday night, Wonderland has the kind of heaping helping of headbanging that makes the long ride back up the hills of East Main Street totally worth it. Local black metal crew Appalling will be releasing their second full-length at Wonderland on the Friday night in question, and the celebration is sure to be off the chain. They’ve recently been out on the road with Richmond death metal vets Deathcrown, and now Inverted Realm is here to take us all to the next level of epic destruction.
If you love the claustrophobic terror sound of classic Scandinavian black metal masters — think Emperor or Marduk — and you still haven’t checked Appalling out, you need to fix that with the quickness and get to Wonderland on Friday night. They’re sure to tickle your fancy, right before they punch it in the throat. Appalling are joined on this powerhouse bill by fellow black metallers Mo’ynoq. If you saw the name and thought of a certain comedian for a second, well, you’re not alone, but rest assured these guys bring the heavy in a decidedly Immortal-ish fashion. Perennially reliable local stalwarts Hoboknife kick this one off with some dark fury. Get there — even if you’ve gotta walk home.
Saturday, March 23, 9 PM
Microwaves, Multicult, Bermuda Triangles @ Wonderland – $10
Those who are paying attention are sure to know that there’s already a Mikrowaves from Richmond — but as you can see, they spell their name with a K. The Microwaves (with a C) coming to Wonderland Saturday night are a decidedly different proposition. This trio from Pittsburgh, who just released their sixth album, Via Weightlessness, on San Diego noise-core label Three One G, are every bit as hectic as their label affiliation might lead you to expect.
Where their distorted guitar sound and usage of effects that might even make you think there’s a keyboard involved (there isn’t) is likely to remind you of way-out freaks like Orthrelm and Lightning Bolt, there’s a decidedly more song-based structure to Microwaves’ music, which results in the sort of sound that should appeal to fans of decidedly rockin’ noise like that of Arab On Radar or the Melvins, even as its speed and chaos should certainly connect with those who love the early works of the legendary Hella. Microwaves are hitting town with Baltimore noise-rockers Multicult, who conjure some obvious Jesus Lizard comparisons on 2016 LP Position Remote — a slab of pure freakout fun, if you ask me. Local percussion-obsessed weirdos Bermuda Triangles will kick this night off in proper fashion, so roll on down to Wonderland Saturday night prepared to flip out. Rest assured, it’s gonna happen.
Sunday, March 24, 10 PM
Grouser, Grass Panther @ Bandito’s – Free!
Sometimes I put shows into my show column because I’m already intimately familiar with the bands playing. But other times, I am more curious than anything else. This is one of those latter times, and I must say, my curiosity feels likely enough to be rewarded that I think all of you should join me in my quest for satisfaction. Hey, it’s a free show at Bandito’s — if nothing else, you’ll be able to say you got some delicious nachos while you were there. But so anyway — about Grouser. I don’t know this trio’s true identities, but I find it fascinating that they apparently contain members not only of long-running local stoner-metal heavyweights RPG but also of “only true fortysomething Richmonders will know” 90s alt-rockers Jettison Charlie.
I find it even more fascinating that, out of nowhere, they have an outstanding 2018 LP, Harmonic Freight Train, up on Bandcamp. The 13 songs contained on this record have the same sort of noisy post-hardcore energy and subtle melodic grasp that distinguished 90s Richmond legends Kepone, as well as classic 90s Dischord alums like Bluetip. I’m a sucker for records like this; I’m only sorry I didn’t discover it last summer when it came out. Based on these tunes, no matter who is actually in this band, the live show is bound to be essential. The fact that they’re joined on this bill by Manzara affiliates Grass Panther only makes this even more unmissable. And it’s free? What more do you want?
Monday, March 25, 7 PM
Calling All Captains, Diet Blood, Dead Format @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 (Order tickets HERE)
Damn, speaking of sounds I’m a sucker for… Calling All Captains roll into Richmond this Monday night, and I for one can’t wait. These Canadians just joined up with Equal Vision Records, which released their EP Nothing Grows Here last month, and now they’re on tour bringing their sound to the world. Rest assured, if you, like me, are way into recent melodic, emotional pop-punk superstars like State Champs, Knuckle Puck, and The Story So Far, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in Calling All Captains.
Don’t get me wrong, though, they aren’t just a retread of other bands you’ve liked in the past — Canada’s a big country, and this quintet is from Edmonton, Alberta, a city located solidly in Canada’s midwest. Therefore it’s no surprise to find a decided heartland tinge to Calling All Captains’ melodic punk sound, as if they’ve spent a fair amount of time with the Braid and Get Up Kids discographies. That’s certainly never a bad thing. They’ll be joined on this bill by a Richmond band who also feature a melodic punk sound as well as a decidedly unusual name: Diet Blood. What is that about? Is this a band of vampires? Bring some garlic with you to Capital Ale House for this one. Local pop-punk newcomers Dead Format will get this one started off in fine fashion. Get stoked, y’all.
Tuesday, March 26, 10 PM
New Lions, Serqet, Continuation @ Don’t Look Back/Triple – Free!
Not every show has to be a huge event, you know? Sometimes it’s just nice to hang with some friends and enjoy some great tunes. You’ll definitely have the opportunity to do that at Don’t Look Back on Tuesday night, for a free show at the mythical former location of The Triple (where those of us who’ve been around a while saw some pretty cool shows back in the day).
This night will not only give us a chance to rejoice once again at the return of Don’t Look Back and its amazing tacos (show up early and get your fill before the rock starts). It’ll also bring us another opportunity to enjoy the reincarnated and rejuvenated New Lions before their new EP comes out later this year. Plus we’ll get a set from cerebral goth-punks Serqet to enliven all of our minds. Newborn duo Continuation, which features members of Dommengang and The Catalyst, will grace us all with some delightful psychedelic sounds to start the evening off. Let’s all partake and enjoy, shall we?
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Thursday, March 21, 6 PM
Sick Of It All, Iron Reagan, Flatline @ Peabody’s – $20 in advance/$22 at the door (Order tickets HERE)
There’s punk. There’s hardcore. And then there’s New York hardcore. NYHC, as the kids say. Even as it is clearly a big part of hardcore as a whole, NYHC is kind of its own thing, a heavier, tougher form of hardcore that takes obvious influence from the street-level struggles of its early progenitors, who had to fight to survive on the mean streets of New York City in the 80s — long before Manhattan became a glass-skyscraper landscape that mostly acts as a playground for the rich. And Sick Of It All is one of a very few NYHC bands who both helped craft the sound at the very start and is still going strong today.
They just released their 12th album, Wake The Sleeping Dragon!, last year, and if you heard it, you know Sick Of It All are every bit as angry, tough, and talented as they always have been. This show is sure to bring us the best of their new shit along with a heaping helping of classics that we all know and love — “It’s Clobbering Time,” “Step Down,” “Injustice System,” you know the ones. The fact that SOIA are sharing this bill –one that sees them returning to VA Beach’s Peabody’s for the first time in nearly two decades — with Richmond crossover maniacs Iron Reagan only further emphasizes the fact that this is gonna be a show for the ages. Get the Doc Martens shined up and get ready to break out the GI Joe Headstomp for this one.
Monday, March 25, 8 PM
Failure, Swervedriver, Criminal Hygiene @ Elevation27 – $25 in advance/$30 day of show (Order tickets HERE)
This show would be big news even if only one of the two headliners were coming through. The fact that both of them are here to blow our minds just makes this a tour beyond all wildest dreams. California space-rockers Failure fell apart in the late 90s, but they left behind multiple classic albums, which garnered them an ever-growing cult following that rejoiced when the trio returned to action in 2015. Since then, they’ve made two more albums, releasing the excellently titled In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind late last fall.
UK quartet Swervedriver had a similar career path to that of Failure, and though soundwise they are less Nirvana-meets-Pink Floyd and more Neil Young-meets-My Bloody Valentine, the two groups have a lot in common musically as well as historically. Swervedriver, who broke up in 1999, reformed in 2008, and have themselves released two albums since reuniting. The most recent, Future Ruins, was released earlier this year; like the latest Failure album, it shows that this group is still as much at the top of their game as they ever have been. Getting to see both of these bands on the same night will be a true treat. Make sure you’re there to experience it.
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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