Come see us Saturday for an awesome show:
USA Big Dogs
Come see us Saturday for an awesome show:
USA Big Dogs
Saturday, June 16, 6:30 PM
Saw Black, David Shultz, Graham Stone @ Hardywood – Free!
Summer’s here; it’s time for long evenings out on the porch, watching the sun seemingly take hours to set as we all relax with some tasty beverages. I know, I know, summer actually doesn’t start for another week, but here in Richmond, it might as well last half the year, so celebrating its arrival now hardly seems like jumping the gun. And what better way do we have to usher in the summer than by welcoming Saw Black’s latest album, Water Tower, into the world with a celebration of its release on a Saturday evening at Hardywood?
If you’ve got one, I suppose you’re welcome to suggest it, but as perfect as this free Saturday show is going to be, I highly doubt you’re going to convince me. Mr. Black’s really established himself over the past few years as Richmond’s resident troubadour of our Southern city’s subtly rich emotional life, and Water Tower takes things to the next level, as Black and his backing band bring to mind everything from Harvest-era Neil Young to early My Morning Jacket and the Drive-By Truckers at their more heartfelt moments. They’ll be recreating the album’s warm, enveloping sound from the Hardywood stage this weekend, as Black brings the ensemble that performed the album with him for this special musical celebration.
You should be able to grab one of the limited edition vinyl copies of Water Tower from Crystal Pistol at the show, though honestly, word has it that they’re selling fast, so you might wanna hit the merch table even before you go to the bar. But save a few bucks for the plentiful offerings Hardywood has on tap, and make sure you arrive on time. Opening acts will include local singer-songwriter David Shultz, who has a long history of heartfelt country sounds to draw from for this performance, as well as up-and-comer Graham Stone, who’s been generating a buzz lately with his frequent local performances. This won’t be the most intense show this week, but with hot weather on its way, some more laid-back evenings are going to be the thing you’re looking for. Find one at Hardywood this weekend; you’ll be glad you did.
Wednesday, June 13, 9 PM
False Figure, Cruz De Navajas, Serqet, Sensual World @ Wonderland – $5
An interesting strain on the rise in the punk rock world recently has been strong goth vibes. And I’m not talking about dudes with deep voices intoning portentously over drum-machine beats, either. No, I’m talking about a revival of the dark, reverbed-out sound that grew hand-in-hand with the early 80s UK postpunk scene, the one that centered around a club called the Batcave and drew in bands from The Cure to The Birthday Party. You can hear a big dose of that whole sound in Oakland’s False Figure, who are coming to Wonderland tonight with an undeniable blast of punk energy that nonetheless maintains an ominous undercurrent, one providing an atmosphere of gothic intrigue that’s reminiscent of Antisect or Amebix, and is sure to send a chill down your spine.
Mexico City’s Cruz De Navajas accompany False Figure on this trip, and they take things still further into the world of gothic 80s postpunk, using drum machine beats to undergird their energetic rhythms and cutting, Cure/Echo-ish guitar sound. Their excellent singer’s undeniable vocal resemblance to Siouxsie Sioux only takes things to a higher level, and new album Dominación presents a preview of some truly excellent sounds that await you tonight at Wonderland. Local gothic peace-punk exponents Serqet will provide excellent support, and opening up will be a new local ensemble called Sensual World (word to Kate Bush), featuring members of Kommunion and Bad Magic. It’s gonna be a real ripper, so whether you’re punk as fuck or more from the goth side of things, wear your darkest clothes and your dancing shoes down to Shockoe Bottom tonight.
Thursday, June 14, 8 PM
RIP, Plaque Marks, Prayer Group, Swathe @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow, I’m not sure how I missed out on RIP but I’m glad they’re coming to Richmond so that I could learn of their existence and bring some more reasons to headbang into my life. I’ve been known to complain about doom metal getting played out, becoming repetitive, etc. but a band like this bypasses all those criticisms by setting themselves apart from the standard doom tropes with the style they’ve christened “street-doom.” Really, it sounds like those early Kyuss records from the dawn of the 90s, when no one had really even started calling it doom and it was just dirty, Sabbath-influenced metal that sounded perfect blasting out of a lowered American muscle car with a metal flake paint job.
RIP bring that era back to life with their Street Reaper album from last fall, which even features the band’s members sitting in a pristine convertible lowrider on the cover. Color me stoked. The fact that they’re coming to town in the company of Philly’s Plaque Marks is even more reason for excitement; this band brings together members of Creepoid and Fight Amp, among others, to dish out the exact sort of psychotic, psychedelic, metallic rage you’d expect from a band with such a strong pedigree. Last year’s Anxiety Driven Nervous Worship has a pummeling drive guaranteed to run you over; I expect no less from their live show. Local noise-punkers Prayer Group and Swathe will kick things off with some serious chaos to get you warmed up for the main course, so show up on time and prepared to bang your head.
Friday, June 15, 8 PM
All Our Exes Live In Texas, The Hot Seats @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s something completely different — and completely charming. How can you not love a band who gives themselves a name like All Our Exes Live In Texas? I suppose you could be young enough not to remember the George Strait hit they’re referencing here, but talking about that makes me feel old, so I’m gonna pretend you all get the reference and move on to telling you about the plentiful charms embedded in the music of this Australian country-folk quartet. All Our Exes Live In Texas are old-school — members play mandolin, accordion, guitar, and ukulele, and sing incredible close harmonies that are sure to remind you of old Carter Family records.
Their 2017 EP, Watch Me Fall, shows that even ladies from the other side of the world can grasp the strong folk traditions that run through Appalachia. Of course, it makes sense when you consider the fact that Australia was settled by the same British Isles working-class folks who settled in the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah mountains hundreds of years ago. Perhaps we aren’t so different, after all. Certainly the music can bring us together. Opening sounds from long-running local string band The Hot Seats will add a touch of bluegrass to the evening, and we can all use some more of that, right?
Saturday, June 16, 9 PM
EdHochuli, The Reptilian, Window Liquor, USA Big Dogs @ Mojo’s – Donations requested for touring bands
It’s always awesome to see long-running DIY bands stick with it year after year, and the arrival of Pittsburgh’s EdHochuli back in Richmond at least a decade after the first time I saw them play here is gratifying to see. This band hasn’t lost inspiration over their decade-plus of activity, either — 2015’s Dream Warriors LP showed them still in top form, mixing epic post-hardcore sounds with crushing metal heavyosity and a much-needed dose of melody and emotion. It’s been a few years since they brought us any significant new material — which is understandable, they’re not teenagers anymore and god knows life can get in the way. But whether they have brand new material with which to grace our ears or not, it’s going to rule seeing them rip it up once again over at Mojo’s.
This show’s got more to offer than just EdHochuli, though. For one thing, it’s got Window Liquor, who I’m assuming are the same Philly band from a few years ago who did a split with Richmond punks Bitchmouth. These guys have a pretty gnarly sound, mixing a sloppy sludge-punk aesthetic with some seriously heavy rock n’ roll energy. Third in the trio of killer out-of-town bands on this bill is Michigan’s The Reptilian, who channel passionate emotional delivery through melodic math-rock complexity for an intricate and unpredictable result that’s sure to keep your attention. Local off-the-chain rockers USA Big Dogs (that’s seriously their name, I kind of love it) will get things rolling in proper fashion with a set full of killer riffs. Plus you’ll be at Mojo’s, so you can get some great food before the show kicks off. What more could you ask for?
Sunday, June 17, 8 PM
Young Widows, Null, Manzara @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
There’s not much out there that will make me feel old faster than watching bands go on anniversary tours for albums that came out when I was well into adulthood. In this case, it’s Young Widows, who are celebrating the tenth anniversary of their breakthrough second album, Old Wounds, which came out in 2008… when I was 32. Ugh, I am a dinosaur. Anyway, enough of my angst, let’s all take refuge in the beautiful pounding this album delivered both when it was brand new and when you put it back on today.
Old Wounds saw Evan Patterson and co. moving beyond the hardcore sound that had dominated previous projects — Breather Resist, Black Cross — and finding a new, more intense sound in the noise-rock rage of bands like the Jesus Lizard and Unsane. It kicked things up a notch from their first LP and set the tone for future releases. Now, four years after Young Widows’ fourth album, Easy Pain, they’re heading back on tour to memorialize what many fans consider their high-water mark as a band. And it’s going to rule, so get ready to relive the many past occasions where Young Widows knocked your head off from the Strange Matter stage — complete with their floodlit amps — and reminisce about one of the best albums to be released when I was in my early 30s. Yeesh.
Monday, June 18, 6 PM
Smile Empty Soul, Flaw, Kaleido, Talia, Alluvion, No One Hero @ The Camel – $15 in advance/$20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Wow, OK, so we’ve talked a lot recently about how the 90s are back in a big way, but now we have to ask a bigger question: is the world ready for an early 2000s revival? If so, the stage is set to get it rolling this Monday night at The Camel, with the arrival of two early-to-mid-00s trendsetters. Smile Empty Soul might be a name you haven’t thought of in a while — but I’ll bet if you cast your mind back, you’ll remember their first and biggest single, “Bottom Of The Bottle,” which lit up rock radio in 2003 with its (generally censored) “I do it for the drugs!” refrain. They haven’t really hit it big since that first self-titled debut, but fifteen years later, this band is still going strong, and currently on tour behind their brand new seventh album, Oblivion. Don’t front — you know you’re curious.
With the addition of co-headliner Flaw, we move from post-grunge alt-rock to straight-up nu metal, and a band I’d completely forgotten about until I looked up the video for their biggest single, “Payback.” Oh yeah, these guys. They’ve kinda got a Mudvayne vibe, mixing chunky mosh-metal riffs with moody goth vocals and some pretty crucial 2001-era hairdos. 17 years later, these guys may not still have quite as much hair to throw around, but they’re sure to get you jumping around with the same midtempo fury they were bringing to the table at the dawn of the new millennium. This jam packed bill is full of openers from various locales, from Detroit’s Kaleido to Fredericksburg’s own Alluvion. But really, this one is all about the early 00s. Dig your Jncos and stocking cap out of the bottom of the closet before you head for the Camel this Monday night.
Tuesday, June 19, 8 PM
Young Scum, Shady Bug, Twin Drugs, Keep @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
One of the best indie-pop bands this town has seen in a long time is bringing us some new material, and you can count me among the many Richmonders very excited at the prospect. Young Scum’s self-titled debut full-length is coming in July from Citrus City, but there’s no reason not to start the party a month in advance at Strange Matter, especially since they’ve already shared an absolutely incredible slice of glittering jangle brilliance with us in the form of advance single “Wasting Time.” The writeup that accompanies the album, which talks about the inevitability of getting old (boy do I know that feel), makes me wonder if they shouldn’t have called the new album Not-So-Young Scum, but pop music this excellent never ages or goes out of style, and if Young Scum are becoming more emotionally evocative as they continue into their musical career, I for one am good with it.
Young Scum are joined on this rad Tuesday night by Shady Bug, a St. Louis band with a very similar approach to indie-pop, though their 2017 LP, tbh idk (that album name gets an A+), demonstrates a significant tendency toward speed, energy, and joyful distortion-pedal stomp that always adds welcome spice to an indie-pop sound. Think Black Tambourine or Boyracer if you need a reference here; yes, they’re that good. The bill will be rounded out by some excellent local sounds from Twin Drugs and Keep, two bands that should need no introduction to the clued-in RVA crowd that is no doubt already salivating at the prospect of new Young Scum material. You know what you’re in for with this show, and you know you want every bit of 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, in case you’re wondering, more awesomeness from my cracked and bleeding fingertips is available at GayRVA — come say hey.]
Image by Vivienne Lee
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond
Sunday, April 1, 2 PM
Brunch For Presents, feat. Good Cretins, And Out Come The Wools, Christmas Jerks @ Mojo’s – $5
Happy Holy Week, everyone! If you’re an observant Christian this week, you’ll probably be in church wearing your fanciest outfit at least once in the next few days. However, music has always been the closest thing to religion I’ve got, and if you’re anything like me, chances are you’d rather spend Easter Sunday rocking out. Don’t worry, it’s for a good cause — Punks For Presents, that Christmas-themed charity that donates toys to local children’s hospitals every holiday season, has been steadily expanding their reach across multiple holiday seasons.
Now, to their domination of December and their summertime “Christmas In July” shows, they’ve added a special celebration of the Easter holiday taking place Sunday afternoon at Mojo’s (which is becoming a pretty consistent venue for live music lately, and that’s always nice to see!). And if you, like me, are the type to worship at the church of music, this is definitely the Easter celebration for you.
“Brunch For Presents” brings us a triple-shot of killer Christmas-themed punk tribute bands. Good Cretins have become veterans of the Punks For Presents lineups and of the tribute band game in general — after all, how many tribute bands do you know of that go far enough to record? The fact that Good Cretins have an EP worth of Ramones covers available for streaming on Bandcamp should prove that they’re serious about bringing you the best-quality Ramones tribute in the business. They’ll be joined on this bill by Rancid-lovers And Out Come The Wools (whose name, I’m assuming, is a Christmas-related joke I just don’t quite get), and by Christmas Jerks, who’ll bring the music of the Circle Jerks to life in this tiny bar. And it’ll all happen while you eat brunch — assuming you don’t make it to brunch until at least 2 PM. Which sounds about accurate for Richmond, so we should all be fine.
Wednesday, March 28, 7:30 PM
Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Rumput, Maria Chavez @ Black Iris – $15 in advance/$20 at the door
Fans of avant-garde jazz, postpunk weirdness, and general atonal insanity should be stoked tonight; Marc Ribot is coming to town! This legendary guitarist has been on the scene since the 80s, first making a name for himself with his contributions to classic Tom Waits albums like Rain Dogs and Mule Variations. He went on to play with a variety of artists with a variety of approaches, from Elvis Costello to John Zorn. He’s also been making solo records since the dawn of the 90s, on which he has teamed up with a variety of talented musicians to create a whole ton of genre-hopping musical madness.
Ribot’s current crew is Ceramic Dog, a trio in which he’s backed by two members of the Mr. Bungle side project Secret Chiefs 3. They’re just about to release their third album and first since 2013, YRU Still Here? Ribot’s work with Ceramic Dog takes a variety of forms, from Grinderman-style angry-old-man noise-rock to instrumental noise-jazz and even the occasional quiet moments. The new album mostly finds Ribot in angry-old-man mode, but for righteous reasons, as is shown in song titles like “Muslim Jewish Resistance” and “Fuck La Migra.” Tonight at Black Iris, he’ll be screaming with his voice and with his guitar, while Ceramic Dog tears your face off with their uncompromising instrumental attack. You’re not going to want to miss this — nor will you want to miss the opening performance by genre-melding folk musicians Rumput, and the post-Ribot DJ set from avant-garde sound artist Maria Chavez. This will be a night to remember, folks. Be there.
Thursday, March 29, 6 PM
Nana Grizol, Loamlands, Benjamin Shepherd @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Early all-ages shows were kind of the lifeblood of the scene back when I was growing up in the 90s. These days, they’re a vanishingly rare breed, at least around here, and the fact that I’m fully twice as old as I need to be to get into bar shows doesn’t make this any less of a bummer to me. So I’m glad to see a rare occurrence of an actual all-ages show happening this week over at Strange Matter. Of course, it’s headlined by Nana Grizol, who’ve been around for 15 years and feature members with resumes dating back to the 90s. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?
Really though, no matter what age you are, chances are Nana Grizol has something to offer you. Featuring former members of Defiance Ohio and Neutral Milk Hotel, they’ve got impeccable credentials in the worlds of both folk-punk and indie-pop, and the winsome, jangly pop sound of their latest album, 2017’s Ursa Minor, is guaranteed to appeal to fans from both of those musical worlds, and quite a few others. Only intermittently active, this group is probably not coming around again anytime soon, so head over after school and catch their set. You’ll still be home in time to beat curfew! And if you show up on time (always a good idea), you’ll also catch sets from Loamlands, a Durham-based alt-country group with tinges of Fleetwood Mac in their sound; and local singer-songwriter Benjamin Shepherd, who’s bringing a full band with him this time out. Make it happen.
Friday, March 30, 8 PM
Deau Eyes, The Pop Up Duo, Calvin @ The HofGarden – $10 in advance, $15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Scott’s Addition is popping off like crazy these days, and though I won’t pretend not to miss the sleepy little abandoned factory town, complete with a random patch of woods over towards the train tracks, that I moved into in 2006, I certainly recognize that Richmond has embraced this area as the new hangout spot of choice. After all, there’s a lot to do over there these days, and the HofGarden is making a pretty significant contribution to that fact all by its lonesome. After all, it’s got three whole floors to offer for your entertainment! I’m not too enthused about the one that’s yet another craft beer spot, but the game room and rooftop pizza joint are just what the doctor ordered on some nights.
And this Friday night, the rooftop’s gonna be the place to be as three excellent local acts kick off the HofGarden’s Finally Friday live series with a performance on top of the Hofheimer Building. Deau Eyes has made some noise around Richmond since the start of 2018 with their crowdfunding campaign to produce their debut album, and while you still can’t hear their excellent 90s alt-rock sounds unless you go watch their Kickstarter video, you won’t have to wait for the album to drop if you head over to the HofGarden Friday night and catch their set, now will you? Deau Eyes are joined on this bill by some musicians of a decidedly different style, including the Pop-Up Duo, a standup bassist and a saxophonist who do some pretty fun material, including Tom Petty covers if their Facebook page is any indication. There’ll also be a solo performance from Calvin Brown, aka Calvin, who plays keyboards in Kenneka Cook’s band but also has some sounds of his own to bring to you. All this while you eat pizza on a roof? What more do you need?
Saturday, March 31, 8 PM
The Mostly Dead, The Donalds, Love Roses @ Wonderland – $5
It’s Saturday night — a great night to head down to Shockoe Bottom and party at Wonderland, which is keeping the punk spirit alive down by the river. This week sees the arrival of The Mostly Dead, a rad band from DC with a really solid post-hardcore sound. You could be forgiven for expecting shows at Wonderland to revolve entirely around old-school punk and crossover thrash, but The Mostly Dead are pushing the boundaries of this place’s usual fare with powerful riffing that draws from DC forebears like Swiz while also incorporating melodic touches drawn from Jawbox and Fugazi.
One need look no farther than their 2014 LP, Wilderness, for solid evidence that The Mostly Dead has the goods. Sadly, that seems to be their most recent release. If anything, that may mean you’ll get a grip of as-yet-unreleased tunes from the band’s set Saturday night, though, and that’s always a good reason to show up. And of course there’s also a double-shot of the old-school punk sound you’ve come to rely on from Wonderland, in the form of local bands The Donalds and Love Roses. These bands will give you plenty of fist-pumping tunes to circle-pit and sing along to — just don’t spill your beer on the dance floor, that’d be a bummer.
Sunday, April 1, 9 PM
Ol’ Sport, Futurists, Eaves, Inthewater @ Emilio’s – $5
Emilio’s seems to go back and forth with how active it is in the live music scene. It’s been poppin’ lately, though, and that’s always nice to see. This Sunday night, the little jazz bar on the corner of Broad and Meadow will be visited by two bands from Charlotte, NC, and if you’re willing to deal with the mess the whole new bus line has made of the street down there, you’ll be rewarded with some excellent sounds. Ol’ Sport are doing the emo thing, which I’ve always admitted to being a sucker for. Last summer’s Grass Stains EP has some great songwriting and does a good job of moving back and forth between quietly downcast moments and loud, anthemic celebrations of angst and emotional struggle. This is what I’m looking for, and if it’s not what you’re looking for too, you should maybe reconsider.
Heck, if Ol’ Sport hasn’t convinced you, maybe their Charlotte-based tourmates Futurists can. They’ve got some of that same melodic songwriting talent that shows up in Ol’ Sport’s music, but Futurists are coming from more of that 90s post-Dino Jr distorted-guitar alt-rock space. They’ve got a spacey feel but underneath that they resemble early 90s Sub Pop signees more than anything. And again, that’s just what I’m looking for. Locals Eaves will further sweeten the pot on this bill with some post-rock-influenced post-hardcore tunes, which were showcased in fine fashion on last year’s LP, As Deeply As You Do. These local kids are making things happen, and I for one am glad. New ambient artist Inthewater will kick things off, easing you into it. Works for me.
Monday, April 2, 8:30 PM
Marbin, Curtana, JJ Speaks @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I’ve tried on many occasions to get y’all into jazz, and here I go trying again. But it’s for a good cause, because jazz music rules. And it especially rules when it’s being played by musicians with talent and originality who are excited about taking it in a new direction. That’s definitely true of Marbin, a quartet that came together almost a decade ago, around the time that guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch left their native Israel to come to Chicago and play heavy jazz. Marbin’s had a variety of players on the bass and drums since then, but regardless of who Rabin and Markovitch are playing with, they continue to make complex, heavy music that brings an obvious rock n’ roll vibe and influence to bear on their jazz approach.
They’ll be doing that at the Camel Monday night, and you should really be there to take in their own unique brand of “Israeli Jazz.” They’ll be joined on the bill by RVA locals Curtana. No, not Cortana, that’s the silly little “desktop assistant” on your laptop. Curtana are a quartet that play instumental prog-rock with a dual-guitar attack that is sure to keep your attention. They certainly have a jazzy flavor at times, but this is straight up rock music with some metal tinges, which makes them both an apt pairing and a delightful contrast for Marbin. JJ Speaks open up with their own instrumental prog sound, bringing a lighter touch to the genre and emphasizing melodies over metallic crunch. On the whole, it’s going to be a delightful evening, during which vocals won’t be necessary. Nor will they be missed.
Tuesday, April 3, 9 PM
That 1 Guy, Dave Watkins @ The Camel – $15
Oh joy, That 1 Guy is back in town! If you’ve been keeping up on the wonderful underground world of the musicians known as “one-man bands” (my wife’s really into this stuff), you’re probably aware of That 1 Guy, a classically trained double bass player and rockabilly musician who has built a few instruments of his own and creates and performs his music entirely by himself on these instruments. Most famously, there’s The Magic Pipe, an aluminum frame with a couple of upright bass strings on it and a whole bunch of sample triggers, all of which That 1 Guy plays, sometimes with a drumstick. Yeah, seriously. It’s wild.
The result of all these musical hijinks is a fun blast of energetic, funky rock n’ roll with elements of Tom Waits (whom That 1 Guy once played with) and Primus, plus the occasional moment of straight-up jazz. His music is not just any one thing, it’s a variety of things all rolled up into one — and that’s always fascinating. The same is true of RVA-based opener Dave Watkins, who veers from acoustic folk played on old-time instruments to avant-garde ambient noise loops played with amps and pedals. Sometimes he does both at the same time, and like That 1 Guy, he’s even made his own instrument — an electric “dulcitar” (part dulcimer, part guitar) — on which to perform his compositions. If you like adventurous, unusual musical explorations, both Watkins and That 1 Guy are musicians you need to see. Luckily for you, you can see both for the price of one this Tuesday night at The Camel! I think you know what to do.
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, in case you’re wondering, more awesomeness from my cracked and bleeding fingertips is available at GayRVA — come say hey.]
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond
Friday, March 23, 7 PM
Windhand, Satan’s Satyrs, Prisoner @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
It’s been a long time, y’all, but the time has finally come for the return of Windhand! This crew of almighty shredders has been quite a while away from the recording studio — their last full-length, Grief’s Infernal Flower, was issued nearly three years ago. However, not only have they returned to action this year with a split LP combining their sludgy brutality with the shredding rippage of NoVA slayers Satan’s Satyrs, they’re returning to the stage here in Richmond for the first time in a year with this epic celebration of the aforementioned split LP’s release!
The Windhand side of this full-length is the first release featuring Windhand’s current single guitar lineup, but it shows no diminution in the power, volume, and density of the band’s sound. The spooky gloom sludge of new tunes “Old Evil” and “Three Sisters” carries on the foreboding mood of the band’s previous work, with Dorthia Cottrell’s witchy vocal melodies and some excellent organ undertones making the perfect contrast to the brutal riffs these songs are veritably overflowing with. You’ll get a good taste of their excellent new material as well as some old favorites at this show, so come prepared for the onslaught.
Satan’s Satyrs will be on hand as well, giving you a heavy dose of the rockin’, rollin’ biker metal grooves from their own side of the brand new split LP. They aren’t quite as crushing as Windhand, but they’ll keep your head banging and your ears ringing just fine on their own behalf. And of course, Prisoner will bring plenty of thunderous fury of their own from their opening slot, reminding us all how great their 2017 LP Beyond The Infinite was, with its mix of denim n’ leather thrash and grit-encrusted D-beat doom. Make sure you’ve got some ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet before this one, because your neck and ears will be in serious need the next morning. And you’ll never regret it for a second.
Wednesday, March 21, 7 PM
Forever Came Calling, In Her Own Words, Hold Close, Telltale, Last Night’s Ghost @ The Canal Club – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I try to be honest when shows like this come up, so let’s just get it out front right now — I’m a sucker for emotional pop-punk bands with a vague hardcore edge. The Story So Far, State Champs, Four Year Strong… all that stuff just has me dead to rights. Like those other bands, Forever Came Calling was signed to Pure Noise Records earlier this decade when they were putting out killer LPs like 2014′ s What Matters Most and winning me over with outstanding emo-pop gems like “Defenseless” and “Rather Be Dead Than Cool.” They fell off the map for a bit, leaving Pure Noise and doing some lineup restructuring that kept them off the road and in the practice space for a while.
However, Forever Came Calling have come back full-strength this year with a new guitarist and a new self-released EP, Retro Future. The two advance singles from the EP show that they’re still firing on all cylinders, and between these killer new tunes and the passel of singalong classics from their first two LPs they’ll have for us, tonight’s gonna be a hell of a night! Tourmates In Her Own Words — a pretty good emo-pop-punk band in their own right, though their name would make a lot more sense if they actually had a female singer — and Hold Close — another crew of emo-punk bad boys with a bit of a Knuckle Puck vibe (always good in my opinion) — will bring a significant amount of excellent tuneage to this night as well.
Thursday, March 22, 7 PM
Gavin Riley Smoke Machine, Anneliese, Mylo Shift @ Gallery 5 – $5
It’s getting pretty far along in the week, but the weekend’s not quite here yet — so if what you really need this Thursday night is to add some spice to your week, look no further than the Gavin Riley Smoke Machine show at Gallery 5. It’d be easy to just call Riley’s sound electronic hip hop, but there’s so much more to what he and his Smoke Machine have to offer, and a lot of it only fully comes alive in the live environment. You see, performances by the Gavin Riley Smoke Machine are sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books we all used to read when we were seven years old. Wait, what? Hold on a second, I’ll explain.
Each song presents us with a plot point in Riley’s “Space Needle Adventure.” At the end of the song, the audience will be given two choices, and how they vote will determine what happens next in the story… and, in turn, what song the Smoke Machine plays next. Eventually, we’ll arrive at an ending, though it may not be one you necessarily expected. The songs themselves are fun and amusing, littered with plot twists reflecting Riley’s dark sense of humor. And therefore, it makes some sense that hilarious local one-man band Mylo Shift is one of the locals on this bill — his own twisted sense of humor and wacky antics are enough to put you in the perfect mood for your headliners. And of course, we can’t forget Anneliese, who you may know from The Folly or Museum District but who has some pretty great pop-soul sounds of her own in store for you. Show up on time, and be prepared for an unusual and unforgettable show! It’ll get you through til the weekend, and then some.
Friday, March 23, 8 PM
Palm, Spirit Of The Beehive, Lance Bangs, Basmati @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
This Friday night, Palm comes to town to prove to everyone who thinks there’s nothing new under the sun that they’re just not paying close enough attention. The zany, frenetic hybrid sound of Palm’s brand new second album, Rock Island, is the kind of thing that could never have existed before the current moment in the indie continuum, synthesizing as it does disparate influences from mellow math-rockers like Tera Melos, pop experimentalists like Animal Collective, and impossible-to-categorize hyperkinetic weirdos like Deerhoof. If any of these bands appeal to you, you’re sure to enjoy watching Palm dash headlong through sounds that remind you of all of them and a good deal more, in the space of a single song. And somehow, they keep the melodies memorable and the tunes entertaining throughout it all.
Spirit Of The Beehive are another excellent product of the recent indie evolutions, though they have landed in a very different spot. Initially channeling that whole early 90s “shoegaze” sound that many bands attempt these days (with varying rates of success), their second LP, last year’s Pleasure Suck, is an altogether different animal that sees Spirit Of The Beehive retaining their sense of tuneful energy but adding programmed beats, underwater synth sounds, and an air of general weirdness that shifts the whole thing at least 90 degrees off-kilter. The result is something that local Citrus City fans should really dig, which makes it all the more apropos that Citrus City standard-bearers Lance Bangs bring their jangly slacker-pop to one of the opening slots on this bill. Basmati interject their own unique take on math-pop indie sounds as well, making this a night full of bizarrely captivating music that is sure to win you over.
Saturday, March 24, 8 PM
Gumming, Lipid, Butt, Haircut @ Mojo’s – $8-10 donation to RRFP
Punk rock has gotten really psychedelic and weird in recent years and I love it. I’m particularly stoked about Gumming, a relatively new RVA band featuring members of fellow psych-punk oddities Pucker Up and Whorecough. They’ve got a brand new tape, Human Values, out on Not Normal Records, which showcases their rumbling, pounding riffs, messy guitar sound, and frustrated vocal ranting. The sum total of the whole thing reminds me of incredible UK punk band Good Throb with some demented Flipper/Butthole Surfers energy and a dose of early-80s psychos The Crucifucks. Gumming might freak you out at first, but if you stand your ground and give yourself a chance to get on their wavelength, the rewards will be plentiful. Trust me.
This show celebrates the release of Human Values, but it also benefits the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, and Gumming will even be giving a portion of the money from their merch sales to RRFP, so that’s all the more reason to score your own copy of Human Values at this show. The other bands on this bill offer plenty of additional reasons to show up. Butt aren’t quite as ranty as Gumming but definitely have that weirdo psych-punk vibe in excess. Haircut drop the psychedelia in favor of full-on angry old-school hardcore, but without going all tough-guy style and ruining it. Lipid follow the trend of one-word names that is apparently sweeping the city based on this bill, but that’s all I can really tell you except that the facebook event page calls them “rap punk” and I have no idea whether to take that seriously or not. Regardless, you already have more than enough reason to make it to Mojo’s this Saturday night, and I haven’t even mentioned their food! Get there.
Sunday, March 25, 8 PM
Love Roses (photos by Eric Maupin), Ruin By Design, LNT, Brainbuster, Hanoi Jane @ Wonderland – $8
I tend to think of package tours as the sort of thing that brings four or five emo or metalcore bands to The Canal Club and turns a show into an all-day festival even before there are openers added, but if the bill hitting Wonderland this Sunday night is any indication, package tours aren’t just for Warped Tour graduates anymore. The final date of the Worldwide Weekend Tour sees five different bands from around VA finish up a jaunt across the state that will bring the same five bands to clubs in DC and Roanoke before finishing up down in Shockoe Bottom. I wonder if they rented a bus for the occasion?
In all honesty, I can’t imagine. After all, these are hardly the sort of well-scrubbed heartthrobs you’d find on a Warped Tour bus. Instead, we’ve got the raging old-school HC/punk hybrid of RVA’s Love Roses at the top of the bill — and anyone paying attention knows these guys are always a blast. DC’s Ruin By Design bring a tough yet somewhat melodic take on fast USHC, while NoVA rippers LNT, aka Like No Tomorrow, bring some Dwarves-style raging punk with a hint of melody. Then there’s Fredericksburg spiky punks Brainbuster, who mix Casualties-style US punk with some old-school Boston HC sounds. And of course, we wrap it up with Roanoke’s Hanoi Jane, who mingle Poison Idea’s rockin’ punk rage with some oddly Op Ivy-ish ska-punk moments. It’s gonna be a lot to take in all at once, but since all of these bands keep the pedal to the floor, you’ll be able to skank on through to the other side with no problem. So throw away your preconceptions about five-band tours and come out ready to circle-pit — it’ll be a blast. And it won’t take all night!
Monday, March 26, 8 PM
Patsy’s Rats, Scott Yoder, Big No, Sick Bags @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
It kinda keeps to itself, but if you pay attention, you’re sure to notice just how active the local garage-punk scene is here in Virginia. If you haven’t caught on just yet, this show is definitely a good reason to pay attention. After all, Patsy’s Rats, an incredible power-pop ensemble out of Portland that combines the talents of former Scavenger Cunt frontwoman (and Howe Gelb of Giant Sand’s daughter) Patsy Gelb with those of Mean Jeans frontman Christian Blunda, aka Billy Jeans, have turned to the VA garage scene for their current rhythm section: Paul Kirk (Cherry Pits) and Tim Abbondelo (the Ar-Kaics). If you want to see these favorite local sons rocking it with a killer group from the left coast — and you do, I assure you — this Monday night’s your chance.
Patsy’s Rats will arrive in town in the company of their Burger Records labelmate Scott Yoder, who hails from Seattle and has a sweet acoustic sound on his 2016 LP, Looking Back In Blue. Regardless of the decided lack of punk snarl, Yoder’s work has a real kinship with what Patsy’s Rats are doing, being just as firmly grounded in the basics of excellent pop songcraft as the Rats are. This can also be said of Big No, the local band featuring Tim Abbondelo’s long-ago Crestfallen bandmate Nathan Grice and his partner, Heather Jerabeck, delivering some psychedelic sounds that will add a measure of outer space to this evening’s festivities. Sick Bags will open up with all the snotty punk snarl you could ever want in your garage punk, just to keep all the leather-jacket kids happy. This one’s got it all.
Tuesday, March 27, 8 PM
Ceschi, Onry Ozzborn, Moodie Black, ESH, Trauma Lavern @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
If you’re both stoked on the DIY underground and a true-blue hip hop head, this might just be the best show for you all year. Ceschi Ramos, who records and performs under his first name (which is pronounced chess-key), has been running his own label, Fake Four Inc, for a decade now, and he’s on tour with some labelmates to bring the celebration across the country. Ceschi has an intriguing sound that is more hip hop in approach and mindset than strictly in sound — while the man can rap rings around most emcees working these days, he sometimes forgoes the boom-bap beats in favor of acoustic guitars, choosing to sing instead of spit. His expanded palette always keeps his performances interesting, and everyone from open-minded hip hop fans to singer-songwriter types are sure to find plenty to love in his performance Tuesday night.
But Ceschi’s got a whole crew of Fake Four artists along with him this time around, and those artists are at least as much an attraction as Ceschi himself. Onry Ozzborn, who may be best known for his membership in Seattle rap duo Grayskul, is showing up solo with sounds from his 2017 release, Black Philip, and presumably quite a bit more as well. With less genre-hopping tendencies than Ceschi, Onry is mainly here to spit some killer lyrics over strong beats and electronic vibes. Meanwhile, Moodie Black brings the noise rap sounds from way back, coming out of Arizona with an aggressive sound that originated long before any of us had heard of Death Grips. Boston rapper/producer Esh rounds out the crew of Fake Four tourmates with some sick rhymes and unusual beats, while PT Burnem continues his long local association with Ceschi and Fake Four by bringing his current group, Trauma Lavern, to an opening spot on this bill. Liven up your week with this one.
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] [for more of my deranged ramblings, check GayRVA each and every day. Sometimes I even write about music over there.]
Top image by Vivienne Lee
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond
Saturday, February 24, 9 PM
Magnus Lush, Piranha Rama, Slump @ Mojo’s – Free?
This Saturday night is an occasion for celebration. Magnus Lush, who’ve quietly become one of the most reliably excellent bands in town over the last few years, are having a big coming-out party to celebrate the release of their new EP, Hell Is Real. In a way, it’s their debut — despite having a consistent history of live fireworks, this band has only given us a demo, which came out three whole years ago, and a couple of live radio sessions that are close to two years old themselves at this point. This new EP captures them on tape at the peak of their powers, so that all the people who haven’t caught on to their hypnotic excellence in a live setting yet can finally find out just what they’ve been missing.
Of course, this show on Saturday night at Mojo’s, which certainly appears to be a free show, is also a great opportunity for all those sleeping on Magnus Lush to wake up. This group’s sound, which incorporates spacey, foreboding keyboards and glittering guitar arpeggios into a postpunk rhythmic approach that is almost Fugazi-ish at times, then tops the whole thing with frontwoman Age Shurte’s powerful voice, is unique on the Richmond scene and all the more valuable as a result. Old heads might find themselves thinking of long-departed Richmond combo Damn Near Red, but there’s really no current comparison to be made. And a big part of that is due to the fact that Magnus Lush is really, really good.
Mojo’s is a great setting for this event, and that definitely adds to its appeal. With its relaxed atmosphere and emphasis on really delicious food, it’s not the first place you’d expect to find excellent live music. But a comfortable environment and a party vibe are sometimes just what one needs to really connect with a live musical experience. The rockin’ rollin’ sounds from openers Piranha Rama and Slump will also crank up the party vibe, as will the between-set live music provided by DJ Baby Maria. But ultimately, this night is all about Magnus Lush. And if you’re not already fired up about it, you need to fix that as soon as possible.
Wednesday, February 21, 5:30 PM
Eidola, Capstan, Andres, Captive, The Blue Sky Disaster, Pulses @ The Canal Club – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Every once in a while, I have no idea who any of the bands playing on a given night are, and I have to check all of them out to figure out what I’m going to write about. Usually, the choice comes down to which band seems the most entertaining or unusual, but every once in a while, one of those bands I know nothing about jumps up and smacks me across the face with their immediate excellence. Next thing I know, I’ve found a new fave. For this week, that band is Eidola, who will be touching down at The Canal Club tonight with an incredible sound that mixes progressive metal, melodic post-hardcore, and technical chops aplenty to blow this entire town away.
Their second album, 2017’s To Speak, To Listen, was my introduction to the band, and it grabbed me by the throat immediately. The fact that an instrumental version of the album was released a few months after the main release makes clear that the band is proud of the music they’ve written for this album. This is for good reason, as their complex song structures and technical instrumental prowess are definitely something to be proud of. However, it’s the melodic, passionate vocals that really raise this band to top level, and they’ll definitely be an essential part of their performance tonight at The Canal Club. Listen, I know this show starts really early and features a ton of bands who are all touring as a big package. Do what you want to do where those bands are concerned — after all, getting more for your money’s never a bad idea. But you simply must catch Eidola tonight; whether you’re a fan of metal or post-hardcore, whether you’re more captured by instrumental mastery or powerful emotions delivered through music, this band has you covered on all fronts. Don’t sleep on them.
Thursday, February 22, 7 PM
Miramar with Classical Revolution RVA @ In Your Ear Studios – $20 (order tickets HERE)
I know I write about metal and stuff like that a whole lot, but y’all, expanding our musical horizons is always an admirable goal, so we’re really lucky that Richmond, regardless of being a bit of a metal mecca, has a ton of other intriguing musical nooks n’ crannies to explore. And all you headbangers and indie hipsters could do with a little more musical exploration, so you should really get yourselves over to In Your Ear Studios tomorrow night to see Miramar perform with Classical Revolution RVA.
Miramar plays bolero music, a Latin style that has its roots in Cuba and spread across Latin America during the 20th century. Their 2016 debut album, Dedication to Sylvia Rexach, celebrated the life and work of the titular Puerto Rican poet and composer. Miramar’s sound may share some musical roots with the Afro-Cuban sound of Bio Ritmo, with whom they share members. However, they are a whole different experience, pairing emotionally-driven vocal duets with a slow, moody musical structure that lends itself perfectly to stringed accompaniment. At In Your Ear Studios tomorrow night, Miramar will be playing one set in their basic sextet form, and another accompanied by a string quartet featuring members of Classical Revolution and the Richmond Symphony. You’re sure to be moved by their powerful sounds, even if it doesn’t lend itself to mosh pits. Open your mind and bask in the many wonderful offerings of our local music scene — you won’t regret it.
Friday, February 23, 7 PM
Harm’s Way, Ringworm, Vein, Queensway, Division Of Mind @ The Canal Club – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Of course, if you’re in need for some heavy breakdowns to cleanse your palate, that’s certainly understandable. And you need look no further than the Canal Club for your fix. Harm’s Way is back this Friday night, and if it’s possible, they’ve gotten even heavier since last time they rolled through town. Their brand new album sees them drawing more than ever from harsh metallic industrial influences — if anything, I’d guess they’ve been listening to a lot of Godflesh lately. The mechanization inherent in their sound makes the latest album’s title — Posthuman — entirely apropos. But on a more relevant point, it makes the album’s plentiful breakdowns hit harder than you probably ever thought possible. Total mosh destruction. Your head just might explode. It’s gonna rule.
But listen, seriously, if you think Harm’s Way, back in fighting shape and heavier than ever, is all this bill has to offer, you must not have actually read the full lineup. Because just as big an attraction if not bigger is the appearance of Clevo hardcore legends Ringworm. Coming from the same deep-rooted evil metallic hardcore foundation as Integrity — who, let’s be real, basically created the modern metallic hardcore sound — Ringworm have remained consistent, powerful, and terrifying on a level that other bands from their era can’t even approach. 2016’s Snake Church was their eighth album, and it hit just as hard as their first; surely the same will be true when The Human Furnace and company hit the Canal Club stage. With Vein, Queensway, and Division of Mind opening up, this will be a real rager from beginning to end, so get ready to go off!
Saturday, February 24, 8 PM
John Nolan, Mammoth Indigo, Sammi Lanzetta @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Hey all you grown-up emo kids! You might be indie hipsters now, you might not let anyone know about the Taking Back Sunday and Straylight Run CDs you still have hidden away behind your racks of Pitchfork-approved indie vinyl… but I know. And right now, while all your super-cool indie friends aren’t paying attention, we can have a little private conversation about just how great all those records still are. I know, right? The best! Anyway, John Nolan, who was an essential founding member of both groups, is not only back with Taking Back Sunday these days, but also has done a fair amount of solo work over the past decade or so, and he’s currently on solo tour to give those songs some much-needed shine.
It’s been a few years since his last solo album, Sad Strange Beautiful Dream, but there’s no rush — after all, those songs are still great, and he hasn’t done a ton of touring since then, so it’s still a perfect time to see what the man’s been up to when he isn’t working with his legendary band. One thing that can be said about it — while it’s emotional, this isn’t emo, by any means. It’s not even really punk-derived; Nolan’s solo work has an acoustic, singer-songwriter vibe that reminds me more of catchy power-pop groups like underrated yet excellent pre-fun. combo The Format. It’ll still make you feel things, it’ll still get you dancing and singing along, but it’s definitely got its own flavor that’ll show all you dyed-in-the-wool Taking Back Sunday and Straylight Run fans a whole new side to John Nolan. What more could you ask for?
Sunday, February 25, 10 PM
Big No, Serqet, Bad Magic @ Bandito’s – Free!
The free local showcases on Sunday night at Bandito’s are an always-reliable source for excellent local music in a strangely great-sounding room, so anytime one comes around I’m always interested. This one is particularly promising, as it brings together a couple of reliably excellent veteran local groups with a relatively new up-and-comer everyone should be checking out. Big No is a moody, psychedelic project with a glowing pop heart, and their most recent LP, Get Over Yourself, really establishes them as a talented group with a ton of killer songs. If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’ve had plenty of chances to jump onto this bandwagon, but it’s never too late, and free Sunday night shows are always a great low-stakes opportunity. Get into it.
Then there’s Serqet, a band whose name I always take three or four tries to spell. So far, they just have a demo out, but it was released by Vinyl Conflict Records, which should certainly grab your attention. This keyboard-infused postpunk band strikes an early 80s UK note, both with their spooky gothic keyboards and their arpeggiated guitar melodies, simultaneously bringing to mind references as disparate as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Amebix, and the Chameleons. Regardless of what you hear in their sound, you can’t deny its excellence. And the same could be said of Bad Magic, the trio fronted by talented songwriter Julie Karr and featuring local heavyweights Jimmy Held and Tim Falen holding down the rhythm section. Last year’s Harsh Surrender was a killer reminder of just how much talent this band has to offer. It all adds up to a night of intriguing, powerful talent. And there will also be tacos — you can’t beat that!
Monday, February 26, 8 PM
Giving Up, Fat Spirit, Basmati, Gumming @ Strange Matter – $5
Here’s a fun one, full of charm. Giving Up have a sound that simultaneously hits that jangly indie sweet spot so many bands have been messing with lately and also dips sideways into the sort of quirky keyboard pop that bands like Slingshot Dakota or Matt And Kim have been bringing us for quite a while. Giving Up have been around for a good bit of time themselves, but have remained somewhat under the radar due to the members’ being spread across the Midwest, and only coming together to create releases on an occasional basis.
However, they do have a brand new LP out, entitled Garner Cardinals, and it’s a strong, assured effort full of killer tunes. They’ll be bringing these tunes to Strange Matter Monday night and letting all y’all know exactly what you’ve been missing without Giving Up in your life. Should be a whole lot of fun, especially since the local support is provided by such killer bands. Basmati’s fun, slightly mathy indie-core is always a sure bet, and Fat Spirit is guaranteed to bring the grungy rock n’ roll. Gumming will strike the heaviest and weirdest note of the evening, for sure, but who doesn’t love a little spice in the punchbowl? Don’t miss this one.
Tuesday, February 27, 8 PM
Downhaul, Runaway Brother, Two Cars, Riley Little @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s always nice seeing local bands who have ambition and are willing to take their craft seriously. I don’t know a ton about Downhaul; honestly, I hadn’t heard much about them before this show came onto my radar. But the fact that this is a show celebrating the vinyl release of their new EP, Where We Started, certainly got my attention. In a time when a lot of bands feel like they’ve done enough just by uploading a garage recording to Bandcamp, seeing a young group put their money where their mouth is to the extent that they’ve paid for a vinyl pressing commands a certain amount of respect. Well done, guys.
And I don’t want to neglect the music, either. This quartet brings us an upbeat, jangly indie-guitar sound that makes me think at least somewhat of Surfer Blood — an impression that is strengthened by the singer’s passing vocal resemblance to John Paul Pitts. However, there’s just as much of the supposedly passe emo revival sound flowing through this band’s veins, if their rumbling rhythm section and occasionally quite strident crescendos are any indication. There’s basically nothing here not to like, and it’s clearly time for this town to start paying more attention to this band. Just to sweeten the pot, they’re joined on this bill by Cleveland emo-punk killers Runaway Brother, as well as a couple of local up-and-comers in Two Cars and Riley Little, neither of which I’m very familiar with. Downhaul is really the reason to show up, though. Do 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] [yes, my email is through GayRVA, don’t get weird about it]
Top image by Vivienne Lee, from a photo by Joey Wharton