Sunday, October 21, 7 PM
OH SEES, Escape-ism @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh goodness. Where to begin with OH SEES? They’ve been Thee Oh Sees. They’ve been OCS. They’ve been Orange County Sound and Orinoka Crash Suite. For their past two albums, they’ve been OH SEES (in all caps). But whatever anyone is calling them these days, this fearless band of psychedelic musical explorers has been rocking out for over two decades now, during which they’ve produced 21 different albums featuring a wide range of sounds and styles.
Right now, they’re coming to Richmond on tour to support their latest album, Smote Reverser, released a couple months ago. On it, band founder, mainstay, and only constant member John Dwyer is backed by the dual-drumming quartet that’s been his musical ensemble for the group’s last five albums (all of which came out in the past 26 months). While his three backing musicians focus on rhythm, Dwyer’s all over the map, contributing not only his usual acid-drenched vocalizations but guitar, keyboards, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, and various effects that all amp up the lysergia and take your head on a one-way trip to the Crab Nebula.
It’s weird, it’s awesome, it’s unforgettable, and in the live environment, it’s something else to see. Dwyer and co. don’t make it to town very often — this is their first trip through Richmond in half a dozen years — and when they do, they make it count. Unfortunately, so do local music fans; this show sold out as we were putting this column together. You’re welcome to hit up the facebook event page and see if anyone’s got an extra they want to sell you (though we have to warn you, you’re not the first in line). But if nothing else, take this as a lesson to ya — when there’s a possibility of seeing OH SEES, you better not wait until I’m telling you about it. Set up a google alert, because believe me, you’re gonna want to get your tickets ASAP.
Wednesday, October 17, 9 PM
Night Business, Bonjinski, Vulcanite @ Flora – Donations requested
You may not make it into the OH SEES show this week, but you’ll certainly be able to check out some brand new local rock n’ roll tonight at Flora, and that’s a pretty good consolation prize, right? All three of these bands are Richmond-based, all of them have just started to make a name for themselves, and all of them are solid rockers with some great tuneage to bless your ears. Night Business may be the first name on the flyer, but they’re also the newest of these groups, with only one track on their Bandcamp account.
However, a quick look at the names of the band members should catch your interest if you’ve been a longtime follower of RVA music. Members of Eliza Battle, Extant Deth, and Five Flew Over (remember them?) are rocking out in this project, and it sounds like just what you’d expect from those bands — uptempo punk with equal tinges of hardcore rage and power-pop melody. It’s great, is what I’m trying to say. And so is Bonjinski, which brings us some of those killer 90s-are-back riffs a la Dinosaur Jr, or for a more modern example, Ovlov. Vulcanite round this out with some Entombed-style biker-core rockouts, with an undeniable 90s influence of their own that shows up in the occasional Nirvana cover. These may not be household names just yet, but this is an unbeatable trio, and you can’t beat the price for this night of music at Flora either. Scoop the change out of your car’s cupholder, drop it in the bucket, and get ready to rock.
Thursday, October 18, 9 PM
CloZee, Frameworks @ The Canal Club – $17 (order tickets HERE)
OK, listen — I know most of you don’t usually get down with EDM. And I hear you — I don’t usually either. But writing off the entirety of any genre of music is always a bad look, so when I get a hot tip from a friend about an EDM artist coming to town that’s not just the usual twirling glowsticks and bass drops, I look into it. And sometimes, I hit paydirt. This is definitely true of French artist CloZee, who comes to the Canal Club Thursday night in support of her debut full-length, Evasion. CloZee isn’t just another electronic artist who gets onstage, punches a button, and bounces around behind a bank of computers while a pre-programmed file plays through the speakers. She’s not just a producer but a talented guitarist, and often plays guitar as part of her performances.
She also pulls from a wide variety of musical influences to create her sound, which integrates musical styles she’s encountered in her travels around the world with a fundamental grounding in melodic electro-dance rhythms. This isn’t music that gets you shaking your booty to eardrum-imploding bass drops — CloZee takes you on a spiritual journey, using her multi-layered soundscapes to evoke far-flung landscapes and inspire your imagination. You can dance to it, but you’ll get just as much out of the show if you just listen to what she’s playing and let your mind go where it will. Don’t worry, hardcore EDM fans, there’ll still be a complex, enthralling light show and plenty of pounding beats — but if that’s all you get out of the evening, you’re missing the best of what CloZee has to offer. Don’t do that.
Friday, October 19, 8 PM
JFA (Photo by James Sakert), Ruin By Design, Sinister Purpose, Deathbirds Surf Club @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes you’ve just got to take it back to the old school, and who better to do that with than JFA? An acronym for Jodie Foster’s Army (which was originally a reference to John Hinckley Jr’s attempt to assassinate Ronald Reagan, allegedly because he wanted to impress Jodie Foster), this Arizona punk band began when a bunch of teenage skate rats wanted to play fast and get under people’s skin. They’ve been doing so for nearly 40 years now, starting with the classic 1981 EP Blatant Localism and their 1983 debut full-length, Valley Of The Yakes. JFA’s connections to the early skateboard culture of Southern California fueled their snotty teenage iconoclasm and love for out-of-control speed, but the group always had unique elements to their sound, drawing from the same surf-guitar style that influenced fellow early West Coast punkers Agent Orange, as well as a low-key weirdness that was all their own.
Their most recent album, Speed Of Sound, has a slightly tougher approach than they showed in the early days, but the nihilistic speed and circle-pit anthems are just as present as ever. No matter what era of their catalog they dip into for their performance at Strange Matter, they’re sure to keep you slamming. As a bonus, they’re joined on this bill by Ruin By Design, the latest driving melodic punk project from former Avail and Lickity Split vocalist Brien Stewart. Their new album, From Ashes To Empowerment, is fast, energetic, and catchy as hell — you’re really gonna wanna see these guys bust it out live. A pair of RVA bands — rockin’ hardcore wildmen Sinister Purpose and retro-surf sweethearts Deathbird Surf Club — will kick things off right and proper.
Saturday, October 20, 9:30 PM
BB and the Blips, Benderheads, Ugly Muscle @ My Noodle & Bar – $8
Here’s some exciting news — the return of UK punk phenom Bryony Beynon to our lovely river city is only days away. You might remember Beynon from her time in the incredible London band Good Throb, a vitriolic burst of musical frustration that took aim squarely at the many frustrations that plague a young woman without much money in our modern misogynistic, class-obsessed society. Their 2014 LP Fuck Off was one of the best albums of the past decade, but the band fell apart soon after its release, and Beynon departed the UK for Australia.
Now she’s back with her new Australian band, BB and the Blips (she’s the BB, if you didn’t guess), and they just released their debut LP, Shame Job, on Thrilling Living Records. Beynon’s energetic vocals are both confrontational and slightly melodic as she delivers odes to feminist heroes (“Materialist Girl”) and sarcastic takes on empty self-help slogans (“The Ballad Of Personal Growth”). Behind her, the Blips bash out some catchy punk tunes that hark back to the catchy rage of foundational punk bands like X-Ray Spex and The Avengers. Like Good Throb, it’s a frenetic dose of witty, angry snark; what’s not to love? Richmond punks Benderheads and Ugly Muscle get this basement-bar show rolling with aplomb, but BB and the Blips are the reason for the season. Don’t miss this one.
Sunday, October 21, 7 PM
Weakened Friends, Nervous Dater, Haybaby @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I’m not even gonna front — I’m a sucker for stuff like this. Weakened Friends, who hail from Maine of all places, are a kickass trio pulling from the excellent alt-rock sound of classic 90s bands like Veruca Salt and Nada Surf, as well as more modern excellence like Speedy Ortiz and Swearin’, to create some incredibly catchy distorted-guitar anthems. Debut LP Common Blah will hit the world only two days before Weakened Friends hits Richmond, and you’re gonna want to bring whatever cash you can scrounge up to get yourself a copy.
Frontwoman Sonia Sturino puts a ton of energy and emotion into her music, and it bleeds through her frantic vocal performances on advance singles “Peel” and “Blue Again.” I honestly have no idea how she’ll survive a full set of all-out rocking like this, let alone a full tour, but it’s certainly going to make Weakened Friends’ live show worth watching closely. Tourmates Nervous Dater, who hail from the more conventional hometown of NYC, have a bit more melody and less emotional rage in their sound, but the two bands are definitely simpatico, and are sure to pair exquisitely. Local mainstays Haybaby will get things started, and if you haven’t caught on to them yet, you’re going to want to show up on time. If you have caught on to them, you already know that shit.
Monday, October 22, 7 PM
Charley Crockett, Chamomile and Whiskey @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you look at Charley Crockett’s name and find yourself singing the theme song to that old Davy Crockett TV show… well, for one thing, you’re at least as old as I am. But for another, you’re onto something — this Texas singer-songwriter really does trace his lineage back to the legendary frontiersman who lost his life at the Alamo. But Charley Crockett is a thoroughly modern young man; growing up on hip hop, he eventually found his way to the streets of New Orleans, where he got into music by busking on the streets. He’s gone through a lot of struggles to get to where he is now — from criminal charges to spending long stretches with no fixed address — but it’s all worked out in the end.
Crockett released his new album — the first of all original material — Lonesome As A Shadow earlier this year, via Nashville conglomerate Thirty Tigers, and it’s got a whole lot of Southern styles wrapped up into it, from old-school country and blues to the Cajun and Tejano sounds he grew up around. Crockett’s music is the real thing, 180 degrees from the million faceless singers with brand-new cowboy hats and overdone fake accents you’ll find on country radio these days. And if you know what true country is all about, you’re sure to appreciate hearing it. Crockett is joined on this bill by Charlottesville’s own youthful progenitors of bluegrass, Chamomile and Whiskey. This show will be the perfect way to chase away a bad case of the Mondays.
Tuesday, October 23, 8 PM
Adult Mom, Derek Ted, Cupid McCoy, Warrington @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Adult Mom’s really come a long way since this project was just Stephanie Knope singing by themselves with a guitar, and I for one am really glad to see it. The group’s 2017 album, Soft Spots, didn’t just bring another top-notch collection of emotionally-driven melodic indie-pop tunes into the world via excellent label Tiny Engines; it also gave a voice to the lovelorn, angst-ridden longings of a new generation of young people with tons of feels who just don’t see themselves represented in the inescapably binary and heteronormative world of mainstream pop music.
Adult Mom makes music for boys, girls, and especially those who don’t fit into either category, who struggle to find their place in the world, to find someone who will see them and love them for who they are and not just whatever restrictive category they can be awkwardly shoved into. On songs like “Full Screen” and “Drive Me Home,” Adult Mom encapsulate all of the beautiful difficulties of our complicated identites, and it’s glorious. No matter what sort of expression feels most natural to you, you’re sure to feel like you fit in at The Camel this Tuesday night. And you’ll hear some excellent music while you’re there — always a good thing.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, October 19, 9 PM
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, Gull, Buck Gooter @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $10 in advance/$13 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Seeing Yamantaka//Sonic Titan is an awe-inspiring experience. They last made it to Virginia several years ago, touring for their album UZU, and anyone who caught their set at Gallery 5 on that tour knows how outstandingly overwhelming they are as a live act. A lot has happened with the group since that time, though, and this year saw the long-awaited release of their third album, Dirt, which brought it all home with a musical statement that takes Yamantaka//Sonic Titan to a new level of intensity.
On Dirt, the group showcases their incredible range, moving from delicate, atmospheric melodies to pounding metallic explosions of heaviness in back-to-back moments. There’s a triumphant air to some of the album’s most epic moments, and if you find yourself recalling Queen’s heaviest moments, or Iron Maiden’s most dramatic, it’s not without reason. But fans of Bjork and Diamanda Galas might find quite a bit that strikes a chord here too. Yamantaka//Sonic Titan contains multitudes. And their dramatic performances, striking song construction, and incredible musical crescendos are worth the trip down to Norfolk — and then some.
Sunday, October 21, 8 PM
Full Of Hell, Left Cross, Outer Heaven, Ancient Torture Techniques @ Riffhouse Pub – $10 in advance/$12 at the door
Maryland grind maniacs Full Of Hell have never been content with the traditional understanding of what it means to play grindcore. Establishing their bona fides with a couple of excellent super-heavy, hyperfast albums back at the beginning of the decade, they began to move in a more experimental direction, collaborating with legendary Japanese extreme noise pioneer Merzbow and Southern sludge-metal explorers The Body. 2017 saw the release of their latest solo album, Trumpeting Ecstasy, and it showed that Full Of Hell’s brutal, uncompromising vision remained fully intact, with all the throat-destroying screams, metallic riffage, and blast beats you could ever want.
Full Of Hell will carry that legacy forward into some serious eardrum destruction when they take the stage at Riffhouse this Sunday night. But you’d be ill-served to consider this nothing more than a Full Of Hell show. Richmond’s own Left Cross, who find a way to merge the darkest, filthiest edges of the hardcore scene with the primitive origins of US death metal, will also be on hand to rip your face off with a rusty crowbar (we mean that in the best way possible). You’ll also get a set from Pennsylvania death metallers Outer Heaven, whose just-released Realms Of Eternal Decay casts a gloomy, foreboding atmosphere over some outstandingly guttural vocals and shred-tastic metal riffage. Reincarnated Tidewater power-violence nutcases Ancient Torture Technique will start this one off, but if you think they’re just another opening act, they’ll be quick to disabuse you of that notion. Show up on time and ready to headbang — it’s your duty as a true metal warrior.
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.]
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond