Friday, March 29, 6:30 PM
A Tribute To The Brecker Brothers, feat. JC Kuhl & Bob Miller @ Ashland Theatre – $12-25 (order tickets HERE)
The Ashland Theatre’s only been doing shows for about a month now, and already they’ve become a venue to watch. No doubt this has something to do with the Broadberry Entertainment Group, whose bookings around the city are consistently some of the most interesting and cool live shows on any given week. And for this show, at least, it also has to do with Richmond’s jazz scene, which is always doing something new and creative in the live performance arena.
This time around, Ashland Theatre and Broadberry Entertainment Group will be presenting an evening in tribute to the Brecker Brothers. Now, that name may not jump right out at you, but I can guarantee you’ve heard their work. The brothers — Randy, who played trumpet, and Michael, who played saxophone — contributed their talents to all sorts of classic 70s albums, from George Clinton to Todd Rundgren to Frank Zappa to Eric Clapton. They also had a duo of their own, which was a primary exponent of that jazz/funk fusion sound that the 70s so generously gave to us, before pushing things farther with their landmark 1978 album, Heavy Metal Be-Bop, on which they ran their horns through guitar amps and distortion effects.
You’ll never see the Brecker Brothers themselves; Michael passed away a decade ago. But this weekend, you can see the next best thing — a full-band tribute to the Brecker Brothers, featuring JC Kuhl (of Agents of Good Roots and local jazz scene fame) playing the role of Michael, while Bob Miller (of Richmond’s salsa legends, Bio Ritmo) in the role of Randy. Backing them up will be a stacked lineup of Virginia talent, including members of Butcher Brown, the Spacebomb house band, and more! Get ready for some skunk funk, because these musicians are going to keep the music going all night at a venue that’s rapidly becoming an essential Central VA spot for live music.
Wednesday, March 27, 8 PM
Modern Color, No Sun, W I S H, Two Cars @ The Dark Room – $5
It’s a shoegaze paradise at The Hof’s Dark Room tonight. The Underexposed series, of which this show is a part, is designed to bring us sounds from bands we might not have heard much about, and while that might lead you to expect Richmond-based bands, tonight the big surprises are going to come from out-of-towners. Modern Color is at the top of the bill; they hail from SoCal and bring us a melodic yet driving take on a loud-guitar alt-rock sound that’s honestly way too clear to be shoegaze — but someone will call them that anyway, so it may as well be me, right?
One thing is for sure where Modern Color is concerned: they use their loud guitars to the fullest, evoking their beachfront hometown environs while still bringing plentiful energy. No Sun, who ironically come from the sunbaked state of Utah, generate the sort of fuzzy clang you’d be more likely to expect from a shoegaze band, and they embrace it fully, calling to mind 90s UK legends like Swervedriver or My Bloody Valentine. Getting this touring duo from a $5 local midweek show is one of the subtle treats this city loves to grace us with. And rest assured, the sets from local openers W I S H and Two Cars will be another. This one is well worth your cash, so pony up and get down to the Hof tonight.
Thursday, March 28, 8 PM
Shy Low, Standards, Colin Phils, Curtana @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Math-rock, post-rock, indie — whatever you want to call it, one thing is certain: there’s a lot of this kind of thing happening around Richmond lately. And it’s definitely a good thing, especially since it seems to have resulted in a recent rejuvenation of Shy Low, the long-running four-piece who’ve long evoked Mogwai and Mono with their epic, intense instrumentals. It has still been a few years since their last release, but… perhaps that will change soon? We can hope. In the meantime, there have been several opportunities to see them live lately — this is just the latest.
And as if availing yourself of that opportunity isn’t enough of a reason to hit the Camel this Thursday night, Shy Low will be accompanied on this bill by Standards, an outstanding LA duo who are on tour behind their freshly-released EP, Friends. For fans of instrumental guitar pyrotechnics, this record will be an embarrassment of riches, as Marcos Mena’s fingertap gymnastics impress on a whole other level. You’re sure to find yourself staring at his fretboard at some point during Standards’ set, wondering how the man can possibly do all that with only ten fingers. He does, though, and you’re going to want to see it happen live and in the flesh. Opening sets by the always-reliable Colin Phils and dazzling local prog-rockers Curtana only sweeten the pot.
Friday, March 29, 6 PM
Hypocrisy, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Aenimus, Seraph, Gutted Christ @ The Canal Club – $20 in advance/$22 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow. The fact that this tour is named after the legendary long-running compilation series, Death… Is Just The Beginning, definitely brings back memories for a true 90s metalhead like me. Nuclear Blast Records have been putting these comps out every few years for three decades now, and headliners Hypocrisy have been around for about as long. This killer Swedish death metal band hasn’t released an album in six years, but between their rock-solid track record and the fact that 2013’s End Of Disclosure was a sure-fire winner from beginning to end, headbangers can certainly take heart — this set is guaranteed to rule.
Even cooler is the fact that Hypocrisy’s co-headlining this tour with another Euro death metal sensation — Fleshgod Apocalypse. These Italians have always had a symphonic edge to their sound, even integrating operatic vocals on occasion for peak melodrama. However, they’ve always known how to keep it heavy and give us the killer riffs in abundance, and even after a significant lineup shakeup a couple years ago, the first single from upcoming fifth album Veleno shows they’ve still got the juice. So head out to the Canal Club this Friday night, and wear your best studded gauntlets, because this one is going to be tough as nails.
Saturday, March 30, 7 PM
Kings & Queens Of Go-Go Tour, feat. EU, Trouble Funk, Junkyard Band @ The National – $25 in advance/$35 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Do you like to get down? Do you like to get funky? Do you like to DROP THE BOMB? If so, you’re in luck, because this Saturday night sees three of the brightest stars of DC’s legendary go-go scene visiting Richmond to tear the roof off the National — and you’re gonna want to be there. Go-go is a highly regional scene centered around Washington, DC — for most of its history, it was only truly popular in the DMV area. However, it had a big moment in the 80s; while go-go has its roots in funk, it’s a particularly rhythmic, percussion-heavy strain, and that appealed strongly to early hip hop fans.
EU (short for Experience Unlimited) had one of the most popular go-go hits ever with “Da Butt,” a sexually charged party-starter from the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s School Daze. It was so popular, I once saw a guy in a Scooby-Doo costume dance to it in a make-your-own-video booth at King’s Dominion (#onlytrue80skidswillunderstand). Meanwhile, Trouble Funk’s 1982 single, “Pump Me Up,” was a huge club hit — especially in DC, where at the height of their fame, they co-headlined shows with hardcore pioneers Minor Threat. Meanwhile, onetime Def Jam recording artists The Junkyard Band can be seen performing their signature song, “Sardines,” in the Run-DMC movie, Tougher Than Leather. And we get all three of these groups on the same stage, for $25? This is the deal of the decade, folks — don’t miss out. And wear your dancing shoes, because your feet will be moving.
Sunday, March 31, 7 PM
Milk, Missangelbird, Danet Jackson @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$6 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s not often that a piece of music manages to take me by surprise, so when it happens, it’s certainly worth noting. Milk’s 2017 LP, Horsetown Threshold, does exactly that, not only over the course of the album but even in a single song. The first track, a beautiful acoustic ballad called “Too High To Drive,” is occasionally interrupted by squalls of distorted heavy noise — but in a manner that is not only intentional but meshes well with the song as a whole. This is what Milk do throughout the album, really; present us with gorgeous melodies that draw from indie-folk sources, then shift into heavy moments that pulverize the listener with some prime Blue Cheer/Crazy Horse riffage.
Seeing this whole thing take place live might be a bit of a mind-bender… but who wouldn’t want that, especially on a Sunday night? Sometimes life has to throw us a few curveballs just to keep us from sleepwalking through it, and it’s much better to have those curveballs come in the form of a truly unpredictable band than in that of a car crash, right? So put down the cellphone and drive carefully to Gallery 5 this Sunday night, where Milk will proceed to blow your mind. Local openers Missangelbird and Danet Jackson will provide you with some sweet melodies of their own to prepare the way for the Boston headliners. Get there.
Monday, April 1, 7 PM
DBUK, Norman Westberg, Old Gun Road @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Denver’s DBUK were originally called Denver Broncos UK, a joke that I can appreciate as both a fan of American football and UK indie bands. Apparently the Denver Broncos football team didn’t appreciate it, though, since they’re known only by their initials now. But regardless of the name they’re going by, DBUK is definitely worth going to see. The group arises from a Denver scene known for producing dark, apocalyptic varieties of folk-Americana. DBUK features Slim Cessna’s Auto Club mastermind Slim Cessna, as well as Jay Munly, who has led various solo projects as well as taking part in Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Scott Kelly & the Road Home.
DBUK just released their second album, Songs Nine Through Sixteen, and while it’s got less overt country and Americana influences than previous projects the members have been involved with, it maintains the deep dark mood that has always been the most compelling aspect of that whole Denver scene (which also produced Wovenhand and 16 Horsepower, among others). It’s therefore fitting that they come to Richmond in the company of Norman Westberg, who has played guitar in Swans for nearly 40 years and will be doing a solo set that, if it’s anything like the solo albums he’s released in recent years, should lean heavily on ambience and atmosphere. Local openers Old Gun Road consist of a bunch of hardcore and metal musicians playing the type of country music they loved as kids. Like everything else on this bill, that’s sure to be a treat.
Tuesday, April 2, 7 PM
Ex Hex, Moaning, Positive No @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $20 (order tickets HERE)
Ex Hex were all the rage a few years back. This tough-rockin’ trio from DC made a whole lot of fans around the country with their 2014 debut album, Rips, and its Shangri-Las-meets-Runaways take on catchy garage punk. However, the group’s been quiet a while, and you couldn’t be blamed for thinking they’d dissolved after one LP, just as singer-guitarist Mary Timony’s previous project, Wild Flag, did.
Fortunately, we learned as 2019 kicked off that this was not the case after all, and Ex Hex came roaring back just last week with the release of its sophomore full-length, It’s Real. They’ve definitely grown as a band, but the elements everyone loved about their first batch of tunes are all intact here, even as they stretch out with some heavier riffs, contrasting those at other points with some introspective moments. The end result is sure to delight all previous Ex Hex fans, and might just make some new ones (assuming everyone doesn’t love this band already). They’re accompanied on their return to Richmond by Los Angeles new-romantics Moaning, as well as perennial Richmond indie-pop faves Positive No. This one is a guaranteed delight.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, March 29, 6 PM
Jawbreaker, War On Women, Pohgoh @ The NorVA – $37 in advance/$42 at the door (order tickets HERE)
All the 90s emo and pop-punk kids are sure to be freaking out over this one. Blake Schwarzenbach has done several memorable bands over the years, including Jets To Brazil and Forgetters, but none have ever captured the hearts of music fans the way his late-80s/early-90s band Jawbreaker did. For many years, even as fans clamored for Schwarzenbach to reunite with his former Jawbreaker bandmates, he swore he’d never do it. But then, in 2017, the band returned to headline Riot Fest and, improbably, kept working together, playing shows around the US and even starting work on their first album in 23 years.
They’re currently in the middle of a run down the East Coast, and this show brings them to Virginia for the first time in over two decades. They’ve even been playing some new-ish tunes (although they are really just unreleased songs from various Schwarzenbach projects over the years), and we can all look forward to the possibility of a new album on the horizon. For now, though, it’ll be enough to bop around the NorVA singing along with classics like “Save Your Generation,” “Boxcar,” “Chesterfield King,” and many more. Plus, opening sets from War On Women and Pohgoh are sure to make an amazing night even more special. Don’t miss this one.
Saturday, March 30, 5 PM
LAVA Mini-Fest, feat. Bennett Wales & The Relief, Camp Howard, Starcoast, Shormey, Mas Y Mas, Landon Elliott, Kenneka Cook, Recluse Raccoon, Ramblin’ Ron Talman, Hunter Rhodes MAGIC, Tmobyle @ Toast – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Here’s a fun way to spend your Saturday evening — by gassing up the ride, heading east down 64, and enjoying an evening mini-fest brought to you by Norfolk’s own LAVA Presents. These Norfolk promoters work with a variety of genres down in the Hampton Roads area, and they’re demonstrating that by bringing a variety of sounds from around Virginia together at Toast to get you stoked.
There are a ton of different genres on this bill, from the Southern-tinged rock n’ roll of Bennett Wales & The Relief to the cleancut indie jangle of Richmond’s own Camp Howard, from the electro-pop of Shormey to the heartland rock of Landon Elliott, plus a whole lot more. There are definitely some names that will perk up the ears of Richmond music fans (Kenneka Cook, anyone?), as well as some very interesting sidetrips, including a magic show, a pop-up record shop, and a craft market! Sounds to me like a great way to spend a Saturday night — 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, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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