Saturday, December 28, 10 PM
The Return of Sp***** Ed and the Sh****** @ Cary Street Cafe – $10
This week’s show column is entirely focused on that weird end-of-year week between Christmas and New Year’s Day — that week we all are so sure will be a total loss that plenty of businesses shut down entirely until the new year rolls around. We’re still here, though, and while this whole week might feel like a goofy, lackadaisical lead-up to the big New Year’s Eve throwdown, make no mistake, there are some interesting things afoot around town.
One of the most interesting is this reunion show taking place at Cary Street Cafe on Saturday night. And it’s a great example of the way that, every once in a while, something from the recent past will spring to mind in a manner that reminds you how long ago the past actually was. This reunion of a local bluegrass band that was a Richmond music staple less than a decade ago is just such a reminder, in that they were both a really fun band that drew a following with a very original approach to what can be an extremely conservative music form… and a band whose efforts to be goofy led them to an extremely insensitive and inappropriate name.
In fact, the band once known as Special Ed And The Shortbus not only changed their name in 2012 to The Hot Seats, they are using stars to disguise that name in all promotion for this show that will reunite one of the band’s earliest and goofiest lineups to recreate their early-00s days as Cary Street Cafe’s Wednesday night house band. Their name has certainly not aged well, but their music and antics are still as entertaining and fun as they always were, so if you miss the days of their onstage hijinks even as you recognize that their name is culturally unacceptable in these modern times, you should definitely head down to Cary Street Cafe this Saturday night and catch the one-time return of Sp***** Ed and the Sh******… minus 11 letters.
Thursday, December 26, 7:30 PM
The Hip Hop Nutcracker, feat. Kurtis Blow @ Altria Theater – $37 – 67 (order tickets HERE)
People sing that old song without understanding its meaning all the time, but Christmas is technically a 12 day celebration that doesn’t end until nearly a week into January. Therefore, the fact that the Hip Hop Nutcracker won’t reach the Altria Theatre until tonight isn’t inappropriate at all. Tonight, there’s no reason for you not to shake off the food coma from yesterday’s dinner and celebrate the second day of Christmas with two turtle doves and a whole lot of great hip hop dancing set to Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker Suite.
For the real old-school heads, there’s a bigtime bonus to this show as well — Kurtis Blow will be in the house. Blow is so old school, he released one of the first rap records ever; what’s more, it was a Christmas single, so Blow’s connection to this holiday has lasted his entire career. Before the official Nutcracker kicks off, Blow will begin the evening with a short solo set, and if, like me, you’re old enough to remember the days when “Basketball” and “The Breaks” were jams that always got the party started right, you’ll definitely want to be here and see Kurtis Blow strut his stuff.
Friday, December 27, 8 PM
Seraph, Spiral Fracture, Alcindor @ Wonderland – $10
It’s been five years since Richmond deathcore warriors Seraph released their mini-album, Embrace Your Demise, and they’ve been through a hell of a lot since then. At one point, a member’s overseas military deployment led to a lengthy hiatus; at another point, a member passed away unexpectedly. Most recently, one of their founding members has battled cancer; this Wonderland performance marks the first time he’s been healthy enough to play a show in nearly a year.
However, you have to admire any band with the tenacity to endure through all the tough times that have come Seraph’s way and keep going strong. Not only are they returning to action in the live arena once again, they’ve been working on new music that will eventually take the form of a long-awaited followup to Embrace Your Demise. If you love punishing, brutal death/metal/core, it’s hard not to be stoked about that. Celebrate Seraph’s return to action this Friday night at Wonderland, and enjoy two other Virginia heavy hitters — Spiral Fracture and Alcindor — in the bargain. Nothing about this will not rule.
Saturday, December 28, 9 PM
The Trongone Band, The Vegabonds, Lord Nelson @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As we have previously discussed, the holidays are prime time for jam bands. Their music has a spiritual kinship with those laid-back evenings we all associate with holiday times, when there’s no specific agenday, punctuality isn’t a factor, and the main things people are interested in are relaxing, having fun, and seeing where the night takes them. What musical ensemble could be more apropos to take us on that sort of journey than a jam band?
Where the loose arrangement of prog, folk, and Southern rock that makes up the jam-band universe is concerned, Richmond’s own Trongone Band and their compatriots for this evening, Tennessee’s Vegabonds, are concerned, they’re significantly closer to the Southern-rock axis. And there’s nothing wrong with that — the Trongone Band’s soulful, Muscle Shoals-influenced take on prime Allman/My Morning Jacket sounds is a whole lot of fun, and the Vegabonds’ slightly tougher Drive-By Truckers-ish approach is certainly welcome anytime. If you need a fun way to spend your post-Christmas/pre-New Years weekend, these two bands have just what you’re looking for.
Sunday, December 29, 9 PM
Plaque Marks, Prayer Group, Copperhead @ Wonderland – $10
The holidays don’t usually see a lot of touring bands coming through, but that just makes the few who buck the trend and hit the road all the more welcome. Philadelphia’s Plaque Marks is battling the post-Christmas traffic full of tired families on the way back from Grandma’s house this weekend to bring Richmond a heaping helping of noise for dinner, and it’s sure to be a treat.
So far, this quartet featuring members of Fight Amp, Creepoid, and others has only brought us one EP, 2017’s Anxiety Driven Nervous Worship. That EP’s sludgy, abrasive mix of anti-social punk and Jesus Lizard-style noise-rock is, however, enough reason on its own to head to Wonderland and catch these freaks. And by now, there’s no way they don’t have a few new songs with which to spice things up as well. Local metallic faves Prayer Group and newcomers Faucet, who feature members of Fat Spirit, Gumming, Among The Rocks And Roots, and more, will give us a full evening worthy of the beautiful punishment Plaque Marks dishes out.
Monday, December 30, 7 PM
Tauk, Jouwala Collective @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 at the door (order tickets HERE)
New Year’s Eve is the very next night, but that’s no excuse to spend your Monday evening holed up at home, bored out of your skull. And that’s doubly true in light of the fact that Tauk is coming to town. This New York-based instrumental combo has some excellent sounds to deliver to this city, sounds that are sure to expand our minds and get us thinking way outside the box — regardless of whether that box has a bow on top.
On last year’s Shapeshifter II: Outbreak, Tauk mingled guitars with synths and danceable beats to create a genre hybrid with appeal for post-rock nerds, jazz cats, and funk heads alike. The album was spawned by the group’s thoughts on the rise of artificial intelligence, but rest assured, no computer could come up with the riffs Tauk lays down. Get a glimpse for yourself, up close and personal at the Broadberry, and prepare for your New Year’s Eve with a thought-provoking night spent somewhere other than your couch.
Tuesday, December 31, 7:30 PM
NYE 1979, feat. Tinnarose as Blondie, High Voltage as AC/DC, Sleepwalkers as The Rolling Stones, Loud Night as Motorhead, Deli Kings as The Ramones, Prabir as Elvis Costello @ Fuzzy Cactus – $30 in advance/$40 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As we’ve discussed many times, punk rockers and metalheads often see holidays as an excuse to bust out some tribute bands. This celebration at Fuzzy Cactus is the first time I’ve seen this Halloween tradition extended to New Year’s Eve, though, so congrats to Fuzzy Cactus for breaking new ground in the punk-holiday-tribute game.
What’s even better about this show is that it has a unifying concept for its evening of tributes, bringing us an evening full of the sounds of 1979. It’s not just first-wave punk bands, either; with indie-folk crew Tinnarose bringing the sounds of Blondie to life, rock n’ rollers Sleepwalkers invoking the Rolling Stones, indie mainstay Prabir bringing the sounds of Elvis Costello, and more, this is an evening that will cover a lot of musical ground, even as it reminds us all that things were actually pretty great 40 years ago.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, December 27, 7 PM
Demons, Song of Praise, Invaluable, Nervous System @ Taphouse Grill (Norfolk) – Price TBA
Punks and jam bands don’t have a monopoly on the holidays. Noise-rock bands can certainly bring the heat at Christmastime just as easily, and that’s exactly what Norfolk’s Demons are choosing to do with their post-holiday throwdown at Norfolk’s own Taphouse Grill. If you haven’t caught on with what Demons, the post-Mae project of singer-guitarist Zach Gehring, are up to just yet, you really should fix that.
In recent years, this quartet has followed up their abrasive 2017 debut LP, Embrace Wolf, with a pair of hard-hitting EPs showing their political side. Made In The USA and the “Uglier Americans” single show that it’s not just musical influence that they take from intelligent post-hardcore bands like Fugazi and Quicksand. The resulting sound is raw and furious, with an undeniable undercurrent of melody that keeps things catchy and memorable. This is one party you’re going to want to show up for — especially since Demons have invited a few other equally talented Tidewater bands to join in.
Tuesday, December 31, 9 PM
Organ Trail, No/Mas, Cybernetic Warkrab, Bloat @ RiffHouse Pub (Chesapeake) – $5
OK, so picture this: It’s New Year’s Eve. There are more parties happening than you can shake a stick at (that’s a phrase my mother says, I have no idea what it means). All of them are full of champagne toasts, photobooths, and assorted other gimcracks and geegaws. You, on the other hand, don’t feel like dealing with a bunch of ballyhoo — you really just want to rock. Well, I know where you need to go.
Your destination is deep in the land of Tidewater, in the municipality known as Chesapeake, where RiffHouse Pub is bringing us the sort of no-frills affair that is so refreshing on the most overhyped party night of the year. Pennsylvania’s Organ Trail and DC’s No/Mas will be on hand to blast you with some gore-soaked death metal (the former) and hyperspeed grind (the latter), along with some local ragers from Cybernetic Warkrab and Bloat. There will be a toast at midnight, but it’ll be with PBR, because you don’t need all that frou-frou bullshit and neither do any of these bands. Leave the novelty glasses at home; bring your steel-toed boots for 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): firstname.lastname@example.org
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