Thursday, January 3, 7 PM
Humungus, 3:33, Buzzard Dust, Nuclear Tomb, Et Mors @ Champion RVA – Free!
It’s 2019, and if there’s one thing we can all agree on as local live music fans, it’s that Strange Matter’s departure has definitely hurt us. This week’s show column shows the damage done — fully two days of this week ended up being left out for lack of anything worthwhile to send you to. Hopefully this is a one-time post-holiday-doldrum thing, but even if it’s not, one thing it makes clear is that someone, some venue or other, is going to need to step up and fill the void Strange Matter left, or we’re gonna have quite a bit less rocking out to do.
Champion Brewing did its fair share of free Thursday shows in the past, but in recent months, they’ve largely kept a low profile. The fact that they’re giving us a free show on the first Thursday of the new year is a hopeful sign, though. Let’s hope it keeps coming from these fine purveyors of suds I don’t actually drink. And let’s hope it continues to be as raging as this show is. Humungus is at the top of the bill, and these local headbangers have had some lineup shake-ups since their Warband LP in 2015, but they continue to deal in the sort of wicked metal power that made 80s thrash records so great, complete with a vocalist who hits triumphant high notes like it’s his job (which, to be fair, it is).
This show also brings a duo of touring Baltimore metal bands to us to rock this town and make us scream and shout — or at least bang our heads. Nuclear Tomb just released a brand new EP, Succumbing, and its focus on death-metal brutality and technical complexity makes it an intriguing listen. Live, this band is likely to roll right over you like a metal steamroller, but if you listen close, the riffs will keep you fascinated. Tourmates Et Mors deal out the sort of dragging, sludgy doom that will make you feel like the world is caving in on you. If you weren’t already planning to bring earplugs, this group offers a strong inducement. Local heroes 3:33 and Buzzard Dust round out a bill full of champion metal. Yeah, you see what I did there.
Thursday, January 3, 6:30 PM
Haybaby, President Sam, Doll Baby, Two Cars, W I S H @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free! (Donations accepted)
Dogs are cool. Cats are cool. Chances are you agree with at least one of these statements, if not the other. And that is a good reason for you to go to this SPCA benefit at Garden Grove Brewing. Another is that it’s free — but of course, you should still bring some cash, because they’ll be taking donations for the Richmond SPCA, and unless your heart is a cold black rock, you want to make sure that they keep doing all that they do to help out local dogs and/or cats.
But the best reason to go to a show is always and forever the music, and this selection of rad Richmond bands is gonna rock you right! Haybaby have been splitting their time between Brooklyn and Richmond for years now, which might be why it’s been three years since their last EP, but word is they’ll be bringing us another LP full of their power-pop goodness sometime this year — so that’s something to look forward to! President Sam is starting a tour with this show, and this emo-pop/pop-punk band certainly tickles my fancy (y’all know what a sucker I am for this sound), so make sure you catch them. And don’t miss Two Cars either. This emo-shoegaze trio has a brand new EP out, and they’ll be celebrating its release at this show, so chances are they’ll be fired up! All this and Doll Baby too? Plus an opening set from W I S H? This show would be cheap even at ten times the price! (Because ten times free is still free.) Bring donations for the puppies and kittens, and get your year started right!
Friday, January 4, 5 PM
Silver Age, Unturned, Thirst For The Sea, Having Keepsake, Apricity @ The Canal Club – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There was a bit of punctuation mark abuse in that last blurb, so I’m gonna try to keep it chill here, as I write about the first of two 2019 Kickoff shows The Canal Club is throwing this weekend. This one’s the “rock” show, and Saturday brings us a “metal” show. Of the two, I’m most excited about this one. Silver Age are an intriguing band who got a lot of attention in 2017 due to their winning a shot onto the Warped Tour that year. They’re a bunch of teenagers with a heavy sound that splits the difference between more recent emo bands and heavily melodic post-hardcore bands of the 90s (think Hum, or maybe Quicksand). Now that they’re out of high school, these kids should be getting more done in 2019. Get in on the ground floor right here.
Fellow northern-midwesterners Unturned are also on this bill, and these guys have a somewhat similar sound to that of Silver Age, though they’re a bit less heavy and more straight up emo. That’s never a bad thing if you ask me. There are a bunch of VA bands in a similar vein opening up this show and bringing us some more excellent sounds in that vein. Thirst From The Sea live in rural western VA, up near where I went to high school, and have a heavy, driving, and properly emo sound. Meanwhile, RVA’s own Having Keepsake are a bit more post-rock infused, but still angst-ridden, while Mechanicsville newcomers Apricity (apparently it means “the warmth of the sun in winter”) kick things off with some “melodic grunge.” I’m into it. You should be too. Exclamation point.
Saturday, January 5, 8 PM
Lady Moon & the Eclipse (Photo by Luke Awtry Photography), Kenneka Cook, Calvin Presents, Mekong Xpress & the Get Fresh Horns @ The Camel – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
We’re getting in a funky mood this Saturday night at The Camel. Lady Moon & the Eclipse are headed down from their Brooklyn home to bring us all some thick and heavy grooves. This group’s fat bass sound and nimble synth lines hark back to the 70s in a serious way, resembling some of the lush soul productions that were happening at the same time as disco, but just had so much more depth to them. And of course, Lady Moon’s voice is the focus of it all, singing directly to your soul with soothing messages of love and positivity.
So get ready to groove with the Eclipse, but don’t think that this show is all about the Brooklynites, because we’ve got a passel of homegrown talent waiting for you as well. We talk about Kenneka Cook a lot around here, and for good reason — from her amazing voice to her brilliant and unpredictable compositions, this woman is the first name in 21st century soul here in central VA. Calvin Presents is an up-and-coming talent with a jazz-based approach to R&B balladry that results in music that both resists easy categorization and rewards listeners with musical beauty. And of course, Mekong Xpress are a funk-rock combo that grew out of everyone’s favorite Vietnamese-food destination in RVA to become a groove powerhouse. Get down with all of it this Saturday night, and dance into the new year in proper fashion.
Sunday, January 6, 8 PM
Hot Pink Satan, Solemn Shapes @ Fallout – $6 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
They’re getting weird with it over at Fallout this Sunday night, and before you tell me that that’s just a normal night at Shockoe Bottom’s foremost private fetish club, let me provide some details. What you must know is that a band with the memorable name of Hot Pink Satan is performing. This Pittsburgh-based duo is every bit as shocking as their name would lead you to believe.
Singer Clea Cutthroat’s tendency to lose her clothing and end up covered in blood might make you think of Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics, while the pounding, heavy industrial beats and sexual preoccupations of the music are more likely to inspire recollections of Lords Of Acid’s mid-90s heyday. My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult fans should probably appreciate what this bizarre group is doing too, and metal fans may get a kick out of knowing that instrument-wielder allinaline was once in Chimaira. So if you like a bit of metal noise and punk confrontation in your sexy industrial dancefloor bangers, this is the perfect group for you. Just don’t stand too close if you don’t want to end up slippery.
Tuesday, January 8, 7 PM
Mdou Moctar, Night Idea @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Over the last decade or so, the music of the Tuareg people has received quite a bit of recognition outside their native Saharan desert. This nomadic ethnic confederation of livestock ranchers have an interesting place in the culture of the African continent, but what really has caught the world’s ear in recent years is their tradition of psychedelic guitar music. That all started with the legendary band Tinariwen, who mixed traditional Tuareg musics with electric guitars and acid-rock influences.
Mdou Moctar is a similar sort of Tuareg guitarist, one who has put his own personal stamp on the sound of this region, keeping a more traditional approach than some more recent Tuareg combos, while still retaining a speedy, nimble-fingered approach to the fretboard that is sure to please the ears of all you metal-shredding guitar heroes out there. His 2017 album, Sousoume Tamachek, revolves around acoustic instruments and traditional percussion, but Moctar still wails on guitar throughout. He’s sure to do a similar thing from the stage of Gallery 5 — you’ll be able to hear the desert winds blowing through your hair as you listen. Don’t miss this one.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, January 4, 8 PM
Lake Street Dive, Mikaela Davis @ The NorVA – $25 in advance/$29.50 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Lake Street Dive are an intriguing group. Even wikipedia, which calls them “a multigenre band,” has no idea how to explain their sound. They’ve got an old-school approach to instrumentation that lays the groundwork for everything that comes after. Acoustic stand-up bass, soulful horns, and Rachel Price’s humdinger of a voice, which is mid-range in tone but as deep as the ocean in vibe, are all key elements to understanding what this group is up to. And of course, they’ve grabbed some attention online with covers of immortal classics by artists like Michael Jackson and Hall and Oates.
So at this point, you’re thinking “Postmodern Jukebox,” right? Not so fast. Because Lake Street Dive are skilled songwriters with a deep quiver full of excellent original compositions. Blues, soul, old-school R&B, old-time folk, and rock n’ roll all factor in, always with a strong foundation in live instruments played at the same time in a room. This band is powerful, and they’ll keep you smiling and your feet moving throughout their performance at The NorVA. So hey, whether you’re a curious Hampton Roads resident, a fan who’s bummed they didn’t make it up to Richmond this time around, or just someone who loves great music played well by talented people, this show needs to be on your calendar.
Saturday, January 5, 8 PM
The Candy Snatchers, Big Bobby & The Nightcaps, The Nerve Scheme @ Elevation27 – $10 in advance/$14 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Back in the 90s, if you were a fan of raging, unbridled punk rock from any part of the world, you were looking to Virginia. Why? Because the Candy Snatchers were from here. This legendary punk n’ roll band were up there with the Dwarves, the Supersuckers, and the New Bomb Turks as the best of the wild-ass bands out there. And they had the stage show to prove it, too — they were known to spew blood, spit, and beer all over the place as they dealt out their pedal-to-the-metal brand of manic punk thrills.
All that sadly came to an end with the 2008 passing of the band’s guitarist, Matthew Odietus, who was largely responsible along with vocalist Larry May for the sound that made the Candy Snatchers so unforgettable. However, coinciding with the 2017 release of Moronic Pleasures, a “lost album” recorded in the late 90s, May and longtime drummer Sergio Ponce resurrected the group for some celebratory live dates around the mid-Atlantic area. Since then, they’ve been firing it up and going wild on at least an occasional basis, and this Saturday night provides the latest opportunity to catch the wild fire from this band once again. Chances are shit’s gonna get pretty crazy at this show — if you’re a true-blue fan of rock n’ roll at it’s most out-of-control, you’re not gonna want to miss it. No matter how far you have to drive.
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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