Thursday, April 5, 5 PM
Official United Blood Pre-Show, feat. Naysayer, The Flex, Arms Race, Primal Rite, Hangman @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
The 12th annual edition of the United Blood hardcore fest is happening here in Richmond this weekend, and I did not make it our featured show. There’s a reason for that — I hate writing about shows that sell out before my readers can read about them, and with very few tickets for United Blood remaining for sale, I’m a little concerned that by the time this goes to press, you won’t be able to get them at all (though you’re certainly welcome to give it a shot — maybe you’ll get lucky). I’m feeling slightly more secure about the Thursday night pre-show, so that’s what I’m sending you to. After all, it’ll give you a good taste of what United Blood is all about, and at 15 percent of the ticket price! You can’t beat that.
Naysayer are our headliners. This Richmond hardcore band had fallen into that sort of twilight state of existence that seems to take over a lot of long-running local hardcore bands, where most of the time they’re completely inactive, but they come back and play a really big local show every now and then. Naysayer briefly awoke from this somnambulist state a couple of years ago, releasing Nation Of Greed, their first new material in five years. That was two years ago now, though, and whether they’ll slip back into inactivity in future is an open question. Fortunately for you, you’ll be able to see them Thursday night, and this dose of their hard-hitting crossover-style hardcore is not something you should miss if you know what’s good for you.
Naysayer will be joined on this bill by a murderer’s row of heavy hitters, starting with a double-shot of UK hardcore in the form of The Flex and Arms Race. The Flex have that raw, blown-out sound that makes everything sound urgent as hell, while Arms Race are a bit darker in feel, but both deliver powerful shots of old-school velocity. Not to be outdone, San Francisco’s Primal Rite have a ripping, thrashing, metallic hardcore sound that’ll remind you of Power Trip if they were more focused on pure headcrushing breakdowns. The bill is rounded out by New Yorkers Hangman, who bring more of that metallic mosh you’re all craving. This show won’t last all weekend, but it certainly will pack plenty of power into its brief span. So whether you make it to the festival itself or not, you’d still be smart to head for Strange Matter the night before it starts.
Wednesday, April 4, 8 PM
Bettye LaVette @ The Tin Pan – $42.50 in advance/$47.50 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley may be gone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any more classic soul singers in the world. Bettye LaVette is still kicking, and she’ll be bringing her excellent voice and unpredictable choice of material to the Tin Pan tonight. Having made her first record during the original soul music boom in the early 60s, LaVette has been working hard ever since. However, it wasn’t until the release of 2005’s I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise that the mainstream really started paying attention to the talent LaVette’s been offering the whole time. The album featured soulful re-interpretations of female artists and songwriters including Fiona Apple, Sinead O’Connor, and Aimee Mann, among others.
Since then, LaVette’s recorded an album with the Drive-By Truckers — 2007’s The Scene Of The Crime — and an album of songs originally by British rock bands — 2010’s Interpretations — among others. Now she’s turned her attention to the music of Bob Dylan with her brand new album, Things Have Changed. Her powerful soul sound helps transform Dylan songs both well-known (“It Ain’t Me Babe,” “The Times They Are A-Changin'”) and obscure (“Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight,” the title track), often revealing new sides of the material by rewriting the lyrics to focus on a female perspective. This sound, and this perspective, are among the things LaVette will bring to the stage of the Tin Pan tonight, and the results are sure to be unique, fascinating, and powerful. Don’t miss it.
Thursday, April 5, 11 PM
Slump(oids), Haircut, Benderheads @ En Su Boca – $5
Hey, here’s a venue we haven’t heard from in a while. En Su Boca, the little taco joint inside a former adult bookstore had been doing shows for a bit last year, but has been inactive in the live music scene for several months. Now they are back with an all-local gig intended to raise some money for a permanent PA system, so that they can become a more reliable spot for live music. Sounds good to me! And if this sounds like a good idea to you too, you can support it by coming out late this Thursday evening (after the UB pre-show) and catching some loud punk rock.
At the top of the bill is Slump (or maybe they’re called Slumpoids now, the facebook event page is somewhat confusing), who have been bringing this city a hazy, smoggy take on psychedelic punk for a couple of years now. Remember that brief period when The Men were interesting, before they turned into total dad rock? Slump brings that sound back to life every time they take the stage. Meanwhile, Haircut are much more straightforward, smacking you in the mouth with some fast, angry, no-frills hardcore punk that’s sure to wake you up if the late hour has you nodding off at the bar. Benderheads, who round out this bill, have apparently got a tape coming out on Vinyl Conflict soon. If you want to know more than that, you’ll have to show up to this show. So hey, do it. And grab a taco while you’re at it.
Friday, April 6, 8 PM
Withered, Wake, Vorator, Lore @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Things are getting heavy once again over at Strange Matter, and all of us are the beneficiaries. Friday night sees an incredible double bill of super-heavy bands (brought to us by the letter W) hitting the stage to level us all. Withered hail from the Southern locale of Atlanta, but their sound is straight out of the Delta swamps that birthed Eyehategod. On their 2016 album, Grief Relic, they manage to simultaneously summon the sludge terror of NOLA’s most depressive sons and the blackened rage channeled by fellow swamp-rats Thou. While doom is certainly a part of Withered’s sound, they spend just as much time going fast and ripping it up black metal style as they do trudging through this ugly world at the pace of a steamroller. Either way, you end up flattened by their sheer heavyosity. And that’s always a good time.
Canadians Wake take a totally different approach. Up North where they’re from, you have to play really fast sometimes just to keep warm, and Wake keeps the pedal to the metal on their brand new album, Misery Rites. They’re sure to do the same thing when they hit the Strange Matter stage, where they’ll infuse their all-out speed destruction with a darkened atmosphere that will evoke terror even at 1000 miles per hour. A dynamic duo of locals, in the form of thrashing-mad ragers Vorator and spooky black metallers Lore, gets things rolling in fiery fashion.
Saturday, April 7, 9 PM
Acid Dad, Camp Howard, Moonwalks, Winstons @ The Camel – $12 (order tickets HERE)
This one’s for all the kids out there who love to hear loud guitars spin perfect melodies out of fuzzy haze. Acid Dad hails from the now-completely-gentrified land of Williamsburg, Brooklyn — but don’t hold that against them. Their brand new self-titled LP sees the three-piece busting out some prime psychedelia, 90s alt-rock style. Tinges of The Stone Roses and Ride come through at times, while others see them evoking early Radiohead (back before they’d been eaten and spit back out by a computer) and even The Strokes — who, yes, are post-Y2k, but at this point who’s counting? The point is that these boys have some real energy behind their songwriting, and they’ll both keep you smiling with their glorious pop hooks and rock hard enough to ensure that you can’t stand still at any point during their set.
It’s appropriate that Acid Dad is joined on this bill by local pop fiends Camp Howard, who utilize much the same formula for success — great melodies, vaguely psych-damaged guitars, and an ever-present sense of youthful energy. The local diehards who show up to catch yet another set from Nic, Wes, and the boys will surely be pleased by what Acid Dad has to offer, and vice versa. This show will also feature some bonus performances by two other touring acts. The Moonwalks are coming to us from Detroit with the most overt psychedelic sound of this entire bill, cranking the loud guitars and getting somewhat of a Brian Jonestown Massacre vibe going. The Winstons originate in New York and go straight for the old-school garage-punk sound, bashing and thrashing with a side of rhythm and blues just like the early Stones. This is an absolute can’t-miss evening — you know what to do.
Sunday, April 8, 7 PM
Manatree, Your Dream Coat, Butt, Grandma @ Gallery 5 – $5
For those of us who keep up pretty obsessively with the local music scene, this one has some interesting things to offer. A live set from the latest incarnation of Manatree is first and foremost on that list. It’s admittedly been a few months since I caught them live, and the latest word from their facebook page is that these days, they’re down to a two-piece and getting more and more interested in the possibilities of electronic music. I would never have predicted this when I first heard Manatree, but then, that’s over five years ago when they were still in high school. Clearly a lot has changed since then, and how this latest round of changes will make themselves known in live performance remains to be seen. So let’s see it at Gallery 5 Sunday night, shall we?
Another intriguing offering on this bill comes from Your Dream Coat, a Brooklyn band who appear to have recently erased all evidence of their music from the internet. So if you ever wondered what things were like back in the 90s when you just had to show up to the show first, and find out if you liked the band second, this is a great opportunity for you to take it back to the old school in this fashion. I don’t really miss it, but hey, we can all handle it every once in a while, right? Local up-and-comers Butt have an intriguing name and a really primitive demo, but to really know what’s up with this band’s weirdo rock n’ roll, you’re gonna have to show up and see them too. Finally, Grandma is a new project from Haybaby’s Leslie Hong, perhaps initiated because Haybaby’s members live in multiple towns. You’re guess is as good as mine, but all will become clear at Gallery 5 this Sunday night, so you know what to do.
Monday, April 9, 7:30 PM
GRID, Ryan Easter @ Black Iris – $6-10 (sliding scale)
I’ve been noticing more and more happenings in the local jazz scene lately, and I guess this show counts as jazz too, since GRID are a trio featuring sax, bass, and drums. However, this one will prove challenging for both newcomers to jazz and dyed-in-the-wool fans. Therefore, since challenges are always a good thing, I’m encouraging you to head over to Black Iris Monday night and catch GRID. This trio features bassist Tim Dahl of the confrontational noise-rock band Child Abuse and drummer Nick Podgurski of math-proggers Extra Life backing saxophonist Matt Nelson (who has played with Tune-Yards and Battle Trance) as he goes completely nuts.
The maniacal sounds Nelson creates by running his sax through distortion and other, weirder effects might make you think of Tom Morello’s weirdest solos for Rage Against The Machine at times, but at others they are more likely to evoke the experimental jazz soundscapes saxophonist Colin Stetson created for his New History Warfare LPs. Regardless of where things stand at any particular moment in the set, the sum total of what these three New Yorkers are creating is sure to knock you off your feet, especially if you show up looking for just another jazz combo. But you shouldn’t be looking for that anyway. Special bonus opening set from Ryan Easter, a local trumpeter and producer who has played with Boston-based live hip hop group Tiger Speak and made records with locally-celebrated rapper Chance Fischer. What he will bring to the table is anyone’s guess, but it won’t bore you.
Tuesday, April 10, 7 PM
Sea Of Storms, Canadian Rifle, Naked Pictures @ Gallery 5 – $6
This Tuesday night promises to be an excellent night of melodic, emotionally-driven punk rock with heart and soul. That is, assuming you do the right thing and head over to Gallery 5 for this show. Sea Of Storms aren’t exactly the fastest-moving band, but then, they aren’t as young as they once were either. Since their first LP in 2015, the group has grown from a trio to a quartet with the addition of former Landmines guitarist Nick Bergheimer, and word has it they’ve been working on a second LP. That’s been the word for a while, honestly, but one thing you can be sure of is that they’ll be playing new material at Gallery 5. Show up so you don’t have to wait for them to finish the album to hear the new jams.
Chicago’s Canadian Rifle are another crew of seasoned veterans who aren’t moving quite as quickly as they once did. Their brand new album, Peaceful Death, is their first since 2013, and judging from first impressions, it was totally worth the wait. For a melodic punk band, they’ve got a harsh and powerful approach, adding the sort of grit and rough edges that keep bands like this interesting and fun as the years go on. The new record shows that their command of melodic choruses that make you feel some feels has in no way diminshed, but it also might be their heaviest record yet, and I have no idea why that’d be anything other than a good thing. So let’s all get stoked to see these two excellent bands once again, especially since we’ll also get an opening set from rockin’ local shredders Naked Pictures to kick the whole thing off. What could be better?
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.]
Top Photo by Ken Penn
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond