Saturday, November 16, 6 PM
High On Fire (Photo by CE Kelco), Power Trip, Devil Master, Creeping Death @ The Broadberry – $25 in advance/$30 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This week, Richmond is visited by the band that started it all: High On Fire, the kings of apocalyptic doom metal ever since guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike bailed on Sleep to start his own musical engine of brutality. That was over 20 years ago, and High On Fire are still going strong today, releasing their eighth album, Electric Messiah, last year and following it up this year with a killer EP called Bat Salad. That EP pays tribute to Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, and Bad Brains — three seminal bands whose influence can clearly be felt in High On Fire’s roaring musical rampage.
For the uninitiated, High On Fire’s sound can be explained to some extent by the fact that 2018 LP Electric Messiah was inspired by comparisons Matt Pike always gets to Lemmy. His gravelly bark certainly isn’t too far from that of the late, great Motorhead majordomo, but musically, High On Fire explore a variety of directions, some of which are more comparable to the speed-loving London trio, while others move in more of a spaced-out astral epic direction. While the former material is always the real catnip for me (is this because I don’t smoke weed? Widespread polling makes it seem like this might just be the case), the longer, slower epics are always fan favorites, mixing the foreboding astral-plane wanderings of Neurosis with the more straightforward old-school doom vibes of my favorite Wino project, Spirit Caravan.
Basically, High On Fire offers the perfect opportunity for all you sleeveless-denim scuzzballs to achieve cannabis-infused headbang nirvana. And on this jaunt through our local atmosphere, they’re accompanied by legendary Texas thrashcore veterans Power Trip, who arose from the hardcore scene a decade ago to engage in a top-notch reincarnation of classic 80s thrash that was just a little too evil to find itself within the notoriously goofy world of “crossover.” So much the better — these guys are capable of all the string-bending leads, propulsive circle-pit tempos, and terrifying vocal exhortations of the best thrash, with a decidedly dark undercurrent that almost reaches the level of early Scandinavian black metal. These two masterful metallic combos will also be joined on this trip through RVA by Philadelphia blackened-punk mayhem creators Devil Master and early-Metallica-loving Texas death metallers Creeping Death. It’s a bonanza for your scorched ears, a circle-pit demon’s delight. Be sure to partake.
Wednesday, November 13, 8 PM
Halshug, Mind Dweller, Loud Night @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
Southern Lord has been the prime stadium crust label for a while now, and Denmark’s Halshug are just the latest example of that trend. You may not know what I mean when I use the phrase “stadium crust” to describe a band, but you can probably guess based on context clues — filthy hardcore punk that just sounds like its creators are all wearing leather jackets, made by punks who’ve clearly got Disrupt and Tragedy in their DNA but are shooting the moon with a big, loud sound that seems engineered to headline California Jam alongside Sabotage-era Black Sabbath.
While we can’t say that 30,000 kids would pack out the Nissan Pavilion (or Jiffy Lube Live, or whatever that place is called now) to see Halshug, it seems a sure thing that their loud, proud rage will fill the confines of Fuzzy Cactus with arena-worthy riff pyrotechnics tonight. That’s something you won’t want to miss, especially with Raleigh rockin’-punk powerhouse Mind Dweller on the bill as well, doing that classic Black Flag-meets-Ted Nugent sound that Annihilation Time made its name on. The bill is rounded out with the inclusion of local rippers Loud Night, who’ve got their own spin on that exact point where Motorhead meets Discharge, complete with a rollicking thrash vibe that’s sure to make the old-school metalheads smile and raise their studded-bracelet-bedecked fists.
Thursday, November 14, 8 PM
Monolord, Blackwater Holylight, Mister Earthbound @ The Camel – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the glut of doom metal that has overtaken the heaviest of genres in the past decade or so — sometimes it feels like it’s just slow grooves all the way down, and that can cause us to go from headbanging to nodding off. But it is still, in 2019, possible to do doom metal right, and Sweden’s Monolord are just the latest combo to prove exactly that with their new LP on Relapse Records, No Comfort. As with a lot of bands who achieve success in a world of a million soundalike Sabbath/Wino worshippers, Monolord do this by moving away from the 70s proto-metal influences to concentrate on late 60s psychedelia and classic Southern sludge.
No Comfort feels like the record Eyehategod would have made if they’d been contemporaries of Charles Manson rather than some of the foremost metalheads to develop an edgy fascination with that mass-murdering cult-leading scumbag at the dawn of the 90s. And while I love those first couple Eyehategod records, No Comfort‘s relatively unusual approach to moody sludge is like a breath of fresh air compared to the millionth band ripping off the genre’s godfathers. Monolord arrive in Richmond accompanied by Portland’s Blackwater Holylight, who show absolute mastery of witchy psychedelic foreboding on their 2018 self-titled debut LP. Light a candle for this set — it’ll be appropriate.
Friday, November 15, 9 PM
SNAFU, Eradicant, Idol Womb @ Wonderland – $5
This is probably only a warning I have to give to my fellow olds, but: don’t get it twisted, this is not an appearance by legendary Canadian skate-punk band SNFU. Hailing from just across the Canadian border in Detroit and featuring an extra letter in their acronym band-name, SNAFU are just as speedy and intense as their almost-homophone Canadian counterparts, but have a ton more metal in their sound, straddling the border between metal-thrashing crossover-core and outright skate-obsessed thrash-grind.
They haven’t released anything new since 2015’s heaping helping of speedy noise, Present Day Plague, but they are apparently in the process of preparing to record a new album, their first in four years. So you can expect them to have a ton of new tuneage for you when they show up at Wonderland this Friday night. This show, which serves as a birthday bash for Wonderland owner Chad Painter and a warmup for the Wonderland Quinceanera celebration that’s coming up just before New Years, will also feature two new Richmond ragers — Eradicant, who play death metal and feature members of 3:33; and Idol Womb, who are more of a black-death mix (metal, not plague), and feature members of Cruelsifix. Get ready to rock out!
Saturday, November 16, 7 PM
Robyn Hitchcock @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $25 (order tickets HERE)
Robyn Hitchcock is an absolute legend. This British singer-songwriter has been at the forefront of psychedelic pop for over four decades now, starting out as the frontman for psychedelic postpunk band The Soft Boys in the late 70s, and beginning his solo career in 1981. Since then, he’s released 21 studio albums and a ton of live albums and outtake collections documenting his prolific muse. He veers back and forth between solo acoustic albums with a sort of witchy-English-backwoods psych-folk vibe and full-band outings with backing bands The Egyptians and The Venus 3 (which features members of REM), aiding his creation of impeccable alt-pop gems. In indie circles, he’s considered a godfather of the sound, and has worked with XTC, The Decemberists, and Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel.
With all that in mind, the fact that I can’t even tell you whether Hitchcock is bringing a full band with him for his appearance this Saturday night at Capital Ale House’s Richmond Music Hall shouldn’t even matter to you. His last full-length album, 2017’s Robyn Hitchcock, featured a full band and a bushel of delightful melancholy pop tunes with the subtlest of punk undercurrents — but that was two years ago, and the ever-creative Mr. Hitchcock may have moved on to something else by now. Considering how excellent he’s been at every phase of his career, from The Soft Boys’ immortal 1980 single “I Wanna Destroy You” to his outstanding 1990 solo outing, Eye, and from career-defining 1984 masterwork I Often Dream Of Trains to 2006 late-career highlight Ole! Tarantula, featuring the Venus 3… well, there’s no reason to think whatever he wishes to share with us will be anything other than great. Get over to Cap Ale and groove on this one.
Sunday, November 17, 9 PM
Timmy’s Organism, Cruzer, The Wilful Boys @ Fuzzy Cactus – $7 in advance/$9 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Garage rock can sometimes be the rawest, rootsiest expression of the original rock n’ roll spirit as possible, but Timmy’s Organism isn’t that kind of group. Instead, this project from longtime garage innovator Timmy Vulgar (formerly of the Epitonix, Clone Defects, and more) has a bit of an off-kilter, sidewise approach to the garage thing. On their 2018 LP, Survival Of The Fiendish, Timmy’s Organism veer from song to song between the Stones circa Exile On Main Street’s dankest basement sessions, the Replacements at their most plastered, and a loose, antisocial version of the MC5’s soul-inspired full-throttle rock n’ roll attack. It’s wild, it’s crazy, it’s a ton of fun, and it’s sure to get things all stirred up when Vulgar and co. arrive at Fuzzy Cactus this Sunday night.
They’ll be joined in their rock n’ roll assault on Richmond by The Wilful Boys, an NYC quartet fronted by Australian singing drummer Steven Fisher. Something about the way Aussie bands approach no-frills rock n’ roll is unbridled in a manner you’ll never see on this side of the international dateline, and with a half-Aussie lineup including Fisher, The Wilful Boys bring that Cosmic Psychos-esque approach to bear in an enjoyably brutal fashion. They’ll pair perfectly with the northern hemisphere wildmen of Timmy’s Organism, and local surf-punk fun-starters Cruzer will open this one up with the perfect mix of beach-blanket fun and out-of-control bonfire parties. Get stoked for this one.
Monday, November 18, 8 PM
Comedy & Western Showcase, feat. Sarah White & The New Band, Miss JR Rose, Ben Butterworth, Ben Nelson, David Marie-Garland, LE Zarling, Kate Carroll, Bennie Blonkoe Perry, hosted by Herschel Stratego @ The Camel – $7 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I don’t know what possessed someone to create a showcase like this, but I’ve gotta admire their creativity. It certainly would never occur to me to combine standup comedy performances with country music, but considering the mutual variety-show roots of both disciplines, it actually makes a ton of sense. And it gives those of us who are more musically inclined an opportunity to feast our ears on some of the modern country sounds being created right here in VA, which doesn’t ever seem to happen often enough. So liven up your Monday night with this one.
Specifically, enjoy a performance from Virginia singer-songwriter Sarah White, whose 2018 LP High Flyer mixes heartland rock sounds with some classic country approaches and instrumentations to create a result that fans of No Depression-style alt-country are sure to enjoy. Miss J.R. Rose is someone I don’t know a lot about, but her classic country ballads seem like a perfect old-school note to add to this many-flavored stew. And of course Ben Butterworth is a local musical mainstay, though I don’t know as much about his fellow Ben, Nelson. The comedy half of this evening’s entertainment is on lock with some of the best local comedians to ply their trade in this city over the past decade on the bill. And of course, Herschel Stratego will deliver his own unique and inimitable skills as the host. This one’s sure to be a blast. Don’t miss out.
Tuesday, November 19, 7:30 PM
The Goo Goo Dolls, Beach Slang @ Carpenter Theatre – $38 – $73 (order tickets HERE)
I know what some of my longtime readers are probably thinking right now: “The Goo Goo Dolls? This is Drew’s ultimate troll move on all of us.” And I’ll grant that sometimes I have way too much fun in this column engaging in — how should I put this? — “subversion of your expectations.” But y’all, I am not fucking with you in the slightest bit on this recommendation. The Goo Goo Dolls are awesome. I will admit that their last few albums have seen time catching up on these guys, turning them from the best matured-ex-punks-turned-heartland-rockers since The Replacements to a group that’s a bit too Matchbox 20-ish in their balladry these days. But that’s OK, because you don’t have to buy their brand new album (which is called Miracle Pill and is their 12th overall) to enjoy the hell out of their live performances.
And for real, I’ve seen video of them performing in the past year, and they’re still rad! Bassist Robby Takac still bounds all around the stage doing jump-kicks, Johnny Rzeznik still plays electric guitar for most of the set, and they’re still playing legit great tunes from decades past, like “Big Machine,” “January Friend,” and “Broadway.” Granted, there’ll be a few lite-rock radio chestnuts to sit through (I never did fuck with “Iris”), but to make up for those, you get an opening set from legit punk band Beach Slang, who are about to release their fourth album, The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City, and still have the high-energy drive that made classic early-90s Goo Goo Dolls albums like Superstar Carwash and A Boy Named Goo so great. As for the headliners, chances are the Goos are gonna show their age at a couple points during their set, but where their best moments are concerned, you’re still not gonna find anything better.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Thursday, November 14, 6 PM
Vital Remains, Serpentshrine, Sadistikum, Appalling, Rotten @ RiffHouse Pub (Chesapeake) – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Death metal mainstays Vital Remains have been bringing us some of the most punishing riffs in the game for 30 full years now, and they’re on tour right now to celebrate. Having formed in the late 80s, established themselves as one of the foremost groups in the genre with 1998’s Forever Underground, and gone on to collaborate with the almighty Glen Benton of Deicide on Dechristianize and Icons Of Evil — two of the best death metal albums the 21st century has seen thus far — Vital Remains definitely have a lot to celebrate on this tour.
Now, I will grant you that they haven’t released an album since Icons Of Evil in 2007, and that at this point both Benton and longtime drummer/lead guitarist Dave Suzuki have left the band. However, Tony Lazaro is still fielding a lineup of powerful metal players — including latest vocalist Scott Eames of Thy Antichrist. In addition to the full catalog of raging hits that the band has to draw from, he’s supposedly got multiple albums worth of new material in the can and waiting to be recorded. Maybe if this anniversary tour is successful enough, Vital Remains will finally break their 12-year drought and grace us with a new album. But even if they don’t, you’ll get to see them decimate RiffHouse Pub with an unrelenting metal onslaught. And that’s certainly good enough reason to go to this one.
Friday, November 15, 7 PM
Ghostemane, Candy, Horus The Astroneer, Parv0 @ The NorVA (Norfolk) – $23 (order tickets HERE)
I gotta tell ya, I find Ghostemane pretty fascinating. Purely on a visual level, he looks like a goth kid who likes metal a whole lot. But he’s at least ostensibly a rapper — though hardly a straight-up old-school rapper, in light of his connections to $uicideboy$ and Lil Peep. He also used to play in hardcore and metal bands, and has been known to take current hardcore bands out with him on tour (note that Richmond hardcore up-and-comers Candy are playing with him on this NorVA bill). All of this speaks to a pretty wide-ranging set of influences that drive Ghostemane, and you can hear all of those influences on the highly prolific (20 releases in the past five years) rapper’s discography.
Sometimes he croons like Trent Reznor at his most emotionally fraught moments. At other times, his stuff sounds almost like Slipknot and Ministry jamming on solely electronic instruments. Sometimes it sounds like the sort of hazy, downbeat hip hop you’d expect from a $uicideboy$ affiliate. And his latest EP, Hiadica, isn’t even hip hop at all — it’s a straight up metallic hardcore record, full of throaty screams, blastbeats, and breakdowns. Whether you’re into the weirder end of the modern hip hop scene, brutal hardcore, or some combination of the two, Ghostemane’s NorVA performance is sure to have something to delight you.
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]
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