Friday, February 25, 9 PM
She, Hotspit, Lobby Boy @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
One of the nice things about doing this column for so long has been the way it allowed me to follow the growth and maturation of local bands. Crazily enough, I started writing this column over eight years ago, and I’ve seen a ton of bands come and go in that time. Somewhere back in that lengthy archive are the first few writeups I did about She (no, I don’t know where they are, imagine how hard that would be to google), at that point still a solo project for singer-songwriter Liza Grishaeva (in fact, weren’t they just called “LIZA” at first? Or am I remembering that wrong?).
Anyway, a lot’s happened since then, and if you haven’t kept up with it all, you can see the full flowering of She’s maturity on their 2020 EP, TRL 2004, which finds the quartet blasting through some fierce, brilliant tunes with tuneful intensity. Liza’s voice in particular is a marvel; she brings the phrase “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” to full technicolor life on “28” in particular, sounding like she’s ready to rip your throat out. I hear elements of Concrete Blonde at times, but at others I can’t help but think of the legendary Thalia Zedek if she were to front a relatively conventional alternative rock band. The point is that She has grown over the past several years into an amazing band, and now that we’re all able to crawl out of our holes and see live music again, you should definitely liven up your Friday night with their set at The Camel.
Of course, we’ve got a couple other excellent Virginia bands on the bill as well. Hotspit’s hazy epics shone in particularly bright fashion on last year’s CC EP, and with an Audiotree session under their belts and a steadily increasing profile online, they’re clearly trending upward. Catch them live now, and get in on the action before the bandwagon gets too crowded. And show up on time so you can catch the opening set from Harrisonburg’s Lobby Boy, who started out as a tuneful alt-pop band on their 2019 EP, Lore!, but have been moving in a decidedly electro-dance direction on their most recent singles. It’ll be great. It’s all gonna be great.
Wednesday, February 23, 7 PM
Sarah and the Safe Word, Dog Park Dissidents, Pelican Johnny @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
It’s a tough old world out there, especially if your sexuality or your gender identity isn’t straight down the middle of what society expects. From the terrifying “Don’t Say Gay” bill working its way through the Florida statehouse to the fact that a strong effort is underway here in the Commonwealth to roll back laws intended to protect trans kids in schools, looking at headlines can be a bummer, to say the least. Let me assure you, Sarah And The Safe Word know all about that. And while this’ all-queer sextet’s name might make you think of BDSM-related concepts, what they’re really aiming for is to create a safe space for anyone within the LGBTQ spectrum to come have a good time listening to some good music that supports and affirms you.
Of course, you don’t have to be queer or marginalized to get something out of what Sarah And The Safe Word do, musically speaking. With their use of strings and keys, and their integration of European musical flourishes into a punk rock foundation, Sarah And The Safe Word create what they call “cabaret rock,” and you can bet that if you dig World/Inferno Friendship Society, Gogol Bordello, or the Dresden Dolls, you’ll find something to love in the music of Sarah And The Safe Word. With the straight-up punk rock of queer duo Dog Park Dissidents and the rollicking garage sounds of Pelican Johnny on tap for openers, this will be a night of musical variety and inspiring vitality. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Thursday, February 24, 8 PM
Tyler Meacham, Victoria Victoria, Moosetrap @ The Camel – $8 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Well hey, speaking of local artists I’ve watched grow from raw beginnings to strong, assured talents over the course of my years doing this column, here’s another one who fits the bill. Tyler Meacham’s been quietly building her strengths and marshaling her forces here in Richmond for several years now, and all of her singles and EPs that have dropped over the past several years are now culminating with the release of her debut full-length, Into The Fray, coming Friday, February 25.
You don’t even have to wait that long, though — Meacham and a whole posse of her best friends and biggest supporters will be gathering at The Camel on Thursday night to celebrate Into The Fray‘s release with an evening full of excellent performances. Personally, I find that Tyler Meacham’s music shines particularly bright in the live environment, where the production is at a minimum and her strong voice and great songwriting skills can come to the fore. You’re sure to dig this album (I’m already predicting it’ll be one of the top RVA albums of 2022 — you heard it here first), but you’ll fall in love with it even harder after hearing Tyler and her band lay down the songs live. So hey, don’t miss this, OK? If you do, you’ll be kicking yourself later.
Friday, February 25, 7:30 PM
Past Life, Nancy Raygun, Lake Anna @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
There have definitely been a few venues whose names I got used to seeing in the rotation pre-pandemic and have missed in the post-pandemic era. Garden Grove Brewing was one of them, and it’s definitely lovely to see them getting back into the mix with the sort of thing that became their live-music stock in trade for a while — free shows featuring up-and-coming locals and the occasional under the radar out-of-town act with an outsized amount of talent to offer the rest of us. Best of all, these shows are usually either cheap or free, and this one featuring a great Philly band and a couple of fun locals is the latter — so you can save your cash for some of that brew they dish out (assuming that’s your thing).
This show bill is topped by Past Life, a Philadelphia quartet with some catchy tuneage in the indie rock vein to lay down for us. There’s a strong element of postpunk quirkiness mixed in here, and their LP from last fall, Window Shopping Economics, is a ton of fun throughout, somehow splitting the difference between Weezer, Gang Of Four, and… maybe They Might Be Giants? I don’t know for sure, I just know I dig it — and you will too. Of course, Nancy Raygun is an alt-psych trio from right here in Richmond, who are young enough not to remember when a club by the same name was a go-to spot for live music here in RVA. That’s OK, we all get old… and it’s the music of the youth that will keep us fresh and vital, so let’s celebrate it while it’s here. I don’t know much about Lake Anna, but the tunes on their bandcamp are catchy in a Surfer Blood-ish way, so I’m up for learning more! And hey — the price is right.
Saturday, February 26, 9 PM
Joy Cleaner, Gnawing, Obscure Son @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
It didn’t start out this way back in the distant early days of the show column, but for several years now, I’ve used Facebook as my go-to spot on the internet for learning about upcoming shows. The new post-pandemic normal has taught me that this method doesn’t work that well anymore, now that no one but geriatrics (people even older than me!) is on Facebook anymore. Thankfully, cool kids out there shoot me emails about good shows that aren’t being discussed on Facebook — like this one. (You can too! My email’s at the bottom of the page. Hint hint.) And now I know that the undisputed champion of live shows happening in Richmond this Saturday night is happening right down the street from me, at Brookland Park’s own Fuzzy Cactus.
Joy Cleaner come to us from New Jersey, where they’ve been dishing out great punk-infused jangle pop tunes for several years now. They just augmented their two full-length albums, both of which are legit glorious, with a new compilation called Spent Flowers, which was released last month and mixes previously released EP tracks with digital loosies and a few unreleased jams for your listening pleasure. They’re coming through to give that album its proper due with a killer live performance, and you should definitely be there to take it all in. They’ll be ably supported in this endeavor by Richmond’s own Gnawing, who swear they want to be a country band but are way too good at the whole post-Dino Jr/Lemonheads loud-guitar Massachusetts drawl alt-rock for any yeehaw dabblings to make sense. You’re Jovian side project Obscure Son, who are pretty obscure in their own right, will get this one started. Come through.
Sunday, February 27, 7 PM
Komrads, I Ya Toyah, STCLVR, Same Story @ Fallout – $8 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
When it comes to Fallout, you know it’s gonna be some prime pounding industrial goth intensity that awaits you. And Komrads is in no way breaking that pattern, which is great news. But they aren’t just for rivetheads, by any means — on latest LP The Wolf, this Rochester, NY-based solo act lays down some pounding programmed beats overtop of riffs that have a decided metallic punk edge. It’s a little bit Front 242, but honestly, it’s a good deal more like Ministry meets Atari Teenage Riot, or Ghostemane at their most hardcore. Circle pits would not be out of order at this one, by any means.
Three other acts of equally dark vintage will also be on hand to provide entertainment of the spookiest and most intense variety. I Ya Toyah hails from Poland via Chicago, and brings us a moody, atmospheric take on gothic beauty and otherworldly terror. Dancing through the anxiety is definitely on the menu for this set. Then there’s New York’s STCLVR (Saint Clover? Static Lover?), who use harsh electronic noises and equally harsh atonal vocals to create gothic industrial music that, if you squint, could just as easily be noise-punk. Locals Same Story will get this one started off with some relatively accessible industrial sounds, so you can dip your toes in a little before Komrads rips your entire Doc Marten boot off and beats you with it. In a fun way, of course.
Monday, February 28, 7 PM
Destructo Disk, Asylum 213, Mere Exposure Effect, Terminal User Guide @ The Camel – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen (and everyone else who doesn’t fit into either of those categories), Winchester, VA’s own Destructo Disk will return to our fair city in a few short days, giving all of us the chance to rock out again to their melodic, frenetic brand of punk rock, which from everything I’m seeing seems to be a big hit with the kids around the ol’ river city. And who can blame them, really? Singles like “Pepperoni Lopez” and “Punk Rock Die” are an absolute blast of catchy fun that makes you want to run around a room waving your arms in the air like a hyperactive eight-year-old. And isn’t that what all the best punk rock does?
Plus, the aforementioned “Pepperoni Lopez” single mentions Amazon Prime in its lyrics, and brand new Amazon Prime Video show Reacher (which ruled, watch it if you haven’t) features a character named after Destructo Disk bassist Molly Gordon. Coincidence? Or an indicator of behind-the-scenes moves toward world domination? Come to this show and find out! You’ll have some more fun with the three Richmond-based bands rounding out this bill, starting with Asylum 213’s melodic shoegaze pop, followed by Mere Exposure Effect’s ambient experimental math-core, and rounded out by Terminal User Guide’s chunky screamo punk. It’s gonna be great all the way through, and you’re sure to sleep soundly after working out all that energy in the Destructo Disk pit. So hey… shake off the Monday blues. Come to this show.
[The Sleigh Bells show I’d planned for Tuesday’s blurb has been moved to mid-August. Go figure. We’ll revisit then. –Drew]
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]