Sunday, December 26, 6:30 PM
Fighting Gravity @ The National – $20 in advance, $22.50 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Beyond holiday-themed extravaganza’s like J. Roddy Walston’s “Christmas to the Bone” show last week, the holiday season is good for two things in the world of live music. The first of the two is reunion shows (we’ll get to the second one in a bit). Just as people have been known to show back up at old haunts when they come back to town to see their families, running into old friends and long-lost faces, bands are prone to the same sort of thing. This year, the day after Christmas sees the men of Fighting Gravity get back together once again for a Sunday night show at The National.
Young whippersnappers may not remember that name, but the name Fighting Gravity — or maybe their original name, Boy O Boy — is sure to strike a chord of recognition for many of us who’ve been around the music scene of this city for a long time. A mainstay of Richmond music in the 90s, Fighting Gravity were on Mercury Records at one point, but never quite broke through into the mainstream. Throughout their original active era, though, massive crowds piled into sweaty basements, frat houses, and eventually buildings the size of The National (the Flood Zone played that role in the Richmond of the 90s — now it’s been turned into condos) to dance and rock out to the horn-driven ska sound, which grew less straight-up ska and more alternative rock as they matured.
That whole thing came to an end as the 90s rolled into the 00s, but a few years ago, many of the core members got back together to do a few reunion shows, which brought them to The National in 2017. Clearly, they had a lot of fun, because now, as the holiday season brings us back to our roots and reminds us of the places and things we once loved, they’re coming together one more time for a big all-out reunion show at The National. So call up all your old friends, get your baggy shorts and striped shirts out of the closet, turn your baseball cap backwards, and head down there the day after Christmas to skank your butt off like you used to when you were 18. But be sure to limber up first — none of us are as young as we once were.
Wednesday, December 22, 7 PM
Vexine, Santamaria Bros @ Main Line Brewery – Free!
Here’s another holiday reunion for ya! In light of the fact that live music as a whole ground to a halt in Richmond back at the beginning of 2020, you might not have noticed that long-running local rock n’ roll quartet Vexine came to a stop back around then too. But they are playing again tonight, at Main Line Brewery, for the first time in a good while, and that’s a reason to bust out your dancing shoes if you ever needed one. Singer Sarah Gleason’s sassy, energetic vocal performances are only matched by her incredible outfits, and the powerful tunes the three men backing her up bring to the table — as most recently showcased on 2017 LP Little Sin — have all the rhythmic muscle and guitar crunch you could ever want from a hard-rockin’ band. My best comparison would be Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, fronting some sort of unholy union of AC/DC and The Cramps. You want to get down with that, right? You know you do.
Opening the evening will be another less official reunion of sorts — the first performance in quite a while by the Santamaria Bros. This project consists of Vexine drummer Jorge Santamaria’s three sons; Andres on guitar, Josh on drums, and Gabe on bass. You might know Gabe from around town as the leader of the Flavor Project, one of the hosts of the Hustle Season Podcast, and an semi-regular contributor to RVA Magazine. But this performance will see he and his brothers getting back to their roots, rocking together as a family band, the way they did when they were still kids. It should be a lot of fun, and that old-home-week spirit will be perfect for the holidays. So come check the whole thing out at Main Line Brewery tonight — you won’t be sorry. (PS — Bring your vax card, because a negative test won’t be enough to get you into this fully-vaxed-only event.)
Thursday, December 23, 8 PM
Fear Of Music Christmas Eve Eve Party, with Tiny Lights @ The Broadberry – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Here’s the other big thing in the world of live music that the holidays are always good for: tribute band shows! After all, what could be a better soundtrack for a meetup with all your old friends who are back in town for the holidays than a set of songs you know very well, performed by a band whose main goal is just to have some fun doing songs they also love? You don’t have to feel too bad if you and one of your friends get into a serious conversation back by the bar and miss a few songs. On the other hand, you know going down front and singing along is sure to be a great time. You really can’t lose!
Fear Of Music are a big-time player in the tribute game around Richmond; they’ve been doing this for a while, and they’ve got their technique down. Talking Heads aren’t the easiest band to pay tribute to, but these guys prove that if you work hard and keep practiced, you can get down to the business of getting funky and quirky with the best of them. I personally don’t think of Talking Heads as that big of a holiday band, so I am intrigued to see what Fear Of Music come up with to make this “Christmas Eve Eve” show stand out, but I’m sure it will offer a great evening of music and fun. With recently formed Richmond rock n’ roll trio Tiny Lights on the bill, the evening will be rocking throughout, so show up on time and get ready for some fun.
Sunday, December 26, 8 PM
Citrus City Presents Intergalactic Congregation, a Tribe 95 Service, with DuctTape Jesus, Dogfuq @ The Camel – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As they’re Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Friday and Saturday of this week are totally off the table in terms of live music. That might seem like a bummer if you think about the fact that those two nights are always the most active ones in terms of shows. You may ask yourself, “Why couldn’t they have put this holiday on a Monday or a Tuesday?” But rest assured, all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds, and if you really want a killer show to act as the highlight of your weekend, Citrus City has one right here for you, in the form of Tribe 95’s Intergalactic Congregation at The Camel.
Now, as we learned a few weeks ago, Tribe 95 is a collective made up of several leading lights of the Richmond hip hop scene. We have no idea which ones are planning to perform at this particular event, but with a roster that includes Clwdwlker, Ty Sorrell, Billy Capricorn, Luther, and Tron Javolta, you pretty much can’t go wrong no matter who shows up. What’s even better is that they’ve got two other up-and-coming rappers showing off their talent on this show. DuctTape Jesus sets his sure-footed flows overtop of beats that sound like cassettes that have spent time underwater and sometimes all but overwhelm his vocals to create an immersive mood that might just make you feel a little high. Dogfuq (yeah, it’s pronounced how you think it’s pronounced) takes a quirkier approach that sometimes makes me think of Aesop Rock, though mostly it’s just too unique to tag with any sort of comparison. And that right there is reason enough to see them perform, if you ask me. Do it up, y’all — make your Christmas weekend one to remember.
Monday, December 27, 7 PM
Barstool Rodeo, The Freightliner Acoustic Duo @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s another tribute band taking the opportunity provided by the holiday season to throw a big party full of jams from a band everyone involved loves. Barstool Rodeo are a tribute to Widespread Panic — strictly the Michael Houser era, before one of the band’s co-founders passed away from cancer back in 2002. I actually saw Widespread Panic back then; they played the college I was a semester away from dropping out of. I admit I didn’t get it; their whole Southern twist on the jam bands of the 90s harked back to prime Allman Bros while pointing forward towards the Drive-By Truckers, and I was too much of an 18 year old punk kid to vibe with it. These days, though, I definitely see the appeal. Albums like Ain’t Life Grand and Bombs And Butterflies seem to have a lot to offer that I just couldn’t pick up on as a younger person.
Sadly, I don’t have the chance now to go back and appreciate the show I saw by the Michael Houser-era Widespread Panic. But I can go see Barstool Rodeo recreate that era and those tunes this Monday night, and since it’s the closest we can get, I think it’s definitely worth doing. An opening set from The Freightliner Acoustic Duo, which I’m guessing will see Freightliners leader Paulo Franco pair up with one of his bandmates for a stripped-down set of Freightliners faves, will also do quite a bit to make this a great way to spend your Monday night. So head on down to The Camel and jam with the jam heads. It’ll do you right every time.
Tuesday, December 28, 8 PM
PPL Mag, Koro, E 33rd @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I wanted to write about Ppl Mag a while back, and just as I was getting the column ready that week, the show got cancelled. So consider this a long-overdue recommendation to see a band that brings together many talents from a variety of different corners of the Richmond music scene. Ppl Mag has a smooth sound that brings in touches of jazz and classic soul while remaining thoroughly modern. Putting local vocal powerhouse Brittany O’Neil up front is a particularly great idea for this group, and she’s backed by members of bands like Toxic Moxie, Silo Effect, and Dumb Waiter, among others — so you know the talent level is top-notch.
So yeah, you definitely want to come out to The Camel this Tuesday night just to get familiar with what Ppl Mag are up to. As for Koro, well, it took some looking — first I had to make sure that the blistering early 80s Tennessee hardcore band hadn’t gotten back together and gone on a low-profile reunion tour. That would have been headline news — but no, this Koro is a Richmond band, also known as Korodelic, which brings together three equally significant local talents: Jackson Shurlds (McKinley Dixon), Nekoro Williams (People’s Blues of Richmond), and Neal Perrine (composer/solo artist). What they’re coming up with together isn’t available online yet, so you’ll have to go to this show and find out more — but with those guys in the band, doing so is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. Local soul-jazz quartet E 33rd gets things rolling on this fine night. Come groove with it.
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]