Saturday, July 14, 7 PM
Vinyl Conflict 10th Anniversary Celebration, feat. Night Birds, Dark Thoughts, Gumming, Scarecrow, Talk Me Off @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I had no idea Vinyl Conflict had been around an entire decade now. Why, it seems only yesterday that the store’s original owner, Brandon Ferrell (RIP), opened this little shop in the middle of a residential block in Oregon Hill. But of course, the older you get, the faster time seems to pass, and I’m pretty goddamn old at this point, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the store’s sudden longevity. Since Vinyl Conflict was taken over by current owner Bobby Egger, it has if anything become even more an essential part of the local music scene, not only bringing us an unparalleled selection of new and used punk/metal-related sounds but also releasing a variety of EPs and tapes by up-and-coming locals on their Vinyl Conflict Records label.
And now it’s time to celebrate their decade of essential service to the world of RVA hardcore punk, and kick off the next decade of awesomeness in the finest fashion possible. They’ll be throwing a huge party at Gallery 5 this Saturday night, and you’ll know it’s guaranteed to be a hell of a rager when you see that Night Birds are your headliners. This New Jersey band mixes a melodic sense derived from the best of the early-80s US punk wave (The Misfits, The Adolescents) with a breakneck fury that is half 82-style USHC and half early-00s East Coast fastcore (think Tear It Up). They haven’t released anything in a couple of years, but the hints they’ve been dropping on social media recently sure indicate that new material is coming — maybe this show will give you a preview? Don’t quote me on that though.
Night Birds will be bringing Philadelphians Dark Thoughts down with them, and this bouncy melodic punk group has just released an album called At Work that has a lot of energy and a bit of darkness in the mix as well; as with Night Birds, if you dig stuff like the Misfits and the Adolescents, you’re going to find something to enjoy in the music of Dark Thoughts. The bill will also feature a Raleigh, NC band called Scarecrow who have very little info available online — although I can tell you that they’re not the same as Raleigh jazz/fusion band Scarecrow’s Brain. I know that much. I also know the two RVA bands on the bill, Gumming and Talk Me Off, will kick this party off with a lot of energetic fury all their own. So get to Gallery 5 this Saturday night and give props to Vinyl Conflict — if the past decade hasn’t already proven to you how great an asset to Richmond this store is, this show is sure to win you over.
Wednesday, July 11, 7:30 PM
Divided Heaven, Eaves, Two Cars, Having Keepsake @ The Camel – $8 in advance/$10 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Grown-up punks, take note; Jeff Berman’s Divided Heaven project is rolling through town and stopping off at The Camel tonight. While this group may seem like a late development in Berman’s career, following on his early days in NJ hardcore/punk groups like The Boils, Protagonist, and The Rites, he’s actually been fronting this project for most of a decade now, and they’re about to drop their third LP, Cold War, on WireTap Records. The advance singles, most notably “1983,” showcase both a wistfully mature outlook on life beyond one’s youthful days, and an incredible melodic sense that shows just how much talent Berman has to offer. Honestly, it would have been a huge waste if he’d spent the rest of his days playing angry punk.
We’re still a little more than a week away from the release of Cold War, so right now you can only hear two of the album’s songs online. But you’ll undoubtedly hear more tonight, as well as some classic tunes from Divided Heaven’s earlier, more acoustically-oriented LPs. Plus, you’ll get some excellent emotional post-hardcore sounds from up-and-coming local group Eaves, who turned in an impressive debut LP late last year with As Deeply As You Do, and are only headed upwards from there. Local newcomers Two Cars and Having Keepsake both bring their own emotional melodies to the table, making this an evening of moods and hooks that’s sure to please you.
Thursday, July 12, 8 PM
The Body, Lingua Ignota, Womajich Dialysiez @ Gallery 5 – $12 (order tickets HERE)
The Body’s been around for nearly two decades now, and they’ve come a long way from the sludgy noise they started out creating. Always more of an experimental band than anything, they’ve really foregrounded their exploratory efforts in recent years, somehow going both noisier and poppier than ever before with 2016’s No One Deserves Happiness. This year’s follow-up, I Have Fought Against It But I Can’t Any Longer, brings us a new approach, in which the group cuts up previous recordings, sampling them over programmed beats and electronics to create a unique work of art you’d be foolish to dismiss as a mere “remix album.” It’s difficult, it’s noisy, it’s dark as fuck, and somehow, amidst all that, it is bizarrely danceable.
But will people be dancing to The Body’s set at Gallery 5 tomorrow night? Or will they do as they’ve done in previous RVA performances over the years and use powerful walls of noise to wipe the floor with all of us? It wouldn’t surprise me if the answer turned out to be “both,” and it’s well worth the price of admission to learn for yourself. They come to Richmond this time around accompanied by Lingua Ignota, an intense solo project from Rhode Island’s Kristin Hayter that lands somewhere between the confrontational avant-garde work of Diamanda Galas and the soul-baring noise terror of Pharmakon. Their most recent EP is entitled All Bitches Die, and features a song entitled “Holy Is The Name (Of My Ruthless Axe)” …just to let you know what you’re in for. The experience you’ll have at Gallery 5 Thursday night isn’t that predictable, but if one thing is certain, it’s that you’ll be affected by it.
Friday, July 13, 6 PM
June Parker, Opin, Blush Face, Goldfeather @ Hardywood – Free!
My wife and I took a trip deep into the heart of Virginia’s Northern Neck region this past weekend. Not for any real reason, just to get out and explore parts of the state we’d never been to before. While we were passing through Tappahanock, we noticed several businesses named after a woman we’d never heard of before. Now, less than a week later, I find myself writing about a show by a band that is also named after her. I have no idea who June Parker was or is, but I know one thing — somebody in this band has made that same drive out to Tappahanock at least a time or two.
June Parker used to be known as California Death, but their 2017 full-length, We’re Exactly Where We Are, showed that this local shoegaze band has upped their game since changing their name. The first track from the new EP they’ll bring into the world at this show, “I Can’t Relate Anymore,” adds a jangly indie sensibility to their hazy guitar fuzz, upping the melodic quotient and bringing them to their highest level yet. With this preview in mind, it seems a safe bet that the new EP will be their best work yet. Find out for yourself at Hardywood Friday night, and get a set from enjoyable New York indie-folk combo Goldfeather, plus some excellent sounds from always-reliable locals Opin and Blush Face, in the bargain. It’d be a deal at any price — and since this show is free, it rises to the level of unmissable.
Saturday, July 14, 7 PM
Bangladeafy, Teen Death, Foresterr, Swathe @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Bangladeafy may seem like a weird name to give a band, but when you learn that this group is a duo made up of a Bangladeshi drummer and a bassist who is… well, not quite deaf, but certainly has a hearing disability (sensorineural hearing loss, to be specific), it all starts to make sense. The wry sense of humor displayed by this choice of name also shows through in the band’s unpredictable musical hijinks, especially on songs like “Act Like An Adult” and “Say It With Your Chest,” from their most recent LP, 2016’s Narcopaloma.
This LP is an excellent showcase of Bangladeafy’s bizarre instrumental attack, which integrates jazz, prog, and metallic elements into a speedy, unique sound that might just remind you of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew-era rhythm section doing Lightning Bolt covers… or maybe that’s just me. Grungy local punk n’ rollers Teen Death will offer quite a contrast with their opening set, but if you dig loud, energetic bands, you’re sure to enjoy both. Also on the bill are New Yorkers Foresterr, who do the sort of noisy, off-kilter post-hardcore grooves that bands like Barkmarket and Sliang Laos excelled at two decades ago. These guys are worthy successors to the outstanding track record of those bands. Locals Swathe offer some pummeling sounds in the vein of the Melvins and Unsane to get you in the mood for what awaits. This show is gonna rule.
Sunday, July 15, 7 PM
JD McPherson, Chamomile and Whiskey @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $20 (order tickets HERE)
I don’t know how aware young punk types are of what’s going on in the world of rootsy rock n’ roll, but I’ll go ahead and admit that I never would have known about JD McPherson if it weren’t for the fact that he gets played over the PA regularly at one of my favorite hangout spots, Sheetz. Seriously, not only does that place have the best three-cheese sub in the Richmond metropolitan area, their muzak station is the best radio station in this town. But I’m not here to advocate for Sheetz (I do that enough on twitter); I’m here to tell you that you need to go see JD McPherson at Capital Ale House Sunday night.
McPherson’s third album, Undivided Heart And Soul, came out last year on New West Records, and it beefed up the rollicking rockabilly sound of his first two albums with a sort of retro-soul vibe that also shows up in artists like White Denim and even The Black Keys. But make no mistake, the man’s still about some straight-up rockin’, and songs like “Let’s Get Out Of Here While We’re Young” and “Style (Is a Losing Game)” make this abundantly clear. When McPherson hits the stage at Capital Ale House, he’s sure to get the whole place on their feet and shaking their tailfeathers. It’ll be an outstanding way to end the weekend, and give you an emotional high to carry you through a soul-draining Monday back at the office. Don’t miss out.
Monday, July 16, 9 PM
Church Of Disgust, Cemetery Filth, Future Terror, Night Hag @ Wonderland – $5
I have pretty much not talked at all about metal this week, but we’re gonna fix that situation right now with a thorough discussion of this Monday night show at Wonderland featuring the almighty Church Of Disgust. This band hails from Texas and Florida, and the swampy Southern heat bleeds through their music, as does the clear influence of classic Floridian death metal past. Sometimes they’re thrashy, sometimes they’re moshy, but on 2016’s excellent Veneration of Filth LP, they most often strike the tone of classic riffage from early Morbid Angel, Deicide, or even Death. You headbangers out there better be paying attention, because this is a band you are guaranteed to love.
Johnson City, TN’s own Cemetery Filth will accompany Church Of Disgust on their trip to Shockoe Bottom, and their work on recent split EPs show this band to have a similarly ripping, brutal death-thrash attack sure to appeal to fans of prime Obituary and early Carcass. The thrash fiends will be pleased to hear these guys as well, and one can at least hope that all in attendance will receive Future Terror positively too. This Richmond band is treading in the footsteps of extremely blown-out crustcore bands like long-gone DC/RVA legends Aghast to churn out some incredibly noisy D-beat fury, and it’s awesome. Sludgy local newcomers Night Hag open up this show with some darkness of their own. Get ready to bang your head, y’all.
Tuesday, July 17, 6 PM
Backyard Boogie Tour, feat. Fly Anakin, Ohbliv, Al Divino, Billie Essco, Ankhlejohn @ Gallery 5 – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
RVA hip hop is always fertile ground, and it seems 2018 is going to bear particularly excellent fruit where the genre is concerned. Not only do we get an excellent new Nickelus F release, Mutant Academy’s Fly Anakin has come together with production titan Ohbliv to create an album that represents a high-water mark for both. Backyard Boogie shows off Ohbliv’s predilection for murky soul vibes throughout, and gives just as much shine to Fly Anakin’s excellent flow and cutting lyrical wit. It hit the streets in April, and Fly Anakin and Ohbliv clearly recognize how excellent a statement it is for both of them, as they’re spending next week touring up the East Coast. They’ll start the week off right, with a hometown show at Gallery 5 that brings the album’s fire to life onstage.
However, there are more reasons to come to this show than just the local superstars showing off their stuff. Indeed, this event finds Fly Anakin & Ohbliv meeting up with a powerful package of touring MCs from up north. First on the list is Massachusetts’ own Al Divino, a hard-rhyming lyricist who has had Fly Anakin drop features on his tracks before — so you know he’s legit. Then there’s NYC rapper Billie Essco, aka Uptown Chase, whose recent LP Cafe mixes lyrical skills with a somewhat introspective vibe that’s sure to draw you in. DC’s Ankhlejohn rounds out the touring trio with some cinematic styles showcased perfectly on recent EP Knowledge. This show is jam-packed with hip hop talent from all over the East Coast — miss it at your own peril.
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.]
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