Saturday, June 28, 8 PM
The Paul Collins Beat, The Ar-Kaics, Cherry Pits @ Empire – $12
The arrival of Paul Collins in RVA this weekend is a very special occasion. A legend in the punk-adjacent world of power pop, Paul Collins started his career drumming with mid-70s trio The Nerves (of “Hangin’ On The Telephone” fame) before stepping out to front his very own combo, The Beat. That band dropped a scintillating slice of stripped-down, catchy rock n’ roll on the world in 1979 in the form of their self-titled debut, and by doing so, forever forced that UK ska-revival group to be known as The English Beat here in the US. To distinguish themselves when touring outside the US, Paul Collins’ group named themselves after their frontman, and they’ve been going strong ever since, dropping their 11th studio album, King Of Power Pop, a few years ago. At this point, after 40 years in the game, Collins’ claim on the title is well-deserved–and you best believe he and his band will prove it to you this Saturday night at Empire.
They’ll be joined by some local rock n’ rollers who may not have 40 years experience at playing power pop, but certainly know how to bring back the sounds from that long-gone era. The Ar-Kaics just dropped a full-length on Windian Records, and the collection of songs it contains is an energetic trip through the sort of primitive yet eminently danceable tunes that you’d normally find on half-century old 45s that were only hits in Peoria, IL or Jackson, MS or something. So in other words, it rules. Cherry Pits are a newer project with no music available to speak of, but considering they feature members of Eurotics, it seems likely that they’ll deliver the goods as well.
Now, Empire is not the biggest venue in the world, and entry to this event is going to be highly sought-after, so the folks behind local label Grave Mistake and record store Vinyl Conflict–who have joined together to present this special night–are planning to run the show like a well-oiled machine. Don’t expect punk rock time to be in effect on this one. With doors opening at 8 PM and no presale tickets available, you’re going to have to show up on time and queue up like you used to when you were a teenager waiting to get into an Avail show. And that’s fine, because the bands will be playing on time and you will be getting out promptly at midnight (unless of course you want to stick around and close down the bar, in which case the folks from Empire will be glad to have you). Regardless of when you leave, though, you will leave having been rocked by Paul Collins and his legendary power-pop combo–and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Wednesday, June 25, 9 PM
Ultrasphinx, Lightfields, Hoax Hunters, Grass Panther @ Strange Matter – $7
I’ve written a bunch in this column over the past several months about the emo revival, and how much I love it that the music I was into 20 years ago is back in style and all that stuff–but one thing I never really expected to see is a revival of the heavier stuff that was going on at the same time as all those mid-90s emo bands I loved so much. But if Ultrasphinx is any indication, perhaps chaotic, slightly mathy hardcore is coming back into vogue. On the other hand, it’s possible that Ultrasphinx frontman Joe Dennis just never gave up on it in the first place. Formerly the lead singer for Party Of Helicopters, a Kent, Ohio crew of noisemakers who never quite got their due, Dennis has returned with this new trio to a style of music very like that of his old band. If anything, Ultrasphinx have more energy, which only makes them that much more awesome. The way Dennis slashes at his guitar and his rhythm section dishes out the slightly off-kilter changes on Ultrasphinx’s self-titled debut album from earlier this year just makes me really excited to see what they come up with live.
And I’m also excited about all the excellent local bands on this bill! Lightfields just dropped a new album a few weeks ago, and the triple-guitar attack that has distinguished the latest incarnation of their long-gestating sound just shows that these guys have arrived. With a sound that harks back to 90s alt-rock faves like Radiohead and Dinosaur Jr, they’ll fit right in with Ultrasphinx on this bill. And that’s not to mention the rocking support provided by Hoax Hunters, a crew of noise merchants with some rocking riffs at their disposal. Canary Oh Canary vocalist Michael Harl opens things up with a set from his new side project, Grass Panther, so you really can’t go wrong with any of the bands on this bill.
Thursday, June 26, 8 PM
See-I, Dreadlock Robot, The REEF @ The Canal Club – $10 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
If you love reggae, it would be an absolute crime for you to spend your Thursday night anywhere other than the Canal Club this week. See-I, named for a method of clarification intended to improve your communication skills (and if that’s not a reggae-as-fuck thing to name your band after, I don’t know what is), will be holding it down with a set of funky grooves drawing from their brand new album, Knowledge Shine Bright. See-I is led by brothers Rootz and Zeebo, aka Arthur and Archie Steele, who you will surely recognize if you’ve ever seen the Thievery Corporation live band–the two have been fronting that group for over 15 years. They’re backed by a solid crew of musicians who help bring their fusion of reggae, dancehall, hip hop, R&B, and rock music to life in the live environment.
See-I will be making the entire Canal Club levitate with their reggae-fied grooves, and they’ll be getting an assist from some local reggae heads as well. Dreadlock Robot integrates reggae and electronic sounds by putting together a duo consisting of singer/guitarist Billy Austin and synth/programming guru Joshua Crenshaw. This group may have a tiny lineup compared to See-I, but they can dish out some big, solid grooves. VA Beach dub/reggae quartet The REEF will split the difference from their opening spot, getting things started in fine fashion. Be ready to get lifted tonight!
Friday, June 27, 9 PM
D.I., Gritter, Car Thief @ Wonderland – $10
Here’s another one for the old-school punk fans amongst you, although this show is actually taking place before the Paul Collins Beat show I’ve already told you about (we’re getting our Pulp Fiction on in the show column this week). D.I., who are fronted by original Adolescents drummer and legendary reprobate Casey Royer, will be drawing from their extensive career as California hardcore ne’er-do-wells to bring you a set of awesomely transgressive punk-as-fuck tuneage. You know the songs: “Richard Hung Himself,” “Johnny’s Got A Problem,” “Spiritual Law,” “Guns”… and they’re still making new music, too, so you can almost certainly expect to hear some great new tunes from recent albums like On The Western Front. The circle pit should be epic, so dive in!
The opening bands for this shindig aren’t quite along the same lines as D.I., but they certainly should appeal to anyone who enjoys the antics of Royer and co. Gritter bring the spirit of Pantera, Eyehategod, and the best/heaviest Alice In Chains stuff to their brand of negatively-charged, angry metal. Meanwhile, Car Thief has a ton of angry hardcore energy that will blow past you at top speed. This should be a pretty amazing show, and the fact that it’s happening at the ultimate punk-as-fuck RVA bar, Wonderland, puts it in the perfect environment. So head down to Shockoe Bottom Friday night, and you should probably get there early, because this place is always packed on show nights.
Saturday, June 28, 9 PM
Ki:Theory, Gull, Negative Gemini @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets here: https://kitheory.eventbrite.com/)
Ki:Theory are kind of a mysterious force behind the scenes of the RVA music world. They don’t play out too often, and don’t really get their name mentioned everywhere all the time, but somehow, when no one is looking, they’re getting all kinds of high-profile shit done. Bandleader Joel Burleson, in addition to making his own music, has done remixes for people like Daft Punk, Queens Of The Stone Age, Cypress Hill, and UNKLE, and Ki:Theory’s touring schedule has taken them everywhere from across the US and Canada to Japan and Korea. So it seems that we RVA locals should be paying more attention to them, right?
Saturday night is the perfect opportunity, as Ki:Theory headlines a rare local show in which Burleson will doubtless be dishing out some tunes from last year’s KITTY HAWK album, which was just reissued as a double-disc deluxe edition a couple of months ago. The group will be joined by local one-man band/force of nature Gull, who’ll be playing guitar with one hand and drums with the other as he screams into a mask equipped with a microphone (and you know you want to watch that, even if you’ve seen him 10 times before). Negative Gemini will kick things off with a set of hazy electronic sounds by local musician Lindsey French. Does this mean this entire show consists of one-person projects? Well, we’re not sure about Ki:Theory, so the official answer right now is “maybe,” but you should probably show up and find out!
Sunday, June 29, 8 PM
Bio Ritmo Record Release Party with DJ Michael Murphy, Classical Revolution @ The Broadberry – $10 in advance/$12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
When local citizens have discussions about RVA bands that have had a lasting effect on music over the past few decades, Bio Ritmo is a name that might not jump to mind as quickly as names like GWAR or Lamb Of God. But maybe it should! After all, this local salsa band has been together for over 20 years, and their melange of Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz and electronic sounds has helped propel the development of modern Latin dance music. Meanwhile, their DIY ethics and punk rock approach to playing a style of music not generally associated with those values has helped provide them with integrity and longevity that allow them to bring their music to the world on their own terms.
We’re seeing that exact thing happen right now with the release of Bio Ritmo’s eighth (or is it their ninth?) album, Puerta Del Sur, a brand new collection of the swinging, rhythmic tunes this ten-member group–featuring local scene fixtures like Rei Alvarez, Eddie Prendergast, Giustino Riccio, and a whole bunch of others–has made their reputation on. Out this week on Vampisoul Records, the album makes simultaneous reference in its title to the group’s musical roots in the Caribbean and their home here in Richmond, VA. So we should all respond in kind by heading out to the Broadberry this Sunday night and paying tribute to Bio Ritmo by dancing the night away! The group will be playing two full sets of sweet salsa tunes, featuring a guest appearance by the string section from local chamber music ensemble Classical Revolution. DJ Michael Murphy of WRIR’s Mellow Madness will be keeping the music going between sets, so be ready to keep your feet moving until the house lights go up!
Monday, June 30, 9 PM
Fister, Cut The Architect’s Hand, 45 AD, Crater @ Strange Matter – $7
You know, I had never heard of St. Louis’s Fister before I was invited to this show on Facebook, but I’m really glad I discovered them, because boy are they brutal! They blend all sorts of different metal stylings into the sick, heavy sounds of rage. They never get going all that fast, so you could maybe categorize their sound as fundamentally based in sludge or even doom, but their vocals are more like a cross between black metal screaming and some monster from an Italian horror movie screaming at you as it crawls from the grave. The chugging, distorted guitars and pounding drums that back all this up only add to the terrifying atmosphere. It’s scary, sure, but if you can get into horror movies, you know that sometimes being scared is kind of awesome. Fister’s set will be a good bit more than “kind of” awesome.
Plenty of local metal talent is also available on this bill. Cut The Architect’s Hand have a gloomy midtempo metalcore sound that should appeal to fans of Converge, Coalesce, and Botch; this kind of shit was everywhere 15 years ago, but these days it’s tough to hunt down, so the existence of a band like this in RVA is very much a welcome phenomenon. 45 AD are doing more of a blackened crust thing, which is to say that they sound like a collaboration between His Hero Is Gone and Motorhead. So yeah, pretty sweet. Crater begins the show with some atmospheric black metal stylings that will mix well with what Fister has to offer. So start off your week next week with some metal! You won’t regret it.
Tuesday, July 1, 9 PM
RPG, Tilts, Red Money, Industry Standard @ Strange Matter – $7
It seems like RVA’s stoner heroes RPG are getting back into the swing of things a bit lately. They’ve played a couple of shows at Hardywood in 2014 so far, and now they’re going to be sharing a headline slot with their St. Louis buddies Tilts at Strange Matter. So with three shows in five months, maybe it isn’t really fair to characterize RPG live sets as “rare” anymore. Which doesn’t mean you can stop going to see them–after all, who knows when this trent will reverse itself? And who wants to realize they missed the last RPG show for another year, or longer? That’d be a bummer. So don’t worry about getting to work on Wednesday morning–come out to Strange Matter next Tuesday and stick around as late as you need to in order to get the full experience.
And enjoy Tilts while you’re at it! Featuring members of Torche and Riddle Of Steel, this group does a lot to call up the spirit of Zeppelin with their Page-style melodic blues guitar riffing, while staying away from the Robert Plant wails in favor of a more human style of singing reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age. Their latest album, Cuatro Hombres, features a play on a ZZ Top album in the title, and is full of perfect musclecar jams to blast at top volume next time you feel like pretending you’re an extra in Dazed And Confused. It’ll be even more amazing live, so get stoked for that! Locals Red Money will fit right in on this bill with their midtempo post-hardcore rock tunes, and Industry Standard will kick things off with their Thin Lizzy/Black Sabbath-style jams, featuring Strange Matter legend Ron Rogers on drums.
Should I be posting about your show? Make sure I know it’s happening–email me: [email protected]