Friday, September 29, 7:30 PM
Touche Amore, Single Mothers, Gouge Away, Venomspitter @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I will freely admit that I’ve written about both of the touring bands on this bill before. It’s true; there’s no shame in my game. However, if you think Touche Amore and Single Mothers coming to town not only again but together is not occasion to revisit some of the best hardcore/post-hardcore sounds to come out of California so far this decade, you are crazy. The nature of this column is that every show is considered a must-see just by virtue of being here. But seriously, this one is an absolute must, even in terms of the usual fare this column brings you.
Why the vehemence? Well, for starters, Touche Amore have remained a consistently exciting band over the course of four albums and nearly a decade of existence. Their latest, Stage Four, continues to push the boundaries of what they do without losing sight of the energy, passion, and melodic sensibilities that work in concert to make their music a cut above almost anything else you’ll hear within their chosen genre. The melodies are further to the front than they’ve been before, but the band has sacrificed none of their power, finding the sweet spot between driving hardcore and melodic emo that sees them at their absolute peak. It’s seriously their best stuff yet, and with as intense a stage presence as this band has, you absolutely cannot miss them bringing this material to you onstage.
Then there’s Single Mothers. This band is less emotional and more enervated, bringing a snarling post-hardcore attack to wry lyrics about personal decline and witty resignation. First LP Negative Qualities seemed to reach a sort of pinnacle in their channeling of the riff-heavy post-hardcore frustration brought to life in the 90s by bands like Bluetip, but this year sees followup Our Pleasure up the ante on that whole thing courtesy of sharper guitars and even more self-directed lyrical chagrin. With Floridian post-hardcore heroes Gouge Away and local metalcore champs Venomspitter on the bill as well, this is a monster of a show and you seriously, seriously, better be there.
Wednesday, September 27, 8 PM
Wilsen, Glass Twin, Various Eggs @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s an intriguing sound that seems airlifted from a completely different era. Wilsen is a group born from the softly plucked nylon strings of Tamsin Wilson’s acoustic guitar, now embroidered with everything from ambient electric guitars and unobtrusive percussion to string swells that sound lifted straight from symphonies. The final result, when combined with Wilson’s riveting voice, is something to marvel at, and if you remain very still and don’t make any sudden moves, you may just find yourself wowed.
Wilsen comes to The Camel in support of their debut full-length, I Go Missing In My Sleep, a titular sentiment I can relate to as a sometime somnambulist (look it up). They may not be the loudest band ever to grace that Broad St. stage, but they’re sure to pull you into their aura nonetheless. With support from local alt-rockers Glass Twin and Various Eggs, this show looks to be a night of musical contemplation for the heavy thinker. Nothing at all wrong with that.
Thursday, September 28, 7 PM
Pyro Ohio, The American Dream, Vilified, Idiot Proof, The Blue Sky Disaster @ The Camel – $7 (order tickets HERE)
I must say, y’all, I missed a lot during my time shelving greeting cards for Hallmark and generally overlooking any music not made by the bands I covered in this column (due to sheer fatigue more than anything–I don’t miss that job). One extremely clear example of just how much I missed during my years in the wilderness is Pyro Ohio, a band from the nearby metropolis of Blacksburg who I am just discovering now, on their farewell tour. If you’re like me in this regard, we’ve got some lost time to make up for at The Camel this Thursday night.
Pyro Ohio’s 2015 album Keepsakes does an incredible job of bridging the gap between djent-adjacent technical metalcore and post-Chiodos heavy, progressive emo. Songs like “It’s Not My Tea, But I’ll Drink It” and “The Truest Reflection” stun with powerful chugging riffs and intense screams one minute and incredible melodies topped with beautifully sung lyrics the next. They’ll get you banging your head even as you marvel at their incredible melodic sense. How did I miss out on this band? Thank god I have one last chance to see them. And with a stacked support lineup including metallic screamo up-and-comers The Blue Sky Disaster as well as a few other locals I’m less familiar with but certainly seem at first blush to have a lot to offer, this show promises maximum headbang for your headbuck, or something like that.
Friday, September 29, 8 PM
Demon Eye, Roy Batty, Tel @ Strange Matter – $8
Raleigh’s Demon Eye are bringing a treat for old school Richmond heads when they appear this Friday night at Strange Matter, and not just because all the old heads are suckers for throwback doom metal sounds, either. This band features guitarist Erik Sugg, who some of you will remember from his younger days as a Richmonder playing in the late 90s local rock n’ rollers Dragstrip Syndicate. His former bandmates are mostly involved with Horsehead these days, and while their mutual decision to name bands after body parts of non-human creatures is strangely congruent, Demon Eye is an entirely different sort of beast–or, er, part of a beast–than Horsehead.
Proof of the intriguing differences here can certainly be found on the latest Demon Eye LP, Prophecies And Lies, released about a month and a half ago by Soulseller Records. Their sound is groovy rather than draggy, which is always nice from a retro doom band, and I’d most quickly compare them to Pentagram and Spirit Caravan, a couple of personal faves in that style. So even if you don’t remember Dragstrip Syndicate at all, rest assured this show is well worth your time. Sweetening the pot will be Roy Batty, the latest from former Hot Dolphin vocalist Lindsey Spurrier and former Avail drummer Erik Larson, along with some members from Hoboknife and La Mere Vipere, among others. Spooky local doomsters Tel kick the whole thing off in just the right fashion.
Saturday, September 30, 7:30 PM
Rafael Toral, Furniture Daniel @ Black Iris – $6-10 (sliding scale)
There’s a lot going on in the world of experimental noise these days, and a lot of it is certainly worth hearing, but there aren’t many new approaches taking place within the genre, which makes any that come along deserving of special notice. Therefore, it’s critical that the performance of Rafael Toral this Saturday night at Black Iris not escape your attention if experimental noise is relevant to your interests. In a world of avant-garde academic approaches, punk-influenced destruction, and outsider mania, Toral is all but unique in his free-jazz approach to noise. In collaborations with artists as noteworthy as Jim O’Rourke, Rhys Chatham, and John Zorn, Toral uses electronic instruments including oscillators, modular synthesizers, and even bizarre shit like “glove-controlled computer bass sinewaves” to create totally new sounds exploring the limits of the “new thing” Ornette Coleman laid down over 50 years ago.
Furniture Daniel mastermind David Dominique explores similar territory in his solo work, often leading jazz octets with hybrid instrumentation. His work as Furniture Daniel specifically explores spaced-out terrain of the sort sometimes covered by Klaus Schulze, using loop effects to tweak and modify sounds from synth, drum machines, and the human voice into intriguing soundscapes. Both of these artists mix jazz with noise and ambient vibes to create an intriguing atmosphere that will be taking over Black Iris this Saturday night. Be a part of it.
Sunday, October 1, 7 PM
Blue Nine Fest & Memorial, feat. Kyle Flanagan, Scant, Yohimbe, Stone Garden Jam Temple, Brown Piss, Coteries, Dyrt, Fake Object, 10-56, Flesh Control, Thieves Of Shiloh, Yoga Demon, Sensual Assault, Muzak City @ Strange Matter – $5
Sunday night sees a significant gathering of the more punk-based experimental noise scene here in Richmond; sadly, it’s to commemorate a tragedy. Local noise musician Bobbie Peters, who performed under the name Blue Nine, passed away earlier this year, and their many friends in the local scene are gathering to celebrate their life with the sort of harsh noise they loved. Whether or not you knew Bobbie, this is an important event for the RVA noise scene, one that is worth checking out as much for the chance to engage with the full spectrum of the local scene as for the opportunity to memorialize a fallen compatriot.
There are way too many artists on this bill to explore even half of them to the extent they deserve, but some that merit special mention include Brown Piss, the damaged electronic harshness generated by Suppression/Mutwawa/Chaotic Noise Productions mastermind Jason Hodges as a solo performer; Scant, the harsh, foreboding chaos generated by mid-Atlantic noise renaissance man Matt Boettke; Coteries, the enveloping atmospheric noise terror of Van Ficken; and Eric Tomillon’s monster of harsh noise, Fake Object. But honestly, everyone who’s anyone in Richmond’s experimental noise scene is here, so if you need a crash course, this is your perfect opportunity to get one. It’s a shame it had to happen for such a sad reason.
Monday, October 2, 8 PM
Dalek, Street Sects, Prison Religion, R-Complex @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Some underground legends of independent hip hop will return to Strange Matter this Monday, and if you don’t already know Dalek, it’s time to get familiar. This collective first presented itself to the world in the late 90s with Negro Necro Nekros, a groundbreaking collaboration with punk rock label Gern Blandsten, and the seven albums they’ve released since those days have continued to stretch the edges of what could be considered hip hop. These days, they make their home on Ipecac Recordings, the Mike Patton-owned home of a variety of somewhat uncategorizable but undeniably heavy musical legends. Dalek may not sound too much like labelmates The Melvins, but they are just as creative–and just as heavy–as those groups.
Their latest album, Endangered Philosophies, just hit the streets a few weeks ago, and shows the group continuing to pair the incisive lyrics and hard-hitting delivery of frontman MC Dalek with dark soundscapes that envelop the listener with an ominous undercurrent. They’ve been compared to shoegaze artists in the past, but it’s closer to the truth in my humble opinion to invoke the classic early material by Wu-Tang Clan or Mobb Deep, only drenched in the same sort of industrial darkness found at the heart of the best material from Godflesh–who, as it turns out, are actually their labelmates these days. The openers on this bill all share certain aspects of sound with Dalek, though each shares a different aspect–Texas’s Street Sects have a thudding industrial feel combined with postpunk song structures; locals Prison Religion combine heavy hip hop with harsh noise; and opener R-Complex explores an ambient industrial harshness of their own.
Tuesday, October 3, 7 PM
The Bronx, Plague Vendor, ’68 @ Strange Matter – $18 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Let’s get back to some rock n’ roll to round out the week, shall we? The Bronx, who hail not from New York but LA, have been a reliable source of hella rockin’ punk sounds for quite a while now, and they just this past week brought their fifth album, The Bronx V, kicking and screaming into the world with the same sort of catchy, energetic songcraft that’s made their previous work so memorable. Lead single “Sore Throat” has an understated melody, driven primarily by bent-up guitar leads, but the main factor at work is its screaming intensity. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t expect the same sort of post-garage riff-stravaganzas that got you dancing like crazy on previous albums. Far from it–The Bronx are bringing the fire, the desire, and the inspire with the same fury they’ve always had.
There aren’t any local openers on this bill, either–just a nonstop blast of fury from a tour package that’s hard to beat. Fellow Californians Plague Vendor will directly precede The Bronx with a bit of a darker sound that evokes Ex-Cult and the Murder City Devils and is sure to draw you in. Meanwhile, ’68 start things off with what was originally a bit of a curveball from former Norma Jean/The Chariot singer Josh Scogin, who picked up a guitar, joined up with drummer Michael McClellan to create a rockin’ two-piece that retains The Chariot’s heaviness while exchanging some of its metallic riffing for a bit more of a straight-up rock n’ roll approach that makes perfect sense in light of the bands they’re currently touring with. Expect a bit of headbangs along with the dancing when these guys play, but hey, if you’re doing it right, your hair is always flying everywhere when you’re dancing anyway, so that shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
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] [the rvamag address isn’t working for some reason, I haven’t had time to look into it! Bear with me]