Saturday, December 22, 9 PM
L’Amour, Sick Bags, DJ Sam Slug @ Mojo’s – Free (Donations appreciated)
It’s time to go back to the dawning days of Richmond punk — long before White Cross or Death Piggy, back when punk hadn’t yet become a pedal-to-the-metal speed competition, before it was all about rage and fury. Back in the late 70s, the Ramones, Dead Boys, and Dictators were still kings of the US punk scene, and here in Richmond, our earliest punk exports fit into much the same mold; mixing teenage hormones, class-clown goofiness, and no-frills rock n’ roll into a potent cocktail of melody, energy, and fun.
1979 was the year that L’Amour, one of the foremost bands in that first wave of RVA punk, released their sole EP. It featured two songs, “Sunglass Party” and “Someday,” and preserved the group’s blend of Stonesy catchiness and New York Dolls-style gleeful trashiness for posterity. There was a lot more where that came from, but it was much harder in those days to record and release music than it is today, so the rest of it spent decades languishing unheard on tapes buried in former members’ basements.
Thankfully, this year has seen a resurrection of L’Amour’s greatness, as VA label Beach Impediment has collected all of the band’s known recordings onto an excellent 14-song LP entitled Look To The Artist. To celebrate its long-overdue release, core L’Amour members Tom Applegate and David Stover have regrouped, recruited a young rhythm section from among the fertile talent pool of today’s Richmond punk scene, and returned to action for this incredible reunion show at Mojo’s Saturday night. Most of us probably missed L’Amour the first time (I was three, and I’m OLD), so this is a golden opportunity to be present for a return to the very roots of this city’s near half-century of punk greatness. And how can you possibly turn that down?
Wednesday, December 19, 7 PM
A Very Butcher Holiday, feat. Butcher Brown, R4nd4zzo Big B4nd @ The Broadberry – $12 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Christmas time is here, and Butcher Brown knows it. This excellent quintet is getting into the holiday spirit at the Broadberry tonight with an excellent set of jazzed-up Christmas standards, paying tribute in particular to the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s classic soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. They’ll be joined by the R4nd4zzo Big B4nd, a fifteen-or-so-piece project led by Butcher Brown’s very own bassist, Andrew Randazzo, which brought us much the same tribute last year, as captured on their Tribute To Vince Guaraldi LP, released back at the beginning of this year.
Considering Guaraldi often worked at the head of a simple piano-bass-drums trio, this brassy, expanded treatment from a group that includes multiple trumpets, trombones, and reeds is different from the original in significant ways. However, the jazzy spirit of Christmas that makes Guaraldi’s original album the objective best holiday music ever (yeah, I said it) remains intact, even as the group’s inspired new arrangements allow for considerable creativity. Whether you’re a fan of A Charlie Brown Christmas in particular or the holidays in general, and even if you just like good jazz music no matter the season, this show’s got a lot to offer you. Be there, and get into the spirit the Butcher Brown way.
Thursday, December 20, 7 PM
Snail Mail, Bleary Eyed @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Look, I admit it — I’m just discovering Snail Mail. I’m a big-time music nerd (as you may have gathered) and I catch a lot, but sometimes things are gonna slip past my radar until way past time that I should have heard them. Snail Mail is one such thing; somehow I missed their debut full-length, Lush, when it was released this past summer and proceeded to score Best New Music plaudits from Pitchfork. Oops.
I mean, I always take that website with several grains of salt, so don’t get me wrong, but this time they are totally correct — Lush is an absolute tour-de-force. Where downcast indie-pop songwriting is concerned, Snail Mail frontperson Lindsey Jordan has an incredible gift, and songs like “Speaking Terms” cut to the heart of the tremendous difficulties inherent in all human relationships, even as they wash your tears away with beautiful vocal melodies and perfect chiming guitars. This is an album that will resonate with the awkward emo nerd inside us all, even the jaded denim-clad metalheads among our number. I will go so far as to say this — if you’ve ever in your life had feels about a thing, you need to be at the Broadberry this Thursday night. Snail Mail’s gonna make you feel all those feels all over again, and in much more wonderful ways.
Friday, December 21, 8 PM
Camp Howard, Twain, Recluse Raccoon, Kenneka Cook @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Get ready for a lovely night of gorgeous indie sounds at Gallery 5 this Friday. This quartet of excellent Virginia artists will ease you into the weekend before Christmas and all the hectic travel plans you’re sure to be executing in the days that follow. Reliable RVA mainstays Camp Howard are at the top of the bill, and that’s always a good place for them; it may have been a year and a half since most recent EP, Juice, but Nic and the boys have established such a reliable track record of glittering post-punk power-pop over the past several years that everyone in RVA knows what these boys have to offer.
Where this show is concerned, though, Camp Howard is just the beginning. Twain hail from Franklin County, a rural region just south of Roanoke that has legendarily been known as “the moonshine capital of the world,” so you know this band understands how to have a good time. Their 2017 LP, Rare Feeling, is full of beautiful songs that bring an understated, pensive touch to a style landing somewhere between indie and alt-country. They’re simultaneously reminiscent of Sturgill Simpson and My Morning Jacket, and just as excellent a listen as those two, so they’re well worth your time. Recluse Raccoon are a good bit more social than the name suggests, and in fact they recently released a gorgeously weird self-titled LP that makes quite an impression with its introspective tunes embroidered by a variety of unconventional instruments. And of course Kenneka Cook is always someone you should catch, even if it means showing up early — her excellent voice and skillful compositions are worth the price of admission all by themselves.
Saturday, December 22, 8 PM
Planned Parenthood Fundraiser, feat. Occultist, VV, Kuni, Trapcry @ Gallery 5 – $5 to $10 suggested donation
With Strange Matter sadly shuffling off this mortal coil, there seems little doubt that we’ll all be spending more time at Gallery 5 in the near future. Their focus on the DIY community and support for causes that matter to the less-privileged inhabitants of the river city makes the gallery the obvious torchbearers for the sort of local scene support that Strange Matter was so good at. This Saturday night, they prove it for the second time in 24 hours with an amazing benefit for Planned Parenthood — an organization that’s been constantly under siege for several years now, and does crucial work within the local community, from ensuring your right to reproductive freedom to such important things as providing essential health care for transgender people without other options (like me, for instance).
Occultist are headlining this shindig, and it’s great news, considering how difficult it’s been to catch these thrash-metal ragers in a live setting over the past year or so. It’s been quite a while since they brought us any new studio recordings, and at this point they’re sure to have some new material to bring you, so get ready to headbang with a grateful fury. VV are an excellent addition to any bill, and their vitriol-drenched, synth-laced postpunk attack is particularly apropos for a Planned Parenthood benefit — smashing patriarchal faces for the win. Kuni’s queer electro-punk and the seductive techno-dance sounds of Trapcry will round this bill out perfectly. You’ll dance, you’ll rock, you’ll smash the patriarchy… it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Sunday, December 23, 8 PM
Marc Rebillet, DJ Harrison @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Marc Rebillet is a phenomenon that’s not that easy to explain. What I’d heard from other people before I checked out his music led me to expect one thing, but what I found was something significantly different. People will tell you this guy’s a bit of a comedian, and certainly he approaches his electro-funk music with an irreverent, humorous attitude, but the results he gets from synthesizers, beat loops, and most importantly his unforgettable voice are not only entertaining but seriously intriguing.
His Loop Daddy EP, released a couple of months ago, finds Rebillet, who got his start on YouTube, in loverman mode, sounding a bit like Baltimore electro-goof Dan Deacon if he was able to expertly channel R. Kelly. However, he’ll occasionally put the whole damn thing on pause to holler ridiculous improvised exhortations, and yeah, you’re gonna laugh at those times. Mostly though, Marc Rebillet’s gonna get your booty shaking with a rhythm that might seem totally out of place this close to Christmas but is, if anything, exactly what you need to survive another awkward dinner at Grandma’s house. So head to the Camel this Sunday and get in the pool. You know what I’m talking about.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, December 21, 8 PM
Demons, Shy Low, Ladada @ Taphouse Grill – $5
Shit is always pretty heavy down Tidewater way, I’ve found. There are indie shows down there at times, but a lot of what I find coming out of that geographical region of Virginia is hard as fuck and taking its best shot at crushing your skull. The same is true of Demons, though instead of super-heavy deathcore stuff, this band is aiming for more of a thick, metallic sound on latest EP Made In The USA. The resulting pummeling lands somewhere between Far Beyond Driven-era Pantera and early Every Time I Die. And when it lands, it lands on its feet and starts charging straight at you. Be there to meet the onslaught at Taphouse Grill this Friday, and you’re sure to be glad you did.
This show will also bring you a performance from Richmond’s own Shy Low, who’ve been less active recently than they were a few years ago. However, their most recent release, Burning Day, was only a year and a half ago, and it showed that they’d retained their powerful approach to the instrumental post-rock sound on which they made their name back a half-decade or so ago. So you can certainly expect a reliable (post-)rocking from these guys, and you’ll get a bonus set from openers Ladada, who have a catchy indie-pop sound that’s sure to delight. All in all, it’s a fine Friday night in Norfolk. Enjoy!
Sunday, December 23, 4 PM
Shaka’s Appreciation Show, feat. The Unabombers, Beggar’s Row, Accident Prone, Pushing On, Evade, Faded, Freebase, Chain Breaker, Catalyst, Semtex @ Shaka’s – Free!
It’s a sad story, one that those of us here in Richmond know all too well. Norfolk live music mainstay Shaka’s is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month… but it’s also closing its doors forever. That’s not happening after this Sunday matinee show — their last show is actually the Doyle gig on New Years Eve — but it is one of the last chances the Norfolk area will have to show their appreciation for a venue that’s filled much the same role in their scene that Strange Matter has in ours. What a shame.
The show itself will be a glorious occasion, though, with longtime VA punk veterans The Unabombers taking care of business at the top of the bill. These guys have been rocking the Hampton Roads area and beyond for over 20 years now, and they’re the perfect band to send Shaka’s off on a high note. And there’s a ton of hardcore punk on the bill besides, from the speedy metallic rage of Beggar’s Row to the brutal pummeling mosh of Evade to the angry punk/HC of Pushing On. There are a whole bunch more bands on this one too, and the price is certainly right, so if Shaka’s ever meant anything to you, there’s no time like the present to both show it some love before it disappears and to enjoy the Hampton Roads hardcore/punk scene’s past, present, and future all in one great place.
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, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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