Saturday, November 23, 2021, 7 PM
Beach Bunny, Miloe @ The Broadberry – $20 in advance, $24 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh hey, how’s it going? What have you been up to for the past year and a half? It’s been a wild ride for me too, but I’m back, I’m fully vaxxed, and I’m ready to rock. Lucky me, because the big news my first week back is that Beach Bunny is returning to RVA this Saturday night. If you were paying attention back in 2019, you’ll surely have noticed Honeymoon, the debut full-length by this Chicago four-piece. Led by singer-guitarist-songwriter Lili Trifilio, Beach Bunny started out as a solo project, gaining members over their first few years as they released four promising EPs. Honeymoon fulfilled that promise on its best songs, the vast majority of its running time being occupied by upbeat, jangly power-pop with an undeniable punk energy and attitude. There were still a few quieter, more minimalist ballads on the album, which weren’t my faves but stood as an understandable hangover from the solo years.
However, at this point, Beach Bunny’s moved on from all that, and their two post-pandemic statements, four-song EP Blame Game and brand new single “Oxygen,” go all in on the catchy, punky, power-pop vibes, and feature sharp lyrics that unflinchingly take on the worst aspects of interpersonal relationships among the youthful subculture the best music always comes from. Case in point: Blame Game opening track “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used),” which inverts the potential victim-blaming of the title to call out slack-ass indie boy hypocrisy. Meanwhile, the EP’s title track takes on rape culture in unsparing terms, and “Nice Guys” skewers the many dudes who don’t realize that putting women on a pedestal is still objectification.
So yeah, Beach Bunny has a lot for us, but it’s not all acid; “Oxygen’s” lyrics are an upbeat celebration of the dawning of a great new relationship, and pretty much all of the songs have that bouncy swing that we all loved from those early Best Coast records. So yeah, if you wanna dance with a big smile on your face, this is the show for you! Show up Saturday night at the Broadberry, bring your vax card, and get ready to have a blast.
Wednesday, November 10, 8 PM
Blvck Hippie, The Wimps, No Moniker @ The Camel – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This is one of those times where I’m not actually sure who’s opening and who’s headlining, so let me just say — you really want to show up at the beginning and stay to the very end for this one. But let’s start by talking about Blvck Hippie, since they’re the ones who are on tour. A Memphis-based project led by Josh Shaw, Blvck Hippie takes an intricate approach to indie tunes that contain a trenchant analysis of the limitations inherent in the indie rock scene of 2021. And of course, as a Black man playing music in a scene that is all too often way too white, Shaw’s observations aren’t the same old typical indie-boy laments.
In fact, you can tell that as soon as you listen to Blvck Hippie’s debut full-length, If You Feel Alone At Parties, released just last month and containing gems like “Answering Machine,” “July 5th,” and the title track, all of which deal frankly with alienation and the ongoing fallout from trauma. At the same time, Shaw’s lead guitar riffing adds an unmistakable melodic counterpoint to all of the music he’s presenting here, with the result that some of these subtly sad songs are also perfectly structured to stay in your head all day. Which is good, because this is a band whose music should give you plenty to think about. Of course, it should be acknowledged that The Wimps and No Moniker are also pushing back against the standard whiteboy-indie paradigm. And that’s definitely good. But the real reason you should catch both of these groups is the reason it always should be: both the quirky alt-rock of The Wimps and the bouncy disco-infused indie sound of No Moniker are excellent — as is Blvck Hippie. So hey, rock with ’em.
Thursday, November 11, 7 PM
Shakey Graves, Sun June @ The National – $25 in advance, $30 at the door (order tickets HERE)
If you’re aware of Shakey Graves, it’s probably due to his lengthy tenure in the rootsy world of the genre known as Americana — which is to say, he pulls from old-time music, but he doesn’t discriminate. Folk, country, blues, rockabilly… it’s all welcome. That very musical freedom is probably what led ol’ Shakey to the intriguing sound of his latest EP, 2020’s Look Alive, which is closer to moody, synth-infused indie rock than anything you’d normally associate with the “Americana” tag. In that way, he’s sort of following a similar path to that of Sturgill Simpson, though his approach is very much his own.
And of course, now that I’ve said all that, I should mention that the release Shakey Graves is really touring behind right now is Roll The Bones X, a tenth-anniversary reissue of his debut LP featuring another entire LP’s worth of outtakes tacked onto the end. And if it’s intriguing takes on what Greil Marcus called “the old weird America” that you’re looking for, well, on Roll The Bones X, Shakey Graves absolutely has what you’re looking for — and plenty of it. The million-dollar question, then, is: which of these Shakey Graves sounds will you get when you go see him on Thursday night at the National? His most recent explorations of the outer boundaries of genre? His original raw, earthy take on folk/blues/country vibes? A little of both? All I can tell you for sure is that, whichever you get, you can’t really go wrong. My advice: show up, and let it roll from there.
Friday, November 12, 9 PM
Sigmund Fraud, Mad Abbey, Marshall Family Values, Rikki Rakki @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
What better night than Friday night to dive into a show full of up-and-coming local talents, and really re-immerse yourself in the depths of what’s going on down here in the river city? If there is a better night, I didn’t find it this week. So I’m definitely advising that you come out to the Camel this Friday to enjoy the festivities around the release of Sigmund Fraud’s latest album. Aside from their great name, what do you need to know about Sigmund Fraud? Well, there’s the fact that they mingle a variety of different genres into their jammy, soulful, rockin’ sound, and the fact that, if you move around their Bandcamp page from one song to another, you’ll have a tough time really pinning them down. Everything they try, though, from the synth moods of “Lovespell” to the spaced-out slacker rock of “West Clay Street Blues,” is a lot of fun. And that’s what really counts.
There’s more going on here than just one band, though. Three other Richmond ensembles will be on hand to liven up your night, and all of them have a very strong likelihood of doing exactly that. Mad Abbey’s rocked-out approach to the power trio format brings some prog and classic rock touches to the fore. Marshall Family Values have a bit of desert spookiness to their rock n’ roll sound — I’m almost reminded of the Meat Puppets at some points. Finally, Rikki Rakki sees singer-songwriter Erika Blatnik take a somewhat noisy approach to what are fundamentally really beautiful heartfelt tunes. What form they’ll take live is open to question, but I’m certainly intrigued — as I am by this entire bill.
Saturday, November 13, 9:30 PM
Thunderchief, Future Projektor @ Bandito’s – Free!
OK, this show is a big relief. I say that because, as a dyed-in-the-wool metalhead, I found this week’s lineup of live music hits surprisingly weak on heaviness — that is, until I got to this Saturday night shindig at Bandito’s. Richmond metal veterans who wish to experience the bliss that is a Saturday night spent banging your head while mercilessly heavy riffs fly at you with great force, this show is for you. The bill starts off with Thunderchief, a duo that pairs talented thrasher Rik Surly with RVA metal/punk veteran Erik Larson (Avail, Parasytic, Alabama Thunderpussy, etc). Surly screams and dishes out huge riffs while Larson pounds the hell out of the drums. On last year’s No Sufferance For Thy Fools LP, their sound is way heavier and thicker than you’d expect a duo to generate, and that’s sure to be true in the live room at Bandito’s as well (secretly the best-sounding smaller venue in this city. Yeah, I said it).
Then there’s Future Projektor, the other band on this evening of heavy sounds that all of us are blessed to receive for our zero-dollar investment. If you remember Gritter, you may recognize some of these fellows; guitarist Adam Kravitz and drummer Kevin White were both part of that downbeat metal outfit, while bassist Sean Plunkett is a veteran of fellow Richmond metallers I Am The Liquor. The three of them have now come together to crank out some instrumental heavyosity in the glorious Richmond tradition of Breadwinner, the Alter Natives, and many others. Get ready for a night of serious brutality — one that you can start by saving your cash for a big plate of pre-show nachos (secretly the best nachos in this city. Yeah, I said that too).
Sunday, November 14, 6:30 PM
Samantha Fish, River Kittens @ The National – $22.50 – $32.50 (order tickets HERE)
Here comes a night full of rip-roaring blues guitar pyrotechnics courtesy of Kansas City’s own Samantha Fish, a woman whose music I admit I was unfamiliar with before I heard she was rolling into town. Well, checking out the singles from her latest album, Faster, which came out last month on Rounder Records, made me a believer. There’s some of Bonnie Raitt’s talent for guitar-slinging pop balladry in Fish’s DNA, for sure, but like both Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan — another obvious influence on what Samantha Fish is up to in 2021 — she can rip out guitar leads sharp enough to cut yourself on. And if you don’t watch out, that’s exactly what’ll happen.
But don’t panic — you’ll be safe at The National this Sunday night (assuming you’re vaxxed up, that is. I shouldn’t even need to say that at this point). All you’ll have to worry about is how much fun you’re going to have rocking out to the straight fire Samantha Fish and her band are gonna lay down (again, only speaking metaphorically). And hey, based on what I’ve seen, at least a little bit of that fire is going to come from Samantha Fish’s outfit. The woman is not only a top-level shredder but an impeccable dresser, so be sure to keep your eyes open.
Monday, November 15, 9 PM
Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers, Brady Heck, Jacob Ritter, Chuck Jones @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Let’s go from a touring blues singer to a homegrown one. I’m speaking, of course, of Richmond’s own Cassidy Snider, who is less focused on shredding and more on deep country soul. So far, the only release she and her backing band, The Wranglers, have up on the internet is a live album recorded at The Camel last winter, and it showcases the sheer amazingness of Ms. Snider’s voice. Her four-piece backing band features banjo, fiddle, organ, bass, and drums, but no guitar. However, with her singing up front, it’s totally unnecessary. Her powerful instrument shakes the rafters, at times completely overpowering the microphones that documented that fateful performance at the Camel.
You won’t have to worry about that at The Camel this Monday night, though — only the limits of your ears. However, even with my own significant hearing loss, I’m not the least bit worried about picking up everything Ms. Snider is laying down. It’s gonna be great. And even greater is the opportunity to pick up a copy of Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers’ brand new LP, which they’ll be releasing at this show. Opening sets from local talents Brady Heck, Jacob Ritter, and Chuck Jones (not the guy who directed all those old Tom and Jerry cartoons… though wouldn’t that be sweet?) only serve to make this entire evening even more enjoyable. So shake off the Mondays and spend the first night of your workweek at the Camel. It’ll do you no harm.
Tuesday, November 16, 7 PM
Post Animal, Ron Gallo @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I have been hearing the name Post Animal for a few years now, but this is my first time really diving in. And I must say, what I’ve found has been particularly enjoyable; a psychedelic quartet from Chicagoland who know how to create a huge atmosphere and a powerful mood. Last year’s second LP, Forward Motion Godyssey, demonstrates this in fine fashion, layering melodies aplenty, both vocal and guitar, with oceans of reverberating sound and color. I can’t imagine this music will be anything but even more amazing at full volume in the live environment. Now, if you’re one of those people who’d go to see Post Animal hoping to get a close-up look at Stranger Things actor Joe Keery, I must warn you that he’s no longer in the band. While he may have contributed to the band’s most recent album (I’m actually not able to tell), he won’t be performing with them.
But look, if you skip out on this show for that reason, I have to question your taste. After all, this quintet still contains five very talented songwriters, who are capable of channeling the best of that early Tame Impala vibe through a psych-pop lens that is pure Elephant 6. What’s not to love there? Plus! You’ll also be getting a set from Ron Gallo, whose catchy rock n’ roll vibes early in his career, circa 2017 single “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me” have been augmented with a fair dose of psychedelia in its own right on his most recent album, Peacemeal. You know you’re gonna dig that.
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]