Saturday, April 2, 2 PM
WRIR‘s Party For the Rest Of Us, feat. Colin Phils, Ant The Symbol, Gritty City Records, Prabir Trio, Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers, The Wimps, Holy River @ Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Free!
Y’all, it’s been 17 years since WRIR, the community-run, non-profit, low power station at 97.3 on your FM dial, started broadcasting from its studio up above The Camel on Broad St. And for those of us of a Certain Age, the obvious reaction is “Wow, time flies.” Meanwhile, I assume pretty much everyone in the local music scene under 30 feels like WRIR’s just kinda always been there. It’s an understandable reaction, considering how young y’all were when it started broadcasting. On a radio dial that is more than ever full of the same songs you’ve heard a million times before inbetween what feels like 45 minutes of advertising per hour, WRIR is a breath of fresh air, bringing us all community info, a finger on the pulse of the local culture, and music you’ve generally never heard before — often from right here in Virginia.
However! It’s important that none of us here in Richmond ever start to take WRIR for granted. This non-commercial station survives and thrives only through the valiant efforts of many volunteers, as well as all the donations they can scare up. That’s what WRIR’s Party For the Rest Of Us is about: bringing the Richmond community a really great event, full of music and fun, in return for all of our support to keep them going for another year. In previous years, this annual event has generally been coupled with a request for donations. This year, they’re advertising it as free, but you should still bring a few bucks to help them out — or drop those buckaroos into the virtual tip jar you can find over at wrir.org.
In exchange for your contribution (or even for your lack of one — which is OK, because between high heating bills and gas pump sticker shock, lord knows a lot of us don’t have a dime to spare right now), you get an amazing afternoon at Hardywood, full of outstanding musical talents from the Central Virginia area. There are too many to get to even if I hadn’t spent most of my space talking about how great WRIR is, but let’s go for a lightning round: Colin Phils bring delectable post-rock goodness, Ant The Symbol and Gritty City Records represent the finest in RVA hip hop, Prabir Trio and The Wimps show us all how great indie rock can be even in 2022, Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers dish out yet another helping of their buzzworthy Americana, and last but not least, there is the uncategorizable psychedelic folk atmospherics of Holy River. A truly formidable lineup that’ll be the perfect soundtrack as you while away your afternoon hanging out with the fine folks at Hardywood. What more could you ask for? Another great year of wonderfully unpredictable non-commercial community-run radio, you say? Well, you know what to do.
Wednesday, March 30, 6:30 PM
Drug Church, One Step Closer, Soul Blind, Lurk @ The Broadberry – $16 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This one’s exciting. Drug Church, who hail from upstate New York, play an incredibly catchy brand of post-hardcore, and feature as frontman one of the current hardcore scene’s most colorful and fascinating veterans, just released their fourth album, Hygiene. Even if you, like me, already loved this band, you’re bound to be impressed with the quantum leap they’ve taken with this brand new release. In particular, the aforementioned frontman, Patrick Kindlon, has stepped up his game. His unique vocal style might not have been for everyone in the past, but he’s managed to bring significantly more melody to his approach on this album without losing an ounce of the frenetic urgency that’s always made him such a riveting frontman.
So yeah, what I’m saying is this: if you don’t have plans tonight, you gotta get over to the Broadberry and catch Drug Church. And if you do have plans, you probably should just break them and bring whoever it is you were gonna chill with to the show with you. The newest Drug Church material is so much fun, even your grandma will probably dig it. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Drug Church are coming through accompanied by One Step Closer, whose intense, powerful, yet always subtly melodic take on hardcore will excite fans of Turning Point, Fiddlehead, Praise, and a whole ton of other classic bands. The lineup is rounded out by the grungified post-hardcore of Soul Blind and the chunky alt-rock of Lurk. This one’s gonna be a solid gold banger from beginning to end. Get there.
Thursday, March 31, 7 PM
The Warhawks, The Octavias, Sincerely Iris, Wallpaper @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Do you like to rock? Who doesn’t, am I right? Those of us who do are certainly delighted to see the return of the semi-regular free rock shows at Garden Grove Brewing, a place that became a good under-the-radar spot to see some killer bands in the year or so before the pandemic destroyed live music as we knew it. Not every venue that used to be a solid bet for good music in the pre-pandemic days has made it back, but it’s good to see a few lately that I wasn’t hearing from back when I first restarted the column — especially this one.
Thursday night at Garden Grove will be a real rock n’ roll ripper, so get stoked! New Jersey’s The Warhawks are the out-of-town guest on this bill, and they’re touring right now in support of This Ain’t Art, a new six-song EP that brings us all plenty of loud guitars and moody vocals in the classic tradition of everything from Jesus And Mary Chain to the Black Keys before they jumped the shark. They’ll get the room rocking when they take the stage and crank up their amps, as will local garage-rock duo The Octavias, who more than make up in noise and fury what they lack in low-end amplification. Todd Murray’s prolific solo project, Sincerely Iris, who play what Murray calls “road trip music,” will add a more emotional flavor to the evening while keeping toes tapping. Meanwhile, slowcore newcomers Wallpaper will enrapture us all by evoking Mark Kozelek before he jumped the shark. Show up for this one — you won’t regret it. And hey… the price is right.
Friday, April 1, 7 PM
Flight Club, Keep Flying, Nancy Raygun, Shotclock, Plastic Flamingos @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Pop-punk is supposed to be fun, and this show is definitely going to live up to that billing. I know, I know, local guitar-slingers Flight Club want everyone to stop thinking of them as pop-punk; they even released a single called “High Roller” a while back that did its best to convince us all that they went post-Killers disco-hipster rock. Thankfully, the rest of their new album, Until The Sun Drowns, shows that this RVA quintet has retained their flawless melodic sense and driving punk energy, and it’s a very safe bet that all of this will carry over to this Richmond Music Hall double bill.
Sharing headlining duties is New Jersey quintet Keep Flying, who somehow manage to be an upbeat poppy punk band with a horn player without turning into a ska band. Instead, said horn player adds saxophone melodies that do a great job augmenting the skate-punk leads, then contributes to the band’s multi-vocalist round robin. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it ends up totally working. If you can get into Knuckle Puck, Four Year Strong, or State Champs, you’re sure to enjoy what Keep Flying brings to the table for this show. This stacked bill also features a variety of openers, including North Carolina pop-punk goofballs Plastic Flamingos, Richmond alt-rockers Nancy Raygun, and local newcomers Shotclock. Be there.
Saturday, April 2, 7 PM
Spoken To: An Evening Of Spoken Word and Poetry, feat. Ryan Kent, Black Liquid, Denise Walters, Summer Storms, S. Preston Duncan @ Gallery 5 – Free?
Poetic and musical forms have always been closely linked, from Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan’s lyrics getting published as poetry to Jack Kerouac legendarily setting his writings to jazz accompaniment. And don’t even get me started on hip hop. For that reason, I have no qualms recommending that all of you spend your Saturday night at Gallery 5 taking in the non-musical sounds of Spoken To, an evening of spoken word and poetry. After all, the label up there at the top says “shows you must see,” right? It doesn’t say a damn thing about music.
Regardless, there’s music running through the words of Ryan Kent, a local poet who has also spent years singing in several different Richmond-based metal bands. However, he’s also published multiple poetry collections, and is currently preparing a spoken word LP for release. So yeah — where spoken word is concerned, Ryan knows what he’s doing. The same can be said of Richmond rapper Black Liquid, who has certainly written plenty of poetry set to hip hop beats over the years. Seeing what he comes up with when he doesn’t have a backing track will be fascinating. Story quilter Denise Walters, who is a member of the Nottoway Tribe, will bring us tales told through cloth as well as words. The lineup is rounded out by witch poet Summer Storms and poet/pyrography practitioner S. Preston Duncan. All have plenty to offer. Be there to appreciate their gifts.
Sunday, April 3, 7 PM
Daisychain, The Background Action, Death Plumes @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Sunday nights can be tough. Everyone’s gotten their ya-ya’s out on Friday and Saturday, and the weekend is coming to an end, so for many people, Sunday night is a night to head home early. However, true rock n’ roll heads know that some of the best underground sounds can be found on nights when there’s not all that much going on — because touring bands have always got a hole in their schedule to fill. Luckily, The Camel is there to take them in, and those of us who are truly dedicated to music as life get to be there and hear great new bands before everyone else has necessarily caught on.
All of this is a long way of getting to the point, which is that Chicago’s Daisychain are truly essential listening. This band of relatively young people pull from multiple prior generations of Windy City guitar legends, mixing everything from the classic electric blues of Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy to the 70s-influenced grunge-rock of 90s legends Urge Overkill. There’s even a little bit of Janis Joplin and Heart mixed in here, coming out through the angelic voices of singers Sophia Williams and Nickole Regala. I know you might be tempted to head home early Sunday night, but take a disco nap and head back out to catch Daisychain at The Camel instead. I promise you won’t regret it.
Monday, April 4, 7 PM
Soft Kill, Alien Boy, Topographies, True Body @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
All Richmond live music heads need to give thanks to whatever deity they do or don’t believe in for The Camel. The only venue in this city who truly seems to share our belief that music doesn’t need a night off, we can always count on the Camel to have a show queued up for us on Monday night, when we’re in desperate need of some solid sounds to blow away the mental residue of another depressing Monday back at work. And it’s almost always a really good show, too — witness this excellent bill that brings us two killer touring bands for the price of one.
Soft Kill is the first; their 2020 LP, Dead Kids, RIP City, does a great job of mixing sharply ringing postpunk guitars with driving dance beats and synth textures, all in a decidedly noir-ish mode that leads one to imagine the Cure with the energy of first-LP Bauhaus. Whether you’re into dark, driving rock n’ roll or moody, gloomy goth, these guys have something you’ll like. As for co-headliners Alien Boy, this Portland quartet were already on my radar due to their excellent 2021 LP, Don’t Know What I Am, which is still growing on me six months later. Driving, melodic punk with a moody gothic undertone is what they bring to the table, in a manner that lands somewhere between Wax Idols and Veruca Salt. That’s enough to win me over right there. San Francisco gothic industrial group Topographies and Virginia’s own postpunk veterans True Body round this one out with aplomb. Shake off the Mondays with this one.
Tuesday, April 5, 7 PM
Escape From The Zoo, Crazy And The Brains, Chupaskabra @ Richmond Music Hall At Capital Ale House – $15 in advance, $20 day of show (Order tickets HERE)
I have a confession to make, y’all: I wasn’t necessarily all that on-board for the whole ska-punk thing back in the 90s. And if I’m even more honest, I really think I missed something by skipping out on all that stuff at the time. Today, I look back at stuff like Operation Ivy and Voodoo Glow Skulls, and I think: dang, those kids sure seem like they were having a lot of fun. Luckily for all of us who missed out — and for everyone who got it when it was originally going on — the whole ska-punk thing is experiencing a major revival right now. And Fat Wreck Chords signees Escape From The Zoo are at the forefront of all that.
Led by Jesse Sendejas of Houston folk-punk group Days N’ Daze and his mandolin-strumming wife Veronica, Escape From The Zoo take all that catchy, upbeat strumming that was the best part of the whole folk-punk thing and mix it with the electrified punk energy of the good bands of the 90s ska-punk revival: the ones that realized you have to lead with the punk and the speed, and just let everything else work itself out. That’s what Escape From The Zoo does on their brand new LP, Countin’ Cards, and that’s what’s gonna win you over when they take the stage Tuesday night at Capital Ale House. Xylophone-driven dance-punk veterans Crazy And The Brains and local ska-punk up-and-comers Chupaskabra round out this bill, and will do more than their fair share to increase the fun quotient and bring your Tuesday night to bright, glorious life. Get ready.
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@example.com