Saturday, May 5, 7 PM
Power Trip, Sheer Mag, Fury, Red Death @ The Broadberry – $18 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Just in time for the weather to really warm up, here comes one of the hottest gigs of the year! I hope you bought a new air conditioner before everybody sold out of ’em — if you come home from this gig on Saturday night covered in sweat, that old freon-deprived thing in your window that just acts like a big noisy fan will do nothing to cool you off. But even that’ll be all right, because you’ll be returning from the kind of evening that’ll fuel you with the energy you need to get through the hot summer months in Richmond… which are apparently already upon us.
Power Trip is a band that’s been coming through and laying serious devastation on the entire metropolitan area on a regular basis for long enough that they shouldn’t need much of any introduction. However, even if you’re intimately familiar with the brutality this Texas thrash outfit delivers, you’ve still got plentiful reason to come out and headbang. In addition to their still-hot 2017 LP Nightmare Logic, these guys will be touring behind the just released non-LP comp Opening Fire: 2008-2014, which celebrates their tenth anniversary as a band by making all their earliest stuff available once again in an easy-to-obtain format. And in case you’re thinking “They’ll never actually play any of those old jams,” Power Trip singer Riley Gale told Revolver recently that they’d be busting at least one out. Get stoked for that!
And hey, get stoked on the amazing dual-headline potential of the fact that Sheer Mag is also playing this show. While their punky garage-pop might seem like an odd fit for a tour with Power Trip, what these two bands have in common is a strong positive energy. As their 2017 LP, Need To Feel Your Love, so strongly demonstrated, Sheer Mag are one of the most vital bands in the music world right now, and they’ll have you dancing with a big grin on your face just as hard as you’ll be headbanging to Power Trip a short time later. California HC heads Fury — who have nothing to do with that long-departed Swiz side project, though they’re in the same league musically — will bring the, um, fury in their opening slot, and DC’s always-reliable Red Death will kick things off with a bang. Bring your sweatbands.
Wednesday, May 2, 7 PM
Charly Bliss, Skating Polly @ The Camel – $13 (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes even getting to Wednesday can be so difficult, it starts to make you feel like the weekend will never come. Thankfully for you, this Wednesday night sees Charly Bliss and Skating Polly rolling into town, bringing the fun party vibes you wait all week for right to the middle of the week, where you need it most. Both powerful and #relatable, last year’s debut full-length, Guppy, helped put Charly Bliss on the map in a big way. Bringing the winsome charm of Girlpool to the chunky guitar-pop riffs of bands like Speedy Ortiz, Guppy won a lot of people over, and for good reason.
As for Skating Polly, this youthful Oklahoma band has an irresistible charm all their own. They may have come together when stepsisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse were still in junior high, but they’ve come into their own in a big way on The Make It All Show, their brand new LP, which comes out this Friday. The sisters have strengthened their lineup by adding their little brother on drums, and they’ve got a thicker, more self-assured sound that’s still loaded with the kind of pop charm and hooks that helped them win audiences over when they were still younger than they had any right to be. Come out tonight, bug them for a copy of the new album (chances are they’ve got ’em regardless of offical release date), and dance your ass off. Why wait for Friday night?
Thursday, May 3, 6 PM
Basement, Citizen, Pronoun, Souvenirs, The Grim Gang @ The Canal Club – $20 (order tickets HERE)
You emo fans are in for a treat this Thursday night — a double bill sure to knock your socks off is coming to The Canal Club, and I hope you’re ready! At the top of the bill is excellent UK band Basement, who had a high-profile departure from the scene after their second album but thankfully have been back on track for a few years now, starting with 2016 album Promise Everything and continuing with a variety of tours including the one now bringing them to our doorstep. Their mix of emotional melody and a harder-edged sound that draws equally from mid-90s post-hardcore and chunky alt-rock is somehow simultaneously reminiscent of Quicksand and Hot Water Music (and I hope I’m not dating myself too much with those references).
It may only be their status as Americans that makes the difference, but Citizen began with a much stronger association to the emo revival that everyone was super-stoked about five years ago. However, as trends moved on, they stayed consistent, demonstrating their talent and songwriting quality once again last year with the release of their third album, As You Please. Citizen’s consistently emotional style tugs at your heartstrings even as they attack their instruments with passion and ferocity. Either one of these two bands is worth the price of admission on their own — both together makes this Thursday night gig such a steal that you’d be totally justified in calling in to work the next morning.
Friday, May 4, 8 PM
The Sword, The Shelter People @ The Canal Club – $17 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
These days, I’m sure it’s only the old heads who are aware of The Sword’s RVA connection (well, old heads and those who have been reading my column for a while, because I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before). Evolving out of a stonerific RVA ensemble known as the Ultimate Dragons, The Sword first decamped for Texas and then went through a variety of lineup changes, making frontman JD Cronise their only still-extant connection to our hometown. Even if no one here knew any of them, though, we’d all have good reason to catch their latest jaunt as it touches down in Shockoe Bottom. The band just released their sixth album, Used Future, and it’s every bit as killer as their previous outings.
Some may write The Sword off as Fu Manchu-ish stoner boogie, but their musical evolution over the years has proven that they have a lot more to offer than your typical Camaro-rattling Cali bong-rock ensemble. Used Future takes their sound ever further in a progressive direction, with some of the songs blasting off into outer space fueled by the killer guitar pyrotechnics generated by dueling axemen Cronise and Kyle Shutt. Get ready to have your head expanded. Openers The Shelter People are much more conventionally rooted in late 60s proto-metal stoner fundamentals, but that does nothing to minimize the wallop their 50-foot-thick riffage will lay on you. Pull back the curtains of smoke and enjoy this one in your most laid-back frame of mind.
Saturday, May 5, 7 PM
Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, New Junk City, Washers @ Champion RVA – Free!
Killer melodic punk never goes out of style, and if there’s one thing that’s made that fact clear, it’s been the recent (welcome) return of Pedals On Our Pirate Ships. A longtime project of guitar-slinging local punk troubadour Matt Seymour, this project has undergone quite a bit of revamping since their last LP in 2012 — which might explain why they’ve started going by just plain “Pedals” more and more often. With only two members remaining from their last incarnation, they’ve filled the lineup back out with members from Sundials and gone fully electric for a strong sound that’ll give a real kick to their always-catchy tuneage.
On this bill, their pairing with Atlanta’s New Junk City seems incredibly appropriate, as this band brings their own dose of melodic punk with a powerful electric kick. Their contributions to a recent split EP with UK band Hot Mass make that eminently clear, bringing to mind a few incredible dirty-yet-heartfelt legends of pop-punk’s past, including Dear Landlord and Bent Out Of Shape, among others. The evening kicks off with a set from Washers, a band uniting members of Sports Bar and Worn In Red under the banner of old-school catchy punk. Think The Dictators, or Fear, but without the shady shady politics (god knows we don’t need any more of those). This one is gonna get you dancing.
Sunday, May 6, 7 PM
Hop Along, Saintseneca @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 at the door (order tickets HERE)
There’s something both amazing and terrifying about a band releasing an absolutely incredible album. It’s amazing just because the album exists at all; what’s terrifying is the prospect of a follow-up. Will it take forever? Will it be disappointing? Will the band implode under pressure? Will they just repeat themselves to diminishing returns for the next decade-plus? Hop Along assuaged a lot of fears when they released Bark Your Head Off, Dog, the follow-up to 2015’s outstanding Painted Shut, earlier this year. While Bark Your Head Off is every bit as excellent as this band’s previous release, it’s by no means a carbon copy of what Painted Shut had to offer.
Of course, frontwoman Frances Quinlan’s songwriting skills remain intact, so you can expect great tunes both old and new to greet your ears when Hop Along takes the Broadberry stage this Sunday. But you might also be pleasantly surprised by the risks the band takes with their sound, integrating quiet electronic textures alongside their traditional folk-tinged melodies and alt-rock guitar scrapes. And of course, there’s Quinlan’s incredible voice on top of it all, which manages to turn a breathy twang into a heartfelt grasp for emotional connection in the most powerful of fashions. She and her band are sure to hit close to home for all of us on this night; you owe it to yourself to show up and have a real emotional experience — especially since most of us spend our lives fleeing from such things.
Monday, May 7, 8 PM
Worriers, Positive No, Sea Of Storms, Bad Magic @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Lauren Denitzio just continues to amaze. This excellent songwriter first showed their chops as the less-heard, more-anticipated songwriter in The Measure (SA). They carried that talent over in a big way to the Worriers, who despite perennial lineup instability have become a consistent force for incredible music in the underground punk rock scene. Their third LP, Survival Pop, came out last year and carried on this tradition with songs that both bravely attacked important issues too often swept under the rug in our society (“Gaslighter,” “What We’re Up Against”), and displayed real emotion and vulnerability in a manner that can offer comfort to even the most repressed among us.
The Worriers have come through Richmond with a variety of lineups over the years; Denitzio is often backed by a variety of fellow punk luminaries from bands like The Ergs, Bridge And Tunnel, and more. But really, who’s backing them isn’t that important; what matters here are the songs, and the strength of their delivery. As long as it’s Denitzio up front, you’re guaranteed to get those. And on this incredible bill, you’re going to get a triple-shot of killer local tuneage in the bargain, from Positive No’s politically-driven melodic alt-rock and Sea Of Storms’ hard-hitting post-hardcore emotion to Bad Magic’s always-on-time indie-rock crunch. Don’t miss a single minute.
Tuesday, May 8, 8 PM
Patty Smyth and Scandal @ The Tin Pan – $47.50 in advance/$52.50 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Look, I’ll admit it — the price for this one is high. And you’ve gotta be pretty old to remember Patty Smyth’s heyday with hits like “Goodbye To You” and “The Warrior” (I’m in my 40s and these songs all predate my teen years). That said, while Smyth may not have quite as much indie cool cred as her Y-to-I doppelganger Patti Smith, she and her longtime band Scandal still rock like crazy, and anyone with the means would be foolish to miss out on this surefire great time on a Tuesday night.
Make no mistake, Patty Smyth does have some indie cool points. After all, her first husband was legendary first-wave punk Richard Hell, and one of her biggest hits as a solo artist back in the 80s was a cover of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train.” If you ask me though, it’s her time fronting Scandal that produced her best work; the catchy kiss-off “Goodbye To You” and the feminist power anthem “The Warrior” are deathless rock n’ roll classics. Patty’s been back together with Scandal since that early-2000s VH1 show Bands Reunited made them the subject of an episode, and you can expect the eternally-youthful Smyth to bring the fire when she and Scandal hit the Tin Pan stage Tuesday night. Trust me on this one.
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, in case you’re wondering, more awesomeness from my cracked and bleeding fingertips is available at GayRVA — come say hey.]
Image by Vivienne Lee, photos via Facebook
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