Saturday, August 20, 4 PM
United Rudd Fest, feat. Baby Age, Contact, Dark Waters, Diet Blood, Downhaul, Floor Space, Followship, Heavy Is The Head, Keep Flying, Mean Jesus, Two Cars @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s something I’ve known for a long time: hardcore kids don’t always have the biggest senses of humor about the things they do. Therefore, one can only hope that this jam-packed Saturday show at The Camel is taken by the founders of the now-defunct United Blood Fest (some of whom put together the Big Takeover fest earlier this summer) take the existence of the “United Rudd Fest” in the spirit it’s intended: as a good-natured send-up of a departed local institution — one that’s also both a tongue-in-cheek celebration of agelessly handsome comedy star Paul Rudd and a damn good lineup featuring nearly a dozen rad bands from around Virginia and the East Coast. That’s a lot of weight for United Rudd Fest to carry, but considering the strength of this lineup, it seems more than capable of rising to the occasion.
The lineup’s mostly listed in alphabetical order around the internet, so I have very little idea of who is playing when. There’s also an element of mystery around who exactly is making this show happen. But for anyone who’s been paying close attention to Richmond music for the past several years, the presence of Diet Blood on the bill should give away the game. This energetic, emotional pop-punk band has spent their entire career leading with an unorthodox creative spirit that often shows in the live events they put on — most recently, their two-night takeover of Garden Grove Brewing that was billed as “Blood Night II: Take Two Times Two.” United Rudd Fest is solidly in the tradition of Diet Blood gigs being anything but just another show on the local music calendar. And I, for one, love them for it, as much as I love their incredible 2019 EP, First Steps. Hey guys, some new music soon? Please?
A lot more is happening on this bill — ten bands’ worth, in fact. Let’s get through ’em quick: Mean Jesus is heavy hardcore from Norfolk, featuring former members of Converge, Canephora, and Murphy’s Kids; their latest EP, Challenger, combines speed, power, and a subtle yet strong dose of melody. Dark Waters brings together a bunch of Richmond veterans from bands like Race The Sun, Sea Of Storms, and Deep China to crank out some heavy, emotional metallic hardcore; their Dreams In Bottle Rockets EP from last year fuckin’ rules. Pennsylvania’s Keep Flying appear to be a former ska band who turned into a melodic hardcore band but kept the horn players; I’m not mad at it — the result is a lot of fun, as shown on 2020’s Survival LP. Downhaul is a Richmond band with a lot going on, fearlessly mixing indie, alt-rock, alt-country, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even quite parse out on 2021’s Proof — which is a great record. And then there are six more awesome bands I’m out of space to talk about, and it’s all on one afternoon! Go to this — it’s gonna be a ton of fun, even if you did think United Blood Fest was awesome.
Wednesday, August 17, 8 PM
Slashers, Die Today, Colossal Wreck @ Cobra Cabana – $10
Thrashin’ on the patio at Cobra Cabana — is there anything better? I mean, in all honesty Cobra Cabana’s food might be up there… but I digress. It’s always fun when this chill-as-heck punk rock restaurant opens up their backyard for a ripping show, and what’s really great is that said shows so consistently feature such great music. This time around, the evening is headed up by Slashers, a New York-based quartet with a fashion sense straight out of Among The Living-era Anthrax. For the less Of A Certain Age among you, I’m talking about jams shorts and tube socks. It makes sense; that’s how I dressed in junior high, and I also had a backpack full of Metallica and Slayer tapes to blast in my Walkman. If you’d have given 12-year-old me a copy of the new Slashers EP, Hang On, the only thing I wouldn’t have loved about it is that it’s only 15 minutes long.
We’ll all get to relive the glory of 80s thrash at Cobra Cabana tonight when Slashers hit the stage, even if some of us have grey hair and pot bellies these days. We’ll also get a killer set from Richmonders Colossal Wreck, who delve into a past metal era that’s more 11th grade than 7th, at least for me — the glorious early days of death metal, when Floridian legends like Deicide, Obituary, and Morbid Angel ruled my headphones with eardrum-shredding metal fury. A lot of them put out records on a label called Earache, which was entirely appropriate. Colossal Wreck’s 2020 EP, Half Dead, would have sounded great on an Earache cassette 30 years ago — but so what? The important thing is that it sounds great today. And it DOES. This band will go twice as hard in a live environment like the one that awaits them at Cobra Cabana tonight. This one’s well worth seeing.
Thursday, August 18, 6 PM
Benefit for Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, feat. Catie Lausten, Blush Face, FLKL, Tiara & Andrew @ Gallery 5 – $10-25 sliding scale donation (order tickets HERE)
And now for something completely different — even though it’s happening just up the road. Just under 24 hours after the Cobra Cabana show tonight kicks off, Gallery 5 will open its doors for an important benefit to help raise funds for Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project. I know, I know, we’re all used to the fact that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, but we can’t get complacent now; Virginia is lucky to still have any sort of abortion rights, and we’re gonna have to fiercely defend those rights if we expect them to stick around. In the meantime, women and other potentially pregnant people are more vulnerable than ever, and there’s a lot of work to do to ensure that the actual individuals affected by all this nonsense still get what they need. RRFP is here to help. We’ve all got lives to lead, it’s true, but if we can’t step in to offer our assistance to RRFP on a regular, ongoing basis, then what are we even doing?
It’s an especially easy thing to do in light of the fact that you’re really only being asked to kick in a little extra for a legitimately exciting showcase of local musical talent. Catie Lausten’s our closing performer for the evening, and she absolutely deserves the spotlight here. This Richmond singer-songwriter, who refers to herself as a “pop baby” on her bandcamp page (and like, where’s the lie?) just released a new EP called Love To Love To Love, and on it she excels in the glorious tradition of creating gorgeous pop songs with sharp, transgressive lyrics. Catchy highlight “Psycho Bitch” will have you singing along to lines like “You know I’m a psycho bitch but I know you still want me.” It’s a tale as old as time, y’all, but Catie makes it swing. Come check out how she and her band deliver the goods live, and catch great sets from always excellent indie-popsters Blush Face, jangly indie-punkers FLKL, and soulful duo Tiara & Andrew in the bargain. All that… and it’s for a great, important cause? How can you pass it up?
Friday, August 19, 7 PM
Death Bells, Smirk @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $14 in advance, $16 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’m sure I’ve mentioned on here recently that I’m pretty obsessed with Australia these days — and not because now feels like a good time to get as far as possible from America. Well, not JUST because of that. Anyway, from hosting the superior form of motor racing in the world today to having a COVID death toll a hundred times lower than the US’s, Australia seems to have a lot of good things to offer these days. And one of the big ones is their music. We all know about AC/DC, The Church, and Tame Impala, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And unfortunately, for Australian bands to reach a wider audience and break into the music industry, they sometimes have to leave their native lands and come to Europe, or the US.
The latter route is the one Death Bells have taken, moving to Los Angeles back before the pandemic in order to give their 2020 LP, New Signs Of Life, a chance to really break out. What they’ve experienced over the past few years of living in America has been one of the biggest influences on their brand new album, Between Here & Everywhere, which came out last month. It continues forward in the spooky postpunk vein Death Bells have been tapping for a few years now, evoking resonances of Creepoid, Joy Division, Gun Club, and The Chameleons, among many others. It’s an in-depth portrait of what the band has found when they stepped away from the parts of Los Angeles forever in the international spotlight and discovered the hidden sides of a multi-faceted city. These are dark, powerful, and fascinating songs, and they’re sure to sound amazing when Death Bells bring them to the Richmond Music Hall stage. Be there and immerse yourself in a very deep musical mood.
Saturday, August 20, 5 PM
Kind Hearted Strangers, Dylan Lynch @ Now.Here Studios – $20 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s a unique and intriguing artistic event that isn’t that much like anything else I’ve ever heard about. I’m a pretty adventurous girl, so that’d probably be enough to get me recommending this show all on its own, but even on the merits of the talents involved, it’s interesting enough even without the unusual setup. OK, let me stop getting ahead of myself and explain. Now.Here Studios, which is a pun I particularly appreciate as a Secret Machines fan, take as their raison d’etre the creative possibilities that exist when different artists inhabit the same space and create work on an accelerated timeline. That’s why they’re bringing visual artist Dylan Lynch and the band Kind Hearted Strangers together for a week that will culminate in this show on Saturday.
Kind Hearted Strangers, a quartet from Denver, Colorado, released their debut album, East//West, last year. It’s a lovely full-length that shows off their talents in multiple genres, from Americana to power-pop to basic rock n’ roll. Now, at Now.Here Studios, they’re in the process of spending a week in intense collaboration, putting together their next album, from start to finish, all over the course of seven days. That’s what they’ll be playing for all comers this Saturday, in conjunction with the latest collection of artworks from Dylan Lynch, who also put together the work that’ll be on display in only one week. It’s sort of like the old “rock Lotto” shows that used to happen here in Richmond, only with higher stakes and a more serious final product. Basically, it’s a really cool idea, the results of which are sure to be well worth investigating further. Show up at Now.Here in Manchester this Saturday to find out how it all works out.
Sunday, August 21, 4 PM
Grimalkin Music Fest, feat. Infinity Knives & Brian Ennals, Jason Jamal, So Nice Yesterday, Queen Paz, Ishtar Sr. (feat. Dani Lee Pearce), Spartan Jet-Plex, Infinite Bliss, Hunting Dog, (Eli)zabeth Owens, Baltimega @ Fallout – $15 in advance, $25 at the door (order tickets HERE)
If you’re the sort of person who wants to fill every available spare moment with live music, this is definitely the weekend for you. Not only is the one-day United Rudd Fest on tap to fill your Saturday with nearly 12 hours of rad music, it’ll be followed up on Sunday at Fallout by Grimalkin Music Fest, a completely different sort of musical showcase that nonetheless demonstrates the formidable power and variety of the local, regional, and nationwide music scene. Grimalkin is a local label that’s been hard at work for most of the past decade on a mission summed up by their label manifesto: “Marginalized artists supporting each other.” The result of this policy has been a label united in goals and struggles, but with a wide variety of musical sounds and moods, all under the same roof. That mix of political unity with musical variety is sure to show through in the many different sonic flavors Grimalkin Music Fest will bring to all who attend.
At the top of the bill is a collaborative set by Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals, who made a fascinating collaborative album, Rhino XXL, back in 2020. From hip hop and new wave to techno and ambient soundscapes, it’s an album that explores a variety of sounds with vigor and aplomb, and one can only assume that these two artists will bring Rhino XXL‘s fearless creative spirit to life when they hit the stage. Many other sounds will surely be explored over this event’s eight-hour runtime as well, and you’re going to want to show up early and catch it all — especially since Grimalkin board member (Eli)zabeth Owens will be one of the first acts to hit the stage. Their fascinating 2021 LP, Knock Knock, showed off a strong creative energy and a talent for writing melodies that dipped into a variety of instruments and sounds without staying on any one of them long enough to get comfortable. Inbetween these two sets, there’s so much to dig into: the electronic experiments of Hunting Dog, the silky-flowing R&B jams of Jason Jamal, the reverberant indie-folk sounds of Spartan Jet-Plex, the droning metallic guitars of Infinite Bliss, and quite a bit more I don’t have the space to get into. If anything, I’ve used up too much space already — but look, this show is worth it. Make it the way you spend your Sunday; you will not regret it.
Monday, August 22, 7 PM
Dizzy Wright, YONAS, BEANZ, MC Bravado @ The Broadberry – $20 (order tickets HERE)
When an artist does an entire tour celebrating the anniversary of a previous album of theirs, you know it’s a big one where their creative life and career are concerned. That’s clearly the case for Dizzy Wright, who comes through Richmond this Monday to commemorate SmokeOut Conversations, an album he released a decade ago. Now, you might think this is wack as hell, but… I’ve never really spent any time with Dizzy Wright’s music. As soon as I opened up my streaming app of choice and pulled up SmokeOut Conversations, I realized I’d made a huge mistake there.
Here’s the thing: Dizzy is all about weed, to the point where you might think that’s all he’s got to offer. And I’m not mad at it or anything, but weed’s not really what I’m about. However, that’s no reason not to immerse oneself in Dizzy Wright’s music. From his emotionally fueled vulnerable lyrics to the undeniable flow of his rhymes to the killer beats his voice rests atop, Dizzy Wright’s music is uniformly excellent. That was true on the album that became his breakout hit ten years ago, and it’s still just as true on 2022’s Dizzyland. For this show, Dizzy is almost certainly going to focus on that early record he’s here to commemorate, but you really can’t go wrong no matter what portion of his career he chooses to dip into at any given moment. So yeah, even if you’re only a casual hip hop fan, even if you’ve never listened to any Dizzy Wright album all the way through, you really should make your way down to The Broadberry this Monday night, ready to get on his level. High or sober, it’s a great place to be.
Tuesday, August 23, 7 PM
The Beths, Rosie Tucker @ The Broadberry – $20 (order tickets HERE)
We’re not going back to Australia already — not just yet. But with this performance by The Beths, we’re getting damn close. See, the Beths are from New Zealand, that collection of islands to Australia’s east where the Lord Of The Rings movies came from, and over the course of the two LPs and one EP they’ve released since 2016, they’ve proven themselves excellent carriers of the strong musical tradition New Zealand’s indie scene has established over the past half-century. Anyone who has dug The Clean, The Bats, The Verlaines, or any of several dozen other New Zealand bands is sure to find something to love in the awkward, jangly, and extremely lovable melodic indie-pop The Beths excel in.
What’s really great news is that The Beths are coming to Richmond only a month before the release of their third album, Experts In A Dying Field (so it’s an album about journalism, huh? Kidding, kidding…). They’ve released three singles from the LP so far, and all of them are excellent slices of toe-tapping indie-pop awesomeness, complete with relatable lyrics about awkward situations and life’s little struggles. It’s enough to make you wish the whole album was here already. Luckily for us all, we’ll get a strong preview of it at The Broadberry this Tuesday night — in a dark room, at top volume. It’s the perfect situation for bouncing around with a smile on your face; indeed, The Beths’ set is likely to brighten up your whole week. With the world the way it is these days, we all need as much of that as we can possibly get.
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]