Saturday, February 1, 6 PM
Snack Truck, Ultra Dolphins, Order @ Hardywood – $20 suggested donation
Whoa boy, this is a real treat. While the mid-00s in Virginia underground music is better remembered today for Municipal Waste’s party thrash and the no-frills USHC of the No Way Records crowd, the fact is that a whole bunch of really incredible bands in Richmond and around the state were getting excellent results with a strange brand of psychedelic math-punk noise-core… or something like that. This show brings together fully THREE leading lights of that era, constituting some of the best music ever produced along the I-81 corridor. So whether you were there back then or had no idea about any of this until right now, it’d be a really good idea to come to this show and see what it’s all about.
Snack Truck are at the top of the bill, and this band’s decade-long history saw them grow from a speedy, chaotic two-piece with riffs for days into a dual-drummer quartet generating instrumental space epics for days. What lineup this reunited group will give us, and what era of Snack Truck’s music they’ll be playing, is anyone’s guess. But regardless, their set is sure to be riveting, because they always brought the fire, no matter what phase of their evolution you caught them in.
One Snack Truck member (besides guitarist, leader, and only constant member Matt Krofchek) I’m sure will be in the house this Saturday night is Nate Rappole. He may or may not be drumming for Snack Truck, but he’s certain to be strapping on his guitar and fronting spastic noise-rock trio Ultra Dolphins, which makes him a good candidate to appear behind the drums during Snack Truck as well. If you’ve seen Rappole’s work with Gull, his current one-man exploration of music’s outer limits, you know he can do it all, and more besides. Come out to this show to see where he started out.
And of course, make sure you catch Order, the maniacal garage-noise combo from down Blacksburg way, who also evolved so significantly during their lengthy career that it’s hard to predict who will be on stage for this performance or what era of the band’s career they’ll sound like. By now, you know I’m going to tell you that it’s worth seeing regardless. On top of all that, this event is a benefit for Bronwen Zwicker, who is currently living with ALS. We all know medical bills are a nightmare even at the best of times, so come help out someone in need, and get a chance to rock out in the bargain.
Wednesday, January 29, 10 PM
New Lions, Cool Moon, Rough Age @ Don’t Look Back Triple – Free!
It’s Wednesday night, and if you’re having as much trouble getting through this week as I am, you certainly need a break and some great music to keep you getting up for work the next day. Don’t Look Back has exactly that sort of thing for you tonight, and what’s even better is that it’s free — so you can spend your cash on their delicious tacos. At the Triple location over in Scott’s Addition tonight, three excellent bands will take the stage, with Richmond mainstays New Lions at the top of the bill.
After their recent EP, End Story, took their catchy, complex post-hardcore sound to a new level of awesomeness, New Lions’ brand new single “How Do You Feel?” shows that they still have plenty of room to grow. Houston’s Cool Moon offer a tough yet melodic take on catchy alt-rock sounds that we can never have too much of. And brand new RVA band Rough Age finds two former members of Lightfields coming together with former Exploder guitarist Jesse Lyell to bring us the same sort of loud, chaotic, yet fundamentally catchy post-hardcore sound that both bands were so good at before. All of this is going to be great — it’s sure to improve your mood. And so will the tacos.
Thursday, January 30, 9 PM
The Royal Hounds, Chubby & The Gang, Sensual World @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
When you think of punk rock, you probably think of something harsh and confrontational. A lot of it is exactly that. But one thing that marked a lot of the best early punk bands was their flair for a sort of no-frills tunefulness that had really been lost by mainstream rock groups of the time. You can hear a lot of those early, catchy punk bands in what the two out-of-town bands playing at Fuzzy Cactus this Thursday night have to offer.
First, there’s The Royal Hounds, an NYC band that harks back to the catchiest, most rocked-out of the early UK Oi! bands. If you love Blitz and Cocksparrer, this is the band for you. Meanwhile, London’s own Chubby & the Gang are much closer to that spitfire energy and massive catchiness of the first few Damned LPs — and they’ve got some velocity to their attack as well. Richmond’s own Sensual World open the evening up, bringing a bit of a gothic feel to their dark, jangly punk tunes — like Gun Club jamming with the Wipers. Dig it.
Friday, January 31, 7 PM
Jawbox, Hammered Hulls, Positive No @ The Broadberry – $28 (order tickets HERE)
It’s a good time to be an aging 90s kid, especially if you were able to parlay your college degree into a job that gives you a fair amount of disposable income. I wasn’t, but those of you more fortunate than myself are in luck this Friday night, as reunited 90s legends Jawbox storm the Broadberry. This DC post-hardcore (I’m using that term in the column a lot this week… give me a break, I’m tired) quartet is best known for “Savory,” which got some play on MTV back in the day, but anyone who has spent some time with their four great albums knows that there aren’t any weaknesses anywhere in the catalog.
And that’s what’s great about this reunion tour; there isn’t any new album to dilute the legacy, it’s just gonna be all the classic Jawbox tracks you know and love. So get ready to rock out like you did at that roller rink show back in the summer of 95 (I missed that one — had to work a shift at Taco Bell). Jawbox is bringing Hammered Hulls, the latest project of Mary Timony (Ex Hex/Wild Flag) and Alec MacKaye (Faith/Ignition), with them to add some bonus awesomeness. Plus, in a bittersweet note, this evening will feature the final live performance by Richmond’s excellent Positive No. You certainly won’t want to miss that — because if you do, you’ll never get another chance.
Saturday, February 1, 9 PM
Slow Crush, Grivo, Haybaby, Twin Drugs @ Wonderland – $10
This Saturday night at Wonderland, it’s time to embrace the haze. Belgium shoegaze crew Slow Crush are coming through, and they’re fully prepared to envelop you in a simultaneously crushing (no pun intended) and beautiful wall of anointing guitar fuzz gorgeousness. 2019 EP Ease shows that this band knows how to wield dynamics to their advantage, incorporating moments of quiet beauty and enormous volume into the same song with aplomb.
Texas’s Grivo, the other touring band on this bill, shares a spiritual kinship with Slow Crush. However, they move more in the direction of a glittery, slow-motion hypnosis. On 2018’s Elude, their songs proceed deliberately and create a lovely ambience, which they fill with the same sort of reverbed guitars that delight fans of the Chameleons and The Cure circa 1983. These two groups will find some of the most appropriate support possible in Richmonders Haybaby and Twin Drugs, making this whole evening an opportunity to dream away… at top volume, of course.
Sunday, February 2, 8 PM
Unmaker, Timelost, Dozing @ Wonderland – $10
The Super Bowl has become such an overwhelming thing that it’s almost impossible to find good live music on the first Sunday night in February because every bar wants to show the game instead. Fortunately, there’s one music venue in Richmond that is immune to the charms of America’s most monolithic sporting event; leave it to Wonderland, the punkest bar in Shockoe Bottom, to come through in the clutch. And that’s exactly what they’ll do with this Sunday night refuge for everyone out there who’d rather rock than watch the “big game.”
Unmaker top the bill for this one, and their brand of gothic, metallic postpunk has been one of the most reliably great times available on the Richmond live music scene for a while now. If you’ve missed out to this point, you should really unfuck that now before you waste any more of your life. Meanwhile, Timelost brings us members of post-rockers Set And Setting and black metallers Woe doing something much catchier and more easily approachable. Their debut LP, Don’t Remember Me For This, has a somewhat shadowy atmosphere, but fills it with downright toe-tapping melodic hooks; the result, far from being an odd pairing, is just about perfect. The evening is completed by up-and-coming Richmonders Dozing, whose catchy rock n’ roll tunes should round things out quite nicely.
Monday, February 3, 9 PM
Mutant Flesh, Paint Store, Plastic Nancy @ Cary Street Cafe – $10
Bombastic sludge is never a bad thing, and Philadelphia’s Mutant Flesh are bringing that exact sound to Cary Street Cafe this Monday to shake the dust off the tops of the deadhead posters over there. While Mutant Flesh share members with the legendary Stinking Lizaveta (who were a regular and welcome presence on the RVA noise-rock scene during the heady days when Hell Mach Four and More Fire For Burning People ruled the roost), their current sound is much closer to Saint Vitus or Candlemass. If this is your kind of thing, you know it, and you should definitely make it out to Cary Street Cafe this Monday night.
You’ll also be lucky enough to see Paint Store, the instrumental math-metal group that lit things up around Richmond a while back but have been keeping a low profile recently. I for one am glad to see that they’re still out there, and looking forward to more from these talented shredders. Youthful psychedelians Plastic Nancy will kick off this event, bringing a delightful retro sound to get things started off right. Chase away the Monday blues with this one — you’ll be glad you did.
Tuesday, February 4, 7 PM
A Deer A Horse, Horse Culture, Weird Tears @ Gallery 5 – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (Order tickets HERE)
Doom metal’s chill, but I always like it when a band finds a way to be slow and heavy without falling into too many classic doom tropes. Therefore, I definitely approve of what Brooklyn trio A Deer A Horse are up to. Sure, they definitely traffic in doom, but they mix so many other things in there, from driving punk riffs to sudden dynamic shifts, always topped off with Rebecca Satellite’s powerful, unforgettable vocals. It’s heavy, it’s foreboding, and best of all, it’s unpredictable — something too many doom bands are not.
A Deer A Horse are joined on this bill by another “horse” band that messes with doom tropes but ultimately subverts them — Richmond’s own Horse Culture, who can get sludgy at times but also love to explode into harsh, uptempo punk moments and generally entertaining doses of noise madness. With Weird Tears, the group of Richmond all-stars doing the best Replacements-style downcast pop sound the river city’s got right now, kicking this whole evening off, you’re in for an entertaining time from moment one til closing time.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday January 31, 7 PM
Harli & The House Of Jupiter, Keese, Dogfuck, Mike Bizarro, Sanji The Hedgehog @ The Southern Cafe (Charlottesville) – $7 (order tickets HERE)
Taking a closer look at the Charlottesville music scene might not have found you much back in the late 80s when I was a bored high school student living there, but that’s changed in a big way over the past few decades, and we’re all better off for it. Harli Saxon is the exact sort of talented songwriter that Charlottesville’s always needed, and her work with the House Of Jupiter definitely enriches the sound of that city and the state as a whole.
On their 2019 LP, Deja Vu, Harli & The House Of Jupiter combine a mishmash of different sounds from various far-flung genres into a unique style that shows clear influence from blues, soul, jazz, metal, and classic rock, but feels very much of the moment. You may not know what’s coming next at any given time, but you always know that it’s gonna rock — and isn’t that what we all want? This evening features a variety of Virginia hip hop creators opening things off, which should strike a pleasant contrast with what Harli & The House of Jupiter are bringing, and serves to remind us once again that Charlottesville has it going on.
Saturday, February 1, 7 PM
Deadculture, Degrader, Violent Life Violent Death, RVNT, Kaos Reign, Nervous System @ RiffHouse Pub (Chesapeake) – $10
I don’t know what to call the heavy music the kids make these days. I hear everything from Earth Crisis mosh to Meshuggah math and nu-metal groove in what Ohio’s Deadculture are doing, and I must ask: does this count as deathcore? I’m honestly not sure, but I am sure that these guys make me want to headbang. And really, where metal’s concerned, do you need anything else?
Massachusetts boys Degrader are bringing even more of that sort of thing to Chesapeake’s RiffHouse this Saturday night, and I can’t help but smile when I hear the brutal, nearly sludgy power of their monolithic riffs. There’s some vaguely industrial-sounding notes here, which reminds me of Harms Way just a bit, but as with Harms Way, what I really get from this band is that they’re heavy as fuck. Paired up with Deadculture and several of the Tidewater area’s heaviest local bands, they’re doing more than enough to create an evening of headbanging nirvana. Be part of it.
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]
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