Friday, July 29, 7 PM
FUMES: The Return of Richmond Gas, feat. NDEFRU, Fan Ran, Noah-O, Johnny Ciggs, Vintage A, PT, Nu-Ski, Rah Scrilla, Skweeks, Starr Nyce, Music by Elliott @ Charged Up Flagship Store – $10 in advance, $15 at the door
My background is in punk rock. When my people open up a retail space, it tends to be a record store — or an anarchist bookstore, like the one I used to volunteer at, on Broad St back in the early 00s (I hate to think how much that spot rents for now). Hip hop, though? That’s an entirely different tradition, one that’s much more entrepreneurial in nature. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that when Noah-O and his Charged Up Enterprise opened up a spot about seven blocks east of that long-gone anarchist bookstore on Broad St, it’s focused on selling products they create themselves — streetwear collections, Richmond-branded tote bags, that sort of thing. I’m not the least bit mad at it, either, and not just because Richmond’s hip hop scene deserves to be raking in the bucks. It’s also because the Charged Up Flagship Store has started to dip its toe into putting on shows. And if this one is any indication, we can expect some top-quality live events to come out of this place in future.
That all starts this Friday night, with Fumes: The Return of Richmond Gas. Named after Richmond Gas, a collaborative project created by NDEFRU and Fan Ran and released by Richmond’s own Gritty City Records last year, this show will focus on a collaborative performance by NDEFRU and Fan Ran. The spotlight will be on the aforementioned 2021 album, which is full of incredible beats and flawlessly constructed lyrical flows, assembled in a playful spirit of creativity. The album is assembled with an irreverent sense of humor, but also knows when to get serious. One can only assume NDEFRU and Fan Ran will approach this live performance with the same multi-layered awareness of the best way to keep the party rocking and the people dancing.
If the plan is for NDEFRU and Fan Ran to focus on performing the Richmond Gas album (and that certainly stands to reason), then they’ve picked a great supporting cast for this bill. Almost everyone with a guest feature on this album is also slated to perform a set of their own, so you can expect that feature verses will be included in the headlining set. And when you’re talking long-running local talents as diverse as Charged Up majordomo Noah-O, Gritty City co-founder Johnny Ciggs, veteran local rapper Rah Scrilla, and underrated mainstay PT, you’re talking a whole passel of great opening sets in addition to the killer headliner. I can’t tell you whether NDEFRU and Fan Ran are planning a sequel to the Richmond Gas project, or if so whether they’ll debut any new songs. But I can tell you that the party at the Charged Up Flagship Store this Friday night will be off the chain. And that’s all you really need to know, isn’t it?
Wednesday, July 27, 5 PM
Collective Soul, Switchfoot, Jade Jackson @ River City Sportsplex – $5-$31 (order tickets HERE)
Remember when Innsbrook After Hours was the spot to hit back in the day when you wanted to see veteran rock bands whose biggest days were behind them still making a living as road warriors, playing all the hits you remember from your youth? Well, that tradition has moved south of the river these days, with the River City Sportsplex, out there near the 288/Powhite Parkway junction, taking the reins from the aforementioned West End office park. What’s more, while I wasn’t looking, the veteran bands that play happy-hour gigs like this one went from bands that were big before I was born to bands I used to hear on the radio all the time in my early 20s. I guess time stops for no one, huh?
As veteran road-warrior bands go, Collective Soul’s got a pretty impressive resume. If you’re like me and really only remember their first big hit, “Shine,” you should check in again. Like a friend of mine discovered when he randomly went to see Foreigner about 15 years ago, this band had WAY more hits than you remember. Chances are good that, other than a few new tracks off their soon-to-be-released new LP, Vibrating, you’re gonna know every song Collective Soul plays at this show — and a lot of them are gonna sound way better live than you remember. As for Switchfoot, while they can’t boast the dozen Mainstream Rock Top 10 singles that Collective Soul has to their name, they had a few pretty great tunes 20 or so years ago, and hey, if nothing else, “Meant To Live” will forever be a banger. Like Collective Soul’s formidable back catalog, it’s sure to sound amazing ringing out across a field on a lovely summer afternoon. Why not be part of it?
Thursday, July 28, 7 PM
Wailin’ Storms, Hex Machine, Future Mantis @ Gallery 5 – $10 (order tickets HERE)
You really want to catch my attention with your new album? Give it a name like The Silver Snake Unfolds, as North Carolina band Wailin’ Storms have called their latest full-length, released just last week. That is a cool name, y’all. I’ll bet even Slayer and Neurosis are a little jealous of that one. What’s more, if you go into this album expecting something that’ll appeal to fans of Slayer and Neurosis, you’re probably not gonna go too far wrong, although Wailin’ Storms tends to focus on the slower, more epic end of that spectrum, preferring to create spooky, heavy, metallic rock epics rather than raging thrash monsters.
Whatever, the point is that it’s all a lot of fun — The Silver Snake Unfolds has only been out for a few days now, and I’ve already gone back to it half a dozen times or so. Imagining how good these rippers will sound when belted out at top volume in Gallery 5’s main hall fills me with joyful anticipation. The fact that they’ve got really great local support for this gig doesn’t hurt, either. Hex Machine will bring their usual flair for complex, heavy-hitting noisecore to the table, so get ready for some off-time headbangs when these dudes take the stage. The opening set from ambient noise artist Future Mantis is sure to set the mood quite delightfully as well. This one will take you places. Enjoy the ride.
Friday, July 29, 8 PM
Hey Beautiful, JPH, E 33rd, Soraya Silene @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Y’all, it’s a wild time to be queer right now — especially if your gender doesn’t correspond to the one you were labeled with at birth. I know all about this, which is a lot of why I immediately gravitated toward Harrisonburg folk-punk project Hey Beautiful, whose 2021 debut single, “Queer Hell,” captured the difficult, contradictory experience of living in America in a time when LGBTQ identities are simultaneously becoming more accepted in American society and more demonized in legal and political circles, where right-wing assholes want to label anyone who might exist as a positive role model for LGBTQ youth a “groomer.”
Hey Beautiful captures all the triumph and tragedy of day-to-day queer life in this era on their debut EP, Queer Hell Is Glittering, which pairs the energetic jangle of the aforementioned quasi-title track with yearning acoustic tunes like “Paint Me On Your Nails” in a manner that displays the project’s range. The result is somewhere between the earliest Against Me EPs and that iconic first Violent Femmes LP, plus a bit of Snail Mail or Soccer Mommy. Honestly, even if you don’t relate to the queer/trans/non-binary experience circa 2022, you should still show up at Garden Grove this Friday night just to hear these excellent tunes. But if you do have intimate knowledge of the LGBTQ struggle circa 2022, Hey Beautiful’s set at Garden Grove will be downright soul-nourishing. Show up and feel seen.
Saturday, July 30, 8 PM
The Ar-Kaics, Tuxedo Cats, Shawnis And The Shimmers, The Barbed Wires @ Black Iris Social Club – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Saturday night is a great night for rock n’ roll, and you’ll get plenty of that if you show up at Black Iris Social Club this Saturday night for the latest Richmond appearance by The Ar-Kaics. After several years during which it’s completely understandable for anyone to have dealt with delays, hangups, and other assorted issues, The Ar-Kaics have finally completed their follow-up to 2018’s In This Time — which is great news for any local heads who get a big kick out of no-frills garage-punk ragers. An anonymous source even tells me they’ll be playing some of the new tunes, just to get us all hyped for the coming slab of awesomeness. Who can complain about that? Certainly not me!
However, the Ar-Kaics set at this show is just the beginning of the reasons to make it down to Black Iris Saturday night. New York-based newcomers Tuxedo Cats are also making an appearance in support of their brand new debut EP, Out The Bag, which features tongue-in-cheek bangers like “Please Show Me Your Phone” and “Under The BQE,” all of which master the same sort of tough-rockin’ yet catchy-as-hell awesomeness you might find in bands like Sheer Mag, Ex Hex, and even the Ramones. The bill is rounded out by local garage-punk wild ones Shawnis And the Shimmers, along with the debut Richmond performance by The Barbed Wires, a band featuring members of Strike Anywhere and the Pink Razors, among others. Basically, this is a jam-packed bonanza that’s sure to thrill any rock n’ roll fan. You know what to do.
Sunday, July 31, 2 PM
Stand Still, Bent Blue, Dozing, Debrider @ The Camel – $8 (order tickets HERE)
While the pandemic does still linger (don’t kid yourself that it’s gone, folks — you seen the case numbers?), we are thankfully getting closer to a full-scale return to normal life where live music is concerned. This show is a great example of exactly that, representing as it does the return of Sunday afternoon hardcore matinees to the Richmond live music landscape. It might sound crazy for a show to get started at 2 pm, even on a Sunday — many of us are barely out of brunch by that point. However, considering we’re all gonna have to at least try for a good night’s sleep so we can get back to work bright and early the next morning, it’s certainly not the worst way to cap off your weekend.
It’s even better that this show brings Stand Still to Richmond. This Long Island band might be considered melodic hardcore or post-hardcore, depending on where you draw the line, but I’m not here to adjudicate such hair-splitting — I’m here to recommend you go see this band! After all, their just-released second EP, In A Moment’s Notice, kicks up the quality level from where it was on their excellent debut, A Practice In Patience. There are elements of bands like Lifetime, Samiam, Polar Bear Club, and Make Do And Mend showing through in this band’s heartfelt vocals, crunchy yet catchy riffs, and driving rhythms, and it’s awesome. Indeed, if they’re already this good two EPs in, I can’t imagine how great their debut LP will be. But you don’t have to wait for all that — go see them now, and get in on the ground floor of what’s sure to be a huge band once everyone else catches on.
Monday, August 1, 6:30 PM
An Evening With Adrian Belew @ Ashland Theatre – $44.50 – $59.50 (order tickets HERE)
Legendary avant-garde guitarist Adrian Belew will need no introduction to many of you, and if you’re one of those readers, I’m sure you’ve already clicked the ticket link by now and are just sticking around to see what I have to say about him. But for those of you who are confused, this show preview presents a challenge. See, it’s easy just to list everyone Adrian Belew’s played with over the years: beginning his career as a sideman for Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and the Talking Heads, among others, he joined King Crimson in 1981 and launched a new phase of the legendary prog-rock group’s career, taking them in a direction that incorporated punk and new wave influences while remaining both progressive and technical. Belew remained with the band for nearly 30 years, and Belew-fronted King Crimson albums like Discipline and Three Of A Perfect Pair are considered some of the band’s best.
Belew’s solo career ran concurrently with his time in King Crimson and has continued over the past decade; even turning 70, as Belew did in 2019, has not slowed him down. He’s about to release his eighteenth solo album, Elevator, and based on excellent advance single “a13,” it should be another great example of Belew’s flawless ability to mix avant-garde sonic textures with complex, erudite art-pop. For his current tour, he’s bringing the new album to the world without the benefit of opening acts. Instead, he’ll be doing three sets over the course of the evening: one in which he fronts a power trio performing songs old and new, a quieter solo acoustic interlude, followed by a brief intermission and a final power trio set in which the volume will get cranked and the music will get heavy. It’ll be a full evening of excellence, as only Belew can do. And believe me, it’s not something you’d be smart to miss.
Tuesday, August 2, 7 PM
Clementine, Lowlife Tea Party, Everybody Gets One @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Let’s wrap up our week by visiting Richmond’s faithful standby for live music on the slower nights of the week. The Camel comes through for us once again this Tuesday, bringing in Wisconsin band Clementine to blow us all away with a set of power-pop tunes sure to brighten up an evening the extended forecast says will be the sixth stormy one in a row. We’ll need some guitar-driven sunshine at that point, and that’s exactly what Clementine unleashes on brand new single “Lucinda,” which we can only hope is the harbinger of a forthcoming album full of tunes this catchy. After all, their 2017 EP, This Will Hurt, was outstanding.
Whether Clementine will roll into Richmond with a quiver full of as-yet-unrecorded new killers or will simply delight all comers with the best of their past tracks, the result will be pleasant for anyone who enjoys guitar-driven pop rock awesomeness. And who among us does that description not apply to? I mean, really. Local up-and-comers Lowlife Tea Party and Everybody Gets One will get this one started by regaling us all with their own take on catchy rock n’ roll, and I don’t mind saying that both of them have promising approaches. So brighten up your rainy Tuesday night, and get over to The Camel for this one. You won’t regret 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]