Saturday, June 16, 6:30 PM
Saw Black, David Shultz, Graham Stone @ Hardywood – Free!
Summer’s here; it’s time for long evenings out on the porch, watching the sun seemingly take hours to set as we all relax with some tasty beverages. I know, I know, summer actually doesn’t start for another week, but here in Richmond, it might as well last half the year, so celebrating its arrival now hardly seems like jumping the gun. And what better way do we have to usher in the summer than by welcoming Saw Black’s latest album, Water Tower, into the world with a celebration of its release on a Saturday evening at Hardywood?
If you’ve got one, I suppose you’re welcome to suggest it, but as perfect as this free Saturday show is going to be, I highly doubt you’re going to convince me. Mr. Black’s really established himself over the past few years as Richmond’s resident troubadour of our Southern city’s subtly rich emotional life, and Water Tower takes things to the next level, as Black and his backing band bring to mind everything from Harvest-era Neil Young to early My Morning Jacket and the Drive-By Truckers at their more heartfelt moments. They’ll be recreating the album’s warm, enveloping sound from the Hardywood stage this weekend, as Black brings the ensemble that performed the album with him for this special musical celebration.
You should be able to grab one of the limited edition vinyl copies of Water Tower from Crystal Pistol at the show, though honestly, word has it that they’re selling fast, so you might wanna hit the merch table even before you go to the bar. But save a few bucks for the plentiful offerings Hardywood has on tap, and make sure you arrive on time. Opening acts will include local singer-songwriter David Shultz, who has a long history of heartfelt country sounds to draw from for this performance, as well as up-and-comer Graham Stone, who’s been generating a buzz lately with his frequent local performances. This won’t be the most intense show this week, but with hot weather on its way, some more laid-back evenings are going to be the thing you’re looking for. Find one at Hardywood this weekend; you’ll be glad you did.
Wednesday, June 13, 9 PM
False Figure, Cruz De Navajas, Serqet, Sensual World @ Wonderland – $5
An interesting strain on the rise in the punk rock world recently has been strong goth vibes. And I’m not talking about dudes with deep voices intoning portentously over drum-machine beats, either. No, I’m talking about a revival of the dark, reverbed-out sound that grew hand-in-hand with the early 80s UK postpunk scene, the one that centered around a club called the Batcave and drew in bands from The Cure to The Birthday Party. You can hear a big dose of that whole sound in Oakland’s False Figure, who are coming to Wonderland tonight with an undeniable blast of punk energy that nonetheless maintains an ominous undercurrent, one providing an atmosphere of gothic intrigue that’s reminiscent of Antisect or Amebix, and is sure to send a chill down your spine.
Mexico City’s Cruz De Navajas accompany False Figure on this trip, and they take things still further into the world of gothic 80s postpunk, using drum machine beats to undergird their energetic rhythms and cutting, Cure/Echo-ish guitar sound. Their excellent singer’s undeniable vocal resemblance to Siouxsie Sioux only takes things to a higher level, and new album Dominación presents a preview of some truly excellent sounds that await you tonight at Wonderland. Local gothic peace-punk exponents Serqet will provide excellent support, and opening up will be a new local ensemble called Sensual World (word to Kate Bush), featuring members of Kommunion and Bad Magic. It’s gonna be a real ripper, so whether you’re punk as fuck or more from the goth side of things, wear your darkest clothes and your dancing shoes down to Shockoe Bottom tonight.
Thursday, June 14, 8 PM
RIP, Plaque Marks, Prayer Group, Swathe @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow, I’m not sure how I missed out on RIP but I’m glad they’re coming to Richmond so that I could learn of their existence and bring some more reasons to headbang into my life. I’ve been known to complain about doom metal getting played out, becoming repetitive, etc. but a band like this bypasses all those criticisms by setting themselves apart from the standard doom tropes with the style they’ve christened “street-doom.” Really, it sounds like those early Kyuss records from the dawn of the 90s, when no one had really even started calling it doom and it was just dirty, Sabbath-influenced metal that sounded perfect blasting out of a lowered American muscle car with a metal flake paint job.
RIP bring that era back to life with their Street Reaper album from last fall, which even features the band’s members sitting in a pristine convertible lowrider on the cover. Color me stoked. The fact that they’re coming to town in the company of Philly’s Plaque Marks is even more reason for excitement; this band brings together members of Creepoid and Fight Amp, among others, to dish out the exact sort of psychotic, psychedelic, metallic rage you’d expect from a band with such a strong pedigree. Last year’s Anxiety Driven Nervous Worship has a pummeling drive guaranteed to run you over; I expect no less from their live show. Local noise-punkers Prayer Group and Swathe will kick things off with some serious chaos to get you warmed up for the main course, so show up on time and prepared to bang your head.
Friday, June 15, 8 PM
All Our Exes Live In Texas, The Hot Seats @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s something completely different — and completely charming. How can you not love a band who gives themselves a name like All Our Exes Live In Texas? I suppose you could be young enough not to remember the George Strait hit they’re referencing here, but talking about that makes me feel old, so I’m gonna pretend you all get the reference and move on to telling you about the plentiful charms embedded in the music of this Australian country-folk quartet. All Our Exes Live In Texas are old-school — members play mandolin, accordion, guitar, and ukulele, and sing incredible close harmonies that are sure to remind you of old Carter Family records.
Their 2017 EP, Watch Me Fall, shows that even ladies from the other side of the world can grasp the strong folk traditions that run through Appalachia. Of course, it makes sense when you consider the fact that Australia was settled by the same British Isles working-class folks who settled in the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah mountains hundreds of years ago. Perhaps we aren’t so different, after all. Certainly the music can bring us together. Opening sounds from long-running local string band The Hot Seats will add a touch of bluegrass to the evening, and we can all use some more of that, right?
Saturday, June 16, 9 PM
EdHochuli, The Reptilian, Window Liquor, USA Big Dogs @ Mojo’s – Donations requested for touring bands
It’s always awesome to see long-running DIY bands stick with it year after year, and the arrival of Pittsburgh’s EdHochuli back in Richmond at least a decade after the first time I saw them play here is gratifying to see. This band hasn’t lost inspiration over their decade-plus of activity, either — 2015’s Dream Warriors LP showed them still in top form, mixing epic post-hardcore sounds with crushing metal heavyosity and a much-needed dose of melody and emotion. It’s been a few years since they brought us any significant new material — which is understandable, they’re not teenagers anymore and god knows life can get in the way. But whether they have brand new material with which to grace our ears or not, it’s going to rule seeing them rip it up once again over at Mojo’s.
This show’s got more to offer than just EdHochuli, though. For one thing, it’s got Window Liquor, who I’m assuming are the same Philly band from a few years ago who did a split with Richmond punks Bitchmouth. These guys have a pretty gnarly sound, mixing a sloppy sludge-punk aesthetic with some seriously heavy rock n’ roll energy. Third in the trio of killer out-of-town bands on this bill is Michigan’s The Reptilian, who channel passionate emotional delivery through melodic math-rock complexity for an intricate and unpredictable result that’s sure to keep your attention. Local off-the-chain rockers USA Big Dogs (that’s seriously their name, I kind of love it) will get things rolling in proper fashion with a set full of killer riffs. Plus you’ll be at Mojo’s, so you can get some great food before the show kicks off. What more could you ask for?
Sunday, June 17, 8 PM
Young Widows, Null, Manzara @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
There’s not much out there that will make me feel old faster than watching bands go on anniversary tours for albums that came out when I was well into adulthood. In this case, it’s Young Widows, who are celebrating the tenth anniversary of their breakthrough second album, Old Wounds, which came out in 2008… when I was 32. Ugh, I am a dinosaur. Anyway, enough of my angst, let’s all take refuge in the beautiful pounding this album delivered both when it was brand new and when you put it back on today.
Old Wounds saw Evan Patterson and co. moving beyond the hardcore sound that had dominated previous projects — Breather Resist, Black Cross — and finding a new, more intense sound in the noise-rock rage of bands like the Jesus Lizard and Unsane. It kicked things up a notch from their first LP and set the tone for future releases. Now, four years after Young Widows’ fourth album, Easy Pain, they’re heading back on tour to memorialize what many fans consider their high-water mark as a band. And it’s going to rule, so get ready to relive the many past occasions where Young Widows knocked your head off from the Strange Matter stage — complete with their floodlit amps — and reminisce about one of the best albums to be released when I was in my early 30s. Yeesh.
Monday, June 18, 6 PM
Smile Empty Soul, Flaw, Kaleido, Talia, Alluvion, No One Hero @ The Camel – $15 in advance/$20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Wow, OK, so we’ve talked a lot recently about how the 90s are back in a big way, but now we have to ask a bigger question: is the world ready for an early 2000s revival? If so, the stage is set to get it rolling this Monday night at The Camel, with the arrival of two early-to-mid-00s trendsetters. Smile Empty Soul might be a name you haven’t thought of in a while — but I’ll bet if you cast your mind back, you’ll remember their first and biggest single, “Bottom Of The Bottle,” which lit up rock radio in 2003 with its (generally censored) “I do it for the drugs!” refrain. They haven’t really hit it big since that first self-titled debut, but fifteen years later, this band is still going strong, and currently on tour behind their brand new seventh album, Oblivion. Don’t front — you know you’re curious.
With the addition of co-headliner Flaw, we move from post-grunge alt-rock to straight-up nu metal, and a band I’d completely forgotten about until I looked up the video for their biggest single, “Payback.” Oh yeah, these guys. They’ve kinda got a Mudvayne vibe, mixing chunky mosh-metal riffs with moody goth vocals and some pretty crucial 2001-era hairdos. 17 years later, these guys may not still have quite as much hair to throw around, but they’re sure to get you jumping around with the same midtempo fury they were bringing to the table at the dawn of the new millennium. This jam packed bill is full of openers from various locales, from Detroit’s Kaleido to Fredericksburg’s own Alluvion. But really, this one is all about the early 00s. Dig your Jncos and stocking cap out of the bottom of the closet before you head for the Camel this Monday night.
Tuesday, June 19, 8 PM
Young Scum, Shady Bug, Twin Drugs, Keep @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
One of the best indie-pop bands this town has seen in a long time is bringing us some new material, and you can count me among the many Richmonders very excited at the prospect. Young Scum’s self-titled debut full-length is coming in July from Citrus City, but there’s no reason not to start the party a month in advance at Strange Matter, especially since they’ve already shared an absolutely incredible slice of glittering jangle brilliance with us in the form of advance single “Wasting Time.” The writeup that accompanies the album, which talks about the inevitability of getting old (boy do I know that feel), makes me wonder if they shouldn’t have called the new album Not-So-Young Scum, but pop music this excellent never ages or goes out of style, and if Young Scum are becoming more emotionally evocative as they continue into their musical career, I for one am good with it.
Young Scum are joined on this rad Tuesday night by Shady Bug, a St. Louis band with a very similar approach to indie-pop, though their 2017 LP, tbh idk (that album name gets an A+), demonstrates a significant tendency toward speed, energy, and joyful distortion-pedal stomp that always adds welcome spice to an indie-pop sound. Think Black Tambourine or Boyracer if you need a reference here; yes, they’re that good. The bill will be rounded out by some excellent local sounds from Twin Drugs and Keep, two bands that should need no introduction to the clued-in RVA crowd that is no doubt already salivating at the prospect of new Young Scum material. You know what you’re in for with this show, and you know you want every bit 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] [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
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond