Sunday, September 16, 9 PM
Tommy Gunn’s 40th Birthday, feat. Deathcrown, Cruelsifix, Night Hag @ Bandito’s – Free!
If you’ve spent any time around the RVA metal scene over the past two decades, chances are you know Tommy Gunn. This shredding riffmaster has been slinging the axe in some of the best metal bands from Central Virginia since he was a teenager, getting his start in Disinterment in the late 90s and going on to play in Narsilion, Immortal Avenger, and The Medusa, among others, before starting his current project, Deathcrown. He’s also been active with local charity group Punks For Presents, and if you’ve seen any of their fundraiser shows, you’ve surely caught him playing in multiple Christmas-themed tribute acts over the years.
This weekend marks Gunn’s 40th birthday, and he’s taking this opportunity to get a whole crew of his metal-thrashing friends together to present what’s sure to be a blast of a free show this Sunday night at Bandito’s. His current crew, Deathcrown, just released a split LP with Sweden’s Ribspreader (…now there’s an image) entitled Comorbid Diagnosis, and it is a top-quality slice of raging death-thrash sure to please fans of At The Gates and Entombed. On Sunday at Bandito’s, you can expect Gunn and his bandmates to bring these tunes to rip-roaring high-volume life before your very eyes.
What’s more, they’ll have some excellent friends on hand to celebrate with them. Cruelsifix have gotten a lot of attention due to the fact that they share members with Cannabis Corpse, but their actual music more than lives up to the hype — and they proved it earlier this summer with the release of their long-awaited debut, Dark Snake. Their take on death metal is skillful, energetic, and sure to get you up and moving the second they hit the stage, so get those nachos done early! Especially since VA Beach’s Night Hag will be on hand to open the show with their crushing take on sludgy, slow-motion death/doom metal, and you can’t do slow-motion headbangs with a taco in your hand. (Well, you can TRY… but I wouldn’t advise it.)
Wednesday, September 12, 8 PM
Sumac, Dalek, Infernal Coil @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Tonight, things will get heavy on an entirely different level. Sumac is coming to Strange Matter, and for fans of hugely heavy riffs that get you thinking even as you’re banging your head, this is a real treat. Sumac is led by former Isis frontman Aaron Turner, who joins here with bassist Brian Cook (Botch/Russian Circles) and drummer Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) to redefine the “epic metal” category that he had such a huge hand in creating. Sumac’s third album, Love In Shadow, isn’t quite out yet, but you can hear it if you know where to look, and it’s sure to twist your head around.
The album’s four songs stretch over an hour in length, with one track lasting over 20 minutes all by itself. And the songs themselves are made up of movements that evoke the multiple moods and complex structures of 19th century Russian symphonies, even as they remain extremely loud, and powerful enough to level you where you stand. This is an album of titanic proportions, and to see it brought to life on a live stage is sure to be a rare and highly desirable experience. Don’t miss this one — especially since veteran experimental hip hop powerhouse Dalek and premier practitioners of blackened death bleakness Infernal Coil are also on the bill. Getting blown out of your shoes never felt so good.
Thursday, September 13, 8 PM
Sugar Candy Mountain, Don Fredrick, Tecate Tall Boys @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Fuzzy psychedelic moods loaded in candy-colored reverb and dreamy delay will be the order of the evening this Thursday night as Sugar Candy Mountain hits RVA once again. This group manages to evoke the slightly queasy adventurousness of late-60s B movies about bad acid trips without once doing anything to disturb the huge smile on your face. Latest LP Do Right, released earlier this year, mixes in some electronic elements to let you know that this band is still firmly rooted in the indie sounds of the 21st century, but their psychedelic elements remain at the forefront, even as their glowing melodies keep you coming back for more.
Thursday night, come back to Strange Matter to immerse yourself in Sugar Candy Mountain’s sounds once again. And show up in time for the opening bands, because they’ll have some great sounds for you as well. Locals Don Fredrick are doing a similar sort of mixture combining 21st century indie sounds with late 60s vibes, but the result is mellower, more pastoral — sorta like Neil Young circa 71 jamming with Wilco circa 01. Something like that. Openers Tecate Tall Boys have a name that seems highly likely to get them sued by a beer company, so before that happens you should come out and catch a pleasant dose of their bedroom folk sounds. The whole evening will do you a ton of good.
Friday, September 14, 9 PM
Hurry Up, Bad Magic, DJ Dogpants @ My Noodle & Bar – $5
One unfortunate reality of the kind of writing I do in this column is that you’re always at the risk of being overtaken by events. This is never more true than when bad weather patterns are approaching and everyone is at least considering cancelling their shows. Of course, as Hurricane Florence draws ever closer, predictions of the storm’s path keep moving it further south into the Carolinas — the latest thing I saw said we might not even get 5 inches of rain here in Richmond. Even if it goes far better than any of us are preparing for, if there’s one place you’re sure to encounter some pretty serious weather, it’ll be a noodle shop in the basement of an apartment building on a Friday night.
That said, there’s at least a decent chance you’ll also encounter a really great band there, so I’m saying damn the predictions — go see Hurry Up at My Noodle & Bar anyway. This energetic garage-punk band brings together two members of The Thermals and one member of the Bangs to kick out the jams in a raw and mighty way. Hurry Up are sure to get your feet moving, even if there isn’t half an inch of water on the floor. And with Bad Magic on hand to kick out their own flavor of passionate, rockin’ jams and DJ Dogpants spinning the rad jams and celebrating her birthday, this is sure to be a really fun night — even if you are soaking wet by the time you get down the venue’s front staircase.
Saturday, September 15, 6 PM
Daniel Bachman @ Steady Sounds – Free!
Daniel Bachman is a unique and interesting guitar player, and we’re lucky to have him here in Virginia, where he lives and works these days. The fact that he is relatively close by probably explains how the folks at Steady Sounds were able to lure him to Richmond to give us a free in-store performance this weekend, and if the weather ends up wrecking this event, we will all be poorer for it. Picking up on a similar thread as those followed by fellow Virginia pickers Nathan Bowles, Jack Rose, and Mike Gangloff, Bachman explores the America’s rich folk music traditions through instrumental solo acoustic guitar compositions, finding a through-line that brings us from the past up through the current moment and into the future.
Bachman’s new album, The Morning Star, finds him getting more experimental than he ever has before, beginning with a long, noisy track full of dissonant percussion and droning fiddles, and going on to incorporate field recordings and background noises in a manner reminiscent of John Fahey in his late 60s prime. But it’s Bachman’s incredible virtuosity on his chosen instrument that makes his work such a riveting listen, and it’ll be on display in all its unadorned glory at Steady Sounds this Saturday evening. There’s also a whole store full of records and vintage gear and apparel to explore, and possibly some DJs spinning tunes, but Bachman is the real reason for the season. No hurricane better spoil this one.
Sunday, September 16, 3 PM
Forced Order, Division Of Mind, Paper Trail, Dead & Dreaming, Illusion, Neuromancer @ Strange Matter – $12
If there’s one thing we should all know about hardcore kids by now, it’s that they aren’t afraid of getting things started early as hell. Add in a weekend when no one is at school, and sometimes things will just get started right around the time you’re getting out of brunch. Case in point, this Forced Order show at Strange Matter on Sunday. But let’s be honest here — what reason do we have to complain about this? What were you going to be doing on Sunday afternoon between brunch and sunset anyway? Homework? Please. Put the books down and come to the show. You can finish your math work before you go to bed.
What will you find when you arrive? Well, first of all, there’s California’s Forced Order, who are on their final tour before breaking up. This group features members of groups like Fury and Twitching Tongues, and cranks out some heavy, angry hardcore with pit-starting riffage aplenty on their 2016 LP, Vanished Crusade. It’s enough to get you moshing hard — and this is your last chance to do so, since they’re breaking up after this tour, so be there already! You’ll get a nice selection of VA hardcore’s up-and-coming heavyweights opening up the show as well, from the bone-crunching heaviness of Division Of Mind to the aggressive energy of Neuromancer, plus the furious mosh power of Dead & Dreaming, some thrashing crossover sounds from Illusion, and metallic crunching rage from Paper Trail. Get ready — high fives and stage dives await you.
Monday, September 17, 8 PM
Mimicking Birds, Deau Eyes, Majjin Boo, Hotspit @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s going to be a difficult few days with all this intense weather going on, so by Monday night, we’re all going to need a chance to relax. This is what Strange Matter will be offering us with a performance by Portland indie-folk group Mimicking Birds. Their latest single, “On The Warm Side,” not only offers us a pleasant vision of weather to aspire for with its title, but also combines gorgeous vocal melodies with pleasing, intricate musical structure highlighted by interwoven guitar leads that hit all the right notes without ever being predictable.
They’ve got plenty more killer tunes where that one came from, and their entire set should be a joy with which to soothe your troubled nerves this Monday night. What’s more, you’ll be able to enjoy some pretty amazing local sounds as well, most prominently from Deau Eyes. This rock n’ roll group with a 90s alt-rock energy and some excellently chunky guitars are sure to get you dancing, while twinkly local math-rockers Majjin Boo will break things down to their essential parts with a rare solo set. Brand new local openers HotSpit will kick things off in fine fashion and get you ready for an excellent night of sensational sounds.
Tuesday, September 18, 7 PM
Dark Rooms, Prabir Trio, Rebekah Rafferty & The Wakes @ The Camel – $5 (order tickets HERE)
Dark Rooms are not the sort of group you can easily predict, or categorize. Their synth-driven pop music has a dark undercurrent, which is often communicated through strange voices, random dropouts, and ambient moments that leave you feeling slightly wrong-footed. But their melodies always come through in the end, absorbing your mind with a warm, glowing soundscape that’ll make you smile and feel right at home only a moment later.
If you’ve seen 2017 film A Ghost Story, you’ve caught Dark Rooms’ music on the soundtrack, and you’ve understood a little bit of the strange mood their music creates. How will that mood translate into the live environment will they take the stage at The Camel? That’s not a question we can yet answer, but whatever it turns out to be, it’ll surely be a fascinating experience to find out. You’ll be joined on this journey by the Prabir Trio, a crew of local stalwarts in a brand-new configuration; and Rebekah Rafferty and the Wakes, a talented band of local musicians backing an unforgettable singer-songwriter. It’s going to be an excellent evening.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Saturday, September 15, 7 PM
Tim Barry, Julie Karr, Andrew Alli, Josh Small @ Shaka’s – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Long after the band that made him famous, Avail, stopped playing shows and faded from the memory of the local scene (something none of us would ever have predicted 25 years ago), Tim Barry is still making excellent music about living in Virginia and trying to survive in an increasingly alienating world. He released his sixth studio album, High On 95, last year, and demonstrated that his grasp of excellent melodies and incisive lyrics is just as strong as it ever was. And if there’s one thing Barry’s solo career as a whole has proven, it’s that he doesn’t need a loud rock band behind him to be profound, powerful, and punk as fuck.
This solo show finds Barry backed by several Richmond-area friends, all of whom are talented as hell and have excellent songs of their own to sing. However, it’s Barry himself who is still the star attraction, much as he’s always shunned the spotlight. And whether he’s breaking out classics from his early days as a solo artist or picking out choice cuts from his latest collection of tunes, he’s going to have you smiling and singing along. Whether you’re a lucky Tidewater-area fan or a Richmond head with some extra gas in the tank, this show is absolutely worth whatever effort you need to expend to get to it. You know what to do. [Note: and this is why weather makes my job difficult. Between when I wrote this and when the column is published, this show was cancelled due to the hurrican. Sorry, folks! Better luck next time I guess… –Drew]
Sunday, September 16, 7 PM
War On Women, HIRS, Demons @ Taphouse Grill – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow, a double-shot of incredible femme-punk fury hitting Norfolk? How could you possibly miss it? War On Women have been around for most of a decade, dealing out their angry, metallic hardcore sound and its accompanying intelligently furious lyrics in an urgent and powerful response to the increasingly desperate political situation we all find ourselves in here in the good ol’ USA. They just released a new album in the spring; entitled Capture The Flag, it turns up the heat on their usual raging sound, simultaneously dealing with important and infuriating topics on songs like “The Violence of Bureaucracy” and “Predator In Chief,” and adding an engaging dose of catchiness to their raging-as-ever riffs.
War On Women’s set is sure to get you moving; HIRS, on the other hand, just might stop you in your tracks. This Philadelphia grindcore collective has been responsible for literally hundreds of million-mile-per-hour thrash-grind blasts with a trans-power theme over their past seven years or so of existence, but they’ve stepped things up in a big way on new LP Friends, Lovers, Favorites, which features a ton of high-profile guest spots, and more importantly, some extremely heavy riffs that veer back and forth at the drop of a dime from hyperspeed carnage to head-crushing mosh power. You’re going to need earplugs for this one, and wearing reinforced-toe shoes wouldn’t be inadvisable either. Norfolk noise-rockers Demons will kick off this show with some heaviness of their own. Get ready to rage.
Top Photo by JJCA Photography
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, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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