Saturday, February 24, 9 PM
Magnus Lush, Piranha Rama, Slump @ Mojo’s – Free?
This Saturday night is an occasion for celebration. Magnus Lush, who’ve quietly become one of the most reliably excellent bands in town over the last few years, are having a big coming-out party to celebrate the release of their new EP, Hell Is Real. In a way, it’s their debut — despite having a consistent history of live fireworks, this band has only given us a demo, which came out three whole years ago, and a couple of live radio sessions that are close to two years old themselves at this point. This new EP captures them on tape at the peak of their powers, so that all the people who haven’t caught on to their hypnotic excellence in a live setting yet can finally find out just what they’ve been missing.
Of course, this show on Saturday night at Mojo’s, which certainly appears to be a free show, is also a great opportunity for all those sleeping on Magnus Lush to wake up. This group’s sound, which incorporates spacey, foreboding keyboards and glittering guitar arpeggios into a postpunk rhythmic approach that is almost Fugazi-ish at times, then tops the whole thing with frontwoman Age Shurte’s powerful voice, is unique on the Richmond scene and all the more valuable as a result. Old heads might find themselves thinking of long-departed Richmond combo Damn Near Red, but there’s really no current comparison to be made. And a big part of that is due to the fact that Magnus Lush is really, really good.
Mojo’s is a great setting for this event, and that definitely adds to its appeal. With its relaxed atmosphere and emphasis on really delicious food, it’s not the first place you’d expect to find excellent live music. But a comfortable environment and a party vibe are sometimes just what one needs to really connect with a live musical experience. The rockin’ rollin’ sounds from openers Piranha Rama and Slump will also crank up the party vibe, as will the between-set live music provided by DJ Baby Maria. But ultimately, this night is all about Magnus Lush. And if you’re not already fired up about it, you need to fix that as soon as possible.
Wednesday, February 21, 5:30 PM
Eidola, Capstan, Andres, Captive, The Blue Sky Disaster, Pulses @ The Canal Club – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Every once in a while, I have no idea who any of the bands playing on a given night are, and I have to check all of them out to figure out what I’m going to write about. Usually, the choice comes down to which band seems the most entertaining or unusual, but every once in a while, one of those bands I know nothing about jumps up and smacks me across the face with their immediate excellence. Next thing I know, I’ve found a new fave. For this week, that band is Eidola, who will be touching down at The Canal Club tonight with an incredible sound that mixes progressive metal, melodic post-hardcore, and technical chops aplenty to blow this entire town away.
Their second album, 2017’s To Speak, To Listen, was my introduction to the band, and it grabbed me by the throat immediately. The fact that an instrumental version of the album was released a few months after the main release makes clear that the band is proud of the music they’ve written for this album. This is for good reason, as their complex song structures and technical instrumental prowess are definitely something to be proud of. However, it’s the melodic, passionate vocals that really raise this band to top level, and they’ll definitely be an essential part of their performance tonight at The Canal Club. Listen, I know this show starts really early and features a ton of bands who are all touring as a big package. Do what you want to do where those bands are concerned — after all, getting more for your money’s never a bad idea. But you simply must catch Eidola tonight; whether you’re a fan of metal or post-hardcore, whether you’re more captured by instrumental mastery or powerful emotions delivered through music, this band has you covered on all fronts. Don’t sleep on them.
Thursday, February 22, 7 PM
Miramar with Classical Revolution RVA @ In Your Ear Studios – $20 (order tickets HERE)
I know I write about metal and stuff like that a whole lot, but y’all, expanding our musical horizons is always an admirable goal, so we’re really lucky that Richmond, regardless of being a bit of a metal mecca, has a ton of other intriguing musical nooks n’ crannies to explore. And all you headbangers and indie hipsters could do with a little more musical exploration, so you should really get yourselves over to In Your Ear Studios tomorrow night to see Miramar perform with Classical Revolution RVA.
Miramar plays bolero music, a Latin style that has its roots in Cuba and spread across Latin America during the 20th century. Their 2016 debut album, Dedication to Sylvia Rexach, celebrated the life and work of the titular Puerto Rican poet and composer. Miramar’s sound may share some musical roots with the Afro-Cuban sound of Bio Ritmo, with whom they share members. However, they are a whole different experience, pairing emotionally-driven vocal duets with a slow, moody musical structure that lends itself perfectly to stringed accompaniment. At In Your Ear Studios tomorrow night, Miramar will be playing one set in their basic sextet form, and another accompanied by a string quartet featuring members of Classical Revolution and the Richmond Symphony. You’re sure to be moved by their powerful sounds, even if it doesn’t lend itself to mosh pits. Open your mind and bask in the many wonderful offerings of our local music scene — you won’t regret it.
Friday, February 23, 7 PM
Harm’s Way, Ringworm, Vein, Queensway, Division Of Mind @ The Canal Club – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Of course, if you’re in need for some heavy breakdowns to cleanse your palate, that’s certainly understandable. And you need look no further than the Canal Club for your fix. Harm’s Way is back this Friday night, and if it’s possible, they’ve gotten even heavier since last time they rolled through town. Their brand new album sees them drawing more than ever from harsh metallic industrial influences — if anything, I’d guess they’ve been listening to a lot of Godflesh lately. The mechanization inherent in their sound makes the latest album’s title — Posthuman — entirely apropos. But on a more relevant point, it makes the album’s plentiful breakdowns hit harder than you probably ever thought possible. Total mosh destruction. Your head just might explode. It’s gonna rule.
But listen, seriously, if you think Harm’s Way, back in fighting shape and heavier than ever, is all this bill has to offer, you must not have actually read the full lineup. Because just as big an attraction if not bigger is the appearance of Clevo hardcore legends Ringworm. Coming from the same deep-rooted evil metallic hardcore foundation as Integrity — who, let’s be real, basically created the modern metallic hardcore sound — Ringworm have remained consistent, powerful, and terrifying on a level that other bands from their era can’t even approach. 2016’s Snake Church was their eighth album, and it hit just as hard as their first; surely the same will be true when The Human Furnace and company hit the Canal Club stage. With Vein, Queensway, and Division of Mind opening up, this will be a real rager from beginning to end, so get ready to go off!
Saturday, February 24, 8 PM
John Nolan, Mammoth Indigo, Sammi Lanzetta @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Hey all you grown-up emo kids! You might be indie hipsters now, you might not let anyone know about the Taking Back Sunday and Straylight Run CDs you still have hidden away behind your racks of Pitchfork-approved indie vinyl… but I know. And right now, while all your super-cool indie friends aren’t paying attention, we can have a little private conversation about just how great all those records still are. I know, right? The best! Anyway, John Nolan, who was an essential founding member of both groups, is not only back with Taking Back Sunday these days, but also has done a fair amount of solo work over the past decade or so, and he’s currently on solo tour to give those songs some much-needed shine.
It’s been a few years since his last solo album, Sad Strange Beautiful Dream, but there’s no rush — after all, those songs are still great, and he hasn’t done a ton of touring since then, so it’s still a perfect time to see what the man’s been up to when he isn’t working with his legendary band. One thing that can be said about it — while it’s emotional, this isn’t emo, by any means. It’s not even really punk-derived; Nolan’s solo work has an acoustic, singer-songwriter vibe that reminds me more of catchy power-pop groups like underrated yet excellent pre-fun. combo The Format. It’ll still make you feel things, it’ll still get you dancing and singing along, but it’s definitely got its own flavor that’ll show all you dyed-in-the-wool Taking Back Sunday and Straylight Run fans a whole new side to John Nolan. What more could you ask for?
Sunday, February 25, 10 PM
Big No, Serqet, Bad Magic @ Bandito’s – Free!
The free local showcases on Sunday night at Bandito’s are an always-reliable source for excellent local music in a strangely great-sounding room, so anytime one comes around I’m always interested. This one is particularly promising, as it brings together a couple of reliably excellent veteran local groups with a relatively new up-and-comer everyone should be checking out. Big No is a moody, psychedelic project with a glowing pop heart, and their most recent LP, Get Over Yourself, really establishes them as a talented group with a ton of killer songs. If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’ve had plenty of chances to jump onto this bandwagon, but it’s never too late, and free Sunday night shows are always a great low-stakes opportunity. Get into it.
Then there’s Serqet, a band whose name I always take three or four tries to spell. So far, they just have a demo out, but it was released by Vinyl Conflict Records, which should certainly grab your attention. This keyboard-infused postpunk band strikes an early 80s UK note, both with their spooky gothic keyboards and their arpeggiated guitar melodies, simultaneously bringing to mind references as disparate as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Amebix, and the Chameleons. Regardless of what you hear in their sound, you can’t deny its excellence. And the same could be said of Bad Magic, the trio fronted by talented songwriter Julie Karr and featuring local heavyweights Jimmy Held and Tim Falen holding down the rhythm section. Last year’s Harsh Surrender was a killer reminder of just how much talent this band has to offer. It all adds up to a night of intriguing, powerful talent. And there will also be tacos — you can’t beat that!
Monday, February 26, 8 PM
Giving Up, Fat Spirit, Basmati, Gumming @ Strange Matter – $5
Here’s a fun one, full of charm. Giving Up have a sound that simultaneously hits that jangly indie sweet spot so many bands have been messing with lately and also dips sideways into the sort of quirky keyboard pop that bands like Slingshot Dakota or Matt And Kim have been bringing us for quite a while. Giving Up have been around for a good bit of time themselves, but have remained somewhat under the radar due to the members’ being spread across the Midwest, and only coming together to create releases on an occasional basis.
However, they do have a brand new LP out, entitled Garner Cardinals, and it’s a strong, assured effort full of killer tunes. They’ll be bringing these tunes to Strange Matter Monday night and letting all y’all know exactly what you’ve been missing without Giving Up in your life. Should be a whole lot of fun, especially since the local support is provided by such killer bands. Basmati’s fun, slightly mathy indie-core is always a sure bet, and Fat Spirit is guaranteed to bring the grungy rock n’ roll. Gumming will strike the heaviest and weirdest note of the evening, for sure, but who doesn’t love a little spice in the punchbowl? Don’t miss this one.
Tuesday, February 27, 8 PM
Downhaul, Runaway Brother, Two Cars, Riley Little @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s always nice seeing local bands who have ambition and are willing to take their craft seriously. I don’t know a ton about Downhaul; honestly, I hadn’t heard much about them before this show came onto my radar. But the fact that this is a show celebrating the vinyl release of their new EP, Where We Started, certainly got my attention. In a time when a lot of bands feel like they’ve done enough just by uploading a garage recording to Bandcamp, seeing a young group put their money where their mouth is to the extent that they’ve paid for a vinyl pressing commands a certain amount of respect. Well done, guys.
And I don’t want to neglect the music, either. This quartet brings us an upbeat, jangly indie-guitar sound that makes me think at least somewhat of Surfer Blood — an impression that is strengthened by the singer’s passing vocal resemblance to John Paul Pitts. However, there’s just as much of the supposedly passe emo revival sound flowing through this band’s veins, if their rumbling rhythm section and occasionally quite strident crescendos are any indication. There’s basically nothing here not to like, and it’s clearly time for this town to start paying more attention to this band. Just to sweeten the pot, they’re joined on this bill by Cleveland emo-punk killers Runaway Brother, as well as a couple of local up-and-comers in Two Cars and Riley Little, neither of which I’m very familiar with. Downhaul is really the reason to show up, though. Do 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] [yes, my email is through GayRVA, don’t get weird about it]
Top image by Vivienne Lee, from a photo by Joey Wharton