Friday, May 13, 9 PM
Interference Radio‘s First In-Person Event, feat. Katred, Andrew Fetch, IVNX, DJ Sprite, Flesh_Bot @ Fallout – $5
I’ve been going into stores without a mask more often lately. It’s something I almost never did until maybe two weeks ago, so this has been a big step for me, and it’s more than a little unnerving. Yeah, I’m vaxxed and boosted, and yeah, I keep an eye on community transmission levels and they’re OK in the Richmond area right now. But two years of watching COVID happen all around the world has got me seriously snakebit, and even as I walk through a grocery store with no mask on, I’m nervous as hell. What I’m telling you by way of all this personal disclosure is that the ongoing effects of the pandemic are very much still with us, even if the hospitalization and death rates never come back from the relatively low level they’re at now. COVID has changed the world and the way we all see it, probably permanently.
If there’s a silver lining to this cloud, it’s the fact that a few good things grew out of the pandemic. Interference Radio is an example of one of them: the way that communities deprived of their in-person communal spaces made new spaces online, and the way that many of them thrived and became permanent parts of people’s lives. Interference Radio started as a virtual event coordinator, bringing Twitch streams from DJs around the globe in order to take the place of things like underground raves and late night DJ sets, flooding living rooms the world over with the dark techno sounds you couldn’t dance in a club to anymore.
The fact that Friday night brings us the first actual in-person gathering held by Interference Radio shows that things are turning a corner in these ongoing pandemic times. For the first time in its two-year history, you actually CAN dance in a club to the sounds Interference Radio is bringing — and that is amazing. The club in question is, of course, Fallout; the place Richmond goes to dance in all-black outfits and 20-hole Docs to the darkest and moodiest of techno-industrial sounds. The DJs on the bill are from a variety of places: Katred brings EBM vibes and harsh industrial beats from Albany, NY; Andrew Fetch will bring blissed-out underground and experimental soundscapes from his native land of Philly; IVNX comes with the heavy techno-industrial beats from the UK via Tampa, Florida; Chicago’s DJ Sprite and Flesh_Bot, who host Interference Radio’s monthly Elemental virtual events, round things out with the best of rhythmic noise and dark electronic melodies. It all comes to us, live and in the flesh, at Fallout this Friday night. Whether or not you still feel the need to wear your jet black KN95 to the club, this will be a great opportunity to rediscover the in-person community that’s been lost for so long.
Wednesday, May 11, 8 PM
Secret Shame, Child Of Night, Raneshounds @ Fallout – $8 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Yes indeed, we are starting the column out with a double shot of Fallout goodness, though it’s a bit chronologically challenged, as this Secret Shame show comes two nights BEFORE the Interference Radio throwdown above. That’s OK, though — when a band has the kind of incredible sound on offer that Asheville’s Secret Shame brings us, a little time travel is just what you’ve gotta do sometimes. Speaking for myself, I had heard this band’s name a few times, but hadn’t really done a proper deep dive before deciding to write about them this week, and I didn’t have to delve very far at all before I struck gold.
Their brand new single, “Hide,” is an absolute banger, capturing the glittering twilight atmosphere of Siouxsie and The Banshees’ early 80s peak while bringing the sort of darkly catchy hooks that music in the broader goth world way too rarely brings us. They’re not quite as bouncy and poppy as Pale Waves, but from their 2019 LP Dark Synthetics to the trio of singles they’ve released over the course of the pandemic, Secret Shame have been a consistently good source of energetic, catchy goth darkness (no, it’s not a contradiction in terms). They come to Richmond in the company of Ohio’s Child Of Night, a decidedly darker, more gothic, and also more pounding and heavy take on techno-postpunk. Last fall’s The Walls At Dawn shows what Child Of Night have to offer, and the mood is thick, simultaneously sepulchral and techno-futuristic. Think Andrew Eldritch from Sisters Of Mercy hanging out with Miriam Blaylock from The Hunger in a Berlin subway station at 4 am. Wear your ankh pendant for this one.
Thursday, May 12, 7 PM
Bella’s Bartok, The Judy Chops @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There are a million subgenres of punk these days, and while some may like to slice and dice the finer points of differentiation between them, I’m more of a big-tent type myself. It’s true that there is a difference between folk punk and circus punk, but to my mind it’s got more to do with the outfits the performers wear than the sounds they get from their mostly acoustic instruments. By that logic, Bella’s Bartok and their vintage suits are definitely on the circus punk end of things, but even if you are more into Mischief Brew than The Pogues, you should be able to get down with what these folks are doing, no problem.
Honestly, both of those reference points are still probably a little off, as the main things I hear when I listen to Bella’s Bartok’s most recent EP, 2021’s Autoerotic For The People (I see what they did there) are Gogol Bordello and the Dresden Dolls. Both pretty dramatic, but also very energetic, both bands you’ve gotta be prepared for but bands who’ll show you an absolutely great time the second you’re able to get on their wavelength. This is all true of Bella’s Bartok as well, and it’s certainly true that if you miss the atmosphere you used to find most easily at World/Inferno Friendship Society shows (RIP Jack Terricloth), you’ll find the closest thing to it hanging around The Camel tomorrow night. So dig up your best vintage suit, or your cutest frock — or both? I’m not judging — and make your way down to the 1600 block of West Broad with your dancing shoes on. You’ll be glad you did.
Friday, May 13, 7 PM
Ages, Rikki Rakki, Future Mantis @ Black Iris – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I’ve talked very recently within this very mag about how great the new album from Ages is. If you didn’t read that, I suggest clicking here, or you can just stick around, because I’m now gonna try to make it clear to all of you who didn’t read the review the first time around — and in significantly fewer words. Ages is the latest project from Adrienne Shurte, who has led multiple amazing Richmond bands in the past: Fire Bison, Magnus Lush, etc. You know the deal. As with those past groups, Shurte has brought strong songwriting and an evocative, melodic postpunk mood to Ages. What can’t be denied, though, is that Must Be Nice, the new Ages album in question, takes things to a whole new level.
It’s really true. The interplay between Shurte and second guitarist Christian Monroe adds a glittering multi-layered feel to the melodies Ages lay down, and the bold, straightforward lyrics contain some of Shurte’s most insightful observations of the human condition yet. There are quite a few moments on Must Be Nice that will stick with you for quite a while after the album has ended, and those moments are only going to hit that much harder when they happen live and in person, right in front of you on the Black Iris stage. So yeah — I’d say being there is a necessary part of your weekend. The loose, jangly garage rock of Rikki Rakki and the absorbing sonic landscapes of the terrifyingly named Future Mantis add further incentive to find yourself here in a couple of days’ time. Make it happen.
Saturday, May 14, 8 PM
The Veer Union, Late Night Savior, 2 Shadows, TVLPA @ Richmond Music Hall At Capital Ale House – $15 (order tickets HERE)
As a Woman Of A Certain Age, I’ve seen quite a few musical trends come and go, and my favorite part is always when something that people were scorning five or ten years earlier is suddenly back with a vengeance. Over the past few years, the big cultural site of that phenomenon, at least in the worlds of music that I pay closest attention to, has been nu-metal. In the mid-90s, Korn and bands of their ilk had a period of being every teenager’s gateway drug to heavy music. By the turn of the millennium, pop culture was quickly turning against all of that. But now, the young millennials and zoomers who were babies when all that was going on are embracing nu metal, with its mix of chugging downtuned power chords, angst-ridden vocals and lyrical moods, and synth-augmented melodies. Meanwhile, some of the bands that were around back when all that was popping the first time are still here, and maybe the time is ripe for their rediscovery.
Take, for example, Canadians The Veer Union, who will be bringing their industrial-tinged, undeniably nu-ish approach to metal to Richmond Music Hall this Saturday night. They’ve got a little bit of that whole Sevendust thing going on, as vocalist Crispin Earl undoubtedly has strong pipes and likes to unleash his melodic roar overtop of even the heaviest grooves the band lays down behind them. And of course, the choruses are catchy, in ways that might just remind you of all those Killswitch Engage songs with their emo-style breakdowns right in the middle of thrash-style riffing. The biggest point in their favor is that, even after nearly two decades as a band, the latest Veer Union singles are some of the heaviest, most dramatic bangers they’ve ever unleashed. For a band like this to come with some of their best material at the very moment that their sound is poised for a comeback? That’s synergy. My advice: jump on that bandwagon now.
Sunday, May 15, 6 PM
Cowboy Junkies @ The Beacon Theatre – $30-45 (order tickets HERE)
The Cowboy Junkies have been blowing minds for something like 30 years, and in a world where people (i.e. me) will often tell you that music needs to really make your ears ring to get a strong reaction, the Cowboy Junkies have largely done so by being quiet. Their breakthrough album, 1988’s The Trinity Session, was a reaction to the move in mainstream rock circles at the time toward digital studios and lathering massive amounts of effects and compression all over everything. The result was all those overly polished Paul Simon, Phil Collins, and Steve Winwood songs you still hear over the PA at CVS to this very day, and the Cowboy Junkies responded by setting up all their equipment in an old church and recording an entire album live and in one room, playing at the same time. I know, what a concept!
The early, groundbreaking work by Cowboy Junkies — siblings Margo, Michael, and Peter Timmins, plus longtime family friend Alan Anton — gave a jumpstart to the alt-country movement of the 1990s, and established them as a talented combo who both wrote excellent songs and consistently recorded revelatory covers of country and rock classics that challenged the context in which generations of music fans had heard them. They’re still doing all that today; granted, they release their albums on their own label now, and they don’t draw the press from the big rock mags that they once did. But their latest album, Songs Of The Recollection, is an all-covers set that finds them breathing new life into tunes that are both right in their wheelhouse (Gram Parsons, Neil Young) and a bit out of left field (David Bowie, The Cure). The Cowboy Junkies aren’t spring chickens these days, which just might be why they’re playing a fancy sit-down theatre in Hopewell rather than The National. Regardless, they’re a great band who make music worth hearing performed live, in the same room with them. You should make it a point to hear them at The Beacon this Sunday. That’s all I’m sayin.
Monday, May 16, 7 PM
Hannah Frances, Abby Huston, Alison Getz @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I was not familiar with Chicago’s Hannah Frances upon seeing her name on The Camel’s upcoming calendar. However, the fact that she was playing with Abby Huston — who, in case you haven’t read this column before, is one of the most consistently talented songwriters and performers in Richmond’s indie scene right now — caught my attention, and I’m really glad it did. It’s not like Hannah Frances is out here reinventing the wheel or anything; on her 2021 LP Bedrock, she gives us simply arranged songs that are full of obliquely intriguing lyrics, gorgeously strummed acoustic guitars, and atmospheric arrangements that make it easy to sink deep into them despite the fact that they often contain few instruments other than her guitar and voice.
But yeah, when someone does that whole thing right, it’s worth taking note of. And Hannah Frances is clearly at the top of her game right now, as she emerges from the pandemic and begins performing across America to support an excellent album she released when we were all still stuck hunkered down in our bedrooms. As mentioned above, she’ll be joined by the ever-talented Abby Huston, so we can be certain we’ll get at least two amazing sets delivered by amazing songwriters who are also talented performers at The Camel on Monday night. Add in a set from Northern Virginia’s Alison Getz and this show on the least hopping night of a typical week actually turns out to be an embarrassment of riches.
Tuesday, May 17, 7 PM
Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Mel Machete @ The Camel – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s been several years since I last checked into what was up with Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, and it turns out a lot has been going on. For one thing, Shook became a participant in what those of us in the trans/non-binary community sometimes flippantly refer to as the “trandemic,” coming out as non-binary and officially adopting they/them pronouns in 2020. On the new Disarmers LP, Nightroamer, it’s clear that they’ve been dealing with a lot of internal issues — songs like “No Mistakes” and “Somebody Else” make clear that a lot of soul-searching has gone on, and Shook’s lyrics show that they’re trying like hell to grow as a person.
If you ask me, this kind of emotional process is often generative of some of the best music there is in the world, and Shook’s fruitful examination of their own issues bears delicious fruit on Nightroamer, capturing the same sort of mix between punk swagger and spit and lovelorn heart-on-sleeve country that I’ve loved so much in Lydia Loveless’s best work. The way the Disarmers put the pedal steel at front and center, simultaneously embracing and subverting the Nashville traditions that are a big part of their musical bloodlines, also leads to a lot of fine melodic counterpoint offered for Shook’s excellent voice, which always delivers brilliant lyrics. Basically, if you like alt-country, country-punk, “y’allternative,” or whatever you wanna call it, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers are the total package. And you’d be ripping yourself off if you didn’t find a way to be there and see them this Tuesday night at The Camel.
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]