Saturday, September 21, 3 PM
Stone’s Throw Down In RVA, feat. White Denim (Photo by Barnaby Fairley), J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Cory Wong, Howlin’ Rain, The Long Ryders @ Brown’s Island – $20 (order tickets HERE)
The seasons are changing, y’all. The Autumnal Equinox, one of two days every year in which the sun is up for exactly 12 hours and down for the other 12, will arrive on Monday and mark the first day of fall. Therefore, this makes Saturday and Sunday the official Last Weekend Of Summer. And you know you’re gonna want to make that count. Fortunately for us all, Stone Brewing is here to help, having scheduled their annual Stone’s Throw Down In RVA celebration at Brown’s Island this Saturday afternoon and evening. And you’re going to want to be there.
A duo of massive modern rock n’ roll juggernauts are ready, willing, and able to offer top-quality assistance with making this not only the last but the best weekend of your entire Summer 2019. J Roddy Walston & The Business are the hometown boys, and will wrap the whole evening up in wonderful fashion with the piano-driven down-home rock sound we’ve all come to know and love. Their best-known riff monster may still be 2013’s “Heavy Bells,” from their ATO Records debut, Essential Tremors, but 2017 follow up Destroyers Of The Soft Life offered a pretty massive dose of rock power in its own right, from that incredible title down to the soaring high points of singles like “The Wanting” and “You Know Me Better.”
They’ll be sharing the top of the bill with Texas boogie rockers White Denim, who won my heart back when they released their 2016 monsterpiece of funky Southern rock, Stiff. Since then, they’ve released not one but two more albums, including this spring’s Side Effects — their ninth studio album in just under 11 years, so these guys certainly don’t slow down. The new LP proves that their adeptness with tunes that rock you hard while keeping your body moving on the dance floor is totally undiminished. Come find out for yourself at Brown’s Island this Saturday, and enjoy tunes from rock n’ roll veterans like Howlin’ Rain, Cory Wong, and reunited first-wave Paisley Underground legends The Long Ryders. It’s gonna be a top-notch afternoon of classic rock n’ roll, and the perfect way to say sayonara to summer 2019.
Wednesday, September 18, 9 PM
Pharmakon, Suppression, Tavishi, Noiro Zepol @ Wonderland – $10
Experimental noise artist Pharmakon has never exactly been an easy listen. The solo project of New York native Margaret Chardiet is based around terrifying screams, atonal synth loops, and industrial samples, and while the strong structures of Pharmakon’s music has always made it slightly more accessible than that of your average harsh noise project — think Merzbow — it’s still the kind of thing that could send anyone who isn’t adequately prepared for what’s coming running from a room at top speed. What’s wild is that on their latest album, Devour, released earlier this year, Pharmakon has moved even further in the direction of confrontational noise havoc. Chardiet’s vocals are even more shocking, rising to the outright monstrous level of Alan Dubin’s work with doom/noise project Khanate.
OK, look, I know that those of you who aren’t into testing the limits of the boundary between music and noise may not be catching any of my reference points — and that’s fine. But what you do need to know is that, if you’ve ever found anything enjoyable in the world of angry, noisy, extreme music of any kind, you’re going to want to see Pharmakon tonight. Not only is Chardiet a riveting performer, her compositions have an unusual ability to push beyond the cold intellectual facade of most experimental noise and reach the listener on a deep emotional level. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you owe it to yourself to do so at least once — even if it terrifies you. The terror is the point.
Thursday, September 19, 7:30 PM
Shonen Knife, Talk Me Off, Captain Scrunchie @ The Camel – $17 in advance/$20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I’m not sure how well young music fans know the name Shonen Knife, but if they don’t, they certainly should. This trio of Japanese women, who released their first LP of catchy melodic punk back in 1982, were instrumental in bringing international attention to the underground punk scene of Japan. They weren’t as unhinged as GISM nor as caustic as Gauze, but that very fact made their heavily Ramones-influenced music approachable by music fans all over the world — and they quickly fell in love. High-profile fans like Kurt Cobain, Thurston Moore, and Steven McDonald of Redd Kross helped ensure that Shonen Knife became a name known all over the alt-rock world.
Today, Shonen Knife has over 20 albums to their credit, and they’re still going strong, releasing latest full-length Sweet Candy Power just a few months ago. The title track still retains the same mix of garage rock grit, DIY spirit, and pure pop goodness that made past Shonen Knife high points like “Twist Barbie,” “Antonio Baka Guy,” and “Catnip Dream” such classic tunes. This show is sure to be full of fun singalongs and big smiles, and if you aren’t part of it, you’ll be missing out, so get together with your friends tomorrow night and let’s knife.
Friday, September 20, 7 PM
McKinley Dixon, Alfred, Bon Ki @ Plan 9 Music – Free!
Richmond hip hop is taking things to the next level, and that’s true in all facets of the scene. McKinley Dixon is a prime example — not only has his focus on killer live performances and frequent tours helped him to gain fans all over the country, he’s reached some pretty influential ears. For proof, look no further than his brand new single, for which this free in-store at Plan 9 acts as a release party. The two song vinyl EP, “Anansi, Anansi” b/w “Wit These,” is coming out as part of the Document Series by powerful midwestern label Saddle Creek.
The Nebraska label made their name releasing legends of post-Y2K emo like Cursive and Bright Eyes, but with the Document Series, they hope to offer a higher profile to work from emerging underground artists all over the world. And of course, there’s no Richmond artist more deserving of this attention than McKinley Dixon, whose powerful hip hop is some of the best music being made locally in any genre, and whose A-side for the Document Series single just might constitute a new career high. Join Dixon, along with fellow local hip hop up-and-comer Alfred (who himself just released Like You!! on Topshelf Records) and newcomers Bon Ki. This one’s gonna be a blast.
Saturday, September 21, 9 PM
Sinister Haze, The Red Skulls, Crimson Heat @ Mojo’s – $5
By late this Saturday evening, you may well have had your fill of rock n’ roll out at Brown’s Island. But if you still want more, you should definitely head over to Mojo’s by 9 PM this Saturday night to catch a triple-threat banger of Virginia-area bands that are underrated, unexpected, and ready to blow your mind. Sinister Haze is at the top of the bill, and while this band has gone through periods of obscurity over the past couple of years, they’ve undergone a bit of lineup revision recently, and are now, if rumors are true (don’t quote me), on the cusp of releasing a new EP. This spaced-out psychedelic doom group showed exactly how heavy they could get on 2017’s Emperor Of Dreams, and if you’re hungry for more — and you should be — Mojo’s is the perfect place to be this Saturday night.
The Haze boys will be joined by a band who have, over the past decade-plus, been far more discussed than seen: The Red Skulls, a Roanoke-based early-2000s rock n’ roll project led by the Lunsford brothers: Joe (Avers/Peace Beast) and Sam (The Young Sinclairs/Stimulator Jones). I’m not sure what’s caused the two brothers to reunite their 2002-era garage rock quartet, but if their reputation for wild shows full of top-volume craziness is even somewhat justified, we’re all gonna be glad they’re back. Mysterious local newcomers Crimson Heat will kick off this show featuring just the right amount of bands (three. The number is three), so show up on time and grab yourself a cheesesteak. You won’t be sorry.
Sunday, September 22, 9 PM
Irreal, Benderheads, Dummies @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
Here’s your entrance exam for this show. Don’t panic, it’s only one question long. Ready? Which band do you more readily associate with the genre term “hardcore”? A: Hatebreed. B: Anti-Cimex. If you answered B, congratulations — this is the show for you. Irreal is a hardcore punk band from Catalonia’s capital city of Barcelona, and they’ve got that same sort of blown-out rage with strong influences from Discharge and Gauze that you can find in classic Scandinavian hardcore (i.e. Anti-Cimex).
However, they’ve updated it with a creative passion that makes their new album a particularly fascinating listen, even if you don’t own at least a dozen black T-shirts with the sleeves cut off. The album in question, Fi Del Mon, actually comes out between when I’m writing this now and when this show is happening this Sunday. Ideally that means you’ll be able to pick up a vinyl copy for yourself after you storm up a raging circle pit on the floor at Fuzzy Cactus. Even if you haven’t got the scratch for vinyl right now, though, you’re gonna want to be there — this one’s going to be a real ripper. Especially in light of the fact that Irreal will be joined by local punk stalwarts Benderheads and D-beat newcomers Dummies, who apparently feature members of Haircut and Cement Shoes. That’s all the endorsement you should need to show up on time and ready to go off.
Monday, September 23, 9 PM
Parsnip, VV, DJ Sam Slug @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
I know a parsnip is a vegetable, but I can’t remember if I actually know it under a different name. Let me do a quick Google… [Wait, is she serious? How unprofessional -ed.] OK no, it turns out that parsnips are just called parsnips, and they’re sorta like carrots and sorta like parsley, and… I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten them. But we’re not here to talk about vegetables, we’re here to talk about bands — specifically the Parsnip that is an Australian band and not the one that I’m pretty sure has never showed up on my dinner plate.
The Australian band Parsnip is not too different from Japanese band Shonen Knife, who we talked about a little earlier — their music is poppy, catchy, and fun, but has a DIY production feel and carries obvious influences from punk and garage rock. The way they mix these two aspects together on brand-new debut LP When The Tree Bears Fruit makes for a very fun listen, and if you enjoyed smiling and bopping along with Shonen Knife at the Camel a few days before, you’re never going to regret doing the same thing again on Monday night at Fuzzy Cactus. Local punks VV are quite a bit weirder, and their music has veered in a decidedly “postpunk” direction over the last year or so, but if you loved their earlier material, you’re sure to have a blast with them at this show too. They’ll offer the perfect acidic counterpoint to Parsnip’s poppy sweetness. And Feel It Records head honcho DJ Sam Slug will be on hand to spin some tunes and get us all in the mood, so this is sure to be a great night all around.
Tuesday, September 24, 9 PM
Clowns, Waxjaw, Thin Pigeon @ Wonderland – $10
Australian punk is always a lot of fun, and Clowns are no exception. This Melbourne punk band are worldwide thanks to their Fat Wreck Chords deal, which brought us their latest LP, Nature/Nurture, earlier this year. It’s a whole ton of fun, bringing the skate-style upbeat melodic punk that we all expect from labels like Fat a big infusion of Aussie-style rollicking garage noise. This Tuesday-night rager marks Clowns’ first time coming through RVA — indeed, this tour is their first-ever jaunt to the East Coast — so it should be a proper fun time in the works! Make sure you’re part of it.
Clowns are joined on this trip through town by Huntington, WV queer punks Waxjaw, whose brand new LP, A Collection of Rituals In Sound, finds them mixing occult-vibe postpunk sounds with a strong sense of ringing melody that ensures this album is still a great deal of fun to listen to. We can surely expect a similar sort of fun from their live performance, and from that of Richmonders Thin Pigeon, who’ll kick off this whole shebang down in Shockoe Bottom! Liven up your midweek with this one, folks.
Elsewhere Around The State:
Friday, September 20, 6:30 PM
Smooth Hound Smith, Kyshona @ The Southern Cafe – $12 (order tickets HERE)
The one-man-band musical formula is one that’s become familiar over several decades, especially if you enjoy that roots-rock/Americana style that’s so conducive to this musical approach. You know the deal — guitar in the hands, drums at the feet, maybe a harmonica on a neck stand, and some heartfelt vocals. Smooth Hound Smith’s Zack Smith does pretty much all of that stuff, but he’s not the only member of this group — he’s joined by his wife, Caitlin Doyle-Smith, who contributes auxiliary percussion and some all-important vocal harmonies to give this band a whole lot more depth than you’d expect from their rudimentary setup.
While Smooth Hound Smith are certainly capable of busting out some raucous down-home rock n’ roll when the occasion calls for it, their latest LP, Dog In A Manger, finds them stretching out in multiple other directions, dipping into Southern soul, sweet folk balladry, and alt-country twang. If any of that sort of thing appeals to you, chances are you’re going to love seeing this two-person one-man band in action. They’ll be accompanied at this performance by Nashville soul-blues singer Kyshona, who’s sure to move you with her powerful, politically-informed tuneage. Show up on time for this one.
Saturday, September 21, 7 PM
This Wild Life, The Happy Fits, Rome Hero Foxes, Calebfolks @ Elevation27 – $16 (order tickets HERE)
The idea of acoustic emo might seem like something recent, like it only showed up once Evan Thomas Weiss of Into It. Over It. or Kevin Morby started touring with just an acoustic guitar. However, it’s actually got a pretty long tradition, one that stretches back to my mid-90s salad days of seeing house show sets by solo artists like Keith Welsh or Tom LoMacchio. This Wild Life approach things a bit differently, augmenting Kevin Jordan’s acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals with electric guitar melodies and vocal harmonies from Anthony Del Grosso, but the percussionless, melody-first results of their approach are decidedly familiar both to vets of Vinnie Caruana and Geoff Rickly’s Acoustic Basement Tour from a couple of years ago and those of us who saw these kinds of acoustic sets in actual basements over a decade ago.
This Wild Life bring a particularly lovely flavor to their take on the acoustic sound, which makes them a welcome addition to a scene ususally much more dependent on percussion and distortion. On last year’s Petaluma LP, This Wild Life avoided the temptation to make their acoustic songs lightweight tunes about love and flowers, instead tackling difficult subjects that lie at the heart of life’s difficult moments and offering catharsis and support through their delightful melodies. You can certainly enjoy their music as you lie alone in your darkened bedroom, but it’s sure to be far more fulfilling to see This Wild Life perform live in a bright room full of smiling faces. So head to Elevation27 this Saturday night and let their music surround you. It’s gonna be beautiful.
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]
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