Friday, January 12, 7 PM
RVA Lyricist Lounge, Vol. 1, hosted by Radio B, feat. Michael Millions, AGM/Southpaw, Mutant Academy, Gritty City, Noah O, Joey Gallo, Born Unique, Intalek, Easalio, Chance Fischer, Cane, Cole Hicks, J Slim, Nu3ra Ness, Misterelle, Reppa Ton, RezonDaDawn, and more @ Strange Matter – $10
Radio B has been a prime mover on the Richmond hip hop scene for a while now, and his efforts not only to make great music but to help cultivate the culture and push the genre forward locally have been the reasons. With 2018 just getting started, he’s wasting no time, bringing the first installment of a planned monthly event, RVA Lyricist Lounge, to Strange Matter this Friday. With this event, Radio B and his compatriots hope to “be the catalyst for better writers and emcees in Richmond and all over the world” by emphasizing lyricism and making bars, flows, and wordplay important within the local scene. Sounds like a worthy goal. Are you in?
Well, for those on the fence, there’s a powerful inducement to make it out to the premiere of this new series right at the top of the bill. Michael Millions, who has been one of local hip hop’s leading lights, just dropped Hard To Be King, a new album that’s getting everyone talking. Word on the street is that this guy’s poised to blow up, so now’s the time to get in on the ground floor and catch him live in an intimate setting. Plus, there’ll be a limited physical release of Millions’ 2016 collaboration with Radio B, Tenthsndhrs, available at the show for the first time.
This is just the beginning of what is going on at this show, and we don’t have too much space, so let’s lay it down real quick: cyphers from hot local crews AGM/Southpaw, Mutant Academy, and Gritty City, as well as more cyphers featuring a variety of local and regional lyrical talent–a list is above, and I know you know at least some of those names. Southpaw Battle Coalition, who’ve been making battles a threat again locally, will be sponsoring a tryout battle between up-and-comers TRIG and Basement Chemistry. And there are 15 cypher slots available on a first-come-first-serve basis so you young unknowns can grab the mic and let the people know. The whole thing will be aired on the RVA Lyricist Lounge YouTube channel, but it’s just not the same when you’re not there in person. You know what to do.
Wednesday, January 10, 8 PM
True Widow, Hex Machine, Twin Drugs @ The Camel – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Veteran Dallas act True Widow returns to RVA for what has to be at least their seventh time or so playing here. This is their first time playing The Camel, which is at least somewhat noteworthy, but more important is the hazy, heavy sound they’re bringing with them. You might hear True Widow described as shoegaze in certain circles, but this description will in no way prepare you for the volume and power of their three-piece attack, which to my mind lands closer to doom metal. However, the melodic, psychedelic streak running through this band’s material, especially their most recent album, 2016’s Avvolgere, leavens their more crushing moments with a beautiful undertone that will keep you smiling even as they bowl you over.
They’ll be joined on this bill by local noise-rock trio Hex Machine, who’ve been mostly inactive since the release of their 2013 album Fixator, mainly because singer/guitarist Trevor Thomas and drummer Douglas Andrae have been holding it down as the latest rhythm section for celebrated noise legends Today Is The Day since 2015. However, they’ve brought in Antelope King’s Alex Ricart on bass and returned to action over the last few months, firing on all cylinders and with some new material in the works. Theirs is a welcome return, and their presence on this bill is equally welcome. Fuzzy newcomers Twin Drugs will kick the whole thing off and get you in the mood for the serious amplifier volume that awaits.
Thursday, January 11, 8 PM
Aerica Lauren, OwlRare, On The Water, Julie Storey @ Sound Of Music Studios – $6
It’s a night of quiet beauty at Sound Of Music, with headliners that seem to share a similar vibe even as they take completely different approaches to their music. Prolific songwriter Aerica Lauren a prolific songwriter keeps it raw and real with acoustic instrumentation and some memorable, affecting lyrics. The intricate beauty of her softly plucked strings intertwines with her strong, clear voice and sends you drifting away on the breeze. OwlRare has a darker, moodier vibe on first listen, but this solo performer’s deep, emotionally vulnerable vocal tones and unadorned acoustic guitar strums are equally likely to transport you to some secret place deep inside your mind. Both must be heard to be believed.
Philadelphia’s On The Water are not a solo project, but despite bringing together multiple members, this group operates in a quiet, ambient space constructed as much out of the space between notes played on several instruments as by the chords being struck–though they’re not afraid to hit hard and crank up the volume when the occasion merits it. Finally, this show will also feature Doll Baby frontwoman Julie Storey playing a solo set–and the word is that this will be her last time doing so. Therefore you’d be very well-advised to arrive on time.
Friday, January 12, 8 PM
Post Nothing, Crushed!?, Deadball @ McCormack’s – $5
I know we all get used to thinking of Between 2 Beers Productions as the go-to people for metal in this town, but they’ve got broader horizons than you might think, as this Friday night Shockoe Bottom bill will make clear. California’s Post Nothing and New Mexico’s Crushed!? are coming through with a killer tour package, and while it’s certainly awesome, there’s not really anything metal about it. Post Nothing have a raging sound that is both indebted to hardcore and pushing completely beyond that genre’s borders. It’s really tempting to call this band “post-hardcore,” in fact, but based on their name I have a feeling they’d be a little frustrated about that, so I’ll just say that their hard-rocking riffs remind me of bands like Xerxes and Refused and leave it at that.
As for Crushed!?, (love that little confluence of punctuation marks) they have a bit more of an emotional focus, as is made clear on 2017 EP Giant Robots And Existentialism. The same sort of hardcore influence lies beneath their driving, melodic riffs as one can hear from Post Nothing, but they take it in an introspective rather than forceful direction, bringing to mind bands like Hot Water Music or local heroes Sea Of Storms. Local openers Deadball are a loud n’ proud punk rock band with no frills on offer–slightly different than what you might expect from the local openers on a show like this, but sure to be plenty of fun nonetheless. You really can’t lose with this one, metal or no metal.
Saturday, January 13, 8 PM
When Particles Collide, Glass Twin, School of Rock Short Pump, School Of Rock Midlothian @ The Camel – $7 (order tickets HERE)
This will be an entertaining and unusual night at the Camel, that’s for sure. It all starts with When Particles Collide, a bouncy duo with an elastic sound that calls to mind everything from Blondie and Devo to Cheap Trick and oldies radio. They’ve been on a crowdfunded tour since last May, and their Patreon-like subscription service (fans can contribute amounts equivalent to tanks of gas, hotel rooms, meals, and more, on a monthly automatic-donation basis) has kept them rolling thus far, and they hope to keep things going til at least next summer.
See how it’s going and get rocked in the bargain by coming out to The Camel this Saturday night–and while you’re at it, you’ll not only get a great set from capable local indie vets Glass Twin; you’ll also get to see performances by student groups from two different local branches of the School Of Rock. That’s right, the program for middle schoolers that Jack Black started in the Richard Linklater movie is based on a real thing. So this night will give you a chance to check out some hard-rocking kids strutting their stuff and showing what they’ve learned. That alone is probably worth the price of admission, and you get two excellent adult bands in the bargain. Why not?
Sunday, January 14, 6 PM
Iron Reagan, Despise You, Cemetery Piss, Left Cross @ Champion RVA – Free for 21+, $10 for under 21
It’s not quite a beer bash at the moon tower, but this sure does look like a wild, excellent party that’ll hark back to days of yore for many of us who still love to thrash despite not being as young as we once were. Iron Reagan, once a young upstart of a Municipal Waste side project, are now on their third album, and have become just as venerable a crossover thrash institution as the Waste themselves. In preparation for their upcoming split with Gatecreeper, they’re out on tour once again, and in celebration of Champion’s one-year anniversary of opening their Richmond location, this rock n’ roll brewery will be bringing Iron Reagan to their stage for a night of metal thrashing madness!
Iron Reagan’s partner on this tour is Los Angeles band Despise You, a pioneering grind-crust ripper of a band that made a big noise back in the 90s and returned to action more powerful than ever a little less than a decade ago. This will be their second time hitting Richmond since the reformation, but the first time was over six years ago, so surely a lot of us have built up a big time thirst to see them rip it up once again. Baltimore rippers Cemetery Piss and local old-school death-thrash revivalists Left Cross will round out the lineup with plenty more awesomeness, and–if you’re over 21–the whole thing is free! I’m sure the $10 admission for those under 21 is to offset lost beer sales, but honestly, it’s pretty steep, especially since 40-something straight edge kids like myself can beat the system by neither paying admission nor buying beer! Oops, I did it again!
Monday, January 15, 8 PM
Anneliese, Donnie Dale, Kenneka Cook, Tara Dillard @ Strange Matter – $5
It’s time for another edition of Strange Matter’s excellent Locals Only series. This week’s curator, Anneliese Grant, sings in The Folly, a local folk-rock combo who’ve been very active around town for the last couple of years. However, she’s been making a name for herself as a solo artist lately too, with the release last summer of her Out To Graze EP. The soulful pop bounce of the tracks on this EP have a totally different flavor than her work in The Folly, but that knack with a melody shines through in both venues, so anyone who gets down with one project should enjoy both.
Anneliese isn’t the only member of the Folly who made it onto this bill, with fiddler Tara Dillard taking an opening slot to roll out a set of her solo tunes. Inbetween her kickoff set and Anneliese’s big closer will be two other intriguing performances. One will come from Donnie Dale, a local singer and producer who has previously recorded and performed under the name MNLV, and apparently has a whole new approach to lay on us. The other is from Kenneka Cook, who’s been getting a ton of attention lately as she prepares to release her debut album, Moonchild. This soul-jazz singer has a distinctive style that’s already won many listeners over, and if you’re not among that number, this night is sure to convert you.
Tuesday, January 16, 8 PM
Rosedale, Halfcast, Silver Twin, In The Water @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you thought you would get through a whole week of my column without me talking about emo, well, you’ve got another think coming. Not that Rosedale would necessarily identify as emo–this 15 year veteran project hailing from Canada is actually the work of one man, Mike Liorti, who according to facebook would call Rosedale a “progressive power pop” group. But I know emo when I hear it, and considering that this Canadian guitar-slinger alternates between playing with a full band and touring with a solo setup that he brings to life all by himself, it seems to me that this group could easily be called Canada’s answer to Into It. Over It.
Of course, Rosedale busts out a lot more synths on a typical release than Evan Thomas Weiss would, and ultimately seems to draw more from the softer side of the genre–they’re more Spill Canvas than Pianos Become The Teeth, that’s for sure. But one listen to recent EP Again is enough to convince me that, regardless of genre, Rosedale is well worth catching live. The fact that they’re joined by some killer local rockers like Halfcast and Silver Twin, along with new local group In The Water, is enough to let us all know that this will be an excellent show from beginning to end. Don’t miss out, y’all–after all, what else have you got going on on a Tuesday night?
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]