Friday, March 1, 7 PM
VOLUME! A Richmond Show Posters Retrospective, feat. Night Idea, Calvin Presents, Strawberry Moon, Billy Capricorn @ Gallery 5 – Free!
When we think about live music, we always think first of the incredible musicians we watch perform, and of the amazing music they make. But even though we may not always think about it, the imagery associated with musicians and their music is sometimes just as big an influence on which performers we rush out to see as the music itself. That’s why over the years, so many artists have put so much effort into crafting really incredible posters for their shows. The rockin’ performance onstage might be what gets you to stick around, but more often than any of us would like to admit, a really killer poster is a big part of what gets us in the door.
This definitely applies to Richmond, and we’ve been lucky over the years to have quite a few talented graphic artists in town turn their attentions to creating posters for gigs, with excellent results. This retrospective at Gallery 5, entitled VOLUME!, will showcase some of the best work the river city’s music scene has produced over the past several decades, from 80s punk to modern indie and hip hop. Artists include Doug Dobey, Bizhan Khodabandeh, Katie McBride, and a whole bunch more, so come see their work and immerse yourself in the artistic side of our wonderful local music scene.
Not to be outdone, there will be several excellent local musicians performing at this show as well, so you’ll be able to take breaks from looking at amazing works of art to see amazing works of music created right in front of you on the Gallery 5 stage. Local math-rock mainstays Night Idea head up this stacked bill of Richmond artists, which includes a wide variety of sounds; singer-songwriter Calvin Presents brings us jazzy soul magic, while Strawberry Moon will enrapture us all with off-kilter, minimalist pop hooks. And of course, Billy Capricorn — not to be confused with fellow locals Billy Neptune — will get the evening started with some immersive multi-layered beats. It’s a feast for your eyes and ears this First Friday, so bring your appetite.
Wednesday, February 27, 8 PM
The Cowboys, The Ar-Kaics, Wild Rose, Cruzer @ Studio Two Three – $10
The ongoing evolution of live music in Richmond takes its latest step tonight, as a full-on rock n’ roll show takes place over at Scott’s Addition’s Studio Two Three, normally a collaborative art studio. They’ll be pushing the screen-printing equipment aside tonight so we can all cut a rug, because Bloomington, IA’s The Cowboys are coming through town, supporting their fresh new album on RVA’s own Feel It Records, The Bottom Of A Rotten Flower.
For an album undeniably named after a less-than-appealing image, The Cowboys’ fourth full-length sure does a great job of bringing a smile to the listener’s face. This group has a definite punk undercurrent to their sound; raw, speedy riffage provides this record with it’s high-revving engine. But up top it’s garage-born power-pop all the way, full of killer guitar hooks and multipart vocal melodies. Is this a circle-pit record or a peppermint twist record? We won’t really know til we see what sort of fire this band has in their belly when they perform live for us all tonight — but regardless of the answer, it’s sure to be a fun time. That’s especially true with killer retro-garage ensemble The Ar-Kaics sharing the bill, not to mention C-ville rippers Wild Rose and local ragers Cruzer. Get to the gig — and wear your leather jacket, it’s cold out there.
Thursday, February 28, 8 PM
The Dawn Drapes, Cyber Twin, Recluse Raccoon @ Champion RVA – Free?
There was a time when we got shows at Champion Brewing’s RVA location almost every Thursday night. Oh, those were fun. I’m not sure what happened to that whole thing, but if this Thursday night show at Champion is any sort of sign, it seems to be a positive one — even if I totally can’t tell whether this show is free like the ones from a year or so ago were, or not. But hey, even if it costs you a few bucks, it’s worth it to get in and catch a set from The Dawn Drapes.
This indie group hails from Harrisonburg, a Virginia city far enough west of here to be in a completely different climate. Basically, if it’s under 40 degrees in Richmond, it’s a safe bet that it’s snowing in Harrisonburg. The Dawn Drapes reflect the smaller, cooler environs of their native city in their music, giving us a mellow, unhurried take on rock n’ roll music that straddles the line between chill indie and weird country. Think mid-period My Morning Jacket and you’re not too far off. Their new album, Slow Spin, is an excellent collection of material that’s emblematic of their laid-back approach, one that will have you swaying and smiling at Champion RVA on Friday night — even if you do have to pay to get in. If not, hey… that’s just more beer you can afford.
Friday, March 1, 6 PM
Shormey, Alfred, Donnie Dale, Chi @ Hardywood – Free!
There was a time when it would have been fair to assume that releases from Citrus City Records were indie in inclination, but that time’s largely gone. These days, the label has its fingers in all sorts of pies, mixing releases by local and international artists in all sorts of genres, and getting more seriously into live music promotion with the creation of their Underground Orchard promotional arm. This show ties into both of those progressions, being an Underground Orchard show celebrating a tour starring two Citrus City artists who can’t really be called “indie” by any stretch — even if Shormey has done a Mac DeMarco cover.
Shormey hails from Chesapeake, VA, and her two-song Citrus City single, Cruise!, gives off a feel-good beach-side vibe on the sunshine-disco A-side, even as the moody, minimal B-side shows her emotional depth and talented versatility. You’ll get all this and more when Shormey hits the stage to kick off her tour with Alfred. Alfred’s 2017 release, So Sensitive, featured a woozy, ambient production style and some well-constructed lyrics that were nonetheless delivered with a wobbly, sleepy drawl. Live, though, there’s a certain immediacy that will make all of this hit much harder. It’ll keep you grooving, and isn’t that what we should all be doing on a Friday night? Hey, if I’m wrong about that, I don’t want to be right.
Saturday, March 2, 6:30 PM
American Aquarium, Timmy The Teeth @ Ashland Theatre – $18 (order tickets HERE)
The arrival of the Ashland Theatre as not only a small-town movie house but an occasional venue for live performances is an auspicious one. And it’s not nearly as far out of the way as you might think; considering how congested traffic around this city is these days, a half-hour’s drive north to catch an excellent show in a really neat revived old building shouldn’t be any sort of impediment to your good time. This Saturday night is the second of two nights kicking off the Broadberry Entertainment Group’s official arrival at the Ashland Theatre, where they’ll be presenting shows on a semi-regular basis for the foreseeable future.
You really should make it up there for one of these in the near future, and as a musical introduction to this long-dormant spot, you can hardly do better than an evening with American Aquarium. This North Carolina band has been around for over a decade, but frontman BJ Barham recruited a whole new backing band a couple years ago, then released an excellent LP, Things Change, on New West last year. Songs like “Tough Folks” and “The World Is On Fire” show the masterful way Barham and co. pull from their Southern roots, country backgrounds, and rock n’ roll hearts to create an excellent mixture of Springsteen, Wilco, and the Drive-By Truckers, one that’ll hit home with anyone trying to make it in today’s hard-scrabble world. Come sing with them at the Ashland Theatre, and maybe you’ll feel a bit better about the struggles of this difficult world. If nothing else, the tunes will make you smile — and it’ll all be taking place in a beautiful environment that’s been seen too little over the last couple of decades. Let’s do it.
Sunday, March 3, 9 PM
Little Vicious, Gemini Love, Twin Films, The Mercy Alliance @ The Camel – $5 (order tickets HERE)
The trio is the ultimate expression of hard-hitting rock fury. Thus the expression “power trio” — generally defined as a group featuring one guitarist, one bassist, one drummer, all united together to demonstrate that no extra ingredients are needed to deliver full-force rock n’ roll. Little Vicious definitely puts the “power” in power trio, with singer-guitarist Marguerite King’s leather-lunged roar constituting just as much of an attention-getter as her band’s heavy-rolling tunes.
This Sunday, you’ll have the chance to get slapped in the face (metaphorically, at least) by Little Vicious’s excellent tuneage. Last fall’s self-titled release brings us songs with telltale names like “Whiskey Overhead” and “Choke,” all of which you’ll be able to appreciate at full volume when they take the stage at The Camel. They’ll be joined by some amazing locals as well, including Gemini Love, whose music tends more towards melody than rage, and will act as the chocolate to Little Vicious’s peanut butter at this show. Come enjoy a musical Reese’s Cup to wrap up your weekend. It’s sure to be delicious.
Monday, March 4, 9 PM
Young Scum, Jim Shorts, Commander Keen, Neat Sweep @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As a podcast nerd of the first order, I was delighted to see Young Scum show up on KEXP’s Song Of The Day podcast recently. It seems the rest of the world is finally discovering what we’ve known in RVA for years — that when you’re looking for tuneful indie sounds with an undercurrent of melancholy and a million-dollar pop sense, you really can’t do better than Richmond’s own ironically-named quartet.
I say ironic because, for a band with the word “scum” in their name, Young Scum have some beautiful tunes. This makes them a good match on multiple levels for Maryland’s Jim Shorts, whose name reminds you of a perennially-sweaty article of clothing even as their riffy indie sounds summon up some 90s alt-rock memories. They’ve got a slight bit more crunch than Young Scum, which provides a pleasant contrast and just makes their music sound that much better together. Tennessee’s Commander Keen offer yet another flavor for this show’s tasty mix with their driving take on melodic punk, which should certainly appeal to fans of Superchunk, among many other bands. Local openers Neat Sweep get this whole thing started with some killer grunge-punk to get you bouncing. This one’s gonna be a blast.
Tuesday, March 5, 8 PM
Jontavious Willis (Photo by Jamaine Campbell) @ The Tin Pan – $20 (order tickets HERE)
I know for a lot of people, the idea of blues conjures up dim memories of loud guitars and pounding backbeats working through a 12-bar progression with plenty of stank on it — and don’t get me wrong, that kind of stuff is awesome. But I’ve always been the kind of crate-digger who finds the most resonance in the rural acoustic origins of the blues, the sounds created by African-American residents of the Mississippi Delta region and preserved for the modern ages on scratchy 78s.
It seems Jontavious Willis also gets a lot out of those early acoustic sounds — he’s only 22, but he’s gained accolades from blues legends like Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’. There’s also a pretty incredible video on YouTube in which he collaborates with Richmond’s own blues harp master Andrew Alli. His unadorned, acoustic take on the blues is deep, powerful, and a lot of fun — every bit as enjoyable as the work of the masters he’s been inspired by. He’s releasing a new album, Spectacular Class, in April, but before that happens, you can go see him right here in Richmond at the Tin Pan, and get an early taste. This may be the only chance we get to see him in such an intimate environment, so take it — you’re not going to regret it.
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Thursday, February 28, 8 PM
Fred Armisen @ The NorVA – $29.50 in advance/$33 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Most likely, you know Fred Armisen’s name from his sketch comedy work on shows like Portlandia and Saturday Night Live. And who can blame you? He’s pretty memorable as a comedic performer. But Fred Armisen’s first role in the performing world was as a drummer, playing in groups like Trenchmouth and, um, the Blue Man Group (god, remember them? The 90s were weird).
In his recent stand-up work, Armisen has combined both of these career paths by creating comedy for musicians. His 2018 Netflix special, Standup For Drummers, focused on jokes that related to being the drummer in a band, or being another band member dealing with a drummer. On his current Comedy For Musicians But Everyone Is Welcome tour, he’s expanded his repertoire to talk about other types of musicians you might deal with when playing music professionally, as well as breaking down different genres that he’s got issues with. All of it is fuel for maximum hilarity, and whether you’re an actual musician or just a nerd who goes to a lot of shows, chances are you’re going to find this evening with Armisen at the NorVA quite amusing.
Saturday, March 2, 8 PM
Sneaks, Opal, Ty Sorrell, Tmobyle @ Charlie’s American Cafe – $10 in advance/$13 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Sneaks is a band name, and a pretty great one at that, but in reality it acts as a project name for a single musician, Eva Moolchan, who creates the music of Sneaks using only a bass, minimal beats, and her voice. Early material earned quite a few comparisons to postpunk minimalists Young Marble Giants, and the resemblance is certainly there. However, on the newest Sneaks full-length, Highway Hypnosis, there’s a much stronger dance-music influence that takes its tunes farther into minimal-electronic realms than they’ve ever occupied before.
This is a good thing. Sneaks’s music has always had the tendency to get your feet moving, and a greater focus on the danceable aspects has only improved the tunes she creates. What’s more, it makes for a different vibe in live performances — one you’ll experience up close and personal at Charlie’s American Cafe this Saturday. It’s only appropriate that she’s joined on this bill by multiple Tidewater-area hip hop artists, including Opal and Ty Sorrell. Both of them will bring the hard beats and killer flows. Tmobyle will start the evening off with a DJ set performed on a cell phone, which is apparently frowned upon in some circles. To me, it just sounds like the parties my old roommates used to throw — which were always dope. So yes, you should show up on time.
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): firstname.lastname@example.org [and yeah, there’s plenty more of my writing to read over at GayRVA — come say hey.]
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