Sunday, May 29, 7 PM
Rikki Rakki Prom Night, feat. Rikki Rakki, Angels Cant See, Frames, Cassidy Snider And The Wranglers @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Returning to my ongoing coverage of the Richmond music scene in the post-pandemic era (by which I mean the era after the pandemic started. When we get to the era after the pandemic ends, I’ll let you know) has been a big learning process, from figuring out that show info is more often on Instagram than Facebook these days (what accounts should I be following? Drop me an email with tips) to learning the names of new bands who’ve become a big deal around town during the era in which none of us couldn’t go to any shows at all.
Rikki Rakki are a new Richmond band who’ve impressed me with their hustle over the past six months, going from a band whose name I’d barely heard to a band I see on flyers at least once every week or two. Now they’re taking the next step, and they’re doing so in style, with the release of their new EP, Quarantine Sessions (we all know how it got that name). It’s a five-song collection that gives the first glimpse of Rikki Rakki as a fully formed band rather than a series of demos uploaded to Bandcamp, showing that the band does a great job of foregrounding frontwoman Erika Blatnik’s excellent vocal melodies while laying down a musical foundation that mixes jangly psychedelic vibes with a little of that early 90s alt-rock vibe that we all know and love. Things stay relatively understated on the EP, but are sure to get loud when the band breaks these tunes out on the Gallery 5 stage Sunday night.
What adds the style to Rikki Rakki’s coming out party for their new EP is the themed event they’ve planned for this release show. The entire evening will be laid out as a “retro prom night,” featuring decorations and a Polaroid photo booth. While there’s no set-in-stone dress code, the band is encouraging swanky attire, and will (I would think) be busting out their own cupcake dresses and out-of-date suits for the occasion. What better way to wrap up a late-spring weekend than to relive what we were all doing on May weekends five or ten (or, in my case, um, thirty) years ago? One thing’s for sure — the music will be better at this prom night than it was at the one your school held in the gym your junior year. Don’t worry about finding a date, either — just show up and dance! You’ll be glad you did.
Wednesday, May 25, 8 PM
Multicult, Vincas, Hex Machine, Bermuda Triangles, R-Complex @ 4 Cyber Cafe – $12
Here’s a treat for all you noise-rockers to liven up your dreary mid-week blues. Tonight, 4 Cyber Cafe hosts top-notch noise rockers from multiple states, and you’re gonna wanna be there to experience every minute of it. Baltimore’s Multicult and their Athens, GA-based touring partners, Vincas, top the bill, hitting the road with the goal of appearing at Caterwaul Fest, a four-day event in Minneapolis that was originally scheduled to take place in late spring 2020, before… well, you know what happened. It’s always nice when these sorts of tours bring bands headed to fests through Richmond on the way, and even if Caterwaul isn’t generating quite the spillover that Maryland Death Fest used to bring to the city, we’ll take what we can get, especially when it hits this hard.
Multicult’s 2019 LP, Simultaneity Now, has been in the world for three years, but still sounds just as heavy and powerful as it did back when it dropped. They’ve got that same lurching stomp feel as Richmond noise vets Hex Machine — who, not-so-coincidentally, are also on this bill. As for Vincas, they bring a dark industrial feel to their brand of noise-rock, incorporating both drums and programmed beats in a manner that evokes everything from Suicide to Godflesh to the Birthday Party. If you like your noise at least vaguely gothic, these guys are for you. Local experimental-music mainstays Bermuda Triangles and R-Complex are also on this bill, making it a veritable embarrassment of riches for the listener who derives a distinct pleasure from music that is at least 25% noise. Which is to say, sign me up.
Thursday, May 26, 8 PM
FullScreen, Wizard Purple, Captcha, So Badly @ The Camel – $6 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
One thing I’m not sure every reader of this column fully appreciates is how much detective work sometimes goes into figuring out what the heck is going on with one show or another that I find myself writing about. This one’s a great example; a Citrus City production, I knew it would feature plenty of good music. But locating that music? Ah, that was another matter. Wizard Purple, who were listed as headliners on some of the information I found about this show, were extremely difficult to track down. All I really learned at first was that the band name was also used as an artistic moniker by a painter named Cameron Gray. The big breakthrough in the case for me was learning that Gray was previously in a King George-based band called Lake Alden, who released a lovely LP of twinkly alt-rock tunes in 2020 called The Mess.
Now, does Wizard Purple sound like Lake Alden, or incorporate any of that band’s members besides Gray? I still haven’t resolved that question. I suggest you do so for yourself by hitting up this show Thursday evening. After all, FullScreen are also on the bill, and I know for a fact that this RVA/Philly trio have some great indie tunes to bring to us all. After a two-year delay (we all know why that happened…), they released the third in a series of self-produced singles they put together while working on a full-length LP that, as far as I know, has still not materialized. That’s OK; the two songs on this single are lovely, guaranteed to stick in your head all day, and will surely brighten up the entire Camel when FullScreen performs them live during this show. Therefore we know for sure that, even if Wizard Purple turns out to be a live painting exhibition, this show will sound outstanding.
Friday, May 27, 6 PM
Friday Cheers’ RVA Music Night, feat. Matthew E. White, Benet, The Last Real Circus @ Brown’s Island – $10 in advance, $15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Folks, as much as I envy the expensive dresses many of them wear on the local news, the fact is that I am not a meteorologist. Therefore, when I look at my phone this morning and see that the sunny, warm day my weather app originally predicted for Friday has now turned into a festival of storm clouds, I have no idea how actually likely that makes this Friday Cheers show to get cancelled. In absence of clear-cut evidence, though, I try to be an optimist, and I’m going to encourage optimism for you too, because if this show does manage to take place, it’s without a doubt the coolest musical event occurring in Richmond this Friday evening.
After all, look at the evidence we’re presented with: Matthew E. White, Richmond’s favorite soul-rockin’ son, is still riding high on the success of last year’s K Bay, his first solo joint since back in 2015 and proof positive that he’s still got all the chops we remember from the glory days of Fight The Big Bull — and then some. He’ll be bringing a live band full of RVA all-stars to the stage to get everyone moving with upbeat boogie jams like “Electric” and “Nested,” among many other hits. He’ll be joined by heart-on-sleeve RVA dance-pop wunderkind Benet, and The Last Real Circus will get things rolling on a high note, with a healthy dose of their electrified Americana. The positive vibes will rise high enough that they just might be able to chase away the storm clouds. Let’s all cross our fingers!
[p.s. — if rain forces this show to go the way of the Japanese Breakfast show earlier this month, you could do a lot worse than to head over to Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House and check out energetic young locals Baby Bugs and Saint Samuel. Just sayin.]
Saturday, May 28, 7 PM
Portrayal Of Guilt, Yautja, Ostraca @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $16 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Despite the pandemic, Portrayal Of Guilt had one heck of a 2021. Not only did they release a killer slab of metallic screamo, We Are Always Alone, in the beginning of the year, they had another entire LP ready for us by fall. And if it wasn’t clear by the title alone, the sound the band delved into on that second 2021 LP, Christfucker, proved that they had largely moved across the nebulous border that lies somewhere between the emotional heavyosity of screamo and outright black metal. Elements of Neurosis-style noise horror and doom-sludge bleakness were also highly present on their latest and, in more than a few opinions, greatest LP.
So I guess the question now is: can Portrayal Of Guilt bring the same kind of heat onstage that they spent 2021 bringing in the studio? I think anyone who caught them when they came through Richmond in the pre-pandemic days knows the answer, but just in case you weren’t one of the lucky ones: the answer is yes. When these Texas maniacs hit the Richmond Music Hall stage Saturday night, they are gonna rip your face off, and you’re gonna love every minute of it. Better yet, they’ve got Nashville’s Yautja along with them. This fearsome metal trio only managed one album, The Lurch, in 2021, but they’ve built such a formidable legacy over their past decade of excellent records to more than prove their bona fides. The same can be said for homegrown Richmond metallic screamo trio Ostraca, who are finally back in action after giving us three incredible LPs in four years, and nothing since 2018. At least we get to see them live again, right? This whole night is gonna rule.
Sunday, May 29, 7 PM
Noah-O Album Release/Birthday Party, feat. Noah-O, Shawn Gray, Karmah, Cadillac Cat, Tone Redd, One Forever, Saaint, Prime N9N23, Mara Mara Takeoff, Lord Seelife, Calvin LaFleur, Vibes by Melodic, Hosted by DJ Jazzy Beatz @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance, $20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Noah-O’s story is one of ups and downs. His name on the Richmond hip hop scene has been made for over a decade now, since he broke through and actually got one of his videos played on MTV. He followed that up with a series of excellent albums collaborating with pretty much every great producer to come out of this city, from Cadillac Cat and Fan Ran to the legendary Kleph Dollaz. He spent the pandemic releasing the Deadstock series of albums, showing that even his outtakes add up to multiple albums worth of straight fire. Somehow, though, the world outside the river city still hasn’t quite caught on. It’s the struggle he’s endured when he’s not on the mic, the day to day realities of a working class guy from Richmond who still has to feed his family, that he raps about on his latest single, “Trillipino,” the title of which simultaneously references his Filipino heritage and the fact that he keeps it real, 24/7, 365 days a year.
If Noah-O deserves anything from the world, it’s to give him a really great birthday party, and that’s what the Richmond hip hop scene is trying to do with this Sunday night pre-Memorial Day party at The Broadberry. It’s a party to commemorate the release of the aforementioned “Trillipino,” for sure, but it’s also a celebration of a talented, prolific MC and straight-up nice guy who’s been bringing excellent music to the river city for over a decade now. It’s past time for the world to give Noah-O his flowers, and if the entire world can’t fit inside the Broadberry for this show, it can at least pack out with the many appreciative Richmonders who know what an incredible talent lives in our midst. So yeah, come join Noah-O and over a dozen talented members of the Richmond hip hop community at the Broadberry this Sunday to pay tribute to a brilliant artist who’s still at the top of his game.
Monday, May 30, 7 PM
Tiny Dinosaur, Radiance, Whitney & The Saying Goes @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
If you find yourself thinking, as I did, “Tiny Dinosaur? That’s a random name for a band,” you may be just as surprised as I was to learn that the band coming to the Camel this Monday night are not even the only band called Tiny Dinosaur! To be clear, this is not the Madison, Wisconsin indie-rock combo but the New Orleans acoustic ensemble who refers to the style of music they play as “fantasy folk.” They’re on tour in support of their latest album, Songs For the Mass Extinction Event, which is an apt title for an album released at a time when it feels like everything from civil society to the very climate in which we live is just about to collapse.
Thankfully, the sound this band is bringing to us at a time like this is upbeat and joyful, even if they do at least sometimes sing about the ceaseless march of time and the way everything we care about will eventually fall away. For every song on the new album like the challenging and forthright “You Might Be Wrong,” there’s a purely fun jam like “Who Put The Wu-Tang Next To Sgt. Pepper?” And no matter how serious the particular lyrics they’re singing at any point, they’ve always got an upbeat sound that should appeal to any among you who appreciate that whole Gogol Bordello/World-Inferno Friendship Society approach to making music. Spending your Memorial Day dancing around the Camel to these tunes is a good way to sing an elegy for the world all around us, passing away even as we speak. But it’s also just a good way to banish your cares and find a smile at the difficult beginning of a long week. And sometimes that’s all we really need.
Tuesday, May 31, 7 PM
Whoresnation, Grishka, Warfuck, MSD @ Hot For Pizza – $5
It’s not every week that the most brutal show of the week turns out to be happening on Tuesday night in a pizza shop, but when you love truly scathing grindcore, you’ll take it whenever and wherever it wants to show up, won’t you? That’s why you’ll be at Hot For Pizza, Richmond’s favorite Van Halen-referencing slice joint, on Tuesday night as one incredibly formidable tour rolls into town.
That formidable tour is headlined by two French groups, Whoresnation and Warfuck — both of whose names might not exactly be welcome if “family oriented” is something you aim for in your evening’s entertainment. Since when has grindcore been family oriented, though? Whoresnation’s brand new LP, Dearth, is a lightning-fast slab of guttural grind with strong death metal appeal. If you dig stuff like Cephalic Carnage and Last Days Of Humanity, you’ll find something to love here. As for Warfuck, they’re a bassless grind duo who channel some of the chaotic energy of early Pig Destroyer, back when they went fast most of the time. Their most recent LP, 2018’s This Was Supposed To Be Fun, is (title to the contrary) a total blast to listen to, especially if you like really, really fast stuff. DC’s Grishka and RVA’s own MSD round out this bill with a heaping helping of their own mid-Atlantic brand of grind, and all of it’s gonna be a ton of fun that will certainly liven up your Tuesday night. Just don’t eat too much pizza beforehand — headbanging on a full stomach is never as much fun as it seems like it should be.
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]
Top Photo by Andrew Williams, via Rikki Rakki/Facebook