Saturday, January 8, 8 PM
Cleophus James, Sono Lumini @ The Dark Room – $5 in advance, $7 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Folks, I don’t exactly want to start this week’s column off on another bum note, but it feels like it has to be said off the top — right now, a lot of people are coming down with COVID, due to the sheer contagiousness of the Omicron variant. For better or worse, the ship has clearly sailed on lockdowns here in “Merica” where we sure do love our “freedom,” but there’s still a strong possibility that any and all shows you read about in this week’s column — and maybe the next few as well — will get cancelled at the last minute, most likely due to worker shortages because so many people are sick.
With that warning out of the way, it’s time to talk about the most interesting and coolest shows that’ll be happening around this city over the next week, and we’ve gotta start with the album release show for Cleophus James. This quartet of Caucasian fellows are named after James Brown’s character from The Blues Brothers, and they do succeed in harnessing a bit of the funky feel you’d expect a band conversant with that movie (which is excellent, no doubt) to have in their back pockets. There’s a little bit of jam-band energy floating around as well on their newest album, 1am, but for sure the funk takes the lead role throughout, and that’s certainly music to my ears. It probably will be to yours as well.
Supposedly, this show is an album release show. Since 1am came out back in August, at least in digital form, I’m not sure if that means they’re celebrating finally getting physical copies of it in, or whether this is actually another new release from the Cleophus James boys. Considering everything I hear about year-long delays at pressing plants these days, my guess is that it’s the copies of 1am finally making it back from the plant. And considering what a fun, danceable listen that album is, you probably should show up with some extra cash to pick up your own copy. And hey, stick around and dance. The world’s falling down around our ears, after all… why not have some fun with it?
Wednesday, January 5, 7 PM
Woman Crush Wednesday, feat. Tyler Meacham, JOBIE, Bri Bevan @ The Camel – $7 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Bri Bevan’s Woman Crush Wednesday show series is always a pretty solid ticket. And the fact that this week sees Tyler Meacham acting as the headliner only makes it that much more essential. Meacham’s been working her musical magic around the river city for a few years now, and first grabbed my attention back in the heady pre-pandemic days of 2019 with a performance of her then-new single filmed in a closed-down auto garage. There’s a 71 Cadillac Coupe de Ville in the background of that video, and you’ll always catch my attention by giving me an excuse to indulge in automotive nerdery.
The pandemic hasn’t slowed Meacham down any, and she’s brought out a few singles in 2021 that show her talent for upbeat, rocked-up pop singles still at its sharpest. Tracks like “No Running Away” and “As If What She Says” sway slightly from the rockin’ side of things over to slight country inflection, but all of them are pop gems, and she’s able to carry them off in the live environment too, so that just makes catching this show that much more vital. Fellow performer JOBIE appears, from the limited evidence I’ve been able to find online, to go more toward the traditional folk end of things, but she’s still got plenty of pretty tunes to lay out for you, regardless of genre. And with Holly Breivik unable to make it (COVID cancellation? stuck in traffic? I’m not sure), WCW host Bri Bevan will be playing a full set to kick this one off — and that’s never a bad thing. Come chill with these talented ladies tonight.
Thursday, January 6, 7 PM
Vein, Koyo, Living Weapon, Fleshwater @ The Camel – $16 (order tickets HERE)
Vein have certainly been worth keeping an eye on for the last few years. This group started out by combining metalcore, screamo, and nu-metal in a melting pot of almost frightening heaviness on their early EPs, then integrated some outright industrial/electronic textures on 2018 full-length debut Errorzone. Now they’re closing in on the release of their long-awaited follow-up, This World Is Going To Ruin You, and preview single “The Killing Womb” shows that Vein have only gotten both heavier and more teched-out over the course of the last few years. Their use of deathcore-esque downtuned bomb-drop breakdowns is offset by the fact that they not only released a remix album, Old Data In A New Machine, last year, but also recently changed their name to Vein.fm (no one’s really calling them that yet, though, so I’m sticking with the original name). I never thought in 2021 I’d encounter a band that simultaneously reminded me of Slipknot and Ministry, but here we are — and I for one could not be more stoked about it.
Long Island hardcore band Koyo have a shorter track record, but it’s no less impressive — especially considering that their career has occurred almost entirely during the pandemic era. Their debut EP, Painting Words Into Lines, was released the week that the pandemic shut everything down, and this summer saw their third EP, Drives Out East, released on formidable hardcore label Triple B. Quite a growth pattern for a band that spent the entire intervening time unable to play a single live show. Now that they can play live again, Koyo’s only going to further benefit, in light of the way their music manages to be both incredibly catchy and notably hard-hitting. This is one of those melodic hardcore bands that aren’t just trying to find a way to make their pop-punk music sound tougher. No: this is hardcore. But you’re gonna be singing along. This bill is rounded out by Vein side-project Living Weapon and fellow Massachusetts residents Fleshwater, who are sure to get this party started right. Let’s hit it.
Friday, January 7, 9 PM
Honest Debts, Chris Leggett & The Copper Line @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
New year, new First Friday residency at the Camel! Now’s the time for you to get in on the ground floor for 2022 as the year of Richmond quintet Honest Debts holding down every First Friday at The Camel begins this Friday. If you don’t know what’s up with Honest Debts yet, well, if you like rock n’ roll and look for energy and talent in your favorite practitioners of the genre, these guys are sure to be right up your alley. Combining a powerful twin-guitar attack with powerful Hammond organ sounds and some soulful vocals, these guys definitely pick up on the classic rock tradition of bluesy tunes that hit hard as heck.
Pretty much every Friday night calls for this kind of thing, if we’re honest with ourselves, so the fact that we’ll be guaranteed to get it at least on the First Friday of every month this year is welcome news indeed. What’s also nice is that Honest Debts will be bringing a different opener with them each month, in order to open all of our minds with some great new sounds. This time around, it’s Richmond’s own Chris Leggett & The Copper Line, a band that formed around solo singer-songwriter Chris Leggett a few years ago. They’ve apparently got a debut full-length coming in a few months, but why not be an early adopter and learn to appreciate Leggett & co.’s driving country-rock anthems a couple months early? You’ll be glad you did.
Saturday, January 8, 9 PM
Hustler, Melissa, Destruct @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you’re looking at this week’s lineup and thinking “there just isn’t enough raw raging punk on this list,” well, this show happening Saturday night at Fuzzy Cactus is sure to be just what the doctor ordered. Headlined by a couple of New York punk bands, this is gonna be a noisy night over on Brookland Park Boulevard, and you definitely are going to want to wear your ripped black t-shirts and steel-toed boots to this one. Hustler is our lead-off act, and while they only have a demo out thus far, the fact that they released their debut cassette through punk rock leading light Sorry State Records is sure to carry some weight with some of you.
And let me tell you, it should! The eight songs they bash through in about sixteen minutes on their demo are full of dark, spooky punk energy, with more than their fare share of death-trip doom and street-level scuzz shining through. If you liked that first Iceage LP, dig early Agent Orange, and enjoy the recorded works of Rudimentary Peni, you’re going to find a lot to like in what Hustler are laying down. As for Melissa, who also released their debut EP this year, I’m hearing a bit more of a dark 80s Euro thrash thing in their sound; early albums by Bathory and Celtic Frost aren’t far from the mark, and when I hear Jane Pain’s harsh, throaty roar, I can’t help but think this band must have been at least partly inspired for their name by the work of King Diamond. Richmond ragers Destruct get this whole thing started right with a heavy dose of UK punk crust madness. If this infusion of noise isn’t enough to get you through the week, I don’t know what I could possibly tell you.
Sunday, January 9, 7 PM
Daniel Weatherspoon @ The Tin Pan – $20 – $26.50 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s one for all the jazz cats out there. Pianist Daniel Weatherspoon has had quite the career, beginning back in the 90s when his work as a sideman and producer brought him into contact with some really big names. These days, though, he’s standing on his own, infusing gospel, jazz, funk, and R&B into a sound all his own. He most recently showed this off on his third solo LP, Journey, released last year just before the pandemic shut everything down. He’s coming to the Tin Pan this Sunday with some fine instrumenal tunes, showing off his prowess on the keyboards and as a songwriter, and generating some smooth vibes to round out your weekend. So hey, come out to the West End, settle down at the Tin Pan, and let it all roll your way. It’ll do you no harm.
Monday, January 10, 7 PM
Kingyoso, FLKL, Celler Dwellers @ The Camel – $5 (order tickets HERE)
With my apologies to JFA, it’s time for some blatant localism. What better night, after all, could there be for seeing a showcase of up-and-coming local rockers than Monday night? And what better place to do so than the venue that has become the absolute mainstay for Richmond’s musical underground, The Camel? You know the answer to both of those questions; that’s why you’re going to want to get your butt down to the 1600 block of West Broad this Monday night and get down with this evening of musical bliss.
Kingyoso is the main band on the bill, and while not terribly much can be learned about this band by poking around on the internet, it is easy to learn that their singer, a lady with a powerful voice and a loud guitar, happens to be named “Goldfish.” That’s apparently where the band name comes from — “kingyoso” is apparently a Japanese word for goldfish, though I must admit I’m taking the band’s word for that. Goldfish is backed on this band’s soulful tunes by a horn section that gives the whole sound a bit of a Stax/Volt feel, as well as a funky rhythm section that is sure to keep things swinging. I wouldn’t quite call the result retro, but if you have love for the prime Southern soul era of the mid-to-late-60s, it’s a safe bet that this group is gonna capture your heart. Long-running VA alt-rockers FLKL (please don’t ask me how to pronounce that name) and brand new Richmond indie combo Celler Dwellers (that is apparently how they spell it, I promise I am not making repeated typos) will round out this bill with some smooth sounds. Get down with it.
Tuesday, January 11, 7 PM
Year of the Knife, Downfall, Shackled, Despize, Killing Pace @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
What’s that you say? You want some blazing metallic hardcore to round out your week (for the purposes of the Shows You Must See column, the week starts on Wednesday and ends on Tuesday. Sorry folks, I don’t make the rules)? Look no further than Tuesday night’s evening of destruction, taking place at The Camel and featuring a heaping helping of unholy shreds from Year Of The Knife. This Delaware band brought the absolute fury on last year’s Internal Incarceration, their first true full-length after several excellent EPs. The raw vocals, metallic riffage, and hardcore mosh breakdowns all combine to make this band the best exponent of really out-of-control metallic hardcore since the prime days of Converge and Gehenna (the one from Nevada, the infamous one).
Year Of The Knife are sure to leave the whole place exhausted after they pummel the very atmosphere of The Camel with unrelenting heaviness, but rest assured, their set will not be the only powerful event taking place that evening. Richmonders Downfall released a tough-as-hell LP called Dead To Me back in 2019 on local label Edgewood Records, and rumor has it that they haven’t lost a step since that time, so make sure you’re in the house when they represent RVA in fine fashion. New Jersey’s Shackled will be showing off their brand new LP, Doubt Surrounds All, with a performance you can expect to take no prisoners. Despize, who sure appear to hail from Scotland, have some really raw and heavy-as-fuck sounds to lay on us all as well. Richmond-based openers Killing Pace, on the other hand, have no music online at all. However, it’ll be interesting to see this brand new local act attempt to prove themselves while kicking off this bill of undisputed champions. So yeah, show up on time, and get ready for war, because this one is going to rage.
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]