Thursday, April 4, 5 PM
Sports Bar (photo by Samuel Dixon Photography), Tommy And The Commies, Les Lullies, Nightcreature @ Hardywood – Free!
I’ve teased Sports Bar within this column in the past for being slackers. If you’ve been reading for a while, you surely know about it; I’ve even gotten emails from the band themselves about it (no worries, they thought it was funny). But I think I just might have to take it all back, because Sports Bar have been quite productive over the last six months or so. First they released their debut full-length LP, Stranger In My Head, last October. Now, only half a year later, they’re holding a release party for the follow-up EP, Something Good. Have Sports Bar outgrown their slack persona?
Well, let’s not be hasty — only time will really tell on that score. But considering that Stranger In My Head only further proved what savvy Richmonders have known for years — that this band’s mix of catchy melodies and garage-punk irreverence makes them a flawless creator of perfect power-pop gems — chances are they could take this whole thing a lot farther if they stay this active. More importantly for the purposes of this column, Richmonders will get more chances to see them play live! Here’s your first one — and it’s free, so you definitely don’t want to miss it.
They’ll be joined on this bill by two hot power-pop groups from outside the US, both of which are just as unmissable as Sports Bar themselves. Tommy And The Commies hail from Ontario, and not only have a pretty awesome name but also prove on 2018’s Here Come… that they know how to bring back the toe-tapping rage of late-70s British punk with maximum aplomb and panache. Meanwhile, Slovenly Recordings labelmates Les Lullies, who hail from France, have a grungier, snottier take on late-70s dawn-of-punk riffage, expertly evoking the Real Kids and Radio Birdman on last year’s self-titled LP. Both of these bands are going to tear it up at Hardywood tomorrow night, and with Nightcreature kicking things off, you’ll be hearing excellent sounds from moment one. Don’t miss this, y’all — you never know when Sports Bar will take another year off.
Wednesday, April 3, 7 PM
And The Kids, Bat House, Cardinal @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
And The Kids aren’t exactly punks, but they’ve definitely got some of that rebellious spirit within them. It isn’t just identified by them beginning their band name with a preposition, either. You can hear the spunk and spirit they bring to their melodic, energetic indie rock on their latest album, When This Life Is Over, which came out back in February. Recording for the group is always a bit of a complicated proposition, with one member having been deported to Canada in 2014 while the duo who formed the group make their home in Massachusetts. But by mixing together everything from bedroom demos to complicated multi-track layers, they pulled together a really great record.
How will they recreate such a thing live — and how will the fact that one of the band’s members was deported to Canada affect all that? I imagine the US doesn’t just let you back in with no complaints when it’s time to tour, so for all I know, we’ll be getting a slightly rearranged lineup of And The Kids at The Camel tonight. But the tunes will still be in one piece, and founders Hannah Mohan and Rebecca Lasaponaro’s excellent vocal harmonies are sure to shine brightly. So no matter who else is backing them up, you should really be there to see what magic they create. They’ll arrive in the company of talented Boston math-rockers Bat House, and get a guaranteed-splendid opening set from up-and-coming local indie geniuses Cardinal. All this, all for you. Isn’t it wonderful?
Thursday, April 4, 9 PM
Ulthar, Left Cross, Disintegration @ Wonderland – $10
Ulthar are coming through, and you better batten the hatches — especially if you see any cats around. This California trio brings together former members of harsh metal ragers like Mutilation Rites and Vastum to kick out some dirty blackened thrash in tribute to pioneering horror author HP Lovecraft — something they do an expert job of on their debut album, Cosmovore.
From the guttural vocals, blasting drums, and speedy riffage (all of which Lovecraft himself, an avowed despiser of music, would surely detest) to the lyrics referencing a variety of concepts from the old man of Providence’s classic works, Ulthar carry on a glorious tradition of Lovecraft-influenced metal, and we are all the beneficiaries as they prepare to cast a dank miasma over Shockoe Bottom with their eldritch terror. They’ll be joined by Richmond’s raw thrashers Left Cross and local grinders Disintegration for a blasphemous night full of maximum brutality.
Friday, April 5, 10 PM
The Marcus Tenney Trio @ The Savory Grain – Free!
It seems other people around town are finally starting to notice just how much top-quality free jazz (in the it-doesn’t-cost-anything sense rather than the Ornette Coleman sense) is available around Richmond, and I for one am glad — excellent jazz sounds have been bubbling just under the surface of the Richmond music scene for years now, and it’s high time it got wider recognition. But just because other people are catching on doesn’t mean we’ll stop talking about it over here, and so I’m here to tell you that the jazz show most worth talking about this week is happening Friday night at The Savory Grain.
Specifically, The Marcus Tenney Trio will be playing for your musical enjoyment. Tenney should need no introduction by now — from his work in Butcher Brown, No BS! Brass Band, and multiple other combos around town to his many excursions as bandleader and even his hip hop career under the name Tennishu, Tenney keeps busy with cranking out the excellent music for RVA fans’ enjoyment… and you know this, so I don’t know why I’m repeating it now. But this night finds him backed by a couple of local jazz stars who may not be as well known around town. Drummer Corey Fonville has anchored Butcher Brown’s rhythm section for years now, as well as doing a ton of session work and generally being amazing, while Matthew Hall spent several years as an expat, bringing his bass skills to the jazz scene in Istanbul, Turkey for quite a while. He’s returned to Richmond and will give locals a chance to catch up or get familiar as an integral part of Marcus Tenney’s trio this Friday night. Drop in and dig the sound.
Saturday, April 6, 7 PM
YOB, Voivod, Amenra @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets HERE)
OK, I can’t be the only metalhead in town who saw this lineup and immediately whispered, “Oh my god…” to themselves, right? I mean, this is a double dose of the heaviest, hardest-hitting music out there. There’s just no other way to put it. YOB have been going for over two decades now, and this slow, sludgy, and heavy-as-fuck trio go so far beyond the typical doom metal template that they’re in a class by themselves. To give you an idea, their latest album, last year’s Our Raw Heart, was written by frontman Mike Scheidt while he was in the hospital recovering from a health scare. It is both sludgy as fuck and ominously psychedelic in the manner of the best Neurosis albums. Getting it thrown at you at top volume when these guys take the stage at The Broadberry is sure to be a treat, assuming you enjoy being buffeted by waves of pure sonic gloom.
And also assuming you aren’t completely spent after a set from YOB’s equally powerful tourmates, Voivod. Doing YOB one better, Voivod have been around for over three decades now, and just released their 18th album, The Wake, last year. Over their 35 years of existence, Voivod have done everything from speedy thrash to strange, mathematical prog-metal, and The Wake finds the group exploring all facets of their wide-ranging sound, and then some, in order to talk further focus on their long-running themes: the dehumanizing nature of technology, the chaos of our modern world, and our murderous culture of war and violence. Look, maybe this won’t be the most uplifting show that’s ever happened in Richmond, but do you come to metal seeking your daily affirmation? Or are you, like most of us, just looking for some great riffs to headbang to? YOB and Voivod have you covered on that one. You know what to do.
Sunday, April 7, 7 :30 PM
The Telescopes (Photo by Solange Magnin), Cult Of Lip, Keep @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Here’s a pretty incredible thing: psychedelic shoegaze pioneers The Telescopes are making their way to Richmond this Sunday night. The English group got their start in the late 80s, grabbing attention as a member of the formidable Creation Records stable in the early 90s and bringing a hazy, ethereal sensibility to their tunes full of loud guitars and beautiful vocal harmonies. After disappearing for a decade or so, the group returned in the mid-00s, and numerous lineup changes have taken place since, but always with founder and chief songwriter Stephen Lawrie in the frontman position.
Their simultaneous connections to the early days of shoegaze and the psychedelic, spaced-out UK guitar groups like Loop and Spacemen 3 shows through in the beautiful music they make, most recently on the brand-new Exploding Head Syndrome, the group’s 11th album. They’ll roll into town with plenty of fuzz and some powerful amps in tow, all set to blow you away and wipe your mind clean — so be prepared. They’ll have Minneapolis’s Cult Of Lip in tow, all set to bowl you over with a set of early-JAMC guitar clatter, and the whole night will be kicked off by local shoegaze torchbearers Keep. Get ready for some serious pedal-hopping, y’all.
Monday, April 8, 8 PM
Allegra, FINE., Hot Spit, Warrington @ The Camel – $5 in advance/$7 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Citrus City really manages to keep their finger on the pulse. Not only do they scoop up a ton of gorgeous emo pop bands around Richmond, they range far afield to sign the best bands playing this style around the country and world. Witness their latest collaboration with Philadelphia’s Allegra, who are coming to town this Monday night having just released their latest EP, Yet Not Enough, through Citrus City Records. Full of excellent tunes, this understated release from Allegra shows off the band’s “queer twinkly emo” sensibilities without overwhelming the listener with million-note lead guitar runs or brain-scrambling time-signature tricks.
Instead, we find singer-guitarist Allegra Eidinger’s softly beautiful melodies and ringing guitar strums anchoring a collection that’s sure to win your heart. And we’ll undoubtedly see the same thing onstage when the quartet pulls into town to liven up your Monday night — which is always appreciated. They’re accompanied by Providence duo FINE. (yes, written just like that), whose buzzing riffs and strangely Stevie Nicks-ish vocals have a harsher take on some subtly strong melodies. With local brilliance from Warrington and Hot Spit kicking this one off, we’re guaranteed to have a good time with this one.
Tuesday, April 9, 8 PM
Sinmara, Suffering Hour, Voarm @ Wonderland – $10
Is Wonderland the new Strange Matter? I ask because, for a long time, Strange Matter was the go-to for early-weeknight sets from touring bands that were either just starting to make their names or long-running legends you’d never expect to see in Richmond. For a while, no one was filling that gap, and our Mondays and Tuesdays were worse for it. But just in the past couple of weeks, I’ve started noticing shows like that popping up more and more often at Wonderland. And let me just say, if they’re going to become the new early-weeknight go-to for excellent live bands we otherwise might not see in town, I for one am stoked about it.
This show is particularly fascinating, being the sort of metal show that would have happened in Strange Matter but is now taking place in Shockoe Bottom. One wonders if it could even gather both the downtown metalheads with the Bottom-dwelling headbangers and bring true unity to Richmond’s metal scene once more. That’s a heavy responsibility for killer Icelandic black-metal trio Sinmara to undertake, but as long as they lay us flat with more of the windswept metal brutality they dish out on their latest killer full-length slab, Hvisl Stjarnanna, which just dropped last month… well, I don’t think anyone is going to complain. Prepare for a musical onslaught of epic proportions… and keep your eye on Wonderland. They might have more like this in the near future. Wouldn’t that be great?
Bonus Hampton Roads Picks:
Friday, April 5, 8 PM
Inferior Brain Power, Tornado Bait, Brian Mann @ Taphouse Grill – $5
Hah, OK. Well, I can’t say I know that much about Inferior Brain Power — in fact, the first time I heard of this duo, which hails from somewhere in the DC/NoVA area, was when I found the event invite for this show on Facebook. But I couldn’t help looking into any band who is holding an 8-track release show, and now here we are. You young whippersnappers might wonder what an 8-track even is, but let me tell you, unlike a lot of other dead formats that have experienced minor revivals in recent years, this one is not worth looking into. If Inferior Brain Power is sincerely attempting to kickstart an 8-track revival with their new EP (and I have my doubts), it’s doomed to fail.
That said, I admire their chutzpah, and a listen to the album they’ll be releasing on 8-track, We Read Books, leads me to do so even more. Originally released last fall on standard cassettes, I’m glad to know this album is available in a more conventionally playable format, especially since it’s such a hard thing to describe. Pere Ubu jamming with They Might Be Giants? A Dead Milkmen album produced by Tim And Eric? It’s not your typical indie record, and that makes sense, because Inferior Brain Power aren’t your typical indie band, by any means. If you are one of the fourteen or so hoarders left on the planet with a working 8-track player, you should definitely go to this show and pick up a copy of We Read Books. The rest of you should just go enjoy the show. It’s certainly not going to be anything like anything else you’ve seen in this column lately, and if you ask me, that’s reason enough.
Monday, April 8, 7 PM
Eyehategod (Photo by Albert Licano), The Obsessed, Antiseen, Slaghead, Night Hag @ RiffHouse Pub – $20 in advance/$25 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Wow, this one is big. A triple-headliner bill featuring three of the most legendary collections of repropbates to ever play loud, heavy, anti-social music in America, all on one stage. People are gonna come out of the woodwork for this one, so if you want to be part of it, you better score your tickets now. You’re gonna want ’em, and not just because Eyehategod is at the top of this bill. The pioneers of NOLA sludge-blues swamp metal, these guys have been laying down pulverizing grooves full of sketchy spookiness for 30-plus years now, and neither drug busts nor liver transplants nor even death has put a stop to them.
But the Eyehategod train is not the only one that miraculously keeps rolling after many decades — The Obsessed can make a similar claim, even if their history isn’t quite as checkered as fellow DC doom-metal pioneers Pentagram. Forming at the dawn of the 80s, they’ve repeatedly broken up and reunited, currently on their third overall incarnation. Don’t let that intimidate you, though — doom-metal living legend Scott “Wino” Weinrich is still fronting the trio, and their 2017 album, Sacred, shows that they can still bring that Black Sabbath/Blue Cheer sludge groove like no one else. Last but certainly not least, we’ve got Antiseen, a punk rock group unlike any other, who hail from North Carolina and have at times made even Poison Idea look like upright citizens. Their latest release, Dying Breed, features a ton of covers including one of White Cross’s “Jump Up,” for you old-school VA hardcore heads. But it’s Antiseen’s classic originals, which somehow bring a Southern-rock feel to raging 80s punk sounds, that you’ll really be down for, assuming you enjoy some seriously antisocial sounds. And honestly, if you don’t, you might want to skip this one. Because I can promise one thing — it’s gonna get crazy. You’ve been warned.
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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