Oh hey, I’m back! Did I miss anything? Let me stop playing; after a month of no show column, I’m sure I missed quite a lot. But I sure picked a jam-packed week to come back–and nothing happening this week is more impressive than this hellacious punk/metal double bill, taking over the Broadberry Saturday night! I’ve done at least a little bit of research, and it certainly appears from where I’m sitting that this is the only date on either of our headliners’ current tours where they play together. Richmond’s music scene wins once again–and you’d be a fool not to take advantage of it.
Corrosion Of Conformity are, without a doubt, the biggest news on this bill. After several years of functioning as a revival of the three-piece incarnation responsible for what is (in my humble opinion) the best COC album, 1985’s Animosity, COC have reunited with longtime vocalist/rhythm guitarist Pepper Keenan to revive the lineup responsible for such beloved albums as Deliverance and Wiseblood. Personally, I was in hog heaven when I saw these guys in 2012, mixing songs from their then-new self-titled album and the classic Animosity/Technocracy era, but a lot of fans in the crowd that night were clamoring for Keenan-era hits, and I’m sure all of those people will be stoked to see the long-awaited return of this version of COC.
But let’s not get too excited about our headliners and forget about the other bands on this highly stacked bill! Eyehategod are always amazing, and it’s especially noteworthy that they survived the untimely loss of original drummer Joey LaCaze in 2013 to release their first new album in a decade and a half. They’ve come through RVA with new drummer Aaron Hill since then, and if you really get down with the sort of bayou-drenched Southern sludge these guys dish out like pretty much no one else (other than maybe Cavity), I’m sure you caught that show as well. But why not see ’em again? Especially since VA stoner-rock veterans Valkyrie–a band worthy of headliner status in their own right–will be kicking the whole thing off. Even though this show is upgraded from Strange Matter (where you’d usually expect this kind of bill to show up) to the much-larger Broadberry, it seems likely it will sell out in advance, so since there are (by some miracle) tickets still available right now, why don’t you get out your bank card, scroll up a few paragraphs, and click the link to buy one for yourself? You won’t regret it.
Wednesday, April 13, 6 PM
Into It. Over It., The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, The Sidekicks, Pinegrove @ The Broadberry – $15 in advance/$18 at the door (order tickets HERE)
There were a couple of other shows happening tonight that I considered writing about, but ultimately, who am I kidding? If there’s one fact about my musical tastes that I’ve established over my years of doing this column, it’s that I’m emo as fuck and I won’t ever do a single thing to hide it. So you can’t possibly be surprised that a return appearance by dual headliners Into It. Over It. and The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, the same double bill that cemented my love for the whole “emo revival” thing back in spring 2014, would win my critical approval. After all, both of these bands are fucking great. Into It. Over It. definitely deserve to be at the top of the bill–after all, they just dropped their third album, Standards, which just might be their best work yet. If you dig that beautifully melancholy, wistfully longing emo sound pioneered in the 90s by bands like Braid and American Football, you need to keep up with this band; nobody else is doing that sound this much justice in 2016.
But I don’t want to take anything away from TWIABP, who’ve come through RVA a few times since that mindblowing performance a couple of years ago, and who’ve knocked me out every time. Since those days, when they were still supporting debut album Whenever, If Ever, they’ve released a couple of amazing new albums–most recently 2015’s Harmlessness, on Epitaph Records (!). Their lineup has swelled at times to brobdingnagian proportions (a recently released live performance video featured four guitarists, two drummers, and such auxiliary instruments as cello and trumpet), but the core of the band has stayed solid, and the result has been steady improvement from an already-incredible, groundbreaking band. Bands working with various combos of the emo, post-hardcore, and post-rock genres have become pretty easy to trip over in recent years, but TWIABP are in a class by themselves. Don’t sleep–and don’t show up late either, because opening sets from excellent fellow touring bands The Sidekicks and Pinegrove will be every bit as excellent as the headliners, even if I have run myself out of space in which to elaborate.
Here’s a prediction: slow-motion headbangs will dominate your Thursday evening! This has nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with the fact that Graves At Sea are headlining at Strange Matter on this fine evening. And my god, are they brutal. Come to think of it, this may have a little bit to do with the weather after all–the name Graves At Sea certainly makes me think of ships capsizing in apocalyptic storms. Musically speaking, these guys’ command of epic doom riffs and foreboding, slowly building song structures evokes the same sort of impending nautical doom that Mastodon brought to life on classic album Leviathan–though Graves At Sea are, if anything, more tinged with the harsh, evil fury of the best black metal. Brand new album The Curse That Is, which dropped only one week ago, provides the best argument possible for why you should fulfill the prophecy I laid upon you at the beginning of this paragraph by heading to Strange Matter Thursday night. Get your neck limbered up beforehand.
I was talking about Mastodon in the last paragraph for different reasons, but Atlanta’s Order Of The Owl actually share a hometown with them. However, these guys take things to a darker, heavier, and scarier level with their take on brutal doom. The tinges of black metal here are much more overt, showing up mainly in singer Brent Anderson’s terrifying, throaty screams, though the foreboding atmosphere created by the effects-laden guitar gives these guys some added resonance as well. Then there are some straight-up stoner riffs thrown in to sweeten the pot… I dunno where exactly to place this on a genre map, but regardless, it sure does rule. We’re lucky to have further cause for anticipation of this show with the return of Druglord, featuring everyone’s favorite RVA expatriate, Greta Brinkman (is it true she’s flying back from Berlin for this one gig?). Plus, amazingly enough, Night Magic is opening up. This is a hell of a week for bands that deserve headline slots in their own right to show up farther down on truly redoubtable bills, it seems.
A long time ago, in his classic performance film Delirious, Eddie Murphy advised us all to “stay the fuck away from cookouts.” That’s a really funny bit (much funnier than the homophobic parts of that movie… eesh), but I cannot in good conscience concur with Murphy’s advice–especially where cookouts being thrown by the Jellowstone Records crew are concerned. Considering how early in the year this is happening–and the fact that the weather app on my phone predicts a high temp of 66 degrees on Friday–I can’t imagine very much of this event will be happening outside, but why would you go outside anyway when the music will be so great indoors? KINGS, the funk-soul project of musical genius Kelli Strawbridge–he who embodies James Brown himself for The Big Payback, and clearly has too much talent to merely front a tribute band–will be heating up the room just fine with Prince/Sly & The Family Stone-inspired jams, and a lineup full of fellow musical heavyweights, including representatives from Butcher Brown, No BS! Brass Band, and probably a whole bunch more (the way all these Jellowstone bands share members reminds me of the hardcore scene–I love it).
The Charles Owens Quartet will be taking us from the funk end of the Jellowstone spectrum back towards straight-up jazz. I presume we can expect to hear some tunes from Owens’ 2015 Jellowstone release, the gorgeous A Day With Us, but with skilled musicians like this onstage, things could go pretty much anywhere, so be prepared for some unique moments as well. The hip hop aesthetic of Jellowstone runs mainly towards the crate-digging vinyl scientist side of that particular genre, and who better to represent that approach to music than legendary beatmaker and production genius Ohbliv? He’ll get you nodding your head and stroking your chin in contemplation, perhaps even at the same time. And just to make sure you’re well and truly prepared for the feast of tuneage that will come to you throughout this evening, DJ Rattan is kicking the whole thing off the whole thing promptly at 9 PM. I don’t know whether there’ll actually be any hamburgers and hot dogs sizzling on any grills, but you know what? The Camel sells some pretty delicious burgers if you’re hungry. If you’ve got an appetite for great music, though, KINGS and their Jellowstone compatriots will hook you up right!
You know about Dazeases by now, right? I feel like anyone who follows the Richmond live music scene must at this point. Whether you’re checking out metal, indie, punk, or electronic shows, you’ve got a pretty good chance of catching a set by this one-woman ambient soul powerhouse. Or maybe you’d rather describe Dazeases’ music as dark electronic blues? Indie goth funk? The very fact that it can be explained so many ways, all of which are equally true and at the same time equally unable to fully capture Dazeases’ allure, is probably why this project has showed up on so many completely different bills over the past six months or so. And now Dazeases leader London Perry has joined up with ANIMAL head honcho Conley Dirt Stash to present an evening of amazingly bizarre and oh-so-catchy electro-dance tunes, centered around the premiere of a brand new video from Dazeases! If your first thought is “Wait, new video? I need details!”, well, you’re not the only one. All I can tell you is–show up to Strange Matter on Saturday night, and all is sure to be revealed!
A whole lot of amazing electronic/ambient artists will also be revealed to you on this night, especially if you’re the sort of person who’s aware of Dazeases but has yet to catch up on the full spectrum of what our local scene has to offer in this arena. “Quite a bit” is one way to describe the answer to that unasked question, though when is that ever NOT the case in RVA? To be more specific, MNLV (pronounced “mini-love”) mixes some excellent soulful vocals with skittering electro grooves that undercut her beautiful singing with intriguingly off-kilter textures. Zooanzoo actually hails from a couple of hours up 64W in Harrisonburg, but has a killer ambient sound that anyone from anywhere in VA would be glad to represent. Chi and NiiO also create multi-layered sounds all their own, which they will explore from the stage, and of course what would an ANIMAL event be without a set from Conley Dirt Stash to get us all dancing the night away? I’m sure I won’t want this night to end, but right now I just can’t wait for it to start.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down may be based in San Francisco these days, but they definitely have their roots right here in RVA. Leader Thao Nguyen, originally from Falls Church, met longtime collaborator Adam Thompson (who old RVA heads will remember as The OK Bird) at Harrison Street Coffee (or at least, so wikipedia tells me). Meanwhile, the band has recently acquired Trillions mastermind/Avers secret weapon Charlie Glenn as a member, which makes the fact that Avers is opening this show seem pretty logical on the whole. But you know, even if Thao & The Get Down Stay Down had no VA connections to speak of, they’d still be a great band to spend your Sunday night seeing. After all, recently released fifth album A Man Alive is a groove-filled party of an album from beginning to end, mingling Nguyen’s introspective yet catchy folk-pop sound with the rattletrap funk-folk of producer Merrill Garbus’s ever-popular Tuneyards (no, I’m not gonna even attempt to replicate that group’s erratic capitalization scheme). How this group’s shifting lineup will recreate these funky, catchy, folky, fun tunes in a live environment is something I can’t predict, but I’m sure we’ll all have a blast finding out, right?
Little Scream is another funky folkster to add to the fun; this lady hails from Montreal and is mere weeks from following up her 2011 debut, The Golden Record, with Cult Following, which comes to us from NC’s own Merge Records. Little Scream’s assocations with The Arcade Fire and The National should perk up the ears of the indie hipsters, but the danceable preview single from Cult Following, “Love As A Weapon,” should be convincing all on its own. Who cares who Little Scream hangs with? It’s the music you’ll remember. And like I mentioned, Avers are somewhere on this bill as well. I’m not actually sure where–whether they’ll follow Little Scream and Charlie will play two sets in a row, or whether they’ll kick off the evening to give the man a breather before he heads back out with the headliner. Regardless, you’ll see them at some point, and you’re sure to dig them when you do. So why sweat the details?
I am full of admiration for Tacocat. This is a band who is able to create some truly flawless pop hooks through expert deployment of guitars and percussion instruments, keeping things simple and sweet without a ton of production glopping things up. What’s more, they take a snarky, amusing position on the kind of sexist shit women should have stopped having to deal with long ago–the fact that their new album, Lost Time, features a song called “Men Explain Things To Me” is all I should really even have to tell you where that’s concerned. And if you need further proof of their excellence than that, look no further than “Dana Katherine Scully,” the opening track from Lost Time. This outstanding X Files-themed track about everybody’s favorite paranormal investigator (Fox who?) features catchy surf-style guitar licks and excellent vocal harmonies on the chorus. You probably shouldn’t even listen to it if you’re not cool with having it stuck in your head all day, though the kind of stick in the mud who’d complain to have a great song like this running through their brain is probably not the sort of person who’d read my column anyway, so I’m guessing you’re safe.
Boyfriends are also on this bill, and while I kinda wanted Tacocat’s fellow Seattle-ites to be an all-female band just to give the name a tinge of irony, once I listened to their music I had to admit that these four dudes are pretty rad in their own right. They’ve got a skittering, energetic postpunk/dance-funk groove style, and they’ve also got a song called “Future Is Female,” so these guys seem pretty OK to me. As far as local support for these two rad Pacific-NW bands, Positive No are returning from hibernation with yet another new lineup–and thank goodness for that, I was going into withdrawal! Meanwhile, is it possible that a band as closely associated with X Files as Tacocat could come through town and not end up playing with Atta Girl? Knowing RM and Chris, I doubt they’d let that happen. So yeah, of course Atta Girl are kicking off this bill with some fine X Files-worshipping indie pop, including plenty of great tunes from their recent EP Fuck The Sun (which I’m only mentioning here because that title is so much fun to type).
How shall we wrap up our week of music? Well, that depends–does the week really end on Tuesday? I guess for the purpose of this column it does! Oh jeez, what am I typing about? It’s late, y’all, I’m getting a little loopy. And for that matter, so are the Satellite Syndicate, that collective of producers, beatmakers, rappers, visual artists, and other assorted geniuses who come to us each month at The Camel with a showcase full of amazing beats, loops, and rhymes (at times). This month, they’re putting Choice Doctors at the top of the bill, and considering the deep dark funk of this groove-making duo’s 2015 DJ Harrison-produced release, After Hours, such an action only seems appropriate. Get ready to sail through a cloud of tape-head murk and crackly jazz awesomeness.
Then get ready for a collection of out-of-town production whizzes come to shake things up in the RVA with some new sounds you haven’t encountered before! From Baltimore, we’ll be receiving the word from cloudy psychedelic scientist Urban Shaman, as well as from obsessive bizarro-funk cutup master Dylijens (your guess is as good as mine on the pronunciation for that one, folks). North Carolina is where Trandle hails from, and his layered grooves make me flash back to the first time I heard Four Tet’s Rounds–which, yes, I do intend as a huge compliment (if you don’t like that record, you need to get off the crack). .oldneon will be in the house to provide bizarre visual stimulation, sourced from ancient, decayed VHS tapes whenever possible (because analog decay is better than digital flawlessness any day). I know I spend most of the week telling you to go to loud rock shows, but I need a change of pace as much as anyone else, and I think we both could use a smooth-sounding sanity break with Satellite Syndicate at the Camel. Don’t you?
Need to let me know about an upcoming show so I can hype it herein? Hit me up: email@example.com.
As I’m sure you can tell, I’ve struck out on my own, and am attempting to provide Richmond with a resource that (according to a fair number of people I’ve talked to) was much appreciated by the community as a whole. I’m no longer drawing a paycheck for this column, and while I intend to bring it to you for free for as long as I possibly can, helping to support my efforts through contributions to my Patreon account will make sure it lasts a lot longer than it may otherwise. $1 a month is all I’m asking, and only give that if you want–but I assure you, I’ll be providing worthwhile content that will amply reward your small financial investment. I’m starting by returning the column to action, but it’s far from the only content I have planned. Stick around for more awesomeness! And thanks for sticking with me, Richmond.