Wednesday, April 20, 6:30 PM
Magrudergrind, Yautja, Ramming Speed, Burn/Ward @ Gallery 5 – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Woo, it’s 4/20, bros! Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Or whatever the appropriate lingo is here. I may not be a big-time stoner, and may not have any real knowledge of what it’s like to be high (you feel kinda stupid and then you get a headache, in my brief experience, but that was 25 years ago…), but I sure know one thing: a grind show is a very appropriate way to celebrate this (rather dubious) occasion. For those of you out there going “Wouldn’t a doom metal show be even more appropriate?” I guess I have to grant you that one, but the stereotype of doom bros smoking hella weed is so established at this point as to have become a tired cliche. What a lot less people seem to realize is just how much weed grind dudes smoke. Check out your average Brutal Truth t-shirt or Exit 13 record cover if you don’t believe me.
I don’t wanna imply anything in particular about Magrudergrind–the drummer from noted straight-edge speedcore band Coke Bust is no longer in the group, but I have no idea what these guys’ intake habits are. But I do know they shred like crazy, and I’m really glad they’ve gotten back into it full speed ahead recently. After all, new album Magrudergrind II is their first release since 2010 EP Crusher. And boy does it smoke! 15 songs fly by in around 25 minutes, with only two stretching past the two-minute mark. New drummer Casey Moore may or may not be related to Coke Bust legend Chris Moore (I’m guessing not, but stranger things have happened) but he sure is able to dish out the blast beats at similar face-blurring speeds. The riffs will have you banging your head, and singer Avi Kulawy’s tendency to get some sick air will keep you entertained throughout their performance.
Yautja is another band I am super excited about on this bill. This Nashville band originally caught my attention because Tyler Coburn from Gnarwhal plays drums for them, and just as that man’s flying stick style knocked me out as an essential part of Gnarwhal’s hyperspeed math-grind, it blows me away in Yautja’s more Neurosis-style epic sludge metal milieu. Debut album Songs Of Descent was a fucking devastator when it dropped in 2014–and, I hasten to add, for a lot of reasons besides Tyler’s drumming–and followup Songs Of Lament features even more of a layered, intricate, and overall deadly attack. These guys may not blast all the time the way Magrudergrind does, but whether they’re blinding you with their furious speed or steamrolling you in slow motion, they’ll kick your fucking ass regardless. The same is true for (semi-)locals Ramming Speed and Burn/Ward, both of whom are way better than I can possibly get across to you in the meager space I have remaining. Spend your day toking up, if that’s your thing, but make sure you have enough energy to get to Gallery 5 tonight, because this show is an essential part of today’s festivities–even for middle-aged straight edge ladies like myself.
Wednesday, April 20, 9:30 PM
Harry Partch Appreciation Society, The Insect Club @ Balliceaux – Free!
I’m fascinated by the mere fact that this is happening, y’all. Even for music nerds like myself, Harry Partch’s name is not one you hear on a regular basis. Experimental music can be pretty much anything, but if punks using effects pedals and contact mics to generate sheets of screeching noise are on one end of the scale, Partch was all the way on the other. A pioneer in the use of microtonal scales, Partch built his own instruments that were tuned in invented tunings in order to render the music he’d created pretty much from scratch in the manner in which he envisioned it. Partch spent his early days as a migrant worker and a transient in order to keep himself alive while devoting every spare moment to his musical creations. Eventually, later in life, he made a decent living through grants and university positions–something for all the 20-something noise freaks to aspire to.
Partch has been deceased for over 40 years, but tonight at Balliceaux, a loose-knit crew of improvisational musicians, organized around the ensemble known as The Insect Club, will take the stage to create a performance featuring hand-made instruments and repurposed objects. Anyone can join in, really, as long as they bring an instrument they made themselves, so if the spirit moves you, pull a random object out of your basement and come jam! The sort of intense theoretical detail that was a hallmark of Partch’s work might not be as highly in evidence, but the commitment to exploration of completely new sounds through a refusal to rely on any pre-established musical conventions will be obvious. Afterwards, the Insect Club will take the stage to do a full-length cover of the classic Velvet Underground album White Light/White Heat. For all I know, they may play it perfectly straight, but considering the environment in which this is taking place, I imagine things will be pretty fucking far out, especially by minute 9 of “Sister Ray.” If you like your music weird, wild, wonderful, and mind-expanding, this is a night for you.
Thursday, April 21, 11 PM
Michael Millions, Big Lo, BCMusic1st & RT, Gritty City, music by Swerve 360, hosted by BeenOfficial of Divine Profitz @ En Su Boca – Donations requested
So much is going on in RVA hip hop, y’all, I love it. And by the way, I also love that the whole Divine Profitz crew stays doing shows at taco joints. From Baja Bean to En Su Boca, there’s always plenty of my favorite cuisine in close proximity, and that’s dope. But let’s get back to the music here, because Michael Millions is headlining this evening of fly local hip hop sounds, and he’s definitely someone you should be paying attention to. Along with Radio B, Nickelus F, and Name Brand, Millions is part of the AGM crew, who I heard about from the Cheats Movement Podcast (though I’d already heard of all the members individually beforehand). These artists are working at the highest level that you can find around here, making some excellent top-quality tracks featuring memorable production and lyrics that are second-to-none. In particular, Millions’ latest release, Beautiful, shows a rapper at the top of his game, with some smooth music backing bars of straight fire. Seeing Millions translate those sounds–and the best of his significant back catalog–into live hotness will be a great way to kick off your weekend a day early.
There’s a lot of other amazing hip hop on this bill, and I’ve gotta give a shout-out first of all to Gritty City, a crew that intersects somewhat with Divine Profitz and has a tendency to stay on their grind constantly, turning out excellent full-length releases at the rate of one every few months over at Bandcamp. The latest, which just dropped this week, is Fan Ran & Profound79’s Food Court Gods 2, a sequel to the bangin’ collection of instrumentals they dropped last year. No worries, though–we’re sure to hear some rhyming from the Gritty City posse at some point during their set. I can’t imagine Johnny Ciggs, Ben FM, Skweeky Watahfawls, and the rest of the crew won’t be in the house. You’ll also get to see a set from Big Lo, plus a collaborative performance from New Juice Crew homies BCMusic1st and RT, which should be amazing as well. Overall, it promises to be an amazing evening, and if they’re not kicking the sounds off until 11 PM, you’ve got plenty of time to score some tacos beforehand. Don’t miss out.
Friday, April 22, 9:30 PM
True Widow, Sinister Haze, Slimy Member @ Hardywood – $10 (order tickets here: http://truewidowhardywood.eventbrite.com)
To tell the absolute truth, y’all, I’m a little sick of the term “shoegaze.” It’s always been a bit silly, and it gets overused these days to the point of not meaning much of anything. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed a lot of bands that have come out of the metal scene in recent years who use the “-gaze” suffix to describe their music. I don’t know if it’s accurate to call Jesu “doomgaze” or Deafheaven “blackgaze,” but the fact that people use such terms in the first place still seems like a relatively promising sign (give it a few years though… ugh). True Widow, who have apparently used the term “stonegaze” to describe themselves, also do a lot to make me happy with their music. 2013 Relapse release Circumambulation is full of dark, gloomy sounds that would probably appeal to the sort of people that enjoy the pleasantly cloudy haze of psychedelic bands like Amen Dunes, The Warlocks, or The Diamond Center. However, it’s also got a dark, gloomy core marked by some understated but always clear heaviness mixed in with the guitars. Trendy suffixes are nice when they point you in the direction of bands this good.
True Widow comes to Hardywood this Friday night with fellow Texans Slimy Member in tow. To be completely honest, that band name makes me shudder–the pictures it conjures up in my mind aren’t exactly pleasant or wholesome. Of course, the name comes from a Rudimentary Peni song, and Slimy Member do justice to the raging tunes and horrific imagery the legendary UK band created in the dawning days of punk rock. So really, if you’re both horrified by the name and intrigued by your own horror, you’re probably a good candidate for enjoying the sounds this band has to offer. We must also discuss the fact that local support Sinister Haze will be playing their last show this evening; this sludgy doom trio featuring members of Cough, Dry Spell, and Balaclava will be going their separate ways, so this is your last opportunity to get pummeled by their dark, heavy grooves. There’s a lot to enjoy this Friday night at Hardywood. I even hear they’ll have beer, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Saturday, April 23, 10 PM
The Ar-Kaics, The Tough Shits, Paint Fumes, Wahyas @ Balliceaux – $7
The Ar-Kaics keep rollin’ on, y’all. Just when you’ve tracked down all of their many 45 RPM 7 inch vinyl releases, they drop another one and send you on the hunt all over again. This is my way of saying that if you haven’t been made aware of “It’s Not My World” b/w “Distemper,” their brand-new EP on Goodbye Boozy Records, you better jump to it. As usual, the snarling vocals and ripping, overdriven guitars roar in your face over the perfect hammering rhythm; the A-side might even be the best tune I’ve heard from this quartet yet. But I’m not here to write record reviews, I’m here to tell you to go out and experience the music for yourself in a live environment. Luckily for you, you’ll get a great opportunity to do just that Saturday night when The Ar-Kaics further their commitment to retro greatness by bringing their 60s revival sound to the Art Deco stage of Balliceaux’s back room! I swear, with them playing on that stage and the light show going, it’ll look like a scene from a teen movie made in 1966. What could be better than that? I can’t wait to see it.
I also can’t wait to see the other awesome bands on this bill. The Tough Shits come our way from the Philly area, and they’ve got a bit more of a leather-jacket rock n’ roll tough guy swagger than The Ar-Kaics, but definitely fit right in on this bill. Expect some Fonzie-style poses during this band’s set. And then we’ve got Paint Fumes, who’ve survived devastating accidents and nights of wild debauchery to continue bringing the world their noisy garage punk sounds. These guys will probably get the loudest and wildest out of any of these bands, and that’s certainly going to be a welcome development as far as I’m concerned. The whole evening gets rolling with some soulful psychedelic garage sounds from NC’s The Wahyas (I keep wanting to write “The Wayhas”–not that that term would have any more meaning for me than “Wahyas” does…), featuring male-female dual-vocal harmonies sure to make you smile. Put on your Beatle boots, white jeans, and stripey t-shirt for this one.
Sunday, April 24, 7 PM
Patrick Bates, The Wimps, Hillwalkers, Saw Black @ Strange Matter – $5
Hey, it’s another great locals-only night from Strange Matter. I like these because they often introduce me to local artists I haven’t previously even heard of–and when you’re in my line of work, that’s a rare thing. I definitely know our illustrious headliner for the evening, Patrick Bates; he’s been making some great acoustic pop songs around town for the past few years. The word is that he’s finally gonna grace us with a full-length in 2016, too–one that’s apparently a full decade in the making. If he’s labored over it for that long, I’m sure it’s gonna rule–and if he’s had the songs for that long, chances are he’ll play at least a few during this performance. Bates is backed these days by Paul Ballard and The Awesome Few’s Marshall Costan, so he’ll have a fuller sound than he’s had on the many solo recordings he’s released over the past few years. However, we can certainly expect that gorgeous voice to come through as clear and smooth as ever.
The Wimps are another one I’ve heard of, though I still haven’t caught their live show or really even delved too deeply into their recorded sounds. From the sounds of their self-titled debut, which just hit Bandcamp a couple weeks ago, it seems that the word I got, of this band being power-pop with a melancholy edge and some singer-songwriter touches, was pretty spot-on. Hillwalkers really is totally new to me, and their sweet pop sounds should be a pleasant treat to wrap up our weekend with. And while I’m not too sure how Saw Black’s solo set will differ from his work in Black Water Gold, I can imagine that he’s got some well-written tunes to grace us all with. So come have some fun and wrap up your weekend with some nice new sounds to get familiar with. It’s a pretty great deal when you get right down to it.
Monday, April 25, 6 PM
Escape The Fate, Get Scared, American Wolves, The Relapse Symphony, Vilified, Unholy Dispute @ The Canal Club – $15 in advance/$17 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Am I the only one who has noticed the way that, in recent years, certain elements of the metalcore scene have become visually indistinguishable from the glam metal era of the late 80s? Don’t be mistaken, this is not a dis–I love glam metal. Escape The Fate’s original claim to fame revolved around Ronnie Radke, the outlaw, reprobate, and general scumbag who sang for this band in their early years. After Radke’s antics became a significant hindrance to Escape The Fate’s career–literally; for quite a while they couldn’t perform outside Nevada because Radke was legally forbidden from leaving the state–they replaced him with current vocalist Craig Mabbott, and haven’t looked back since. While Escape The Fate retains somewhat of a glam metal look, their music carries a sort of late 80s prog-thrash vibe; latest album Hate Me reminds me of nothing so much as Testament’s prime material. The blazing solos and chunky riffs enough to please the younger generation of headbangers who probably see this band in a completely different light; but seriously, y’all, check out a copy of Practice What You Preach before you assume too much about this band’s musical legacy.
There’s a lot of other modern metalcore in store for you on this bill, and it starts with a band called Get Scared–which is kind of an amazing name. I definitely approve. I also approve of the sound they make their own on their latest album, Demons, which reminds me somewhat of my favorite Underoath jams and at other points of Chelsea Grin, Motionless In White, and some of those other gloriously cheesy metalcore acts who somehow have a great facility with bloodcurdling screams and head-stomping breakdowns. Man, I dunno, I guess I’m just a sucker for shit like this. As usual with these overstuffed package tours, there are a ton of other bands on this bill, from touring acts American Wolves and The Relapse Symphony to newcomers Vilified and Unholy Dispute. If you can get down with this stuff, you’ll probably enjoy all of these bands to some extent, though I will say that American Wolves comes the closest to outright glam metal (for those who are wary of such things), while Unholy Dispute are bringing some serious tough-guy mosh from Brooklyn. It’s a full spectrum of the modern world of metalcore, and demonstrates exactly the ways in which this style of music has roots in slightly different genres of metal than it thinks it does. Maybe I’m a total nerd, but I enjoy this stuff thoroughly.
Tuesday, April 26, 9 PM
Tennison, Chance Fischer, Dr. Millionaire, Soluh @ The Camel – $5 (order tickets HERE)
RVA hip hop comes on strong in this column for the second time this week–and it deserves to, because there are just as many great local MCs and producers on this bill as will be appearing at En Su Boca several days before. This is a different scene, one that revolves around connections with Jellowstone and Satellite Syndicate rather than Divine Profitz and AGM crew. Either way, though, you’re gonna love what you hear. Tennison’s been a regular player on the local hip hop scene lately, and this duo, bringing together Tennishu (aka jazz all-star Marcus Tenney) and DJ Harrison (aka Jellowstone impresario Devonne Harris), has some real bangers to drop on you. If you haven’t heard their debut album, Crack Music, yet, you need to stop sleeping on it.
But look, you better not sleep on anyone hitting The Camel’s stage next Tuesday. Chance Fischer’s dropped some of my favorite hip hop tracks to come out of this town over the past couple of years (can we talk about “Souffle” some more? Because I know I’ve told you about this track in the past, but damn). This guy’s got skills for miles, and what’s more, he definitely knows how to pick some sick-ass beats. Meanwhile, to only get to Dr. Millionaire this far into this blurb feels like burying the lede a bit. He’s got headliner talent, has been dropping a ton of great tunes lately, and is a particularly talented and inspired live performer. If you don’t make it to The Camel in time for his set, you officially just blew it. Soluh kicks things off, and this duo pairs Satellite Syndicate producer BSTFRND with rapper Robalu to get into some trippy, outstanding sounds. I’m just hearing about them now, but I’m already really excited to see what they’ve got in store for us. This show’s gonna rule.
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