Saturday, May 21, 2 PM
A Good Day In RVA III: Good Day To RVA Harder, feat. My Darling Fury, Spooky Cool, Shy Low, Brother Rutherford, Ohbliv, Blanks, Camp Howard, The Wimps, Long Arms, Pete Curry, Sungazer, Venus Guytrap, Goo?, Doll Baby @ Hardywood – Free!!!
Oh my god, y’all! The weather sure isn’t cooperating in giving anyone this impression, but the fact that the third annual Good Day In RVA Festival is happening this week has made it impossible to deny–another Richmond summer is about to start! Around here things get going by mid-May (well… most years they do) and roll straight through til at least mid-October. I will grant you that by then, I will be sick of the warm days and ready to break out my sweaters again, but right now, nothing could be more hotly anticipated, at least for this lady, than the arrival of warmer climes. Damn it, I’m sick of wearing socks to bed!
I will be wearing sunscreen to Hardywood on Saturday, though–last year, I totally spaced it, and if you saw me anytime in the month after Good Day In RVA II, you know how burnt I got. Don’t make my mistake! And don’t stay home either, because rest assured there is a massive amount of outstanding local music on tap this year for the latest fest from the best music-documentary film crew, definitely in this city, and maybe this entire country. My Darling Fury is your headline group this year, and they’ve earned it–surviving an eventual depletion from a five-piece down to a trio, this group has weathered a lot of changes since their 2013 album, Licking Wounds, and come out stronger than ever! For their soon-to-be-released new album, A/O/K, they’ve reinvented themselves as an electronically-driven trio whose synth-based tunes have a rhythmic drive and melodic sensibility that is second to none. If you haven’t caught up with these guys in a while, this is your chance, and you’d be best off if you take it.
What else? Good god, so much. The two Hardywood stages will both be wall to wall with rad bands all damn day, starting at 2 PM and rolling on til well after sundown. Recommended highlights: Goo? the bizarrely-punctuated trio featuring members of Field Day, Flechette, and The Catalyst, whose grunge-pop tunes will get things started off with a bang. Ohbliv, the crate-digging, groove-creating producer who is so much more than just a DJ, building soundscapes all around your head for you to immerse yourself in. Long Arms, the vehicle for the effortless power-pop songwriting genius of RVA veteran James Menefee (Fun Size, River City High, etc). Shy Low, the local heirs to the throne of bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I’m barely scratching the surface here, y’all. And when you consider that this show is free, and will also have tons of food trucks, rad vendors, and Hardywood craft beer on hand, this is an absolute can’t-miss affair! BE THERE!
Wednesday, May 18, 7 PM
The Obsessed, Karma To Burn, The Atomic Bitchwax, The Medusa @ Strange Matter – $20 (order tickets here: http://obsessedrva.eventbrite.com)
The true legends of doom metal always find a way to impress, year after year. This may be more true of Scott “Wino” Weinrich than it is of anyone else. I’ve never really been that stoked about his most famous band, Saint Vitus, but then again Wino isn’t an original member of that band anyway. His late 90s/early 00s project, Spirit Caravan, blew my goddamn mind, and when he resurrected it over the last couple of years, I was very excited to see the man concentrate his efforts in that area rather than on the Saint Vitus reunion that had been happening for the previous several years. Now, though, Wino is getting back to his roots! His latest move has been to revive his first band, The Obsessed, who were cranking out dark, spooky metal in the suburbs of a DC scene much better known at the time for the early flowerings of Dischord hardcore. This is at least the third go-round for The Obsessed, who also returned at a point in the early 90s with some fiery rumblings, notably 1994 album The Church Within. Now Wino has transformed the final Spirit Caravan lineup (which is only slightly different from the version of that band who played Hardywood last fall) into the latest incarnation of The Obsessed, and they’re here to lay down some heavy fire on all you headbangers.
OK and I’m kinda going long on this one but y’all, I also have to spill at least a little bit of ink about Karma To Burn. I remember back in the early 90s when these guys were just getting going and all the kids who were three or four years older than me were super stoked on noise/metal bands like Breadwinner and Don Caballero, Karma To Burn got brought up a lot as well. These guys used to head over to Richmond from West Virginia on the regular, lighting up the stage at long-gone venues like the Metro and Twisters (Twisters is actually now Strange Matter, so it all comes full circle). They released a couple of albums with singers, but when they’d play here, they were always a raging, brutal instrumental act, and they didn’t suffer from the lack of vocals AT ALL. Their latest record, Mountain Czar, shows that they’re still in fine form even over two decades later, so you should definitely catch their set tonight and get ready to bang your head! The Atomic Bitchwax and local up-and-comers The Medusa will kick things off, but I don’t have any space left to say anything besides this: they rule! Get into it.
Thursday, May 19, 6 PM
Whitechapel, Fit For A King, The Plot In You, Enterprise Earth, Abandon Earth, I Ohms @ The Canal Club – $18 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Y’all, am I crazy or is Whitechapel this generation’s Pantera? Granted, their vocals are growlier and their guitars are tuned way down, but that’s just kind of the state of play in 2016 metal. Everything’s heavier now. But seriously, these guys remind me a lot of Pantera. Thick-necked riffs and midtempo grooves lay down a bedrock foundation for the rantings of a belligerent man with a shaved head, who voices political sentiments that don’t go into that much depth but definitely galvanize the base (thankfully, no one’s ever accused Phil Bozeman of being a secret racist). Meanwhile, they just keep getting heavier as each new album comes out. The latest, Mark Of The Blade, is still a few weeks away from coming out, but the title track has been previewed on YouTube and proves that these guys have not lost their touch at all. It might be even groovier than the last album–does that make this their Great Southern Trendkill? We can’t really theorize until the whole album is out, but we certainly can bang our heads tomorrow night at the Canal Club–an action Whitechapel will be only too happy to facilitate.
This is, as usual with modern metalcore shows, a really stacked bill. I’m used to four bands being the whole damn show, but in this case it’s just the touring portion. In addition to Whitechapel, the “Decade Of The Blade” tour also brings to the Canal Club Fit For A King, a Solid State band with a much more death-metal sound than I remember from my past faves on that label (Zao, anyone? Course, that was a long time ago…). The Plot In You have a more melodic sound, which definitely makes me think of Armor For Sleep or Brand New at points, while at other times it’s a bit more like Underoath or something. Meanwhile, Enterprise Earth’s name makes me think they’re gonna be some sort of sci-fi/electronic thing… Instead, they’re the same sort of brutal metalcore that Whitechapel roll out, but with maybe a bit less of the rumbling bass sound. Abandon Earth and I Ohms kick this whole thing off with local sounds sure to appeal to those who are feeling what the headliners have to offer. Limber up those neck muscles, y’all.
Friday, May 20, 7 PM
Silver Apples, Father Sunflower & The Golden Rays, Thumper @ Gallery 5 – $15 in advance/$18 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Richmond is in luck this Friday night–we’re being graced with a visit by one of the godfathers of modern music. The Silver Apples started in the late 60s, at a time when synthesizers were still barely available on the commercial market. Frontman Simeon created an instrument out of primitive audio oscillators (some dating back to the 1940s) and a whole bunch of foot pedals and switches to control which sounds you were hearing at what point. Simeon and drummer Danny Taylor then became a duo whose surprisingly catchy music somehow managed to sound simultaneously like a transmission from outer space and a melodic pop song you might even expect to hear alongside the Beatles and the Stones on rock radio of the era.
It can’t be that surprising to hear that these guys never quite caught on commercially. Nonetheless, they were able to release two albums in the late 60s before splitting up, both of which became left-field inspiration for multiple generations of avant-garde electronic and experimental musicians over the next few decades. Eventually, The Silver Apples reunited, and have been somewhat active ever since the late 90s. At this point, they are a de facto solo project of Simeon, as Danny Taylor passed away a decade or so ago. But Simeon is still out there working the oscillators and triggering the beats, so the Silver Apples experience in 2016 is as close as possible to the band’s prime-era sound. Expect moody yet danceable tunes that will equally remind you of early Kraftwerk, the Velvet Underground, and …something that’s still fascinatingly bizarre, even in 2016. You don’t want to miss it! Openers Father Sunflower & The Golden Rays will bring you similar space-faring psych po on slightly more conventional instruments, while Thumper, the latest project from Jon Hawkins (Navi/Doubtfire/Roy G Biv/etc) will kick the evening off with some hypnotic improvisation. It’ll all end pretty early, to give everyone time to run over to Smatter and catch Zombi afterwards, so consider that an unofficial bonus recommendation!
Saturday, May 21, 8 PM
After Everything Party feat. Toxic Moxie, Clair Morgan, Lady God, Hot Reader @ The Camel – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
So I already told you to go to a fantastic free show Saturday afternoon at Hardywood. What could a show that actually costs money to get into possibly offer the discriminating music fan after all that? Well, let’s be real–if you’ve got the stamina to get through somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 bands (realistically, if you stay til the end of Good Day In RVA III, you’re probably gonna miss the first band at The Camel unless you drive really fast), there’s a ton of RVA greatness to be found on this bill, even on top of everything Good Day RVA is bringing you earlier! Don’t let the party die at 9 PM–keep it rolling and make your whole night awesome and rocking with this After Everything Party at The Camel! (The “everything” is a reference to the fact that some other big event is happening elsewhere in the city at the same time as Good Day In RVA III… whatever though, it’s nothing important.)
This bumper crop of fantastic locals that didn’t already play earlier that day is headed up by Toxic Moxie, the disco-punk crew who have made themselves a little more scarce on the scene since singer Sera Stavroula moved out of town. She’s making a special trip down to kick the party up to the next level for this one, though, and you know it’s gonna be lit once Toxic Moxie hits the stage! Of course, at this point, Clair Morgan should need no introduction–his blend of math-rock guitar pyrotechnics and flawless indie songwriting, as augmented by his excellent 7-piece band, is something you should all be well-educated about by now. Lady God features scene stalwarts Chrissie Lozano and Tim Falen holding down the rhythm, so you know this psych-punk quartet (also featuring Skye Handler of VIVA VIVA and Lindsay Philips, formerly of The Diamond Center) has a ton of cred–and you better believe there are a ton of songs there to back that up! Hot Reader is a new project featuring some unknown players on the local scene, but their assured brand of keyboard-driven indie/power-pop will get you dancing for sure! Keep this party going all night, y’all! It’s worth it.
Sunday, May 22, 8 PM
Here Comes the Kraken, Lack Of Remorse, So This Is Suffering, Crucial Rip, Abandon Earth @ 25 Watt – $10
Man, I won’t lie–I was initially stoked about this bill because French death metal geniuses Gorod were scheduled to play. However, visa issues have prevented Gorod from making the trip to the states, and therefore we must console ourselves with the mere presence of two ripping death metal bands from Mexico. “Mere” is an unfair adjective, though–while I’m admittedly new to the charms of Here Comes the Kraken, one thing I’ve learned over the past few weeks is just how unstoppably powerful their sound is. While they haven’t had any new releases in a few years, the two full-lengths they’ve released so far have both blown me away as I’ve delved into them. Harsh and heavy while keeping a high rate of speed and some fantastic guitar shredding (some of which reminds me of early Cryptopsy) make these albums devastating listens, and definitely raise my expectations for just how fucking rad this show can be.
Lack Of Remorse also hail from Mexico, and bring a double dose of brutality to the proceedings. I would say what they’re doing is a bit different than Here Comes The Kraken–a bit less focused on technical precision and more inclined to just bludgeon you, plus they have a bit more of a subtle melodic sense integrated into the proceedings–but the result is very similar, which is to say, you’ll be headbanging and raising your fist in the air either way. California’s So This Is Suffering rounds out our trio of brutal touring bands with some pretty blazing deathcore full of manic screams and thundering bass drops. Abandon Earth, who’ve already made one appearance this week, will be here too if you don’t wanna throw down the skrilla for Whitechapel tickets. And of course, what would a Between 2 Beers show be without an appearance from the gore freaks in Crucial Rip? (Less fun, that’s for sure.) Don’t let the customs people ruin your fun–come get down with some sick brutality in Shockoe Bottom!
Monday, May 23, 7 PM
Ex-Cult, Naked Baby, Cherry Pits @ Gallery 5 – $8
Damn, y’all… ever since I saw Ex-Cult close out Macrock 2014 with a set that was absolutely ON FIRE with garage rock riffing, punk fury, and overall manic craziness, I’ve been hugely infatuated with this band. Their 2014 album Midnight Passenger got a ton of play from me that year, and last year’s ripping lo-fi single “Stick the Knife In” just took things even farther in the so-raw-it-can’t-help-but-rule direction. Apparently the band has a new record in the can entitled Negative Growth, and featuring production from garage godfather Ty Segall, but as of right now not a single second of it is available anywhere… though chances are they’re gonna play a song or two from it on Monday, which gets me even MORE hyped to see them again. I dunno, whatever, the point here is that Ex-Cult not only have the tunes to get the whole place screaming, they also put on a tremendously active and enjoyable live show that is absolutely not to be missed. So don’t miss it!
Naked Baby and The Cherry Pits are the two bands in this town carrying on the drunk rock n’ roll legacy of The Eurotics, who held the throne for bands with switchblade combs and leather jackets here in Richmond for several years there. I still haven’t caught Naked Baby live yet (I KNOW, I KNOW) but their recordings rule and they’ve apparently got a new one (Better Off Said, if facebook is to be trusted) coming soon, so that’s something to be excited about! The Cherry Pits have actually played my house, and they were on their best behavior throughout the evening–which probably disappoints some people, but was a huge relief to me. Anyway, in spite of the fact that they didn’t burn my living room down, they are still a super rad rock n’ roll band with some outstanding songs that you’re sure to find yourself singing along to–even if you’d never heard them before! Overall, this is going to be a fun show full of wild hijinks and great music, and even the dollar taco special at Little Mexico should not be reason enough to stay away! (If you wanna hit that shit up before the show, though, let me know–I’m down like Charlie Brown.)
Tuesday, May 24, 9 PM
The Afternoon Gentlemen, Gets Worse, Burn/Ward, Amara, Charmer @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
OK so I’m talking about metal a whole bunch in this column (isn’t that every week, though?), but this show is different. Yes, very different! Why? Because while all of the other bands I’ve talked about this week have been death or doom or some other slowed-down sludgy kind of metal, this show is just crammed top to bottom with blazing blastbeats and hyperspeed riffs. The fact that there are five bands on this show probably still won’t stop it from being a much shorter show than average–after all, these bands are so into writing really fast, really short songs that they all can probably cram 20 or so into 15 minutes. The Afternoon Gentlemen, who hail from Leeds, England, are masters of this–their 16-song self-titled record is 20 minutes long, and only even hits that mark because of its 5-minute final song. These guys are grind, pure and simple. Which is to say, they blast through songs that are structured like hardcore punk but played at hyperspeed, so that the whole thing smacks you in the face a lot harder and goes by a whole lot faster. It’s bracing and unpredictable and totally, totally rad.
Gets Worse, another Leeds band along for an American jaunt, take a slightly different approach, and as a result are more easily described as power-violence. The difference is that while this band is just as inclined to play really fucking fast as The Afternoon Gentlemen are, they also have a fondness for stop-on-a-dime changes and wild oscillations in tempo, sometimes within the same measure. It’s a ton of fun to watch and listen to, if you ask me, but maybe I’ve got a short attention span. Either way, if you dig these out of town bands, the three VA rippers on the bill are sure to thrill you as well. Burn/Ward features members of Unsacred, New Turks, The Catalyst, and Dumb Waiter bowling you over with a succession of gnarly riffs at lightning speed. Amara hails from Newport News and dishes out some raw black metal riffing over driving D-beats… is this what people call “blackened crust”? Now I want tilapia for dinner… Anyway, Charmer–which features members of Venomspitter and Empty Hands, among many others–kick things off with some more grinding blasting hyperspeed rage. I saw these guys a couple weeks ago and they about knocked my face off. Fucking essential. As is this whole show, really.
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hit up my Patreon page if you’d like to be a supporter of my endeavors here! RVA Must-See Shows will always be free, but any contribution helps ensure I can keep the column going into the future, and is massively appreciated! $1 a month is all we ask. Please consider it. https://www.patreon.com/rvamustseeshows