Thursday, May 26, 8 PM
White Laces (No Floor release party), Magnus Lush, Camp Howard, Gemtone @ Strange Matter – $5
On a personal note, I’m feeling pretty tired and stressed lately. I probably need a lot more sleep than I’m getting, and I definitely need to find more ways to make money. I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know that it really helps to take my mind off things for a while when some rad friends release a really dope new album. I’ve heard a few tracks from White Laces’ imminently-available third album, No Floor, and it’s amazing. The integration of keyboardist Tori Hovater’s vocals into their overall sound palate, and their moves into further incorporation of programmed sound beds, has taken what they were doing before to yet another new level of awesomeness. I can’t wait until I can listen to the whole thing.
Fortunately, I don’t have to wait long! The No Floor record release show is happening tomorrow night at Strange Matter–less than 36 hours from now, in fact. The latest incarnation of White Laces has played a couple of shows already, but this will probably constitute a lot of people’s first opportunity to see the newly-expanded five-piece strut their stuff onstage. The guitars are coming back to the forefront in a big way due to the addition of Jeff Boone (Flechette) on rhythm guitar, and the result should be even more engaging than that random one-off appearance at Good Day RVA Fest in 2015 with both Alex French and Tori Hovater playing in the band (which was wild, if you didn’t catch it–sometimes I still think about the socks Alex was wearing that day). Plus, there are all these goddamn great songs to get into; whether you’ve heard No Floor or are just in anticipatory overload, let me assure you that the new crop of tunes will deliver in a big way.
White Laces have personally curated a great, diverse lineup for you to enjoy while you wait for them to hit the stage, too. Magnus Lush are picking up where frontwoman Adrienne Shurte’s previous bands left off, and are getting a big buzz as a result. Their noisy, menacing post-hardcore sounds are reminiscent of Fugazi in their early, angry days (and having said that, now I’m wondering if maybe the “post-” isn’t really even justified). If you dug Fire Bison or Hail Hydra and wish they’d stuck around longer, don’t miss out on Magnus Lush. Camp Howard are a vehicle for the songwriting talents of Nic Perea, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that they aren’t a formidable presence as a full band! When they come together on stage, these talented players are more than the sum of their parts. Finally, up-and-coming electronic artist Gemtone is kicking things off this evening, and you better get there on time, because her performances are always memorable and unique.
Wednesday, May 25, 9 PM
Automagik, Imaginary Sons, HEADLESSMANTIS @ Strange Matter – $5
Hey y’all, tonight’s your night to get psychedelic with Automagik! This Cincinnati band apparently tried to come through here back in January and were foiled by the same blizzard that ruined my 40th birthday party (not that I’m bitter). I honestly don’t remember that happening, but I hear about a whole lot of shows and it’s probably not too surprising that a few slip my mind… especially when they ended up not happening. Anyway, I checked out Automagik for the first time very recently, but I was thrilled by what I found! These guys have a funky, danceable edge, which almost reminds me of the early-2000s postpunk revival, but combine it with some Elephant 6-ish psychedelic textures (Of Montreal, anyone?) I’m expecting a real blast of a set.
Imaginary Sons and HEADLESSMANTIS leave me with no doubts as to whether I’ll get a real blast of a set from them. My fellow Richmond showgoers are sure to be familiar with them by now, but let’s review, quickly: Imaginary Sons are fun-loving aliens with a predilection for Cheap Trick and cheap beer. Rock n’ roll will always be the main ingredient when these guys hit the stage. HEADLESSMANTIS are some kind of bizarre interstellar take on gutbucket blues, like the early Black Keys bouncing their sound off distant satellites. All of these bands are gonna get you dancing, so wear appropriate shoes and get ready to get down!
Thursday, May 26, 10 PM
Faye, Positive No, Big Baby @ Emilio’s – $7
The fact that there are two amazing shows happening Thursday night and that I’m really honestly torn about which to hit up (or maybe I should just run across the city at midnight trying to make both?) just shows how great the Richmond music scene has been lately. It can be a bit of a struggle when you can’t be in two places at once, though. Faye is definitely a band I’m dying to see; featuring former Richmonder Susan Plante on guitar and Self Aware Records co-founder Sarah Blumenthal on bass, this band has a pedigree that grabs my attention. But even if I had no idea who these ladies were, the sounds on their debut EP (freshly released on Tiny Engines) would still make me extremely curious. The melodic vocals and lead guitar lines are offset by a grumbling bass tone and pounding drums that betrays the band’s punk background. There are a lot of gorgeous choruses here, but live I’ll bet this band will knock my block off.
They picked the perfect choice for a local co-headliner in Positive No, that’s for sure. Tracy and Kenny have yet another new rhythm section and are soldiering on with their amazingly catchy indie/post-hardcore sound, but word has it that this may be their last local gig for quite a while, so you should definitely come rock out to them while you have the chance! Big Baby, the latest project from Young Scum’s Chris Smith and Brian Dove, has a Beat Happening-ish vibe that is just charming as hell and guaranteed to get your toes tapping. So roll into Emilio’s as soon as you can, because this whole bill is gonna be super duper rad!
Friday, May 27, 9:30 PM
Weedeater, Author & Punisher, Today Is The Day, Left Cross @ Hardywood – $18 in advance/$20 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Wow, look at this crazy fucking lineup. Seriously, how do we get this lucky? To get not one but three of the most intriguing acts in extreme music showing up in our backyard for a single show full of loud amazing radness is the kind of luck I could use more of! Veteran stoner-metal band Weedeater is always a blast to catch live. Singer/bassist Dixie Dave has an undeniable “crazy ol’ hillbilly” vibe as he bounces around the stage pulling faces between screams, and their drummer also kept it entertaining the last time I saw them by doing all sorts of stick tricks and wild silly moves. They certainly kept it lit on their most recent album, Goliathan, and there’s no reason to expect anything less than total demolition from them on their latest trip back to good ol’ RVA.
A darker and more serious note is added to this performance by Author & Punisher, a one-man project in which Tristan Shone unleashes a variety of homemade machines into noisemaking engines of destruction that then enact their revenge on both the artist and the audience. The result hisses and pounds like a Godflesh record stuck between stations, and I for one love it. I also love Today Is The Day, and love even more that since adding Hex Machine’s Trevor Thomas and Douglas Andrae as Rev. Steve Austin’s latest rhythm section, they’ve begun playing Richmond multiple times per year. They constitute an extremely powerful addition to this already powerful bill, and I’d go so far as to call this a can’t-miss event as a result! Local thrashers Left Cross will take things to an even higher level with their raging opening set. Get stoked!
Saturday, May 28, 7 PM
Dogs In Ecstasy, Stephanie, Petrichor, Cavum @ Sound Of Music – $5
OK, this is gonna be fun. Milwaukee’s Dogs In Ecstasy may not be a household name just yet, but they sure are a ton of fun. Featuring members who’ve done time in the backing band for zany Milwaukee MC Juiceboxxx, this group uses loud guitars, distorted synth, and a profoundly goofy approach to songwriting to create memorable tunes and show listeners a really good time. Their album Welcome 2 Hell features not one but TWO joke Steely Dan covers (relax, they’re both over in less than 30 seconds) plus some other goofy craziness. However, it’s all surrounded by super-solid punk tunes like “Celebrity Friends” and “Do Me Ronnie,” which are a ton of fun to sing along and dance around your room to, despite (or even because of) the quirky instrumentation. Expect a blast of pure noise-pop joy from these guys on Saturday night.
Stephanie is the latest version of Ken Hicks’s ongoing solo project, a spooky electro groove machine you might remember from its previous incarnation as Skirts. Stephanie just dropped its self-titled debut album, which has an album cover that pays homage to Purple Rain and is filled with music reminiscent of neon glinting off black cars during montage sequences in 80s Euro horror films. Or something like that. Think Giorgio Moroder on a quaalude bender. The bill is rounded out by new local rockers Petrichor and goth-postpunk band Cavum, who I last saw when they were all 15 or so years old (they’ve learned a lot since then, I must say). Should be chill, y’all.
Sunday, May 29, 9 PM
A Giant Dog, Cherry Pits, Bummer’s Eve @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Pop music is the greatest thing, y’all. And I mean modern radio pop is pretty cool too, but for whatever reason I’m more drawn to the old-school styles of the 60s girl groups and garage rockers, stuff like that. I think I just liked it better when recording methods were more primitive and creations were more spontaneous and of-the-moment. A Giant Dog brings this feeling back in a big way on their latest album for Merge Records, Pile, whichis hot off the presses, having only been available for a few weeks as of the band’s arrival here in Richmond, at Strange Matter this Sunday night. This quintet has a real punk spirit to their music, but they play a cleaner, poppier sound that really does hark back to the 60s exemplified by the Crystals and the Ronettes. They’ve got a lot of catchy tunes about sex and drugs, though, so you know they’re still on the right wavelength to be a total thrill live.
The Cherry Pits and Bummer’s Eve are great bands to add to this bill so that there can be a bit of garage grit injected, but without losing track of any of the pop goodness. The Cherry Pits have been a lot of fun every time I’ve encountered them lately, and their approach to the whole leather-jacket punk rock thing is still so tuneful that one really cannot complain. Meanwhile, someone gave me the whole lowdown over facebook message a few months ago about Bummer’s Eve, and I’d love to refer back to that whole thing and give y’all some details, but you know how searching for old Facebook messages is… Anyway, their new self-titled album rules! They’ll probably kick ass live! That’s what I’ve got for you. Go have fun–that’s what’s really important, after all.
Monday, May 30, 8 PM
Musket Hawk, Disparo, Van Hagar, KADL @ McCormack’s – $5
Oh whoa, the second grind/power violence show happening in Richmond in two weeks? With not a single band repeated between the two? Y’all, I don’t know what’s going on here but I like it. Musket Hawk comes to us from Maryland–which seems like a hotbed of brutality lately, even aside from its status as the home of Death Fest–with a crazy hybrid sound that mixes stoner/doom riffing with massive amounts of blastbeats and roaring, screeching vocals. “Sludge grind” is what it says on the event page, and I can’t argue with that at all. Meanwhile, Australian grinders Disparo, who are also on this bill, go for more of a raw, hyperspeed take on hardcore. Sort of reminds me of Japanese straight-edge thrashers Exclaim mixed with a bit of What Happens Next, though 97a is also probably part of the equation. Regardless, their relentless energy will bowl you over. I know that much for sure.
Van Hagar are a great addition to the Richmond scene. This three-piece grind act does the classic “grind power trio” lineup (vocals/guitar/drums, no bass) but with a twist–shredder Jesse Mowery plays a Fender bass VI and gets a really low, rumbly crunch out of his axe. Based on the results, someone should probably have been doing this a long time ago in the world of grind. But we’ll take what we can get, right? KADL, which stands for Kick Ass Dalai Lamas, opens this one up, and while I don’t exactly know what to expect, I’m sure it’ll be entertaining! Head down to Shockoe Bottom for this one, folks–it’ll be worth the trip.
Tuesday, May 31, 8 PM
Alexander Ricart, Generic, New Ting Ting Loft, Samarra @ Strange Matter – $5
This is going to be an intriguing night of new, weird sounds, from everything I can tell. Antelope King frontman Alexander Ricart will be using this evening to debut his solo project, which is apparently instrumental acoustic guitar a la John Fahey or Bill Orcutt. Well, I guess Orcutt started off in Harry Pussy and Pelt started out as a noise-rock band, so I shouldn’t be but so surprised. Regardless, I’m extremely intrigued to see what a man who I’ve known for making a lot of distorted noise comes up with once all the extraneous stuff is out of the way.
What’s more, he’s picked a pretty eclectic bill to back him up. Generic do a lot of loud experimental freakout-jazz noise, and feature members of Toner War and um, Deep Groove Records. New Ting Ting Loft is more straight up improvisational jazz stuff, at least from what I can tell online. And um, Samarra… well, this is another one of my bands. Come see me babble and scream and punch my bass if you want. The rest of the band is made up of members from Truman and Swan Of Tuonela, so that should give you an idea of what we’re going for. But there’s a lot more than just the sweaty pile of emotional hardcore we’ll have to offer you, so come see how rad a truly eclectic Richmond bill can be!
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows: firstname.lastname@example.org
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