Friday, June 24, 8 PM
Worriers, Mikey Erg, Bad Magic @ Gallery 5 – $8 (order tickets HERE)
OK y’all, I gotta figure that by now if you’re into melodic punk rock, this one is a no-brainer. I mean, what a crucial double bill, right? Lauren DeNitzio proved their chops back when they were co-fronting The Measure [SA] (I don’t know about y’all, but I always liked the songs Lauren sang WAY better), and once they became the sole frontperson for Worriers, they got their time to shine and took things to the next level. I mean, have you heard the band’s 2015 full-length debut, Imaginary Life? What a classic. The band backing Lauren up has always had a somewhat shifting lineup–at this point I think Worriers have had something like 9 different members–but everyone involved has been mega-talented, so the results have always been outstanding. This tour should prove no different.
One of the recurring all-stars who’s held down the drum stool for a significant portion of the Worriers’ existence as a band has been Mikey Erg, whose original claim to fame/source-of-punk-rock-last-name, The Ergs, was probably the best lovelorn melodic punk band since the Descendents (and way less problematic, thank god). Mikey ended up playing drums in a whole ton of other Northeastern melodic punk bands during those days too, so him ending up in the Worriers may have been inevitable. And considering that he was not only the drummer but the primary singer-songwriter for The Ergs, it was probably also inevitable that he’d start a solo project. That solo project, in which he’s backed by a full band (and I guess is playing guitar and singing? Or playing drums and singing? Or just singing? Whatever, he’s proved that he can do it all extremely well), will also be hitting town along with Worriers this Friday night. Expect a ton of great tunes from brand new Mikey Erg solo LP Tentative Decisions (seriously, it’s a dope record), and… maybe some other stuff too? I don’t quite know what to expect, to be honest, but I know it’ll rule.
Bad Magic is opening up this three-band banger of a show, and this band is made up with every bit as heavy-hitting an all-star lineup as Worriers and Mikey Erg’s solo band–only these heavy hitters are all from right here in RVA! Well, sorta–frontwoman Julie Karr is Floridian by birth, and she left town for a couple years there, but no one escapes the Richmond curse, so she’s back, she’s rocking once again, and we are all the better for it. Drummer Jimmy Held is well-known around town for his longtime position behind the drum kit in White Laces, while bassist Tim Falen is well-known around town for his position behind the drum kit in like half a dozen bands (Ultra Flake, Clair Morgan, Lady God, etc etc). He can wail on the 4-string motherfucker too, though, and has done so for Hoax Hunters at points in the past. Now we’ll get to see him do it again with Bad Magic, and it’s gonna be dope. This whole show will be dope. Come on, you already know this!
Wednesday, June 22, 8 PM
Richmond Benefit For Pulse Victims, feat. The Paisley Fields, Jordan Tarrant, Featherword, Kerri Blake, Alvion Davenport, Bianca Starr, Celestia Cox, Sirena Lucy Sparkles @ Strange Matter – $7 (order tickets HERE)
OK this is an interesting situation that is coming together for a good cause, which makes the fact that two completely unrelated events appear to have merged into one a pretty rad deal on the whole. Of course, if you’re on the internet and reading this article, I’m sure you’ve read plenty about the horrible mass murder at the Orlando Pulse nightclub. A lot of people died, a lot more were injured, and a lot of charity efforts are thankfully underway to help out the people dealing with the tragic aftermath of this event. Tonight at Strange Matter, one of those charity efforts will occur in the form of an event that appears to combine an alt-country show and a drag night. Yeah, seriously.
So how does a hybrid event like this come together? Well, the common factor appears to be The Paisley Fields, a self-described queer country band hailing from Brooklyn–perhaps an incongruous hometown, but this band doesn’t do anything in an ordinary fashion. Their latest LP, Oh These Urban Fences, features some pretty excellent tuneage along with open lyrical discussions of the emotional complexities of LGBT love. Frankly, I love this. I’m glad this band exists. I’d tell you to go see them even if this weren’t a benefit show. If you dig the sound of The Paisley Fields, you should also find a lot to appreciate in the music of RVA singer-songwriter Jordan Tarrant, and the folk-psych excursions of Featherword. But then there’ll also be a whole bunch of rad drag performers taking the stage–and while I admit that I don’t know too much about that whole scene (trans girls and drag queens don’t generally run in the same social circles, believe it or not) I can definitely appreciate the art. You should come out to Strange Matter tonight and appreciate it too! It’s for a good cause, after all.
Thursday, June 23, 11 PM
Fan Ran, Moe Hendrix, Black Liquid, Segga Spicoli, Been Official (Divine Profitz), Swerve 360 @ En Su Boca – Donations accepted
This show is subtitled “An Evening of Rap And Regret,” and while I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot of rap if you show up at En Su Boca tomorrow night, I can’t imagine there’ll be any regrets to be had. Then again, with this show starting at 11 PM, I imagine you’ll have to arrive early in order to make it before the kitchen closes, and if you get there too late to order tacos, I can fully see why you’d regret that. Anyway, while sometimes I seem to lose track of this fact, the truth is I’m here to talk about music, not tacos, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Or Gritty City, if you prefer–and you should. This crew of emcees, producers, and general ruffians are some of the most productive and talented hip hop creators in this entire town.
Fan Ran is one of the people who keeps the whole Gritty City engine running, cranking out beats at a prolific rate while maintaining top quality. His latest album, Loose Bowels, has been up on Gritty City’s always-bumping bandcamp page for a bit now, and as usual, it’s an excellent release. There’ll be actual physical copies for sale at this show, and one would assume that Fan Ran’s headlining set will feature many of the songs from the album–complete with appearances from fellow Gritty City ne’er-do-wells like Johnny Ciggs and Skweeky Watahfawls (my spellcheck always loses its shit when I type that dude’s name). Also in the building–Moe Hendrix, a Norfolk rapper with a cinematic vibe and a rare lyrical talent. Black Liquid, the always-grinding RVA hip hop veteran who, let’s face it, kinda runs this town, will also be on the bill, and while it’s been a minute since I heard some new shit by the man, I imagine that whatever he’s got for us at this gig will deliver the goods. Segga Spicoli, who’s been around for a while but seems like he’s on the come-up, will kick this whole thing off. Swerve 360 on the turntables just lets you know the music is handled, and Been Official on hosting duties will keep the night moving in fine style. Get there early and order a big-ass plate of tacos–but not too big, because the only loose bowels you want at the end of this night is the new Fan Ran CD.
Friday, June 24, 8 PM
Bang, Place Of Skulls, Night Magic, Stone Woman @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
I admit it, I’ve been known to complain about the way so many metal dudes seem so stoked these days on wearing dirty denim jackets, growing big shaggy beards, and acting like it’s 1974 (or 1987 in Saint Vitus’ rehearsal space). Doom metal reached a saturation point for me a while back, it’s true. But what I do always love regardless of current trends is that posse of largely-unsung mid-70s proto-metal/boogie bands who put out a slab or two of fiery wax and then disappeared from popular consciousness until crate-diggers started uploading all those old albums to mp3 blogs in like 2006. This is how I found Bang, and my god, what an incredible band. Everybody knows how much Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer ruled, but I promise you, if Bang had ever gotten significant notice outside the Philly area, they’d have been loved every bit as much by true fans of pulverizing metal heavy-osity.
It’s not too late though, y’all! Bang have been back in action for a few years now, and with them returning to the stage at Maryland Doom Fest this weekend, Strange Matter promoter extraordinaire Mark Osborne has worked his usual magic and secured a local gig for this legendary crew of riffmeisters. You’ll wanna make sure you’re there when they bust out “Questions” and “Lions, Christians,” because these classic tunes are sure to knock us all on our asses. They’ll be rolling through town along with fellow Doom Fest performers Place Of Skulls, the latest effort from former Pentagram guitar slinger Victor Griffin. These guys definitely do not share the same occult fixations as most doom metal bands; Griffin’s a proud Christian and he’s gonna sing to you about it. But hey, if you can handle “After Forever” by Black Sabbath, you can sure get down with some of these killer riffs, right? With RVA stoner all-stars Night Magic and a brand new local band called Stone Woman (apparently featuring local hardcore kids playing goth music… a generational rite of passage, no doubt) kicking things off, this is gonna be one massive evening. Strap in.
Saturday, June 25, 9 PM
Boneanchor, Frog Legs, Manatree @ The Broadberry – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s an Illmensee family reunion, y’all. In case you’re not aware, the Illmensee family have given the Richmond music scene amazing sounds from multiple generations. However, in recent years, daddy Tom moved away with the rest of the family to Budapest, Hungary, while his boy Noma remained in the USA, rockin’ full-time with Manatree and doing several stints in the backing band of rookie sensation Lucy Dacus. The idea of the parents moving away to some far-flung Euro locale while the son stays behind and holds it down in the hometown is a bit of a switcheroo, as these things go, but regardless, it seems to have worked out great for everyone. And this weekend, things will work out great for the RVA scene once again, as Tom Illmensee returns to town for a visit and revives not one but TWO of his long-running RVA rock bands.
Well, but really it’s just kinda one band. See, Frog Legs and Boneanchor existed at different times, but basically had the same lineup–Tom Illmensee on guitar, Wrenn Mangum on vocals, and Morgan Huff on drums. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is who appeared on bass. And I’m not really sure what will differentiate Boneanchor’s set from that of Frog Legs this Saturday night–will they switch bass players in mid-set and carry on? Will they play 10 Frog Legs songs, take a 10 minute break, and play 10 Boneanchor songs? However it goes down, it’s sure to be a blast. Not only does Tom absolutely shred on guitar at all times, Wrenn’s got some incredible dance moves–like if Elvis and James Brown were the same dude?–and the songs themselves have a dirty Southern rock n’ roll fierceness that just rips. Oh and of course, Noma and the boys will be on hand to get things rolling with a fun set of Manatree’s memorable indie math-pop. I’m writing about it as if it’s gonna just be a warmup act, but anyone who’s seen this band knows that they’re a headliner in and of themselves. This night is gonna be a parade of nonstop awesome–and who knows when it’s gonna happen again? Be there!
Sunday, June 26, 8 PM
Lucas Brode, The New Loft, RAIC, Taciturnal @ Sediment Arts – $5-10 sliding scale
The world of experimental noise is a strange one. This is true because the music is so exploratory and out-there, but that’s not the only reason why. Some of it is also the essential divide in the world of music experimentation, between the forces of rational academic types who work diligently to find new frontiers in the world of sound, and maniacs who just want to get so free that you can’t tell what the hell is gonna happen next. Both sides of that divide should be well-represented on this particular bill. New York’s Lucas Brode is coming to us with a guitar and a ton of effects to share with us the new vistas of sound and thought he has tapped into. Everything from complex math-jazz-metal to serene ambient drones have appeared in his work, and during his solo set at Sediment Arts, he could explore any and all of these facets of his career.
The New Loft, on the other hand, is just gonna get wild as hell. I had the pleasure of playing a show with this ensemble not too long ago, and while everyone from young metalheads to middle-aged jazz fans were represented in the crowd, everyone agreed that this group was an incredible sight to see. Fronted by two saxophone players, this group also features keyboards, guitar, and squelching electronic noise–and all of it is weilded in the free-est and most playful way possible. If you’re down with Sun Ra, the Fugs, Borbetomagus, and Captain Beefheart, you’re going to find something to love in the work of the New Loft. And even if you have no idea what I’m talking about right now, trust me, these guys will keep you entertained throughout their set. Richmond Avant Improvisational Collective–sadly not the femme version that was originally slated to appear, but fortuitously, a repeat performance by the sax/drum two-piece version that performed most recently–will also get their ya-yas out on this bill, and Taciturnal kicks the whole thing off with some harsh electronic signal jamming.
Monday, June 27, 8 PM
Death Bells, Western Medication, Cavum, R-Complex, DJ Ben Speed @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Is it fair to call what’s going on in some avenues of the underground scene these days a postpunk revival? I’ve always felt a bit weird about the term “postpunk” anyway, because it more represents an era than a sound, but if people want to take influence from past eras and bring it forward into today’s music scene, I guess I can be cool with it. I mean, when the results are as good as the ones Death Bells have gotten, I definitely can! This melodic goth-pop group has an ethereal beauty and some drifting, tangled guitar leads, plus a decidedly dark atmosphere through which their luminous choruses nonetheless continue to glow. This shit is amazing, y’all, and I’m in love with it. Death Bells have traveled all the way from Australia to arrive in Richmond this Monday night, and who knows when they’ll be back, so join me in seizing the opportunity to see some gorgeous light pass through the clouds.
Western Medication are joining Death Bells on their current US jaunt, which is appropriate as the two bands are labelmates on Funeral Party Records (this is the first I’ve heard of this label, clearly I need to dig deeper). This band gets a bit more droning, a bit spookier, with what they’re doing, but they aren’t a million miles away from Death Bells. I’d say it’s less Pale Saints and more Jesus And Mary Chain, if that makes sense. Excellent reference points, for sure–just, slightly different ones. Local goth-punks Cavum will open the show, along with industrial noise menace from R-Complex (Pete from Prisoner/Asylum’s solo project). Plus there’ll be DJ Ben Speed on hand to keep the tunes going and you dancing between bands (as is only right and proper for any postpunk/goth show).
Tuesday, June 28, 8 PM
Liè, Surfbort, Naked Baby, Partition @ Phoenix Garden – $7
When I got a facebook invite to a show at justly-celebrated vegetarian restaurant Phoenix Garden, at first I thought it must be a joke. After all, punks just like to go eat at this place anyway; maybe this show was actually happening under a bridge somewhere and the location was just there to throw me off (a punk house I used to go to shows at always listed their location as the airport). But no, I asked around, and it turns out that this is not an unprecedented phenomenon. It sure is a welcome one though–y’all know how much I love it when shows are at places with really good food.
Let’s talk about these bands! Liè is from Vancouver, but based on that accent mark over the last letter in their name, I’m thinking they have some Francophone connections back east. I definitely think it means their band name is pronounced differently than you’d expect–“lee-AY” rather than “lie,” I’m guessing. “Dude, stop talking about food and linguistics and tell us about how this band sounds!” I know, I know… they’re rad, is the short version. Postpunk is true here just as it was true in the previous show, but these guys are much closer to the raging post-Joy Division doom-shred of bands like Savages or The VSS than anything too melodic. The same is even more true of Surfbort, a band who named themselves after a funny line in a Beyonce song (so you know they’re chill dudes). This band has a killer sound–rumbling punk distortion, grim yet bouncy. If I wasn’t already inclined to go to a Phoenix Garden show just because it’s at Phoenix Garden, these bands would definitely be a reason all on their own. Plus, we get opening sets from rockin’ local punk bands Naked Baby and Partition–what’s not to fuck with?
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