Saturday, July 9, 3 PM
Bad Grrrl Showcase, feat. Bad Magic, HeadlessMantis, Atta Girl, The Wimps, Cavum @ Hardywood – Free!
You know, I’m not sure who the heck the titular Bad Grrrl is, but it’s not nearly as important as recognizing the fact that Ben Miller and Tim Falen’s label has been putting out high quality local releases, mostly on cassette, for at least half a decade now. This is not the first time they’ve done a showcase presenting a selection of Bad Grrrl artists, and as with the previous showcases, I’m gonna once again recommend that you get yourself down to this one Saturday afternoon, regardless of what you’ve gotta do to get there.
Richmond has thriving scenes based around nearly every musical genre you can think of, and Bad Grrrl have largely focused on the DIY indie-rock scene that steadily bubbles up from the house-show underground here in town. This Saturday afternoon a whole bunch of bands I’ve seen in living rooms around town will be stepping onto the Hardywood stage to bring their rad rock n’ roll stylings to the wider RVA scene–and it’s about damn time.
So who will you get to hear if you head out to this show? There’s Bad Magic, a rockin’ trio fronted by singer-songwriter Julie Karr, whose dark lyrical landscapes describe life’s defining moments in piercing detail. HeadlessMantis lay down some swampy blues rock with undeniable Cramps-y punk undertones. Atta Girl mixes punk energy and attack with an irresistible and always-on-target melodic sense. The Wimps are outright power-pop, and will get you dancing like you’re seeing the Romantics in 1979. Cavum are a young group with a gothic bent, who will shroud your favorite craft brewery in metaphorical darkness regardless of the summer afternoon sun. Plus you’ll have a chance to buy a pile of Bad Grrrl tapes at the merch table, and there’s apparently some pretty great beer on tap at this place too… that’s just what I heard though. What else are you gonna do–lie on your back deck in a bathing suit? You’ve got all summer to do that! This Saturday, catch your rays at Hardywood!
Wednesday, July 6, 7 PM
Nothing, Culture Abuse, Keep @ Strange Matter – $14 in advance/$16 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I hear what you’re saying: “But Drew, isn’t Nothing that ex-Deafheaven shoegaze band who said punks like you were gross and should all be run out of the scene?” Why no, sweeties, that was actually Whirr, but thanks for your concern! Nothing is the ex-Deafheaven shoegaze band whose frontman did two years in jail for attempted murder, though, so your confusion is understandable! (Personally, I’d rather hang with the ex-con… we have some mutual friends who swear he’s a really great guy.) But let’s talk about the really important shit here–the music! Over the course of their first three albums, Nothing has been on a steady upward progression. 2012 debut Downward Years To Come was a cool record, and 2014’s Guilty Of Everything had some really rad tunes on it, but things have reached a whole new level with brand new album Tired Of Tomorrow. Tempos are more varied, melodies are stronger and more overt, and the gorgeously loud shoegaze haze still hangs over everything in perfect fashion.
Culture Abuse are coming from a slightly different place, but where bands that are pointing the way forward from rudimentary hardcore in a progressive direction are concerned, they are at the forefront. Debut full-length Peach has been attracting a ton of attention from all sorts of different corners, and while at first I was wrong-footed by how much more of a straight-up catchy rock album it is than I thought it would be, it nonetheless got under my skin very quickly. I can see exactly what the hype is about with this band–you should come out to Strange Matter tonight and see that hype for yourself! Keep opens up, and this local shoegaze duo recently got a Noisey premiere for their new EP, so clearly this is a crew you should be paying attention to! Or if you prefer to ignore the hype from hipster publications of the moment, maybe you should just pay attention because they’re really good. This whole bill promises to rule–what are you waiting for?
Thursday, July 7, 8 PM
Big Mama Shakes, Manatree, Bencoolen, Basement Club @ The Broadberry – $7
It seems like it’s only been a year or so since I first heard Big Mama Shakes, but it must have been longer than that. After all, when I first heard them, they were barely establishing a foothold in the local music scene. Since those days–which, again, don’t seem like very long ago AT ALL–they’ve become a mainstay in the local rock n’ roll world, making their mark on the scene in particular with their monthly First Thursday nights at The Camel. Now they’ve graduated to The Broadberry for July’s edition of this monthly throwdown, and they’ve brought some heavyweight support along with them! But before we get into that, let’s get into some serious discussion about the stars of the evening.
Big Mama Shakes are maybe a bit closer to the world of jam bands and alt-country than the stuff I usually cover. I can admit that! But they’ve got all sorts of other stuff going on as well–Motown-style horn sections, R&B grooves, male-female vocal harmonies pulled straight from old-time country… these guys have something to please pretty much everyone. If you were feeling J Roddy Walston & The Business back when they showed up in Richmond a few years ago–and god knows I was–you’ll be digging the new Big Mama Shakes EP, If I Try. It also seems a safe bet you’ll love their live show! The pot will be sweetened by opening performances from indie/math/pop radness from Manatree, plus opening sets from Bencoolen and Basement Club–hey, there’s that heavyweight support I mentioned before! Come to the Broadberry and dance with your pals! Who says the weekend can’t start on Thursday night?
Friday, July 8, 8 PM
Lance Bangs, Horse Jumper Of Love, Houdan The Mystic, Sports Coach @ Strange Matter – $6
“Partyin’, partyin’–Yeah!” Wait, what? Oh, yeah, I guess this Friday night’s show has Rebecca Black stuck in my head. Which makes no sense until you consider the amount of youthful pop fun you will have at this show, all of which will of course incorporate a vaguely awkward DIY touch. Lance Bangs, your headliners, are about to head out on tour with Boston lo-fi poppers Sports Coach, and the bands make a good pairing–different enough to stand out from each other, catchy enough to keep you dancing throughout. Lance Bangs, who went from being named after their singer (Colin Thibodeau–the band added two silent x’s on the end of his name) to being named after some video director guy, which shows some moxie, and they’re showing even more with their first release under the new name. If their bandcamp is to be believed, the first Lance Bangs song is called “Lance Bangs #1 single released on 4/20,” which I find quite amusing.
Sports Coach have their own sort of vibe going on, and latest release try & try & try & try makes me think of what would happen if Hall & Oates had made the followup to Big Bam Boom with Ariel Pink in the producer’s chair. If goofily catchy R&B pop grooves full of synths and fed through a muffled haze is what you imagine from that characterization, you’re on the right track. Between these touring partners there will be two more sets taking place, one from my favorite local psychedelic math-rock collective, Houdan The Mystic. The other comes from Sports Coach’s fellow Bostonians, Horse Jumper Of Love, who have a strange yet evocative name and some stoned-out alt-rock jams that seem pretty closely aligned with the late, great Ovlov and other Massachusetts bands from long ago–Dino Jr, anyone? This is gonna be a rad rock show, y’all, and I promise if you go, you’ll hear plenty of tunes that’ll get “Friday” out of your head.
Saturday, July 9, 7 PM
Benefit For Strange Matter, feat. Night Magic, Sacred Teachers, Get In The Car, Komodo, Petrichor, JK, Human Apartments @ Strange Matter – $8
It’s no secret that, pound for pound, Strange Matter is the best live music venue in this city. I’ve enjoyed seeing other places (Hardywood, The Broadberry, 25 Watt, even The Canal Club) step up their game in recent months, but Strange Matter are still ruling the roost if you ask me. What might be somewhat of a secret is just how tight a budget this place is able to operate on. And in fact, sometimes “able to operate” is a relative thing. Lately, the crew at Smatter have been plagued by unexpected expenses and budget shortfalls, and while last week’s benefit to fix the door that got broken during last winter’s blizzard got things on their way, it’s not going to be enough on its own to right the ship.
That’s where this show comes in! Recognizing how important this venue is to their community, a whole ton of rad bands in several different musical genres are coming together at Strange Matter this Saturday night to rock your face off! Not only does all the door money go to Smatter, there are a whole lot of amazing prizes being raffled off as well, which have been donated by a ton of equally rad businesses around the city. So throw down some cash for some tickets, get a chance to win prize packs from excellent places like Fallout, Vinyl Conflict, and your post-show slice haunt of choice, Christian’s Pizza, among many many others. And get ready to rock to a list of great bands that I haven’t even left myself much of any room to talk about–stoner warriors Night Magic, wild-ass rock n’ rollers Sacred Teachers, heavy hardcore maniacs Komodo, noise manipulators Human Apartments, psych improv explorers Tate House… there are more! It’s an embarrassment of musical riches, and it goes towards keeping this place alive long enough to get their money straight and come back more awesome than ever! What’s not to like about that?
Sunday, July 10, 9 PM
This Land Is Now Dead, Partition, Hoarsees, The Talkies @ 25 Watt – $5
OK, I’m gonna be straight up with y’all–I booked this show. I put this lineup together based not only on personal preferences but also because I wanted to showcase a bunch of heavy punk and hardcore bands who represented both the musical diversity and the politically aware thought processes behind Swamp Fest, the three-day festival my homies and I are putting on in a month or so. This show is a Swamp Fest fundraiser–we’re running the whole thing on a shoestring and we need to come up with money so we can cover expenses and make the whole weekend as awesome as possible. The bands playing this show are down with the cause, and they also rule.
No seriously, these bands rule! I’m writing about this show not because I booked it, but because it’s honestly the best collection of bands appearing on a Richmond stage this Sunday night, and I’m proud to have had a role in making that happen. So what bands are we talking about? Well, there’s This Land Is Now Dead, who arise from the local screamo scene but have a unique sound that features both noise-influenced horror soundscapes and dark gothic melodies (often the brainchild of bassist extraordinaire Darrien Day). In front of all this, singer Stephanie Smith howls like a banshee from behind a wall of black hair–the overall impression is of The Ring’s Samara Morgan fronting an experimental black metal band. Partition are much more straightforward with their grunge/punk power trio attack, but they’ll still knock you back onto your ass with the quickness. Brand new First Time’s The Charm alums Hoarsees bring two guitars and no bass to their driving noise-rock attack. Up-and-coming shoegaze-popsters The Talkies will kick things off by easing you into the evening with some gorgeous melodies. And hey, I’ll be there, so come say hey and let’s support Swamp Fest together! Or you can nab me on the street in front of the club, tell me my columns suck, and leave–whatever floats your boat!
Monday, July 11, 9 PM
Nuke, Sauron, Battlemaster @ Strange Matter – $7
I know that hardly a week goes by in which I don’t get all excited about a thrash metal show and breathlessly recommend that you go headbang your brains out all night, but so I guess by now y’all should know where my biases are. And so we come to this week’s thrash offering–an evening that brings two Detroit thrash units to Strange Matter to tear the whole place down (metaphorically speaking… we don’t wanna give this venue any more reasons to need a benefit show). Swaggering old-school metalheads Nuke bring a little bit of the old rock n’ roll to their fiery thrash attack, 80s style. These guys just signed to Hell’s Headbangers, and you can be sure some sort of ripping debut is in the offing, but the EPs they’ve got online have plenty of power in their own right. Expect awesomeness.
Sauron are darker and have a raw, angry sound that can’t be denied. The vocalist roars, the guitarists dish out some seriously overdriven riff mania, the drummer whacks his snare around like it owes him money, and the whole thing feels positively scary, like you’re hearing the soundtrack to the scene in which your head gets unexpectedly ripped off by a serial killer (what, you guys don’t constantly feel like you’re living inside a horror movie? That’s just me? Oh…). Battlemaster are long-running local faves who take things in more of a fantastic direction with their swords n’ sorcery epics, but they’ve got thrash riffs aplenty to keep you smiling and banging your head, so rest assured things will stay rad as fuck throughout this stripped-down triple bill of excellence.
Tuesday, July 12, 9 PM
Direct Hit, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Problem Daughter, Smoke Break @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Direct Hit have returned to Richmond once again, y’all, and I will forgo a joke about how they’re gonna score a direct hit on Strange Matter’s stage (mostly because I can’t figure out how to make the punchline land right) in favor of a more, um, direct description of what sort of sounds they have to offer. Those sounds are catchy, fun, poppy, and punk as fuck. Not the sort of band to head for the gruff vocals and overdriven guitars that have distinguished what some people refer to as org-core or Fest-core (and I tend to think of as “Florida pop-punk”), Direct Hit have a smoother, more pleasant sound that brings back memories for me of the Smoking Popes or Maybe I’ll Catch Fire-era Alkaline Trio (only less goth than both of those bands). These guys have an excellent brand new record called Wasted Mind on Fat Wreck Chords, and their set is sure to rely heavily on that album; which means that, according to my calculations, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Direct Hit are joined on this tour by the excellently named Pkew Pkew Pkew, who I’m guessing named their band after hearing their 6-year-old kid brother and his friends running around with toy guns in their backyard. These guys have a young n’ scrappy pop-punk sound to them, but the lyrics to hit single “Mid 20s Skateboarder” (“I hope I don’t get hurt”) make me think they’re experiencing the onset of adulthood in not-entirely-fun ways. These guys will probably think twice before stagediving mid-set (not that they shouldn’t decide to do it–that’s always a cool thing to watch). The trio of tourmates on this bill is rounded out by Problem Daughter, who split the difference between Direct Hit’s catchy smoothness and Pkew Pkew Pkew’s scrappy fun. It’s all punk as fuck, though, as are Smoke Break, a buzzworthy local band featuring members of Close Talker, Springtime, and Hold Tight–who are apparently too punk to have a website! Just go by Taco Bell after the show, though, you’re bound to run into them.
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