Saturday, August 6, 10 PM
Career Suicide, Southside Stranglers, Barge, Devil’s Hand @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Sigh. I hate to even have to write about this, y’all, but by now I’m sure most of you know that legendary hardcore workaholic and all-around chill dude Brandon Ferrell passed away suddenly last month at the age of 31. If you have been involved in Richmond’s music scene for any amount of time, you surely know Brandon for his work founding Vinyl Conflict, releasing records on his No Way label, and playing in such noteworthy bands as Municipal Waste, Direct Control, Government Warning, and a ton of others. To lose a guy like that at such an early age is a tragedy, and leads me thinking of the dark ways so many punks end up losing their lives too soon (drugs and/or depression, mostly, and if you’re having trouble with either of those things, please get help).
What’s even sadder in this case is that Brandon leaves behind a young family–his wife Lauren, who is now raising their two young children on her own. There’s nothing we can do to bring Brandon back, but thankfully the many punks whose lives he touched have pitched in to memorialize him in proper fashion and find a way to benefit his wife and children in the process. Of course, the truly off-the-chain show will be happening Saturday afternoon at Hardywood, and if you didn’t get your tickets to that, they are long long gone. But after that show will be a late night jam at Strange Matter, and this will give you your chance to help out Brandon’s family and rock out in the process.
This is a sad occasion, but the show must go on, and in this case there’s a stellar show happening to make you glad you dug deep for the $15. Career Suicide, a raging Canadian powerhouse featuring members of Fucked Up and one of the many bands Brandon played with at one time or another, will be reprising their killer headlining set from Hardywood earlier that evening–so if you slept on tickets for that show, there’s still hope of seeing them while they’re in town. Get on this shit! Three rad locals with plenty of hardcore punk fury to spare will open up–the snotty punk of Southside Stranglers, the fastcore energy of Barge, and the old-school punchout rage of Devil’s Hand will make this a bill for the ages. Let’s send Brandon off as well as we possibly can, support his family in the process, and–hopefully–find a reason to smile in the face of tragedy.
Wednesday, August 3, 9 PM
Illiterate Light, Camp Howard, Worse Curses, Nathan K, Terror Pigeon @ The Camel – $5
Hey, this show came out of nowhere and surprised me with the delights it has to offer, so I’m gonna write about it quick since as I type, the start time is only 5 hours away. Illiterate Light hail from Harrisonburg and manage to do something cool and unusual with their bassless-duo lineup. They make that space that a bass guitar would normally fill an element in their music, giving a sublime feel to their twinkling tunes and finding new ways to do more with less. I always admire that, especially when it comes hand in hand with choruses this catchy.
Camp Howard has hella catchy choruses, and if you’ve been reading this column for any length of time you probably know that, since I feel like I find occasion to write about Nic Perea and co. at least once a month. That doesn’t mean you should start thinking “I’ll catch em next time” when you see Camp Howard on a bill, though–believe me, the songwriting talent backing up that charming pop chemistry is enough to keep the novelty from wearing off for literally years into the future. With a touring double bill of Nathan K and Terror Pigeon joining this lineup as well, plus opening(? what is the order here? I have no idea) set action from local heroes Worse Curses, this is gonna be a night of unimpeachable indie pop genius. What could be better?
Thursday, August 4, 8 PM
Get In The Car, Morus Alba, Young Scum @ Sound Of Music – $5
Well, Sour Haus met a tragic and depressing end, but fortunately for us all, Sour Presents continues to exist in the present tense (see what I did there?) and is still bringing us all fine underground punk and alt-rock shows on a regular basis. This Sound Of Music show on Thursday night isn’t even the only show they have going on this week, so keep an eye out! This is a super-rad show, though, and nothing makes that clearer than how tough it is to parse this lineup. After all, someone’s gonna have to open up, but any of these three rad bands could headline this show–and really, they all deserve to! Think of it as a triple-headline bill with no openers, and then you’ll really be delighted at how much you’re getting for your money.
Get In The Car are still relatively new on the scene, not that you’d know it from the assured quality of their frenetic punk tunes, driven as they are by yelled vocals, powerful riffs, and the occasional grungy synth accent for added texture. New Jersey’s Morus Alba are a more laid-back sort of band, though there’s definitely still an energetic aspect to their melodic tunesmithing–kind of like early Band Of Horses if they listened to a lot more Beach Slang. Young Scum have certainly proven their worth by enriching many local shows over the past couple of years with their jangle-punk indie-pop brilliance. Their brand new EP finds them channeling all the great vibes that come from Surfer Blood’s music–without having any of the sketchy extracurricular aspects that make you kind of hate yourself for still listening to Surfer Blood. For a bunch of dudes who collectively label themselves “scum,” this is actually an incredibly charming band. Go find out what they have to offer, and smile through an entire night of dope tuneage.
Friday, August 5, 9:30 PM
Inter Arma, Withered, Battlemaster @ Hardywood – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Oh my god, y’all, another Inter Arma album! Are you stoked? I’m stoked! Paradise Gallows actually dropped last month, but I somehow missed it until the announcement of this record release show came across my radar. Boy oh boy is this exciting news. And sure enough, Inter Arma’s third full-length brings us a lot more of all of the amazing qualities that made their earlier albums such a treat. Epic-length songs (many on the album approach or even surpass the 10-minute mark) full of multi-genre explorations and significant dynamic shifts across their length. Incredibly heavy downtuned riffs that aren’t just the same old played-out doom shit you’ve been hearing from a million stuck-in-the-70s jean-jacket wearers. Profound lyrics that paint pictures of fascinating times in distant lands. It’s all here!
And it’ll all blast you in the face at full volume when Inter Arma take the Hardywood stage this Friday night. I had heard some upsetting rumors about there not being any more loud/heavy shows at Hardywood, but it looks like those rumors might not have come to fruition. I sure hope they never do, because the idea of seeing bands this amazingly loud and powerful in such an excellent show environment is always a pleasant one. Hardywood will be the perfect place to drink in the massive sounds of Inter Arma’s newest record as recreated in a live setting. And you can drink in some excellent craft beers too if that’s your thing! (Right? That was a pretty obvious transition there, but I had to do it.) Atlanta metallers Withered will join our hometown heroes on this bill, as will epic thrash kingpins Battlemaster! Stretch out your neck beforehand, because it’s time to bang your head.
Saturday, August 6, 10 PM
Mamadou Kelly @ Balliceaux – $10
Admittedly, this show is a bit out of my wheelhouse, but who doesn’t like to broaden their horizons now and then? It’s no surprise that Balliceaux, a venue booked by well-known local world-music fan Chris Bopst, is the one to bring you the perfect opportunity. Mamadou Kelly is originally from Mali, and his music incorporates the current vibes coming out of that country as well as some long-running folk-music aspects that seem to derive from the same roots that eventually led to blues and bluegrass sounds here in America. His band includes members of the Ali Farka Toure All-Stars, and his songs have a rolling, lilting feel that is simultaneously intense and memorable, and guaranteed to make you smile. Take a trip outside the boundaries of what you usually get down with, and go check this guy out!
Sunday, August 7, 7 PM
Motion City Soundtrack, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, Rozwell Kid, Clair Morgan @ The National – $23 in advance/$28 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Y’all. This band was so important to me back in the early 2000s. I was going through some shit in my personal life, trying to figure out who I was and what place I deserved in the world, and punk rock was something I was suddenly struggling to connect with. My late 20s ended up being soundtracked by the same mawkishly emotional pop-punk that so many teenagers of the era were also living and dying by. The first few Motion City Soundtrack albums got a ton of play at the time, and songs like “The Future Freaks Me Out,” “LG Fuad,” and “Everything Is Alright” matter more to me than a lot of songs that were way more critically acclaimed/canonized at the time and in the years since.
So yeah, I’m a little bummed that MCS are done, and that this show in Richmond on Sunday is almost certainly my last chance to see them. I’m gonna miss it, to be honest–one of my bands is playing a tiny club show this night, and a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But you should all go enjoy Motion City Soundtrack one last time in my name, and make sure you sing out loud when Justin sings “I’ll be just fine!” on “Everything Is Alright.” Do it for me, OK? And enjoy excellent rockin’ emo radness from twinkle-core heroes A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, Weezer-style goof-rockers Rozwell Kid, and local hero(es) Clair Morgan–I’m sure all of their sets will rule too. Sigh, at least I got to see them back in 2012…
Monday, August 8, 10 PM
Jolly Mortals (Reunion show), HeWolf, Roper & Furley @ En Su Boca – Free!
You guys, hitting middle age is weird. Everyone my age is hitting our midlife crises, right? I’m certainly not immune! The fact that I’m 40 and play in two punk bands with 20-something kids says something about me, for sure. The fact that all kinds of bands that I loved going to see back when I was 19 or so are also getting back together for crazy one-off reunions says that I’m not the only one going through this kind of shit. I have no idea what is possessing the Jolly Mortals to return to action after at least 20 years off, but considering that I saw this band at least a dozen times when I was between the ages of 17 and 19, and considering I thought I’d never ever see them again, I’m fucking stoked about it.
For those of you who weren’t attending tons of house shows around Richmond circa 1994, you’re gonna need a little explanation. Fair enough–here’s the deal: Jolly Mortals were a noise rock trio (and briefly a quartet) who’d started out with kind of a poppy vibe but soon allowed their barely-post-teenage anger to drive them into frenzied fits of feedback and frantic screaming. Influences from the Melvins, Black Flag, and, I dunno, probably Killdozer or something all came out, but filtered through a songwriting sensibility that was clearly shaped by the perfect pop records of the members’ childhood and adolescence. I dunno, maybe this is all bullshit, but this is what I was getting from them as a wide-eyed 18 year old. You can maybe see a little of what they were all about by watching this video, but to truly get the full Jolly Mortals experience, you gotta show up to En Su Boca this Monday night. It’s gonna be worth it–especially since admission is free! As for me, I’ll just regress to my teenage self and hang out in the corner trying not to get on anyone’s nerves. Until the music starts and I can stop feeling so damn self-conscious for once. Damn, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, you know?
Tuesday, August 9, 7 PM
Blistered, Regulate, Lost Souls, Dead & Dreaming @ The Canal Club – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Part of me feels really weird about the goings-on in the modern moshcore scene, you know? It seems kinda scary–just like it did in the 90s when Earth Crisis and Strife ruled the roost. People dance too hard and if I can get close enough to see everything that’s happening onstage, I gotta keep my head down and try to avoid the flying fists and feet. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun for a lot of people but for me it’s sometimes rather difficult. But I try to put up with it at least occasionally, because let’s face it–there’s a lot of sick fucking mosh to be heard these days. Blistered are a prime example; this Florida band is carrying the torch for absolute face-smashing brutality. I can respect the hell out of that, I just don’t want to be the one whose face gets smashed, you know? I suppose this serves as a disclaimer: definitely go to this show, but maybe stand in the back if you’re a gentle sweetheart (or a total wimp, like me) rather than an aggro lunatic (like so many fine people in this scene undoubtedly are).
But god, whatever, you don’t wanna hear all that, you wanna hear about the fucking ROCK! Oh, there’s plenty to be found at the Canal Club on this night, never fear. It’s been about a year since Blistered released their Poison Of Self Confinement LP on local label 6131, but if you haven’t picked up on it yet there’s still plenty of time for you to find out what a banger it is. Fans of Xibalba or Code Orange will find plenty to like here–there are some positively neck-snapping breakdowns on this album, so be prepared! Regulate are a bit more old-school, but don’t get me wrong, they’re only going as far back as the early 90s, when everyone was super stoked about Judge and the first couple 25 Ta Life EPs (yes, there was a time when people were stoked on that band, and for good reason). Plus you’ll get some rad relatively-local mosh from Lost Souls and Dead & Dreaming to round things out. This is gonna be a tough fucking show–but everyone needs an injection of toughness into their life sometimes, right?
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows: firstname.lastname@example.org
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