Friday, August 12 – Sunday, August 14
Pre-show: Friday, August 12, 8 PM
.gif From God, Burn/Ward, Fetish Gear, Sea Of Storms, Hash Cult, Samarra @ 25 Watt – $5
Day 1: Saturday, August 13, 5 PM
The Catalyst, Drugs Of Faith, Clean Girls, What Of Us, Coma Regalia, Weak Wrists, Empty Vessels, MRTEX, Vein, Supine @ Strange Matter – $15
Day 2: Sunday, August 14, 5 PM
Ostraca, Flesh Born, Iwakura, Euth, Truman, Pig Latin, The Heads Are Zeros, Van Hagar, Lull, This Land Is Now Dead @ Strange Matter – $15
OK look I didn’t mention either of the shows I booked last week in here, but if you think I’m gonna let this week go by without talking about Swamp Fest, you’re crazy. Not to flatter myself and my friends (to be clear, I’m one of a dozen or so people heavily involved in making this weekend of shows happen), this is clearly the best live musical event happening in Richmond anytime between when you get off work on Friday evening and when you drag yourself in, underslept and still wearing traces of last night’s eyeliner, on Monday morning.
Swamp Fest consists of three shows (the first one is technically a “pre-show,” but who’s counting?) featuring 26 bands, all of which embrace the passionate, emotional, political, and most importantly heavy as fuck elements of the current DIY hardcore underground. You might call them emo or screamo or even skramz (GAG ME) but at the end of the day these are punk rock bands with metal influences who are here to blow your goddamn head off. And to be able to see all of them for $35 total over the course of one weekend is a steal, if we do say so ourselves.
We’ve got way too many highlights for you to go into any sort of detail, but for old-school Richmond heads, the highlight will probably be the reunion set from local legends The Catalyst. Their first live appearance since their 2013 breakup will cap off Saturday night’s festivities in wild and crazy fashion. Sunday will feature an equally powerful send-off, with the final two sets coming from Ostraca (who are possibly the best currently active band in Richmond) and Flesh Born (Texas powerhouses featuring members of Two Knights). These two acts are slated to release a split LP sometime around the end of this year–get yourself a sneak preview! Other highlights include special surprises from Indiana emo noise mavens Coma Regalia and local horror-metal faves This Land Is Now Dead, and visits from awesome acts based all over North America (MRTEX is from Canada, Vein’s from Massachusetts, Euth is from Wyoming… no, seriously, Wyoming!). If you know where to look you might even see me slingin’ a bass up there at some point. Whatever, that’s not the important part. What’s important is that we’ve done a ton to make sure we’re throwing the awesomest rock n’ roll party happening in this town this weekend, and it just won’t be the same without you. Come hang, let’s make some new friends.
Wednesday, August 10, 7 PM
The Julie Ruin, PWR BTTM @ The Broadberry – $20 (order tickets HERE)
Oh my goodness, y’all, Kathleen Hanna is in town tonight! Are you stoked? You should be! The co-founder of the legendary Riot Grrrl movement, which brought radical feminism to the punk rock world in a new and massively important way back in the early 90s, has had some pretty amazing bands in her time as a musician. First she fronted Bikini Kill, a tough quartet who started out bashing on barely-understood instruments and grew into one of the most furious and intense bands of the decade. Then she started Le Tigre, an electronically-driven trio whose punk approach to synthesizers and drum machines helped spearhead the rule-breaking dance/noise genre/prank known as electroclash. Now she’s back and radder than ever, fronting The Julie Ruin, a restructured version of her onetime solo project which picks up where both Bikini Kill and Le Tigre left off, combining snarling punk riffing with in your face electronic noisiness.
They’ve just released their second LP, Hit Reset, and it carries on with the same sort of excellent melodic yet gloriously obnoxious punk rockin’ vibes that made their 2013 debut, Run Fast, such a huge crowd-pleaser. They’re sure to please the crowd tonight at the Broadberry too–don’t you wanna be there? You know you do! PWR BTTM opening only sweetens the pot. This queer alt-punk quartet has some incredibly catchy and indelible tunes, including one that I have to count as my personal theme song–“Dairy Queen,” aka the “I’m in the shower” song (ask any of my roommates about why this is my theme song, I’m sure they know ALL ABOUT IT). Anyway, this band will get you smiling, dancing, and singing along, and will be the perfect warmup for the killer set The Julie Ruin have in store. Get stoked!
Thursday, August 11, 7 PM
Guerilla Toss, Bermuda Triangles, Yoga Demon, Generic @ Gallery 5 – $8
You know, I almost made a No Wave reference during the Julie Ruin writeup, but I’m glad I didn’t, because if there’s any show happening this week that deserves a No Wave reference, it’s this one. Guerilla Toss are modern fucking badasses out of the NYC wasteland that spawned No Wave 35 years ago, and which I had been under the (mistaken?) impression ceased to exist around the time Williamsburg (the town in Brooklyn, not the one in VA) got colonized by hipsters and the rent went way way up. What weird basement rehearsal space is birthing the mutant funk bizarreness of this band? And can I rent a room there? Guerilla Toss bang on pipes and holler in weird tones over herky-jerk repetitive riffs that seem like they shouldn’t fit the definition of “groove” until you suddenly realize that you can’t stop dancing. If you want to hear Maggot Brain-era Funkadelic jam with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, this is probably the closest you’re ever gonna get, so make sure you show up at Gallery 5 tomorrow night.
There’s so much excellent local shit happening on this bill too, and most of it will also easily fit the definition of “mutant groove.” Bermuda Triangles have undergone a variety of evolutions since back when they got started, but these days they’ve basically turned into a percussion-driven free jazz ensemble. Think Faust jamming with Art Ensemble Of Chicago in turn-of-the-70s New York. And then see if you can think of a more obscure comparison for me to make. I’ll wait. No but seriously, Yoga Demon’s percussion-noise hybrid jams should also warm it up for Guerilla Toss in fine fashion, and Generic will kick things off with some good and proper jazz for all you Bitches Brew fans. This is all gonna be so tight. Can’t fuckin’ wait.
Friday, August 12, 9 PM
Future Prospect, Butcher Brown, Vanilla Summit @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Oh well damn, apparently there ARE other things happening in Richmond this weekend besides Swamp Fest! I will of course be busy with other things at the time this show is taking place, but the fact that Jellowstone is carrying on in fine fashion with their incredibly positive project of bringing the world’s attention to Richmond’s thriving jazz/funk/groove scene is always worth paying attention to. So if heavy punk and/or metal are not your thing (I know y’all are out there, even if I completely fail to understand your perspective), there’s also something really great for you to do on Friday night that will scratch your itch for a totally different and equally great sound.
The Climb is the ninth release on Jellowstone Records, and it brings us some seriously smooth and mellow sounds from Future Prospect, a seven-piece jazz group with some serious chops and the potential to get quite pyrotechnic with the soloing (see “B.A.M.” from The Climb for some prime examples). This music will invigorate you, inspire you, and get you dancing. What more can a person possibly want? Well, opening sets from Jellowstone mainstays Butcher Brown and self-described “indie fusion” quintet Vanilla Summit certainly would be nice, wouldn’t they? You’ll get those too! Oh, it’s gonna be such a great night. I encourage all of you I won’t see at Swamp Fest to go enjoy the hell out of it. Wish I could be there!
Saturday, August 13, 8 PM
Ten Ton Hammer, Cognitive, Vomit Stain, Of Tyrants @ 25 Watt – $10
Between 2 Beers is bringing us a quartet of fierce, snarling metal and hardcore bands at 25 Watt? Oh, hey, it must be Saturday night. These shows have become a real mainstay of the local live music scene, and it’s such a relief for those of us who spent so long having no real local outlet to enjoy this kind of stuff. Ten Ton Hammer are from Philly and come to Richmond fresh off a set at This Is Hardcore–which seems sorta obligatory for a Philly HC band, but these guys deserve the shine, for sure. Playing thick-neck mosh grooves with an energy driven by rage at this stupid world, these guys simultaneously conjure up thoughts of Harm’s Way and Code Orange, which should ring some definite bells for some of y’all out there. I’m feelin’ it, for sure.
Cognitive come to us from a slightly different locale–specifically New Jersey–and a slightly different genre–specifically death metal. But this band definitely has more in common with Ten Ton Hammer than any arbitrary genre distinctions will indicate. These guys know how to bring the heavy downtuned mosh grooves, for example. And they’ve got plenty of fiery rage to inflict on the world. Sure, the vocals are deeper and growlier, the blast beats are more frequent, and solos are a thing that exists in Cognitive’s music, but if you can headbang to one of these bands with a smile on your face, you can definitely enjoy both of them. With opening sets from local death metal ragers Vomit Stain and Virginia Beach deathcore troopers Of Tyrants, this show is gonna be a cornucopia of heavyosity!
Sunday, August 14, 7 PM
Wildhoney, Christi, Big Baby @ Gallery 5 – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Ah man… I love Wildhoney so much. I can’t make it to this show (you know, Swamp Fest… it’s a thing), but I sure would if I could, and if you can’t stand the thought of an Ostraca/Flesh Born double-header to cap off your sunday night, you could sure do a lot worse than to hit up Gallery 5 and bliss out to the lovely waves of guitar that will pour forth from the stage while Wildhoney performs. Since they dished out full-length debut Sleep Through It over a year ago, this band has kept busy, following up with the Your Face, Sideways EP and currently preparing for the release of a four-way split EP with Mercury Girls, The Spook School, and Tigercats (all of which rule in their own right). If you, like me, have just been obsessing over Sleep Through It since back when that came out, there should be plenty of new jams for you to take in alongside the old favorites.
And speaking of favorites, a couple of definite local faves will be opening this gig up. Christi have been tried and true rock n’ rollers from day one, bringing us the best hybrid of punk, pop, and girl-group garage this city’s seen in a very long time. Tunes like “Shitty Baby” and “Popsicle” are guaranteed to get stuck in your head all day every time you hear them, and god knows you’ll just wanna hear them again, so make sure you catch their set! And you definitely want to show up in time for Big Baby–Ali and the boys have pop smarts to spare , and they’ll thrill you with their delightful tuneage. Dig it.
Monday, August 15, 8 PM
Sumac, Jaye Jayle, Nordra @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
I almost missed out on this one. Not just the show, the whole band! Sumac is definitely right up my alley; featuring members of Isis, Baptists, and Botch, this band certainly has all the ingredients with which to thrill and chill me. But for some reason I had no idea this was happening until I got invited to this show. Now I’m SUPER stoked–going from not knowing about this band to knowing that they’re playing in my town in less than a week? Not bad! Not bad at all.
Sumac’s vibe is, from all evidence presented on 2015 debut The Deal, powerful as hell. If you were one of the people who felt that what Isis was doing got a bit… ponderous towards the end (I admit it, I’m raising my hand), you’ll be thrilled by this return to the epic head-stomping power of records like The Mosquito Control EP. These tunes are lengthy, for sure, but if it takes this long to be this heavy and this brutal, I’m willing to sit through every second of it. With a big smile on my face, no less. Can’t wait for these guys to crush my head live. By the way, they’ll be joined by some noteworthy solo performers–Evan Patterson (Young Widows/Black Cross) will be doing his Jaye Jayle thing, while Seattle experimental musician Monica Khot of Zen Mother will also bring us a solo set under the name Nordra. Should be a night of intense, intelligent power. This is the sort of thing we could all use more of.
Tuesday, August 16, 8 PM
The Milkstains, MC Chicken, Camp Howard, Seawhorse @ Strange Matter – $5
These local nights at Strange Matter are always so fun. They’re usually an opportunity for people to find out about new acts who are just managing to catch some local buzz, and there’s a little bit of that on this night, but I don’t think anyone in this town who cares about live rock n’ roll music could possibly have gone this long without hearing about the Milkstains… could they? This trio dates back to sometime shortly after the turn of the milennium, and have been cranking out wild-ass EPs of raunchy grunge mixed with outright surf music on Bad Grrrl Records for several years now. It’s in the live environs where this trio really shines, so if you haven’t been bowled over by their performance styles before now, get your ass out to Strange Matter this Tuesday night–but if you stand too close, be aware of the possibility that you’ll be drenched in flying sweat and beer by the time their set is over.
MC Chicken is another one who should need no introduction, but this time it’s thanks to the wonderful “way we live now” world of viral video. You all saw that ridiculous “Richmond River Rat” thing, right? It was silly, it was goofy, it was never intended for the kind of audience it got… but you know what? It was fun. This guy obviously knows how to have a good time. And with his secret identity as a talented local funketeer, he probably knows enough to produce a pretty solid grip of dope grooves over which to spit his silliness. Find out what else he’s got in his bag of tricks. Then check out the group that’s the absolute sensation of the local indie pop scene, Camp Howard. These guys might rate full-on best-kept-secret status at this point, but it’s high time the secret got out. Honest-to-god new band Seawhorse starts things off with some spacey surf music, which is always a ton of fun. That could be said about every band on this show, really.
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