RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 9/14-9/20


Saturday, September 17, 12 PM
12 Acts In 12 Hours to Benefit Gallery 5, feat. New Turks, Prayer Group, Camp Howard, The Smirks, Naked Pictures, Peace Beast, Fetish Gear, The Wimps, Khonsu Djinn, Toward Space, The Milkstains, Slean Dion & Josh Blubaugh @ Gallery 5 – $10
DIY music venues are some of the best things that exist in this town, if you ask me. Hell, they’re the basis of this column week after week, and probably the only places other than Taco Bell that I spend significant time in on a regular basis. But the sad truth about DIY music venues is that it’s hard to keep the doors open. When you’re running shows that have an insanely tiny profit margin and cater to niche audiences, sometimes the best you can do is make sure the band gets to the next town. At the end of the month when the light bill comes due, you can’t pay the utility man with artistic cred.

That’s why shows like this one are so goddamn important. When one of the best music venues in town reaches out for support, we’ve got to be there to help make sure the shows we love keep happening. And because Gallery 5 is such a consistently excellent venue featuring so many great artists and musicians, they’re able to present us with such a stacked bill that the opportunity to pitch in for a benefit feels more like a treat than an obligation. Especially when two-piece low-end monsters New Turks are playing a one-time-only reunion show at the top of the bill! That’s right, once again you will be able to see the angriest cheeseburger in town scream ferociously and crank out some thundering riff mania as the stick-twirling sweetheart you know from bands like Christi and Basmati rattles the roof with tubthumping beats. One more time is not enough, but if one more time is all we’re gonna get, we better be there.

And then there are 11 more bands hitting the stage over the course of this half-day of music insanity. I don’t know if you’ve got the energy to make it through all 12 hours, but you’ll be rewarded for the stamina you display with some of the best music this town has to offer–from the well-scrubbed power-pop of Camp Howard to the beer-soaked grunge-punk grime of The Milkstains; from the queer mosh power of Fetish Gear to the melodic psych beauty of Peace Beast; from the metallic intensity of Prayer Group to the ramshackle rock n’ roll clatter of Toward Space. You might even see me onstage at one point if you don’t blink (spoiler: I’m in Khonsu Djinn. Whee!). This is gonna be a blast, it’s for one of the best causes I personally can think of, and it’s a great way to occupy your entire Saturday. Get there.


Wednesday, September 14, 8 PM
Moral Void, Angry Gods, Sinister Purpose @ 25 Watt – $7
I get excited whenever anyone uses the phrase “blackened hardcore” to describe a band to me. Brutal hardcore rage combined with tremolo-picked black metal passion? Downtuned crust riffing plus tortured screams? Yeahhhh… count me IN. Moral Void comes to Richmond tonight from their hometown of Chicago to bring us some harsh, dirty biker-crust that makes me think of Tragedy breaking up a knife fight between At The Gates and Young And In The Way (it’s too bad, too–I had $5 on At The Gates). These black-clad guitar-slingers are sure to blow your hair back.

Angry Gods accompany Moral Void on their journey to the land of RVA, and they’ve got plenty of angry brutality of their own to drop on us. These guys are slower and if anything more intense than Moral Void, channeling Eyehategod/Cavity style sludge through the atmospheric metal terror of Neurosis and the hypnotically powerful riffing of long-departed, highly-underrated Detroit geniuses Thoughts Of Ionesco. Maybe KEN Mode is also a worthwhile reference point here? I don’t know, the point is it rules. Both of these bands rule. And with the grungy metallic punk of local ragers Sinister Purpose kicking things off, this is sure to be a bill full of radical riffs and headbanging action.


Thursday, September 15, 9:30 PM
Grass Panther, Bummer’s Eve @ Balliceaux – Free!
Oh hey, check this out. Michael Harl, who you all know from Canary Oh Canary and Manzara, has yet another trio in the works with which to stun the Richmond faithful. Don’t expect Manzara’s alluring postpunk hypnosis or Canary Oh Canary’s drawn-out shoegaze fuzztones; Grass Panther is more of a garage-punk thing–but of course with Harl’s usual space-psych weirdness thrown in to sweeten the pot. Having brought in former Hot Dolphin bassist Allison Hancock and former King Sour drummer Matt Boyle to round out the lineup, Harl’s brought forth yet another band full of heavy hitters with which to stun and daze us all. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by!

Bummer’s Eve are a psychedelic band who’ve been hanging around Richmond for a while. I’ve tried to analyze their pedigree within past columns, and doing so eventually brought me a contact from the band’s leader explaining the whole deal. Unfortunately, that happened in a facebook message, and if you’ve ever tried to search through your backlog for one of those that’s more than a couple weeks old, you know as well as I do that it’s a fool’s errand. Fortunately, in this case, it’s not even that big a deal, because I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that this show will feature a solo performance by the band’s frontman, who’ll run through some well-polished tunes as well as introducing a few new ones. Should be rad! This whole night should be rad.


Friday, September 16, 9 PM
KINGS, Chance Fischer, Sabor Unplugged @ The Camel – $10
Bored with the preponderance of witchy stoned-out doom metal in this town? Conflicted about supporting an adorable emo-pop band whose singer apparently thinks “rape culture isn’t a thing”? Believe me, I feel you–which is why I’m glad we live in such a rich musical environment as that of RVA. Because fortunately for us, we have the choice to throw this entire false dilemma to the side, walk down the street to The Camel, and grill out with some of the best funk, soul, and hip hop musicians our fair city has to offer! That’s right, this Friday night marks the latest edition of the KINGS Cookout, which has been happening monthly at The Camel all year and is doing a great job of brightening up 2016–especially on a night like this.

KINGS should hopefully need no introduction by now… which doesn’t stop me from giving you one! Oh, no way, you need to know everything possible about Kelli Strawbridge’s crack ensemble of trained funketeers, who crank out the groove-laden, rumbling throwback jams of KINGS’ self-titled Jellowstone Records debut (as well as plenty of others) with polished aplomb. Expect tinges of Prince, Rick James, There’s A Riot Goin’ On, and Thriller to show through at various moments during this action-packed set, even as Kelli never lets you forget that he fronts a James Brown tribute act on the side. Meanwhile, I feel like it was just last week that I was extolling the virtues of RVA rapper Chance Fischer, whose mic skills are enough to make you sweat. This may be KINGS’ party, but Fischer is always a threat to steal the show. Sabor Unplugged starts things off, and I may not know too much about this band, but the fact that it’s apparently an acoustic soul project from Buttafly Vasquez and Gabriel Santamaria of The Flavor Project is enough to pique my curiosity.


Saturday, September 17, 8 PM
Wolves In The Throne Room, Cloud Rat, Salvaticus @ Strange Matter – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Wolves In The Throne Room are the sort of band that defy any attempts at brief summation. This probably has something to do with their tendency to write songs that last between 10 and 30 minutes. It might also have something to do with the fact that even their most structured and easily defined early releases, which always bore a strong relationship to black metal, were also attempting to undermine the very genre they were most easily slotted into. And then there’s the fact that their most recent album, Celestite, was an ambient synth album that more closely resembled Brian Eno soundscapes than the previous buzzing torrents of passionate, melodic, yet always brutal symphonies of sound the band had previously unleashed.

So what will we get when Wolves In The Throne Room take the stage at Strange Matter on Saturday night? Will they have banks of synths in lieu of their usual guitars and drums? Will they be harking back to their recently reissued debut release, Diadem Of 12 Stars, through extended tremolo-picking odysseys of blastbeats? Will the result be something even less predictable than any of this? One thing’s for sure–it’ll be interesting. And you’ll get something sublime from witnessing it. With opening sets from Michigan grind band Cloud Rat–who have a lot to offer in their own right and probably deserve way more space than I’m giving them–and C’ville black metallers Salvaticus, this is going to be a show full of bleak intensity and powerful sounds. It will move you.


Sunday, September 18, 8 PM
Ghost Bath, Numenorean, Frosthelm, Unsacred @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
I’m not too sure about bands overtly labeling themselves “depressive black metal,” y’all–my experience has been that depression and struggles with suicidal impulses are hard enough to shake without additional romanticization from artistic creators who, chances are, probably struggle enough with their own negative impulses even before the glorification process begins. Having said all that, sometimes I just get in my feelings to the point that I really need to put on a sad emotional black metal record and cry. Ghost Bath has my back on this one.

The fact that this band arises from the bleakest and most frozen province of the continental United States of America (I am of course referring to North Dakota) might have something to do with their ability to conjure some of the darkest, saddest moods any human could experience, and to underpin those moods with a strangely uplifting touch of dark minor-key melody. However they manage to recreate those harrowing moments, it results in some incredibly moving music, as displayed on their recently released second album, Moonlover. Along with fellow black metal travellers Numenorean (who hail from Canada) and Frosthelm (another North Dakotan black metal band? Who knew there were enough people in that state to produce two?), plus an opening set from RVA light-shunners Unsacred, they’ll produce a night of powerful tremolo-picked brilliance for your weekend-ending enjoyment. And seriously, please do try to enjoy it, and not to get too sad–life is hard enough sometimes, you know? Maybe “depressive black metal” can be a reason to carry on.


Monday, September 19, 7 PM
Tenement, Dusk, Smoke Break, Komodo @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
There’ll be some serious punk-pop genius on display at Strange Matter this Monday night. Tenement come to us from small-town Wisconsin, and have spent most of the last decade dishing out three-minute three-chord pop gems disguised as dirty rock n’ roll jams. They do so at such a prolific rate that their most recent LP, Predatory Headlights, featured 25 songs. Meanwhile, compilations Bruised Music Vol 1 and Bruised Music Vol 2, both released within the past year, have collected the band’s many shorter-form releases (splits, comp tracks, etc) from the past 5 or so years. The result is a body of work that can’t be beaten on a pound-for-pound basis, leaving you with such a wealth of great discoveries to make within their discography that even the biggest fan still probably hasn’t fully wrapped their head around it all.

So when these rockers take the stage at Strange Matter this Monday night, you can certainly expect a set full of top-quality highlights. Songs like “Feral Cat Tribe,” “Goodnight Rosendale,” and “Freak Cast In Iron” (all streamable at Bandcamp) will let you know what you’re in for from this talented ensemble. Dusk, another band from that same small Wisconsin town, will be along with some sweeter, more country-inflected pop tunes to lay on us all. And then we’ll get a heaping helping of local awesomeness from Smoke Break, which arises from the ashes of Close Talker and Springtime to bring us more of Cory Chubb’s pop-punk songwriting brilliance. Komodo will start things off with some swaggering hardcore rock n’ roll punk, which promises to be a blast. This show is gonna rule, y’all.


Tuesday, September 20, 7:30 PM
Built To Spill, Hop Along, Alex G @ The National – $19.50 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Built To Spill are back again, and it’s time to get stoked! This veteran band returned to action last year with Untethered Moon, their first new album in six years. Longtime bandleader Doug Martsch had a new rhythm section in tow, and they completely revitalized the band’s sound and cranked out some really catchy tunes that bypass some of the more jammed-out vibes of the last few BTS albums in favor of some more pop-influenced, guitar-grunge-coated feels I got from late 90s albums Keep It Like A Secret and Perfect From Now On. And those are my favorite Built To Spill albums, so I at least was stoked.

The Built To Spill show at The National this coming Tuesday might display any or all of the earmarks of the several eras the band’s been through in their 25 or so years of existence. I’m down with any and all of it, though, because this is one band that’s proven to retain a core of talent and excellence, no matter what stylistic detours they take this year, or any year. With much younger but equally brilliant openers Hop Along and Alex G along for the ride, this is not just a spectacular headliner but a full bill of awesomeness–one you should partake in, if you have the means of course. After all, $20 is a small price to pay to see a show this dope.


Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows: rvamustseeshows@gmail.com

Hit up my Patreon page if you’d like to be a supporter of my endeavors here! RVA Must-See Shows will always be free, but any contribution helps ensure I can keep the column going into the future, and is massively appreciated! $1 a month is all we ask. Please consider it. https://www.patreon.com/rvamustseeshows


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