Here we go, Richmond. Another Saturday with tough live music decisions to make.
Of course, Pridefest is happening over on Brown’s Island with Mary Lambert as the headliner and Black Liquid also performing. The Camel has a cool local show headed up by rising stars Camp Howard. Intricate rockers Captive top an interesting bill at 25 Watt. The Basement has a really enticing line-up of shoegaze and noise rock with Keep as the headliner. Two cool shows are happening at Strange Matter with the early show being Drew’s pick for Saturday — Crying, Doll Baby, & Big Baby — and the late show featuring a taste of the avant-garde brought to you by Dumb Waiter and Gull. Even The National has a big show of sorts as fusion rockers Perpetual Groove are stopping in town (and Davy Jones from Richmond Navigator has a cool article on them out now).
You couldn’t go wrong with any of these picks, but if it’s me — and it looks like it is because this thing says “Doug’s Pick” — I’ll be heading over to Hardywood to check out New York’s Ava Luna and Richmond’s own Manatree and Spooky Cool.
Hopefully you’ve seen Ava Luna by now. They’ve played Richmond a ton and actually had a killer set at Hardywood last November (oddly enough also featuring Manatree, as well as a young musician on the verge of a breakout named Lucy Dacus). But if you’re not familiar with them, let’s just say that you should be. Here is a band inventive and talented enough to pull of this “genre pool” that so many new bands and artists are relishing in today. Indie rock, funk, post punk, R&B, and even jazz — yes, jazz — pops up in their music. Dead serious on that last one. “Company” from their last record is just a sultry jazz number masquerading as a rock song, by a band who doesn’t even seem interested in being a rock band. That’s not to say they can’t be a rock band — “Best Hexagon” is a fantastic garage rock song. I was heavily into Ava Luna last summer, especially the song “Coat Of Shellac” which would have killed in the heyday of CBGB with its spoken word interlude overtop some vocal oohs and aahs. Just writing out that song title has me humming that cool synth melody again, and I love how it comes out of nowhere in that song. If you ever go to a show just wishing for every song to be different from the one before it, then your ass better be in front of the stage at Hardywood Saturday night when they take the stage.
Everyone’s favorite math-pop-rockers Manatree are sandwiched into this lineup and even if it was just them on the lineup, I’d probably still be choosing them as my pick of the week. They never disappoint and there’s always something new to enjoy about their show, whether they’re trying out a new song (yes please?) or expanding on an already complex melody. The band just dropped a new video for the song “Animal Quietlies” off of their self-titled record last year, as if we needed a reminder for how great that record is. It’s not just the record either — this band is one of the true greats in our local scene and everyone should take advantage of that by seeing them live as much as humanely possible. If you’ve been slacking, don’t worry — Saturday’s a perfect time to catch-up.
Newcomers Spooky Cool, full of local scene stalwarts, round out the bill as they continue to build buzz around themselves with exciting sets full of songs that keep you grooving (and guessing). The band’s only gotten better since their first shows earlier this year, and it’s as good a time as any to introduce yourself to their growing catalogue of catchy rock songs. Don’t take it from me though. Lucy Dacus herself recently said “Spooky Cool is the best upcoming band to keep your eye on.” Who are we to disagree?
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