Friday, October 7, 7 PM
Carnival Of 5 Fires 10th Anniversary Kickoff, feat. Silent Music Revival w/Dave Watkins, Dharma Bombs, Lightfoot Revival (plus All The Saints Theater Company, Party Liberation Front, Deanna Danger, and a cast of thousands) @ Gallery 5 – Free!
I always treat this column as if it’s strictly about music, but the header has always said “shows you must see”–nothing about music–so I feel OK going off the beaten path for a bit to tell you about the Carnival Of 5 Fires 10th Anniversary Kickoff Extravaganza at Gallery 5 this Friday night. Don’t get me wrong, there will be music involved–but music is such a small part of what makes the Carnival Of 5 Fires the total festival for the senses that it is, I’d be lying if I tried to pretend that the music was the only reason to go.
First off, let’s talk about the art that’s involved. Gallery 5 is one of the founding venues behind Richmond’s nightlife mainstay, the First Friday Art Walk. They’ve been holding it down over in Jackson Ward for over a decade, since they were one of half-a-dozen or so galleries in the area (and the mayor had no idea about any of it). Therefore, art is a big part of this whole thing–with work from dozens of local creators, from RVA household names to up-and-coming stars, displayed in the galleries upstairs. And downstairs, all kinds of crazy things will be happening too. Fire is a big part of things as well, and of course if you head outside to the street, you’ll be able to see the Party Liberation Front’s notorious and long-running Pyro Circus Street Show, featuring music by NC DJ Psynatra, Philly PLF crew legend Michael NightTime, and Animal’s own Conley Dirt-Stash. Plus some crazy fire tricks from the PLF’s cast of pyrokinetic daredevils.
And inside the venue, on the main stage, oh what delights await you! At the top of my list is a special Silent Music Revival, in which the SMR crew commemorates the death of Edgar Allan Poe–which occurred 167 years ago this Friday night–by showing a double-feature of silent films adapted from Poe stories. RVA musical renaissance man Dave Watkins will provide the soundtrack for 1928’s The Fall Of The House Of Usher and The Tell-Tale Heart. This, my friends, is going to rule. With further musical entertainment from The Dharma Bombs and Lightfoot Revival, a performance by All The Saints Theater Company, a variety show presented by local burlesque diva Deanna Danger, and tarot readings from Lauren Onca O’Leary, well my god… music really is just the tip of the iceberg here. So go see this show, have your mind blown, and remember, music may rule, but it’s far from the only reason to leave your house here in RVA.
Wednesday, October 5, 9 PM
The Vibrators, Unmaker @ Bandito’s – Free!
Wow, this is incredible! I’ve certainly heard first-wave punkers The Vibrators–back when I was first starting to dig a little deeper than all the UK bands the mainstream press was willing to let me know about (The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned… you know who I’m talking about), their 1977 debut Pure Mania was one of the first records an older, savvier friend slapped onto one side of a dubbed cassette for me. (I think the other side was Grown Up Wrong by Boston’s legendary Real Kids. But I digress.) I loved their mix of high-energy rock n’ roll snarling swagger, and a deep-rooted power pop sensibility that seemed to come straight from The Kinks and other classic 60s bands that still managed to cross my “punk enough” threshold. I should dig that tape up–I’m sure I’d still get a kick out of blasting it in my car.
What’s crazy to me is the realization that this band is still going strong today! I honestly had no idea. But considering that most of the bands that came out of the pressure cooker that was the late 70s UK scene have been gone since well before I even ever heard of them, this is a rare opportunity! The fact that the Vibrators are playing at Bandito’s is an even more awesome fact, though I must admit it’s not that surprising–this excellent Tex-Mex cafe seems to jump at the chance to host any first-wave punk band that comes through town. And we are the beneficiaries, as Bandito’s unfailingly puts the shows on for free, and serves us all delicious nachos (and apparently some sort of alcoholic concoction made of hops and barley? Sounds gross, but what do I know?) while we rock out! With local sensations Unmaker getting the crowd warmed up for the the Vibrators, this is sure to be a highly stimulating affair! (OK sorry, that was just flagrant. Couldn’t resist though.)
Thursday, October 6, 8 PM
Eisley, Merriment, Captive @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
This should certainly be interesting. In the wake of Eisley’s 2013 fourth album, Currents, the band splintered; originally consisting primarily of four siblings, Eisley has now been pared down to a core trio featuring two DuPree siblings–singer/guitarist Sherri and drummer Weston–plus their cousin, bassist Garron. What this means for the band’s sound is still somewhat of a mystery for longtime fans, though finding out should certainly be worth a trip down to the Broadberry on a Thursday night.
One thing we do know for sure is that the band has been back in the studio over the last few months, putting some work into crafting a fifth album, the first which will see Sherri responsible for the lion’s share of the songwriting. Will the band carry forward with their brand of lush, atmospheric pop featuring a tinge of post-hardcore angst and emo sincerity? I for one would certainly be surprised to learn otherwise. And after all, they still have that huge back catalog to draw from–so what we can certainly expect is an excellent set of the indie-pop classics on which the band has made their name. Interestingly enough, this tour will not just feature the remaining DuPree siblings who are still keeping Eisley alive, but also their two youngest siblings, Christie and Collin, who perform under the name Merriment. Local openers Captive will get this evening started off, and things should certainly proceed in eye-opening fashion.
Friday, October 7, 8 PM
Lucy Dacus, My Darling Fury, Spooky Cool @ The National – $16 (order tickets HERE)
It seems like every time I turn around, hometown girl-made-good Lucy Dacus has taken yet another giant step forward. I was surprised when she went from opening gigs in my living room (I will never get tired of bringing that up in these writeups) to the Broadberry, and from home-burned CD-Rs to a high-profile album release with Matador (I was impressed enough when No Burden was still just on Egghunt!). Now she’s moving on up yet again, taking on a headlining gig at the National with her usual grace and aplomb.
The question is: can Lucy fill this 1500-seat venue? Let’s be real, folks–the ones who will answer that question are you, the readers. Do you support this RVA music-scene hero in her meteoric rise to the top? Are you as on board with beautiful, sincere, close-to-the-bone songwriting of the sort she displayed to perfection in powerhouse single “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore”? Have you already played No Burden so many times that your roommates are ready to kill you if you put it on before bed again? If not, I’m gonna give you a little bit of the side-eye, because Lucy’s talented enough to deserve all that and more. Don’t be a jealous hometown hater–come out to the National this Friday night and cheer on her success! Then dance to some really honestly great tunes, just like you do in your bedroom when you’re home alone. My Darling Fury and Spooky Cool demonstrate some fine taste on the behalf of whoever picked this lineup, as they’re some of the best under-the-radar indie acts this town has to offer right now. This show will reward all of your attention, so be sure you give it plenty.
Saturday, October 8, 8 PM
Necrocosm, Throne Of Botis, Rotting Obscene, Disgorgement, Awakened From Dormancy, Vomit Stain @ 25 Watt – $8
I feel like I cover at least one Between 2 Beers show every damn week in this column (well, every week I manage to get one done… jeez, I need to pull my shit together). That probably says something about my personal musical taste (it’s worth bearing in mind that all this shit’s subjective), but it says even more about the hard work Cory Nicholas and his crew of suds-swilling headbangers are doing to bring excellent metal bands to this town, week in and week out, for well over a year now. And hopefully many more, if this show’s any indication of what we can expect from a typical B2B night–and take it from me: it is. Necrocosm are completely new to me as of this week, but one listen to their 2015 debut album, Damnation Doctrine, over at Bandcamp was enough to convince me that this was a show I had to cover for this week’s column. It’s also one you must see, if you have any interest at all in extremely well-crafted songs featuring surprisingly melodic solos that dance across thick, pummeling riffs and speedy, intricate drumming, then alternate for spotlight time with some powerful roaring vocals. This band kicks fucking ass, if I may say so (I love not having a boss anymore; I get to be my true pottymouth self).
What else does this show have to offer? Well, strap in my friends, because there are FIVE opening acts on this bill. Man, I hope all those half-stack amps are on wheels, because setup times are gonna have to be quick if these bands want to really get their points across. Let’s get through these details quickly so I don’t totally blow my word count and bore the pants off all of you. Throne Of Botis hail from VA Beach and kick down the brutal, ultra-low-frequency death metal shred madness. Rotting Obscene bring us some blindingly fast tech-death from down Roanoke way. Philly’s Disgorgement are downright mathy in execution, but still heavy as fuck, and featuring some unorthodox instrumentation (something tells me these gentlemen are familiar with the work of Colin Marston). Awakened From Dormancy don’t let their vocal-free lineup stop them from slamming you in the face. Vomit Stain are your gore-metal hometown boys, with plenty of head-nodding riffs and medical-dictionary-derived song titles. If you’re a death metal fan, this is not only up your alley, it’s a strike in the 12th frame. Non-bowling nerd types, what I just said means this show is really awesome. Go to it.
Sunday, October 9, 9 PM
Eva O, Griimoiire, BSK @ Fallout – $6 in advance/$10 at the door
Damn, it is so cool to see this exquisitely cool death-rock pioneer and goth goddess roll into town. Eva O has made quite the name for herself over the years, getting her start in the legendary LA death-rock scene of the early 80s with Super Heroines. During that time, Eva became involved with Christian Death, and would eventually marry the band’s mercurial founder, Rozz Williams. After Rozz’s split from Christian Death, he and Eva made two albums under the name Shadow Project, before Rozz’s tragic suicide. Since then, Eva O has carried on as a solo artist, releasing numerous works under her own name over the past two decades.
The latest endeavor from Eva O is a creative project entitled The Rise Of Eva O, which has been crowd-funded through Patreon and includes both new music and a nationwide tour. The music she’s released is incredibly atmospheric, minimalist and reverb-drenched, and brings to mind (at least for me) everything from Current 93 to Diamanda Galas. If you don’t know those reference points, imagine something quiet, severe, and scary as hell, which enraptures you and won’t let you go. It’s probably not for everyone, but if it’s for you, you know how important it is for you to get down to Fallout this Sunday night and catch Eva O. Opening sounds will be provided by Wax Moon owner Andrew Griimoiire, playing the songs of previous projects Aural Exile and Griim Phantasm; and by BSK, a solo noise endeavor by Browning Keister of Unmaker. Put on your blackest cloak and descend into the fog-enshrouded streets of Shockoe Bottom to commune with the spirits this Sunday night.
Monday, October 10, 8 PM
Mouth Of the Architect, Netherlands, Zvi @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I saw Mouth Of The Architect quite a while ago, y’all (at Empire with Unsane, anyone else remember that show?), and at the time they struck me as a brutal epic metal band with some pretty strong atmospheric parts–the debt they owed at that point to Isis, Mastodon, and other leading lights of that whole movement was quite clear. Since then, it appears the band has made quite a bit of progress, injecting much more overt keyboard textures into their music (I’m not even sure they had a keyboard player when I saw them), and emphasizing melodic vocals over the roaring screams that once dominated their sound. The result, as showcased on Path Of Eight, the band’s newest album, is more layered, less predictable, and far more fascinating than anything I’ve previously heard from this band. I’m all about it.
Path Of Eight is scheduled for release this Friday, and you should therefore be able to grab a copy at the band’s merch table when they arrive at Strange Matter at the top of next week. However, the thrill of a new purchase pales in comparison to the irreplaceable experience of getting your eardrums kicked in by the band’s in-your-face live performance. Of course, I doubt if it will be as brutal or hostile as I’m making it sound–truth is, this stuff has a lot of pleasing textures to it, and the melodies in evidence on the newest Mouth Of The Architect material are likely to make you smile. But you’ll be getting your hair blown back as you do. Opening bands Netherlands and Zvi are also out-of-town acts, coming to you from the Northeast to bring you some really bizarre and really fucking awesome sounds. In Netherlands’ case, it’s more like weird-ass post-hardcore heaviness. Meanwhile, Zvi is a solo project helmed by Ron Varod, who has also worked with Kayo Dot and is here creating some bewitching ambient atmospheres of sound. Get stoked for it.
Tuesday, October 11, 8 PM
Noelle Tannen & The Filthy No-Nos, KINGS, Vibe Riot @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes this column is made up entirely of me extolling the virtues of artists with whom I am familiar long before I ever sit down to write about them. However, at other times I don’t see any local bills on a particular night that recommend themselves sound-unheard. On those evenings, I have to sit down and listen to some new sounds, figure out what looks to be the most promising. And every once in a while, I land on something I’d never have checked out otherwise, which nonetheless becomes one of my favorite write-ups of the week. That’s how I feel about Noelle Tannen and the Filthy No-No’s, a band of swinging soul jazz performers who dish out buttery melodies and incredibly full-sounding arrangements of songs with a maximum amount of funk grit and vocal pyrotechnics. I have no idea where this band came from, but I might just want to follow them back there, because this stuff is outstanding.
Local co-headliners KINGS are more like the former sort of column experience–I already know this shit’s great, I don’t need to listen to it again. I don’t need to head over to the Jellowstone Records bandcamp and give yet another spin to fuzz-funk classics like “Perfect” and “Strange Love.” I know what I’m in for, I know it’s dope, and by now you should also know that anything fronted by genius musician and raconteur extraordinaire Kelli Strawbridge is gonna be worth your time. After all, you like Prince, right? You like Sly and The Family Stone, right? You like Cameo, right? Let Kelli play Katamari Damacy with all of those bands, sounds, and styles, roll up a big ball of funk, and drop it right on top of you this Tuesday night. It’ll do you no harm. Openers Vibe Riot are less familar to me, but by now do you even need another reason to go to this show? (Spoiler alert: no you don’t.) Make your Tuesday night the funkiest night of the week with Noelle Tannen, The Filthy No-Nos, KINGS, and Vibe Riot (who, let’s face it, have gotta rule if they even made it on this bill) at Strange Matter. Like Drake said, thank me later.
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