Friday, October 21, 6 PM
Pre-Cognitive Universe Of Emergent Desire pre-release party, feat. League Of Space Pirates, Get In The Car, Manzara @ Hardywood – Free!
In a town that is (thankfully) full of bands, League Of Space Pirates stand out. While they do function as a conventional band at times, writing songs, playing instruments, and putting out records, they also do a lot of weird stuff that nobody else in this town ever seems to consider. Their releases are a great example of this phenomenon–witness the geometrically cut vinyl of their “Search And Destroy” single, or the way the “She’s A Star” single came with a read-along book, just like those records we used to have back in kindergarten that played a chime to let you know when to turn the page.
Their latest fascinatingly unusual release is not even a recording at all–instead, League Of Space Pirates are bringing us a book! Pre-Cognitive Universe Of Emergent Desire, coming soon from Ubercorp Publishing, shares a title with the band’s 2015 debut full-length and features 13 stories set in the League Of Space Pirates universe, by authors of local repute including Andrew Blossom, Beth Brown, Dean Knight, and more! Eight of those authors will be at Hardywood this Friday night as part of the pre-release festivities, and they’ll be reading excerpts from their stories during the show. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy a copy of the book just yet, but Chop Suey will be set up to take pre-orders, and you will get a first look at the book itself.
And of course, there will be musical performances as well! League Of Space Pirates, who are known for broadcasting their live appearances over the internet from some space quadrant or another, will be making a rare terrestrial appearance, bringing Richmond a strong dose of their gothicosmic synth-tinged postpunk. Expect mid-80s Cure and Sisters Of Mercy vibes, plus some highly appropriate melodramatic cabaret touches. The show will also feature performances by darkly funky powerhouse Manzara, and by up-and-coming synth-punk band Get In The Car–who do use guitars as well, just in case you show up expecting Devo. Not that you Devo fans will be disappointed by their performance–nor really by any aspect of this multimedia extravaganza.
Wednesday, October 19, 8 PM
Henry Rollins @ The National – $20-29.50 (order tickets HERE)
I talk a lot about music in this column, and it can be easy to forget that sometimes the best live performances don’t involve music at all. Back in the very early 90s when I first became aware of Henry Rollins’ work, I used to see his spoken word albums in the store with disclaimers stamped on them that said “this is a talking record. There is no music on this album.” These days, it’s probably fair to say that talking is what Rollins people buying a Henry Rollins album would expect. The veteran frontman who spent a very intense quarter-century fronting Black Flag, the Rollins Band, and quite a few other side-projects and one-offs has been retired from music for about a decade now. But he still keeps busy! If you didn’t catch his IFC talk show, which ran for two seasons in 2006 and 2007, you may have seen him acting in Sons Of Anarchy, He Never Died, and Wrong Turn 2, among others. You might even have caught him on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The focus of Rollins’ career these days, though, is his spoken word performances. And while you can’t really ever be sure where the man will go with these shows on any given night, you can be sure that you’ll be highly entertained. While his quick wit and tendency to go for the laugh has occasionally led people to characterize him as a comedian, the truth is much more complicated. Everything from dark stories of bad old times to well-thought-out political rants has found its way into Rollins’ performances, and he could hit any or all of these emotional points over the course of an evening. And while he won’t have an opening act on this night, don’t worry–the man will still give you your money’s worth. Rollins typically speaks for three hours, and as someone who has seen him speak twice, I can tell you right now you’ll still be left wanting more. The ticket price is vague enough that I’m not sure whether you’ll be paying closer to $20 or $30 to get into the National, but whatever the cost is, dig deep and pay it. You really don’t want to miss this.
Thursday, October 20, 7 PM
DiCaprio, Sports Bra, Generic @ Gallery 5 – $6
Super-chill nights at Gallery 5 are always fun, and this three-band show is primed to be yet another one of those fun chill nights, complete with plenty of great music. Plus you’ll still get to bed at a relatively reasonable hour so you can make it to work Friday morning! DiCaprio are your headliners for this night of rad tunes; you can only hear two tunes from their forthcoming LP I Went To The Mall And I Got Sick (how’s that for a crucial title?) online right now, but the way said songs mix the droning jangle of Parquet Courts with the neurotic intensity of So Stressed and the postpunk clatter of early Liars indicates that this band has plenty more awesomeness in store for us than those mere four minutes would indicate. Prepare yourself.
Sports Bra being on this show is also fun, since now that I’m not in that band anymore, I can tell you all about them without seeming biased! Whatever, they’re still my friends and they still play songs I helped write so I’m always biased, but that doesn’t mean Sports Bra aren’t legitimately good. Their fun-loving garage-pop bounce is undercut by their snarky lyrics about game-playing boys and the damaging effects of the patriarchy (and sometimes even darker subjects). This band has a lot of energy and a lot of important feelings to express, and they’re absolutely worth your time. The same is true of Generic, although Generic chooses a very different avenue through which to express themselves–that of instrumental, metallic jazz. This quartet moves through fusion, free jazz, and math-rock to create a sound that is unique, memorable, and absolutely NOT generic. Get there on time, because you’ll want to catch all of these bands.
Friday, October 21, 8 PM
Total Chaos, One Way System, The Unabombers, Never Wrong, Rotten Squad, Charged Minds @ 25 Watt – $12
Wow, dudes, I’m pretty sure my more punk-inclined friends all spiked up their hair and headed down to a show with almost this same lineup back in 1997 or so. Even if I’m remembering wrong, they sure could have! Total Chaos were kinda the kings of that whole scene at the time, having recently moved from the harder, more metallic sounds of their first few records into a more melodic, anthemic approach that was highlighted on 1996’s Anthems From The Alleyway. There was still plenty of that punk rock spit n’ snarl, and the mohawks were higher than ever, but the Clash-derived melodies that entered into the band’s sound at that point made them more memorable than ever. Two decades later, singer Rob Chaos may be the only member of the band left from those early lineups, but he and his most recent recruits are still going strong, cranking out the punk anthems with energy and commitment. That’s a noteworthy achievement, one worthy of enjoying in person!
What’s more, Total Chaos will have One Way System along with them on this jaunt. And if you think Total Chaos’s history goes back a fair bit, One Way System will really blow your mind. This first-wave UK punk band has been kicking in heads since 1979, and their brand of anthemic punk is rougher and more street level but still just as catchy as that of Total Chaos. If you dig your punk rock with plenty of rage and as few frills as possible, you’ll definitely need to dig out your studded leather jacket for this show. What’s more, the VA-based openers include The Unabombers, who’ve been going strong in the Norfolk area since the early 90s and are still managing to kick a fair bit of ass! With Never Wrong, Rotten Squad, and Charged Minds rounding out this embarrassment of punk rock riches, you’re in for a full evening of circle-pit madness. Dive in!
Saturday, October 22, 5 PM
Dave Watkins, Gull, Super Yamba Band, Black Masala @ Hardywood – Free!
Count on Hardywood to hook us up with awesome free shows. This weekend we’re lucky enough to get two in two days, and that’s just outstanding. This show is apparently being thrown mainly in celebration of some sort of beer, which makes sense since it’s at a brewery and all. Longtime readers will be aware that such things mean nothing to me, and that if I’m headed down to Hardywood this Saturday, it’ll be for the music. But whether you, the reader, care about.. um, “Hardywood Cassowary… in 750 mL bottles” or not, you’ll get some rad sounds pumped into your ears while you’re down there, and that’s what’s important. Well, if you ask me it is.
Dave Watkins–what can be said about this man? He plays all sorts of instruments and creates all sorts of sounds with them. He’s a producer and a bandleader (Colloquial Orchestra), and as a solo artist his creativity knows no bounds. Word from the Watkins camp is that this particular set will feature electronic percussion and will have a “doom-funk party” vibe, influenced by hip hop and R&B sounds. Seems promising to me! Plus, Gull is on the bill, and whenever this fiercely creative and highly motivated one-man band is out on the prowl, music is getting reshaped into mutant structures the like of which have never been seen before. It’s worth it for sure. With sounds from the supremely funky NYC afrobeat crew Super Yamba Band and DC-based funky-punky brass band Black Masala also contributing to the overall vibe, you can expect a widely varied but always danceable early evening of rad tunes.
Sunday, October 23, 7 PM
Satan, Cauldron, BAT, Humungus @ The Broadberry – $12 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Y’all, there is just something so delightful about a metal band that call themselves Satan. I mean, talk about getting right to the point! It’s like, “yes, we’re here to be evil as fuck and play blazing solos, what of it?” Of course, a name like that wouldn’t have gone unclaimed for long, and sure enough, this UK metal band put out their first LP back in 1983. That record, Court In The Act, kicked off a legacy of squealing guitar leads and incredible soaring vocal notes that carries on to this day. The band took most of the 90s and 00s off, and even released a couple of LPs with different lineups under the names Blind Fury and Pariah at one point, but eventually they realized what a good thing they had with their original name, and returned to action in 2010 or thereabouts, since releasing two more ripping albums under their original name and featuring first-LP vocalist Brian Ross. Good for them.
So in light of all that, you should definitely come defile the Lord’s Day with these New Wave Of British Heavy Metal torchbearers Sunday night at The Broadberry! Plus, you’ll get so much more amazing metal as part of the bargain, it’ll be a steal even at twice the price! Canadian metallers Cauldron, who suffered one of the most awful setbacks a touring band can ever experience earlier this year when they had a van accident mid-tour, are back in action and will hit town with some rad thrash power. They’ll be joined on the bill by thrash supergroup BAT (who RVA metalheads are sure to know all about by now) and local stalwarts Humungus, who will crush heads with the sort of metal fury that’ll get the whole venue fired up. Limber up your necks, everyone, because this is going to be a night of major headbanging.
Monday, October 24, 7 PM
Jeff Rosenstock, Hard Girls, Katie Ellen @ Strange Matter – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Well goddamn, y’all. I’m used to thinking of Jeff Rosenstock as the Bomb The Music Industry guy, the guy who invented running a record label on a donation basis and did so while churning out kinda-cheesy drum-machine-powered ska-punk. I respected the hell out of him, I was impressed by his witty, verbose lyrics, and I even saw him play a couple times when he was in town with other bands I dug. But I could never actually get into his music. Having said all that, his latest LP, Worry, which just came out last week, takes things to a new level, introducing an almost Springsteen-ish grandeur into his extremely well written punk-influenced pop music, and definitely pushing away all the weird touches that used to make me think his music was kinda annoying. I know this dude’s done a million things and been in the scene for decades, but I think Jeff Rosenstock may finally have really arrived. I think the time has come to go to a Jeff Rosenstock show regardless of who else is on the bill. He really has become impossible to miss.
And what’s funny is that, after I’ve put all that out there, there are a couple of really great other artists on the bill–artists that are totally worth catching all by themselves, again regardless of who else is on the bill! Hard Girls may be one of those bands full of men that make themselves sound like women in their band name, and I may be tired as hell of that particular trope, but in light of just how much enjoyment and emotional catharsis I’ve derived from their albums, 2012’s Isn’t It Worse and 2014’s A Thousand Surfaces, I would be a total bitch if I didn’t just let that go for once and admit that this band is fucking great no matter what their name is. Another band you absolutely should not miss. (Think about if they were called “Hard Boys”, though. That name sounds so queer, I fucking love it.) And let me spare a sentence or two here for Katie Ellen, which is not a waif-like female solo artist carrying an acoustic guitar and pretending her middle name is her last name in order to keep her last name off Facebook. No, Katie Ellen is a new band featuring half of the members of the gone-too-soon melodic punk band Chumped. They’re picking up where that band left off if the two songs on their bandcamp page are any indication, and I for one am stoked as hell for a full set. Oh wow, too many words, I’m shutting up now. Go to this show.
Tuesday, October 25, 8 PM
Atlas Bloom, The Great Heights Band, Venus Guytrap, Isaac Friend & Father Figure @ Strange Matter – $8
I didn’t know anything about Atlas Bloom until someone invited me to this show on facebook, but I was very pleasantly surprised by their Walls EP, which has been out for a year or so and showcases some really solid technical chops. Those chops wouldn’t mean too much if they weren’t being put to use crafting such excellent alternative rock songs as can be found on Walls, though. The title track is the big standout, and the chorus has already gotten stuck in my head a time or two, but the whole thing has subtle charms that are sure to grow on you. On top of all that, drummer Andrew Funcheon is the lead vocalist, and I just get a big kick out of singing drummers. It’s gonna be cool to catch these guys.
I know a fair bit less about The Great Heights Band, a Baltimore ensemble who are also featured on this lineup, but from what I’ve heard on YouTube, it sounds like they’ve got some real catchy tunes up their sleeve. Maybe this comparison doesn’t make much sense, but I kinda hear a mix of Weezer and first-LP Panic At The Disco? Whatever, I dig it. I also dig Venus Guytrap, who’ve made themselves a mainstay on the local scene over the past couple years, and for good reason. Their rocking tuneage and always-powerful vocal sound are sure to liven up any bill. Isaac Friend & Father Figure kick this jam off, and while I haven’t heard them yet, I know a couple of the members and they’re talented musicians and swell guys, so I have high hopes!
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows: firstname.lastname@example.org
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