Wednesday, November 9, 7:30 PM
Tegan & Sara, Torres @ The National – $24.50 in advance/$28 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Wow, um, uh… hi. Good morning. Anyone wanna talk politics? ME NEITHER! I don’t wanna talk politics at all but I do want to say that if you’re a member of the local LGBTQ community and you’re as concerned for your personal future as I am for mine, we are all in a tiny bit of luck. Tegan And Sara are in town tonight, and I know a lot of people at that show are gonna be just as freaked out and in need of community as you are. Tegan and Sara Quin, of course, are a pair of identical twins who also happen to be openly gay, and who write beautiful songs full of heartfelt emotion about what it means to be a young queer woman in the world today, and about trying to navigate personal relationships in that context. I’m sure I’m far from alone as a queer woman in saying that quite a few of their songs have meant the world to me.
Tegan And Sara released their eighth album, Love You To Death, earlier this year, and it follows in the footsteps of their previous release, Heartthrob, by continuing to explore the deliciously melodic electro-pop that album and its popular lead single, “Closer,” delved into. While I’m sure some of their fans gravitate more towards their early folk-pop or mid-period emo-influenced alt-rock (my favorite of their stuff, which can’t be THAT big a surprise…), their most recent work has retained the persistently high quality common to all of their records. Love You To Death‘s killer first single, “Boyfriend,” is a classic melodic dance tune with an incredible chorus and some extremely relatable lyrics. This song and all the other great tunes from their catalog are sure to move you and make you smile, regardless of what a shit day we all woke up to.
And hey, I can’t get out of here without mentioning opener Torres, whom I’d be hyping to the skies even if she came through town by herself. Mackenzie Scott and her backing band have a whole pile of hypnotic, deeply moving, and oh-so-brilliant tunes to dip into, and they’ll take you to a whole different space inside your mind, so definitely show up on time to this one. Because for real, y’all–Tegan and Sara may be Canadian, but they’ve always been very vocal LGBTQ activists, and I know they are just as bummed about this whole horror show as you are. Just for one night, maybe music can help us all to feel better. God knows we need it.
Wednesday, November 9, 8 PM
Ted Leo, Outer Spaces, Sundials, DJ Marty Violence @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Of course, even if you don’t go catch Tegan And Sara at the National, there are a lot of other things you can be doing tonight that look cool as fuck (god, Andrew WK is even speaking at Capital Ale House… I’d welcome any party tips the man has to offer right now). If you ask me, though, I can’t pass up the opportunity to point you towards Ted Leo, who is doing a solo set tonight at Strange Matter. If you don’t know Leo from his decade and a half or so fronting The Pharmacists, his constantly-shifting, always-brilliant backing band, and their eight excellent albums of energetic Clash-influenced indie rock, then it might surprise you to know that the man has also been an essential member of rad punk and hardcore bands going back to the late 80s (Citizen’s Arrest, Hell No, Puzzlehead). He’s even released an album as one half of The Both, an all-star collaboration with Aimee Mann.
So what’s Ted got going on tonight? I’m not really sure! It’s been a minute since the last Pharmacists record, and while he did recently do a song for Kickstarter’s Election Issues campaign, “In the Mean Times,” I’m sure no one wants to dwell on that too much right now. One thing I think we can all count on, though, is that the man will bust out a guitar and a shitload of amazing tunes, and he’ll try at least for a little while to chase all our blues away. The next four years may suck, but this night will be good. It’ll especially be good because there are some killer openers on this bill as well–Outer Spaces, the latest project from my personal songwriting hero Cara Beth Satalino, being the most important. Their spring LP A Shedding Snake is killer from front to back, and they’re excellent live, so this will be a special bonus treat. And hey, you may be used to thinking of Sundials as local, but with frontman Harris Mendell making his home in New England these days, a set from this quartet constitutes a rare treat that we should all be stoked about! Former Pharmacist and current Steady Sounds mainstay Marty Key, aka DJ Marty Violence, will get the party started by spinning some rad jams.
Thursday, November 10, 8 PM
Drive By Truckers, Kyle Craft @ The National – $23 in advance/$28 at the door (order tickets HERE)
You know what’s great? The Drive-By Truckers are not only coming to Richmond but will be taking up residence at The National for a two-night stand, which means you can pick which night works best for you–or just go to both! Personally, I’m advocating beating the rush and taking them in on Thursday night, when there isn’t as much competition for your music-supporting dollars and attention. God knows they won’t make you regret it–this band’s done 11 albums over the past 20 or so years, and lead singer-songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have been cranking out great songs by the bucketload that whole time. The latest Truckers album, American Band, is probably the best thing they’ve done in years–and of course, in talking about it, I can’t fail to throw politics in once again, because this is an album of explicit protest songs, with lyrics speaking in support of Black Lives Matter and condemning stand-your-ground legislation (amongst many other topics). These guys have spent their whole career working to prove that white Southerners aren’t all racist assholes, and god knows I relate to that.
So yeah, the Drive-By Truckers speak to me with their music, and I’m sure they speak for a lot of us here in Richmond VA, where we have to drive by statues erected to commemorate white men who fought for slavery long ago. Where those of us who are white have to reckon every day with the institutional racism we’ve been complicit in, and the million racist thoughts and beliefs we were raised with and have to fight inside ourselves every day. It’s tough to try and take sincere stands against racism with all that baggage kicking around every day, but to see a band full of white dudes not only continue to give it their best shot but come out with the most explicitly political music of their career is heartening, especially in a time like this. And of course, the tunes are amazing–memorable and passionate and indicative of a million different influences while ultimately being some of the most clearly defined and well-played country/rock influenced shit you can find right now. This is a band that’s definitely worth your time.
Friday, November 11, 7 PM
Haybaby, Polyon, Hot Reader, Doll Baby @ Gallery 5 – $6 in advance/$8 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Jeez… will I find a way to avoid politics for this writeup at least? Let’s give it a shot. After all, Haybaby aren’t really that type of band anyway. Hailing from Brooklyn, they play pop music with a layered sound that has more depth than a lot of other bands who could be lumped into that category. There’s definitely a post-hardcore vibe happening within their sound, and some real darkness deep down. Their 2015 LP Sleepy Kids had an unforgettable energetic bounce that contrasted nicely with the ominous rumbling elements of their music, and the new material they’ve dropped on Bandcamp since then only further proves that they’ve got a great sound with a lot of potential to go even further. I’m sure the live show is just that much more of a thrill–Friday night’s a good time to find out!
Polyon are pretty amazing too. Splitting their membership between RVA and DC and featuring a dark groove reminiscent of 90s post-hardcore bands like Hum and Quicksand, this band livens things up with the use of a bank of keyboards in lieu of bass, and by doing the occasional Deftones cover (which fits into their sound surprisingly well). They’ll rock ya for sure, so get stoked! Hot Reader have a pretty bizarre pedigree (members of Pissing Contest, Clusterfunk, and MC Chicken?!?) but should therefore give us an interesting take on the psych sound that brings them together. Doll Baby opens up with an assured and unforgettable sound driven by the amazing voice and lyrics of frontwoman Julie Storey. If you haven’t caught this band yet, do yourself a favor and get to Gallery 5 this Friday night. Then stick around for a ton of amazing sounds–and for a really reasonable price!
Saturday, November 12, 9 PM
Fuck You Pay Me, Asylum, Nosebleed, Sinister Purpose, Lion’s Cage @ Strange Matter – $7
Aaaahhhh oh my god, y’all. Erba’s back in town! Batten the hatches! Those of you who haven’t been following the underground world of super-fast hardcore punk over the past 20-25 years might be like “what is she talking about right now?” but anyone who knows what’s up only needs to hear that legendary Cleveland hardcore king Tony Erba is coming to RVA and they’re already lining up for the gig. Those of you who are still puzzled could do a lot worse than hunting down any records you can find by H-100s, Face Value, 9 Shocks Terror, the Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, Cheap Tragedies, and probably a whole bunch more that I’m forgetting right now. Whether Erba’s on bass or up front with a mic in his hand, the rage, energy, and incredible riffage is nonstop. Fuck You Pay Me is just the latest example of Erba’s genius, and in this group, he’s fronting a band full of hot-shit young men fired up and ready to take no prisoners. Come get your head ripped off by a living legend of hardcore–you’ll be telling your grandkids about it someday.
There are so many other rad bands on this bill as well. In fact, I think local rippers Asylum might actually be our headliner here, but I just had to expend a paragraph on the genius of Tony Erba so forgive me my liberties with running order. Anyway, Asylum’s got a slightly crustier, more UK-influenced sound, as opposed to the hyper-revved rock n’ roll of Fuck You Pay Me, but both bands are full of rage and energy, and both of them are gonna make it impossible for you to stand still while they’re playing. Nosebleed’s a real up-and-comer as well, bringing an estrogenated kick to the world of tough, mean, northeast-style hardcore from right here in RVA. Opening sets are from Sinister Purpose and Lion’s Cage, both of whom are too new for me to have caught live yet, but are surely going to be a great way to kick off this double-stacked bill. Get hype!
Sunday, November 13, 9:30 PM
Peace Beast, Pete Curry, Hot Reader, We Never @ Strange Matter – $5
This was gonna be a Natural Child show, but apparently that band of long-haired Southern psych reprobates had to pull the plug on their tour, so sadly we will not get to experience their particular brand of rollicking riff mania this weekend. Instead, though, Strange Matter is bringing us a stacked bill full of local talent, and you can expect to hear some of the best sounds the local scene has to offer in a variety of genres. Peace Beast are still going strong with their hazy alt-psych rock grooves, and their recent three-piece lineup is just as fun as the quartet of previous glory days. They’ll make a more than capable headliner for this all-RVA bill.
Meanwhile, Pete Curry’s got a brand new album out as of last month called Night Magic, and it sounds like he’s moving in an 80s coldwave direction, while still of course retaining the playful spirit that drove his earlier work. Hot Reader make their second appearance in three nights within this column–see above if you missed them the first time. We Never, the live incarnation of which features members of New Turks and Young Adult Fiction backing bedroom-pop genius Carter Burton, will kick things off right. Who says every show needs a touring band to make it rad? Not me, that’s for sure.
Monday, November 14, 8 PM
Anicon, Wayfarer, Prisoner, Unsacred @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
What’s that you say? A night of rampaging black metal madness at Strange Matter? Don’t mind if I do! This bill features a double-shot of US black metal bands traveling from faraway locales to bowl us over with tortured screams and tremolo picking aplenty. NYC’s Anicon have a bit of an old-school vibe, with much more of a “you are there in the room” studio sound that on record at least brings me back to the early works by legends like Bathory and Celtic Frost. These guys are sure to be sheer brutality in a live setting. Colorado’s Wayfarer have a more modern vibe, tearing shit up in a manner that seems equal parts classic Scandinavian fire (think Emperor or early Enslaved) and modern USBM a la Wolves in The Throne Room or early Liturgy. I’m expecting more of a burning-devastation vibe from these guys. Either way, I’m stoked for it.
There will be plenty more darkness on offer from the local bands rounding out this bill. Unsacred’s name is at the bottom of this list, but that’s only because hey, SOMEone has to open the night, right? What better way to get things warmed up than a fiery blast from the band that brought you 2014 highlight False Light? Prisoner is less of a straight-up black metal band than the other three bands on this bill, but you don’t have to worry about a thing, because they are are as dark and heavy as you could ever ask them to be, and their downtuned biker-crust vibe is sure to get you banging your head. Plus I’m pretty sure they’ll be taking the next couple months off from shows, so catch them now while you can!
Tuesday, November 15, 6 PM
Get In The Car video premiere party/local music video screening @ Strange Matter – Free!
This is not, strictly speaking, a live music event. Get In The Car, a rad local band who’ve started only recently but have made a mark on the scene in a big way with their driving and weirdly Devo-influenced math-punk, will not actually be performing live at this event. Instead, they are merely premiering their first video as part of a two-hour event at Strange Matter dedicated to videos by local artists. It’s easy to think that since MTV quit airing music videos years and years ago that videos don’t have any validity anymore. On the other hand, bands are more capable of making videos these days than ever, with the advent of cheap cameras and computer editing technology, plus easy-to-use video-share sites like YouTube.
But there is an element of all this that gets lost–the community vibe of everyone connecting to bands for the first time through their videos. That’s what Get In The Car and Strange Matter are seeking to recapture with this evening. Head over to Smatter early Tuesday evening, grab a half-price burger, and settle in to catch two hours of videos by somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen local Richmond bands, of all stripes (I’m even in one of them, but you won’t see me in the video, so good luck guessing). Everything from Avers to Tim Barry, from Windhand to Heartracer, from Nickelus F to Shadow Age, will get an airing. It’s gonna be an evening of must-see viewing. Plus, if you can’t get through the night without some amount of live music, never fear–RVA’s own Ashes, The Smirks, and Doctor Collins, along with touring acts Dronebaby and Drew Taylor, will be playing a show starting at 8 PM. Bring 5 extra bucks, pay the cover once the videos are over, and hang out all night! It’ll be rad for six solid hours. Who can complain about that?
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows: email@example.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