Wednesday, November 16, 8 PM
Samiam, Park Sparrows, Sea Of Storms @ Strange Matter – $18 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Two weeks in a row in which the featured show is happening the day the column goes up?” But look–sometimes local promoters book the most important show of a week on a Wednesday and there just ain’t a damn thing anyone can do about it. All I can say to you right now is that I hope you didn’t have any important plans for tonight, because you’re breaking them and going to see Samiam at Strange Matter.
Could it be that you do not know Samiam and their incredible music? Sure, I think it could be. After all, while they pretty much pioneered the whole “one foot in pop-punk, one foot in emo” approach that led to the eventual development of the entire modern emo scene, it seems to me that as they’ve gotten older and the time between albums has gotten farther and farther apart, the younger generation has maybe missed the memo. All of that could be remedied with one YouTube search, though–type in “Samiam Clumsy full album” and wait for the amazingness to roll in. Their 1994 major label debut still stands as the absolute pinnacle of their career, which is really saying something in light of the other classics in their discography (Soar, Astray, Whatever’s Got You Down… I could go on).
As I said before, Samiam are quite a bit less active these days than they once were–only fair for a band whose original members are pushing 50. They’ve only released two albums since 2000, and the last one to appear was 2011’s Trips. So could this sudden return to touring mean that a new record is once again on the way? That’d be cool, but even if not, it seems likely that excellent early Samiam tunes like “Dull,” “Bad Day,” or “Someone’s Gotta Lose” could make appearances on the set list–and that’s a good enough reason right there to show up at Strange Matter tonight and catch their set. With Park Sparrows and Sea Of Storms, perhaps the two currently active Richmond bands most worthy of carrying on Samiam’s legacy, in the opening slots for this show, it’s sure to be outstanding from beginning to end. Get there.
Wednesday, November 16, 7 PM
DIIV, Moon King, Lucy In Battle Armor @ Capital Ale House – $20 (order tickets HERE)
It’s not often that I see a full-on rock show happening at Capital Ale House, but with one this cool, I can’t possibly go without recommending it to you. DIIV hail from NYC, have been around for six or so years, and have managed to put out a couple of excellent albums as well as some really rad early EPs during that time. Unfortunately, singer/guitarist Zachary Cole Smith is probably most famous for getting busted for drugs while in the company of singer/model Sky Ferreira. Oops. I have no idea if Cole and Sky are still dating, or if so, what sort of drugs they are or are not dabbling in now (what do I look like, TMZ?). What I do know is that DIIV’s second album, Is The Is Are, is one of the better shoegaze/dream pop-influenced records I’ve heard so far this year. And isn’t the music what it’s really all about?
If you go back to the early singles, when they still spelled their name “Dive” and still broke out distortion pedals on the regular, you can see a pretty significant Nirvana influence in the DIIV sound. That’s not very accurate anymore, though, and it’s for the better. These days, DIIV layers delicately plucked single-note leads overtop of cleanly strummed rhythm guitars and bouncy drums, for an effect that sort of reminds me of Orange Juice crossed with The Chameleons. OK yes those are pretty obscure references. The Smiths and The Cure might be more easily accessible ones, though I’m not sure they’re quite as accurate. Whatever though, y’all, this band has a taut yet delicate sound that is sweet and chiming and very much worth your time. They make this entire bill worth checking out–and if you like burgers and beer, hey, you’re even closer to being in the perfect place. Toronto dream-pop geniuses Moon King and locals Lucy In Battle Armor have cool names and will make the opening hours of this concert just as cool. Dig it.
Thursday, November 17, 8 PM
Black Mass, All Hell, Waiting Mortuary, Narrow Grave, Voarm @ 25 Watt – $10
What are they doing to me, y’all? I mean, come on, as IF I could get through this week’s column without writing about a show featuring bands called Black Mass and All Hell. You veteran readers know what a losing battle that is. Boston’s Black Mass lives up to the awesome promise of their name by blasting through some seriously ripping thrash mania on their most recent album, Ancient Scriptures. I definitely hear some of the same influences Municipal Waste picked up from the 80s thrash boom showing through on this album, but these guys aren’t just playing crossover–they are full-on metal, with all the tendencies towards epic solos and gloomy, ominous melodies that that would indicate.
And what about All Hell? A band who appears to have named themselves after the Samhain rerecording of a classic Misfits track and therefore have found the path straight to my heart. Their gnarly, throat-shredding vocals are reminiscent of classic demonic screamers like Mike Apocalypse of Gehenna or Young And In The Way’s Kable Lyall. Musically, this band has some early black metal vibes, though when I say that I’m talking about influences that could just as easily have been pulled from the rawest thrash. Basically, if you think Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales and Sodom’s Persecution Mania are outstanding albums, you wanna catch All Hell when they come through. Local metal ragers Waiting Mortuary and Voarm, along with DC’s Narrow Grave, will have some vicious sounds of their own for your eardrum-shattering pleasure. This will be dope.
Friday, November 18, 7 PM
Mash Notes benefit feat. Get In The Car, Antiphons, Various Eggs, Julie Storey @ Gallery 5 – $5
Mash Notes is a really cool idea that local scene luminary Paul Ivey (of WRIR’s Time Is Tight radio show) and Brian Dove (who you will know from Antiphons, Young Scum, and Big Baby, among other projects) have been pulling together for a while now–and I for one am really excited to see it come to fruition. It’s an album featuring currently active Richmond artists covering songs from all eras of this town’s rich musical history. Some of your favorite current bands will be involved, and plenty of great songs that also come from right here in town are sure to be brought to your attention. It’s a great project with which to spotlight how deep and wide this town’s overall body of work truly is.
Friday night at Gallery 5, a bunch of local bands will come together to put on a show, the proceeds of which will help pay for Mash Notes vol. 1 to be pressed on vinyl. That right there is reason enough to go–after all, you’re gonna want a copy for yourself when it comes out, so helping to make that happen ASAP is a real no-brainer. But then there’s the killer lineup that will greet you at this show. Get In The Car’s Devo-influenced postpunk is a ton of spastic, high-energy fun. Antiphons showcases Brian Dove’s way with killer melodies and memorable choruses. Various Eggs are one of the more unique and hypnotic bands on the local scene these days, with a vibe that I can only describe as “Lloyd Cole meets Nick Cave.” And Julie Storey’s solo set last spring on a basement show one of my bands also played showed me a whole other side to Doll Baby’s intense, passionate sound–specifically, a more emotionally exposed feel that deepened the already-emotional experience of listening to this band. All of these sets would be amazing and worth your time even if your door price was only going to buy the bands lunch (a worthy goal, to be sure). With Mash Notes involved to sweeten the pot, though, I really don’t see how you can justify staying away.
Saturday, November 19, 8 PM
Ulcerate, Zhrine, Phobocosm @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
One metal show per column is generally not enough for me, and it’s definitely not enough in a week that sees Ulcerate following up the Black Mass/All Hell show by a mere 48 hours. Do you like your death metal complex, technical, lightning-fast and heavy as fuck? I mean, I would certainly hope so, because that’s some of the coolest shit out there. “Some of the coolest shit out there” is a fair description for the new Ulcerate album as well. Shrines Of Paralysis has only been out for a couple of weeks, but it’s devastating power and suffocating atmosphere is taking the metal world by storm–or at least, it should be. I hear elements of Nile, Emperor, and Decapitated all at work within this album’s overwhelming sonic intensity. Listening to it is a massive, mind-blowing experience.
Considering the fact that Ulcerate will be in town all the way from New Zealand–literally the farthest place from Richmond in the world–their presence at the top of this bill seems more than enough reason to come out. But there are two other metal bands from foreign countries playing as well, and that should only sweeten the pot even more. Zhrine come to us from Iceland, bringing some definite Scandinavian flavor in their dense, brutal black metal sound. Perhaps by virtue of the fact that they didn’t have to leave their home continent to get here, Canadians Phobocosm will open things up with even more massive walls of sonic brutality. This show might be a little too much for the faint of heart, but come on… get your hair blown back by some of the heaviest metal in the entire world! Live a little.
Sunday, November 20, 7 PM
Big Bliss, California Death, Young Scum @ Gallery 5 – $6
Gorgeous postpunk/indie-pop brilliance lies in wait for all those who venture down to Gallery 5 this Sunday night–and all who enter its doors this night will be smothered in glittery pillows of glowing guitars and gorgeously sung choruses. Big Bliss aren’t quite as delicate and ethereal as the aforementioned DIIV–this trio doesn’t seem that averse to overdrive, for example–but their most recent EP, Keep Near, is loaded with pop classics that immediately get stuck in your head and refuse to let go. The chiming guitar leads remind me of the best bands on Sarah and Slumberland Records 20 years ago, and the nervous energy that fuels Big Bliss’s tunes harks back to the best of the C86 bands (Anglophile pop nerds are all perking up their ears).
Know what else is cool? The two excellent Richmond bands who will open this show for Big Bliss have a similarly engaging and enjoyable sound. California Death combines chiming guitars, pleasing vocals, and humming synth textures in a manner that reminds me of underrated 90s indie vets The Ocean Blue. And I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, because both The Ocean Blue and California Death are highly deserving of your attention. Young Scum have quickly become one of the tried-and-true workhorses of the local indie pop scene, and it’s no wonder–their facility with excellently constructed tunes just becomes clearer and clearer with each new release. Zona, the EP they dropped on Citrus City Records this summer, is the most definitive evidence of their brilliance, but you’re sure to get the idea when you see them live. And when they’re just getting the ball rolling for an entire night of blissful sounds (no pun intended), well… how can you pass it up? You can’t! Or at least… you shouldn’t.
Monday, November 21, 8 PM
Electric Citizen, Horisont, Book Of Wyrms, Red Feather @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s a total fuzz odyssey Monday night at Strange Matter, and if heavy guitars and riffs for days are your bag, you owe it to yourself to be there. Electric Citizen have neatly sidestepped all the doom-metal half(-speed)-steppin’ that has become a standard trope of the mid-2010’s metal scene, in favor of straight up hard-rockin’, high-rollin’ biker metal jams. When your tunes simultaneously make me think of Kyuss’s Blues For The Red Sun and the unjustly forgotten sounds of first-wave metal bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, Atomic Rooster, and The Damnation of Adam Blessing, you’re definitely doing something right. Electric Citizen’s frontwoman, Laura Dolan, is definitely tapping into something outstanding with her vocals, too–she’s hitting the sort of notes that many male singers from the 70s strained hard to hit, which manage to land right in the sweet spot of her vocal range. Maybe women should have been singing for metal bands all along.
Sweden’s Horisont are willing to show that men still have something to contribute to the world of awesomely retro metal, though–their excellent combination of psychedelic vibes and hard-rock groovin’ comes through loud and clear on “Electrical,” the first single from forthcoming LP About Time. There are some really intense vocal high notes on this record, that’s for sure. But of course, Book Of Wyrms’ Sarah Moore Lindsey scores one for the ladies with her excellent set of pipes to be showcased as this RVA band gets this show rolling. Enough of all the weird “battle of the sexes” undertones to this writeup though, am I right? Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone inbetween or outside of those categories can come together and bang their heads under one roof this Monday night at Strange Matter. And if you’ve got a black leather catsuit you can wear to the gig, so much the better.
Tuesday, November 22, 7 PM
ASAP Ferg, Playboi Carti, Rob Stone @ The National – $25.50 in advance/$30.50 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I admit it–I tend to go for rap that’s complex, multi-layered, and full of intricate lyrical skills and intriguing metaphors. But I’m as aware as anyone else that sometimes, the body just has a primal need to move. ASAP Ferg is the sort of rapper whose music I reach for when I’m in more of a “going off in the club” mood. Recent tunes like “New Level” and “Back Hurt” show that Ferg is on point with the guest appearances (Future, Migos) and that he’s got the kind of pounding beats and energetic flow to make it impossible to stand still while you’re listening. You’ll definitely feel like throwing a few drinks across the room at some point during this set–but don’t actually do that crazy shit, you’ll get kicked out of the show. Playboi Carti and Rob Stone opening this thing up just mean that it’s gonna be an even more intense night of hip hop that’s fierce, intense, and hard as fuck. Get into it.
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