Friday, November 25, 8 PM
People’s Blues Of Richmond, No BS! Brass Band, Big Mama Shakes @ The National – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Thanksgiving is a weird holiday, y’all. On the surface, it seems pretty great. Get together with people you love, eat a big meal, maybe watch some football! What’s not to like? And yet, not only does the holiday have a gross colonialist/genocidal connotation, it’s also really difficult for a lot of people out there who don’t have a place to go for a meal, or anyone to celebrate with (before I go any farther–if this is you, 7 Hills Brewing is doing a free Thanksgiving meal from 11 AM til 2 PM on Thursday. Go eat and maybe make some friends). Thankfully, despite there being literally zero shows happening in this town that night (what’s up with THAT, amirite?), there’s a pretty outstanding party happening the night after Thanksgiving over at The National. In fact, it’s probably the most “RVA” post-Thanksgiving celebration you could possibly be part of.I say that because your dual headliners, People’s Blues Of Richmond and No BS! Brass Band, are two of the most quintessentially RVA bands around. PBR (whose initials also being the initials of this town’s favorite cheap beer is no coincidence) have been local mainstays for years now. And while I’m sure it’s easy to expect a band of young men who grew up on modern rock n’ roll to blow it when they attempt to carry the century-plus legacy of the blues genre, I’m here to tell you that these guys consistently deliver on their band name’s promise. Their third album, Quit Or Die, came out this past summer, and features plenty of dark yet uplifiting tunes about addiction, betrayal, and instrument damage. This trio does a great job of simultaneously channeling John Lee Hooker at his heaviest and the Black Keys at their rawest early peak, while honestly and relatably recounting the struggles of life in the 21st century–which we all know is a difficult thing even at the best of times (which these are decidedly not).
No BS! Brass Band, meanwhile, have been spreading the gospel of RVA greatness for closing in on a decade now, most notably with their excellent album from a few years back, RVA All Day. Of course, any dozen-or-so-member brass band is gonna owe a great debt to classic New Orleans second-line jazz sounds, but these guys bring in everything from hip hop and funk to metal and punk rock, somehow making all of it work together as a smooth and brilliant whole. They’ll get you groovin’ like crazy, too. Not to mention the fact that they’ll surely throw in at least one or two offbeat covers of Led Zeppelin, Rush, Agent Orange, or one of the many other groups they’ve reinterpreted over the years. With Big Mama Shakes and their catchy Southern-fried alt-rock opening up the night, this is gonna be an evening full of great sounds in all sorts of different flavors, all united by one common factor: Richmond, VA. So come back to town early, or make an excuse to duck out of the parents’ place, whatever you’ve gotta do–as long as you’re there.
Wednesday, November 23, 8 PM
A Cosmonaut Collaboration, feat. D’janglir, The Talkies, Onomatopoeia, John Luter and D’Co @ Strange Matter – $7
I have a feeling a lot of people will be traveling tonight, but for those of you who are staying in town (or those of you who are just rolling in for the weekend and somehow still know about this column), I have a pretty excellently weird tip for you. Cosmonaut Collaborations is apparently a brand new show-booking concern here in town, and they’re shooting for varied bills full of intriguing and unusual sounds. The bill they’re presenting tonight at Strange Matter is certainly unusual, but my ears definitely perked up at the sounds of the bands on it, so I certainly think it’s worth your time.
What sort of music will you encounter at this event? Well, all sorts. The Talkies are the band out of this crew I’m already familiar with. They’ve got an effervescent sound that might be called shoegaze but is probably more accurately termed indie rock–like, in the early 90s sense of the term, back before the whole genre got so mannered and polite that everyone shortened it to “indie.” These guys still know how to use a distortion pedal. So do D’Janglir, though they employ it to far different ends–specifically cranking out some dirty rock n’ roll riffage that’ll get your head nodding. Onomatopoeia is the spaciest sound on this bill, featuring a bunch of synthesizers brought together to create psychedelic bedroom pop. John Luter & D’Co will start things out with some fine hip hop sounds, kicking the evening off in memorable fashion. You might not equally dig everything on this bill, but you’re sure to find something that’s on your wavelength, and the spirit of musical adventure with which this gig was booked is definitely admirable. Give it a shot!
Friday, November 25, 8 PM
Sixth Annual Thanksgathering, feat. 1NF1N1T8, Fan Ran, Lithium God, Black Liquid @ Strange Matter – $5
I gotta tell ya, I looked for shows Thanksgiving night–I just didn’t find any! But honestly, there’s so much going on the night after the holiday, I really can’t complain. And let me tell you, if you’re feeling in a hip hop mood this weekend, you can’t go wrong by spending your Black Friday with Black Liquid. The hardest-working man in Richmond hip hop will spend this Friday night hosting the sixth annual RVA hip hop celebration Thanksgathering, and he’ll be bringing you a set of his excellent rhymes as part of it! For this man to be kicking off the night rather than bringing the whole thing home, you’ve gotta know that there’s some amazing talent on the bill, and let me assure you, that is true–but you’ve also gotta get there on time, because Black Liquid’s set is must-see material.
That said, this is a dual release party for two other artists, so I totally get why Black Liquid is stepping back and spending the evening pointing the spotlight at others. 1NF1N1T8 (which I THINK is pronounced “infinite”–but I might think differently if the artist were an 8-member collective) has just dropped an album entitled RVA, which has a decidedly darker tone than the No BS! album I was talking about earlier. This hip hop depiction of daily life on the local streets is full of excellent lyricism and spooky, hypnotic beats. I admit I didn’t know about it til I heard about this show, but now that this album’s on my radar, I’m sure to give it a lot more listens. As for Fan Ran, his Loose Bowels EP actually came out this summer (so I’m guessing this party is for the physical release), but if you haven’t gotten familiar, you can definitely make up for lost time on this evening. And considering how many incredibly talented friends and collaborators this outstanding local producer has in his rolodex (that’s where people kept their phone numbers, back before cellphones), you can expect an all-star lineup of RVA MCs getting on the mic during his set. Lithium God is on this bill too, so there is officially too much local hip hop awesomeness here for me to even get to it all. You should get to it yourself and get ready to embrace the state of the art in RVA hip hop–which is better than ever, if you ask me.
Saturday, November 26, 10 PM
Dirty Fences, Cherry Pits, Rolling Thunder, DJ Lil HotRod, Bone Deth (video premiere) @ My Noodle & Bar – $5
I’m sure all you garage-rockin’ party hounds out there that are above a certain age (25 maybe?) remember Cellar Door, right? That joint below an apartment building on Monument Avenue, where the stairs were treacherous but we all braved them anyway to see bands like Hot Dolphin, The Milkstains, and Fire Bison fling sweat around that tiny basement room. These days said room has a more upscale appearance and menu with its transformation into My Noodle & Bar. However, the rock n’ roll still makes return engagements there on occasion, and it’ll be back in a big way this Saturday night as Dirty Fences hit town! Dirty Fences hail from Brooklyn and are in town to give the excellent tunes from last year’s Full Tramp an airing. Expect the catchy choruses to sneak out from behind a wall of swagger, stomp, and bent notes to hit you upside the head with a two-by-four of memorable power-pop radness.
Cherry Pits, your local headliners for this gig, have much the same sort of vibe going on and will definitely have you rockin’ and rollin’ once their notably sharp-dressed guitarist plugs in and sets it off. I had trouble finding much info about NY’s Rolling Thunder, who are apparently tagging along with Dirty Fences for the gig, but I’m pretty sure this is garage-pop songwriter Bob Mann’s full-band project. Get stoked for that! DJ Lil HotRod aka Patty Conway from The Ar-Kaics will be spinning tunes to start the night, but first, BMXploitation crew Bone Deth will be kicking off the evening by showing their latest video! This will be a fun night for sure–hang onto that handrail, especially between sets after you’ve had a few drinks, because you don’t wanna take a spill and miss the party, do ya, punk?
Sunday, November 27, 9 PM
Suppression, Hallelujah, Among The Rocks And Roots @ Bandito’s – Free!
Suppression are a true national treasure. And with their career closing in on a quarter-century in length, it’s about time there was some recognition given to that fact! I wonder how much lobbyist money I’d have to funnel to President Trump to get some kind of executive order passed… (answer: way more than I have). But in lieu of all that foolishness, all of us happy Richmonders can take advantage of the fact that Suppression is playing a free show at Bandito’s this Sunday! This band has been through many different eras, beginning with grind blurriness and moving through power violence, outright noise, and complex postpunk madness before heading back to their roots over the last few years. Since just over a year ago, Suppression have released three different cassettes full of manic 30-second eruptions of shit-fi grind/noise brutality–and I for one have enjoyed every second of it. Whether this Bandito’s evening will see us graced with a hyperspeed selection of the best tracks from Rats In The Control Room, Oblivion Riders, and the split tape with Energumeno, or a wider selection of gems from throughout the band’s career, we’re in luck, because all of it is fucking great.
We can’t fail to acknowledge the importance of the other two groups on this bill as well, though. Hallelujah successfully reincarnated over the past year or so after nearly a decade off, and have recently slimmed down to a trio, but what’s important about this band is their command of bizarre acid-damaged punk. I hear some Butthole Surfers and some Jesus Lizard creeping through their tunes for sure, but the X factor here is surely the unique personalities of the band members, which shifts things into even weirder territory quite often. Expect intriguing strangeness and surprising catchiness. Last but not least–finally Among The Rocks And Roots have come back to Richmond, Virginia! Bassist Abdul-Hakim Bilal has been out of town for a long time now, working on a boat in Alaska (or so I hear), but he and drummer Sam Goff have reunited and put together yet another bruising set of their rumbling, noise-laced rhythm epics with which to assault your eardrums. Neurosis, Swans, and the Birthday Party’s big Jesus trash can all get rolled into the mix with this group, and the result is unforgettable. Speaking of forgetting, don’t forget to show up early and grab a plate of nachos, because Bandito’s food is always a secret highlight of any show at this place.
Monday, November 28, 8 PM
Eklektikos, feat. Chino Amobi, Robert Donne, Tavishi, Wabeya, Harry Partch Appreciation Society @ Strange Matter – $5
There are several different approaches taken by practitioners of experimental music operating in the genre today. Some act out their wildest urges through completely unrefined sound. Some attempt to push the limits of dance music beyond easy groovability into more mutant realms. Some are doing what mainly seems like very loud performance art. And then there are those with a studious, intellectual approach, those who bring complex ideas to their creations and apply those ideas meticulously. Many of the artists on this bill have that last approach, but despite a rigorous thought process defining the work these artists create, never fear–you can still expect quite a bit of human soul and emotionally affecting moments to come through to you, the listener.
Chino Amobi has been a prime mover on the Richmond music scene for years now, beginning under the name Diamond Blackheart(ed Boy) and now under his own name. Recent works include the Izlamic Europe and Airport Music For Black Folk EPs, both of which explore hypnotic ambient textures through a lens of world travel and black political consciousness. Meanwhile, Robert Donne is a middle-aged white dude with a resume that includes Labradford, Breadwinner, and scores for a variety of films. Basically, anything he’s involved with is worth your attention. Tavishi is the solo project of scientist Sarmistha Talukdar, who feeds laboratory results into electronic samplers and creates strange repeated patterns that shift and evolve to create musical revelations. Wabeya is a new artist on the local scene who has grabbed attention with her dark electronic sounds, over which she lays arresting melodic vocals. Expect your emotions to be brought to the surface with this set. The Harry Partch Appreciation Society begins the evening with their exploration of homemade instruments and the possibilities of microtonal scale, which can take many different forms, but is always fascinating. Bring an open mind and an open heart to this exhibition.
Tuesday, November 29, 9 PM
The Flavor Project, Tennison @ The Camel – $5
Mid-week at The Camel, there’s always something good going down, especially when Tennison are in the house. This hip hop duo brings together Tennishu and DJ Harrison, aka No BS! Brass Band’s Marcus Tenney and Butcher Brown’s Devonne Harris. Their straight-up hip hop project combines all of the best elements from their hip hop solo projects–crate-digging historical studiousness, fiercely literate political awareness, and some incredible funk groove.
Just as important to these midweek Tennison-hosted gatherings, though, is the way the duo enjoys shining the spotlight on other musical peers of theirs who are also tearing things up here in RVA. On that tip, the Flavor Project is a perfect pairing for this evening. This all-star group, spearheaded by Gabriel Santamaria (who listeners to Cut The Cord Radio may know as Taco Pastorius), brings together a variety of local musicians from all sorts of different genres to create a melange of jazz, funk, hip hop, and soul, with a Latin foundation and focus. It’s good stuff, both for expanding your horizons and shaking your booty. So come to the Camel Tuesday night and get down. You won’t regret it.
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