Friday, December 9, 7:30 PM
Reverend Horton Heat, Nashville Pussy, Unknown Hinson, Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day Troubadours @ The National – $19.50 in advance/$23 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Most of the punk rock shows that happen around this town happen in small venues–dive bars, taco joints, sweaty basements… places like that. But this week, Richmond is lucky enough to be graced by a total punk rock show that’s happening at the biggest and swankiest venue in town. That might seem like a weird thing at first glance, but the fact that the show is a Reverend Horton Heat show kind of explains everything. Reverend Horton Heat has been blasting the world with his ferociously twangy psychobilly attack since the late 80s, and his most recent album, 2014’s REV, is his eleventh. The Rev and his fiery backing band are using throwback instruments–standup bass, undistorted hollow-body guitars–to recast the wildest music from the dawn of rock n’ roll as a modern punk rock monstrosity that throws listeners around the room in wild spastic fits. Think The Cramps crossed with Link Wray back when he was playing terrifying DC biker bars in the 60s. That’ll get you most of the way there.
And the Rev would be cool enough to see all by himself, but fortunately for us, he’s far from the only act on this bill. Indeed, Nashville Pussy are a formidable enough act to constitute a headliner in their own right; getting them as part of this stacked lineup is a huge bonus. This group is led by guitar-slinging husband and wife Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys, and mixes the wildest elements of 70s metal and punk with bits and pieces drawn from rockabilly and Southern rock. The resulting hybrid is loud and proud, with a ton of attitude and swagger making for an extremely fun time.
And what about your openers? Unknown Hinson is one, and he’s worth a bit of discussion himself. Best known as the voice of one of the characters on Squidbillies, he’s been making rootsy country music with an outlaw mentality and a humorous sensibility for over 20 years now. His back story is darkly humorous and frankly not all that believable, but if you just play along with the whole “hillbilly vampire” angle you’re sure to have a great time listening to him sing. Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day Troubadours kick off the show and further pack the night full of excellent entertainment. With advance tickets going for less than $20, there’s a lot of bang for your buck happening here. If you’re the sort of person who likes to get wild on a Friday night, there’s nowhere that’ll be wilder this night than the National. Get there.
Wednesday, December 7, 10 PM
Easy, Cherry Pits, Naked Baby @ En Su Boca – $5 suggested donation
Rock n’ roll and tacos go together like peanut butter and chocolate if you ask me, so the fact that En Su Boca has become such a reliable place at which to catch a great rock n’ roll show makes me really really happy. I’m even happier when the bands on the bill are this rad. In this case, your out-of-town headliners are Easy, hailing from Alabama and bringing with them a sure grasp on the fundamentals of catchy punk-infused power pop. Their new self-titled EP on Jenny Records is enough to convince any fan of Sheer Mag or The Exploding Hearts that this band is the real deal. Easy are definitely worth throwing a few bucks in the donation jar for.
As for the dynamic duo of RVA stalwarts rounding out this bill, well, I would think that by now any Richmonder who cares about punk rock knows about these bands. The Cherry Pits and Naked Baby were the bands that came together after the dissolution of the Eurotics a few years back, and both carry on that band’s legacy of fun, crazy punk rock with a swaggering attitude and a wild sound. That doesn’t mean that these two bands don’t also know their way around a pop hook–for a bunch of hard-partying dudes, both of these bands can definitely write a chorus memorable enough to stick in your head all night. In fact, secretly they’ve all got hearts of gold–but don’t tell them I told you that. Just come out to En Su Boca tonight, grab some tacos, and get ready to rock. You won’t be disappointed.
Thursday, December 8, 7 PM
Mannequin Pussy, Spirit Of the Beehive, The Milkstains @ Gallery 5 – $6 in advance/$8 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow, Mannequin Pussy is coming back to town. This band has special significance for me, as they played my living room a couple times back when I still lived in a punk house. In fact, I’m quite sure my former roommate at that house has a lot to do with them making an appearance at Gallery 5. But the reason you should make an appearance and catch their set is because this band, which was already pretty great in my living room two years ago, has reached a whole new level with their brand new LP, Romantic. They alternate between moments of raging punk glory and melancholy yet beautiful melody, and somehow make all of it fit perfectly together. Fans of Screaming Females and Downtown Boys will find a lot to like here, as will everyone else with halfway decent tastes really (but that’s just my opinion, mannnn).
Fellow Philadelphians The Spirit Of The Beehive bring a unique and spirited attack to this bill as well. With a sort of shoegaze vibe slipping through in the background of their latest EP, You Are Arrived (But You’ve Been Cheated), they nonetheless bring a very punk-informed approach to their loud, heavy riffing. I find myself recalling the early days of Dinosaur Jr. or The Jesus And Mary Chain, but with a bit of a similar vibe to yet another Philly band–Creepoid, whom I am on the record as loving very much. So yeah, I pretty much think The Spirit Of The Beehive are the bee’s knees as well. And everyone in Richmond knows The Milkstains rule, right? This band’s spent over a decade bringing its surf-grunge-punk hybrid sound to all and sundry here in RVA, and the fact that we’re getting them as mere openers for this rad triple bill shows how incredible the sounds you’ll hear throughout this night really are!
Friday, December 9, 7 PM
The Nels Cline–Larry Ochs–Gerald Cleaver Trio @ Gallery 5 – $18 (order tickets HERE)
I admit I haven’t kept too close an eye on the world of jazz in the post-y2k era, so I’m not the most knowledgeable of people to write about this particular performance. Having said that, I’m aware enough to know when a trio of powerhouse musicians in their own right come together on an RVA stage, I would be doing a grave disservice to my readers if I didn’t let them know about it. So consider this fair warning–if you have an interest in the newest and most interesting sounds coming out of the modern jazz world, you better make it your business to catch this show.
Nels Cline is the marquee artist here–people who know nothing about modern experimental music tend to still be aware of the man due to his membership in experimental alt-country ensemble Wilco. However, there’s a lot more to this guy than playing really brilliant leads over Jeff Tweedy’s excellent songwriting. The man likes to experiment with the limits of pure sound, and has done so in a variety of contexts over his 20-year career. The same can be said of saxophonist Larry Ochs, who is best known as a co-founder of Rova Saxophone Quartet. Ochs’ experimentations have taken place within the worlds of 20th century classical music as well as free jazz and other avant-garde musics. Drummer Gerald Cleaver, who has not only played with many jazz luminaries but also holds down the kit for free rock noisemasters Black Host, rounds out the trio and stands as a rhythm section all on his own. What will these three men combine to create? I can’t be sure, but I do know it’ll be something you’ve never heard before. Don’t miss it.
Saturday, December 10, 6 PM
Beex, Long Arms, J. Flax & The Heart Attacks @ Hardywood – Free!
Do the kids today remember Beex? Perhaps not–after all, they were one of Richmond’s first punk rock bands, coming together in 1977. Over the course of the next decade, they released three powerful singles, most famously the 1979 “Beat Beat/He Obliterates Me” 45, which still rules. Original vocalist Christine Gibson sadly passed away a decade ago due to cancer, but her husband and lead guitarist Tom Applegate kept Beex alive, taking over on lead vocals and continuing to perform with the band on at least an occasional basis. These days, Beex is a more active band than they’ve been since the 80s. With Applegate taking point, the band now also features former Prevaricators/White Cross guitarist Tommy Rodriguez, and is working on a new album that sounds from the advance tracks released as if it will carry forward their classic Dead Boys-style early punk rage into the 21st century with aplomb.
Therefore, I gotta say, you could do a whole lot worse than to head down to Hardywood this Saturday night and catch a free show featuring one of RVA punk rock’s original ensembles. What’s more, you’ll get some great tuneage from Long Arms, the alt-country vehicle for singer-songwriter James Menefee–himself a two-decade-plus veteran of the RVA punk rock scene (and he’s a year younger than me. Oh golly). With J. Flax & The Heart Attacks opening it all up, how can you lose? By staying on your couch watching Law & Order reruns instead of getting your ass out to Hardywood this Saturday night, that’s how. Don’t be that guy.
Sunday, December 11, 8 PM
Sad13, Vagabon, Emily Reo, Told Slant @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I don’t always pick up on stuff too quickly. For example, someone had to tell me that Sad13 is the new solo project from Speedy Ortiz frontwoman Sadie Dupuis. As soon as they said it, I felt like a total idiot for not catching on myself. But it’s rare that I’m so glad to feel like an idiot, because this time it happens just in time for me to tell you that you need to come out to Strange Matter this Sunday night and catch Sad13 performing a set of songs from their brand new album, Slugger. If you’re expecting more of the same guitar-driven 90s-style alt-rock that has made Speedy Ortiz a household name (at least in indie circles) over the past few years, you may be thrown for a loop when you hear Sad13’s electronic pop tunes, but that irrepressible genius for catchy melodies and brilliantly worded feminist lyrical statements is every bit as present and as welcome in Sad13 as it is in Speedy Ortiz. So you’re gonna enjoy it in the end. Promise.
Vagabon being on this bill is a big thrill as well. This NYC group is a vehicle for the words and music of Laetitia Tamko, a brilliant singer-songwriter whose music is a brilliant statement of purpose and of self. Vagabon is preparing to release an album called Infinite Worlds on Father/Daughter Records at the beginning of 2017, and it promises to take the band’s music to a whole new level, as previewed on riveting advance single “Fear & Force.” Seeing them on this bill constitutes a treat in its own right. With fellow NYC performers Emily Reo and Told Slant also on the bill, this is a veritable embarrassment of riches, and I only wish I had the space to go into exactly why that is. Suffice it to say that if you’re the sort of person who makes a point of checking out Sadie Dupuis’s next project, you’re also the sort of person who will get a ton out of every performance on this super-stacked bill.
Monday, December 12, 8 PM
PC Thugs: A Comedy EP Recording Session, feat. comedy by Mary Jane French, Patrick Miller, Rachel Murphy; music by The Talkies, Warrington @ Gallery 5 – $5
I enjoy urging you, my readers, to take a chance on locally based DIY music over the big established acts that play around here on a regular basis. But it’s not often that I feel the need to send you out into the night to catch some locally based DIY comedy. Perhaps I should rethink that; after all, comedy is a truly DIY art form–it’s just the performer and their sense of humor up there, with nothing to hide behind. I respect that. As a fellow trans woman, I have even more respect for local comedian Mary Jane French, who has used her experiences with being transgender for comedy fodder, and come up with some great bits along the way. Next Monday night at Gallery 5, she and fellow RVA comedian Patrick Miller will be recording for a split EP they’ll be releasing, and they’re doing it as a benefit for Side By Side, the LGBT youth support organization formerly known as ROSMY.
Miller, French, and fellow comedian Rachel Murphy will all be doing live comedy sets over the course of this evening, and I for one am glad I’ll be able to go and get some laughs without having to worry about homophobic jokes showing up anywhere in the program. This night will also feature some pretty great music from local shoegaze/alt-pop crew The Talkies, and an acoustic set from local group Warrington, so it’s not just jokes happening on this evening. But jokes are pretty cool, right? God knows with the way things are going in the world, we could all use a few more laughs. Plus, your giggles will show up on a record later, and that’s always fun! So take a chance on a night in which music isn’t the main attraction for once. And I’ll try to start broadening my horizons more.
Tuesday, December 13, 8 PM
Lance Bangs, Hellrazor, Basmati, Nametags @ Strange Matter – $7
I’ve been keeping track of Lance Bangs for a while now. They started out as a band based around singer/guitarist Colin Thibodeau, but since switching to an actual band name and going through a couple of lineup shakeups, I’ve really seen them come into their own. Recent EP Lance Mountain, which was released on cassette by Danger Collective, has a scrappy garage-pop sound that gets a little lo-fi grit into the mix. I don’t know about you, but if you ask me this is a very welcome development. I look forward to seeing how this band continues to develop, and Tuesday night’s Strange Matter show will be a great chance to do just that.
What’s more, it’s a great chance to catch yet another member of Speedy Ortiz performing as part of a side project. This time it’s drummer Mike Falcone, who is stepping out from behind the kit to front Hellrazor. This band has a quirky, noisy sound that still incorporates some of that grunge-pop jangle that is so prominent in Speedy Ortiz. I can’t help but think of The Toadies when I listen to them, though there’s some (early, good) Weezer in there as well. It’s cool, is what I’m saying. Long-running local math-rock weirdo geniuses Basmati are also on this bill, as is the up and coming new pop-punk force in RVA, aka the band Nametags, featuring members of Hold Tight, Close Talker, Gottem, and Spraynard all coming together to rock us in a whole new way. This is gonna be a sick show, y’all. Get ready.
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