Punks For Presents 2016, Nights 2 thru 4
Thursday, December 15, 7 PM
Operation Icy, Screeching Reindeer, Unsung (Carols) @ Gallery 5 – $8 ($5 w/canned food donation)
Friday, December 16, 8 PM
Sick Toys, Imaginary Toys, Dearsanta @ Strange Matter – $10 ($8 w/canned food donation)
Sunday, December 18, 8 PM
Jingle Bell Rocksparrer, Elves, Ho Ho Let’s Go @ Bandito’s – Free! (But bring a canned food donation)
With something like 10 days left until Christmas, the holiday-themed shows are coming at us fast and heavy this week, and none of them are faster or heavier than the three Punks For Presents shows happening between now and Monday morning. Punks For Presents have been in operation for quite a few years now, putting a new spin on the whole Return Of Living Dead Bands thing by presenting shows full of cover bands on Christmas rather than Halloween, and giving all of them a special holiday twist. They also donate the proceeds from all shows to Children’s Hospital of Richmond, making sure sick kids have toys this Christmas–hence the name.
Last year at a Punks For Presents show I caught a Slayer tribute band featuring members of Battlemaster and Hoboknife, who had rewritten the lyrics of classic Slayer tunes to make them holiday-themed. This year, there are tribute acts aplenty featuring a similar caliber of taste and creativity. Thursday at Gallery 5, for example, you’ll get Operation Icy, in which Worn In Red/Forensics drummer Brad Perry returns to his role fronting a tribute to Operation Ivy, the single band who originally made ska-punk respectable (no, the Bosstones don’t count). Screeching Reindeer will attempt to sidestep Screeching Weasel’s problematic legacy by focusing on the aspect of that band that everyone can still agree on–their masterful songcraft. And then Unsung (Carols) will give us a selection of classics from early-90s short-haired-metal crew Helmet (gotta admit, I’m most excited for this one).
And that’s just the beginning! With two more P4P shows happening by the end of the weekend, there’s a whole lot of outstanding coverage for you to enjoy! Friday night at Strange Matter, Sick Toys will give us a tour through the legacy of LA punk legends Social Distortion. Will they focus more on the drugs ‘n eyeliner early days or the cigs-rolled-up-in-a-t-shirt-sleeve greaser-blues of their later work? Come find out! Imaginary Toys are a Christmas-themed reincarnation of veteran RVA tribute act Imaginary Boys, whom I saw on a Halloween cover show years ago, flawlessly replicating the best of The Cure complete with hi-top shoes and hi-top hair. Plus: Dearsanta puts the emo in Xmas with a Jawbreaker tribute set!
This weekend will wrap up in fine style at Bandito’s, where you can enjoy some nachos to the pleasing strains of Jingle Bell Rocksparrer, who’ll give you plenty of reason to sing along as they bring the melody-infused oi-punk of UK legends Cocksparrer to life. They’ll be joined on a punker-than-fuck bill by Elves, who will hopefully remain clothed as they pay tribute to the Dwarves (after all, it’s cold at Christmastime!), and Ho Ho Let’s Go, who’ll blast through a set of Ramones tunes while hopefully wearing red Santa coats instead of leather jackets. But you’ll have to show up for yourself and see, really! Bring donations, bring raffle-ticket money, bring cans of food–and not just because it’ll save you money on the door prices! This is the season of giving, and props to the Punks For Presents crew for remembering that this should extend way beyond family and friends to all those in need within our community. That’s reason to sing along with your fist in the air, right there.
Wednesday, December 14, 7 PM
Koji, Homeless Gospel Choir, Furious George, The Weak Days, Living Rheum @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
I remember when I was much younger and punk rock was too. Back in the heady days of the mid-90s, a lot of people were discovering the possibilities of what punk rock could be. At one show, my friends and I were delighted as a young man gave a solo acoustic performance that was passionate, intense, and clearly punk as fuck. Punk could be acoustic too?! In the days since The Deadwood Divine knocked us all for a loop, the idea of acoustic punk has become an accepted and even standard part of the punk scene, and can even at times seem a bit of a cliche. That doesn’t mean that, just like fellow punk cliches crossover thrash or boozy pop-punk, it can’t still pack a hell of a punch! Tonight at Strange Matter, five different acoustic punk acts will prove exactly how hard acoustic punk rock can hit you.
Koji and Homeless Gospel Choir are the touring headliners for this one. These two Pennsylvania groups demonstrate the breadth of what can be done with acoustic guitars in their contrasting labels–Koji, the more melodic of the two, have recorded for emo standard-bearers Run For Cover, while Homeless Gospel Choir have records out on Anti-Flag’s A-F Records. Expect emotion aplenty from Koji, while Homeless Gospel Choir leads the crowd in stirring protest anthems. Local ensembles Furious George, The Weak Days (playing a rare acoustic set), and Living Rheum will land at various points along that spectrum, all to enjoyable and moving effect. It’ll knock you for a loop all over again.
Thursday, December 15, 8 PM
Nappy Roots, McKinley Dixon, Adam Jackson & JostoD @ The Broadberry – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s SO tempting to start this review with some variation on “Aw naw, hell naw” but I will refrain from indulging myself and merely state that I am very excited to see Nappy Roots hitting the stage here in RVA in 2016. It might be easy for most people to associate this hip hop ensemble with their classic 2002 hits; I myself haven’t really kept up with them since 2008 third album The Humdinger, so I’m not trying to throw any shade here, but one thing that’s clear from latest single “Lookin’ Grown,” it’s that Nappy Roots still have every bit of the talent they displayed in their earlier, better-known days.
The group, which has stripped down from half-dozen members to a slim and trim quartet in recent years, is still capable of great lyrics and memorable beats. It’ll be well worth all of our time to head down to the Broadberry Thursday night and nod our heads to the classic Southern sounds this group are still adept at cranking out. And chances are you’ll hear “Aw Naw,” “Po’ Folks,” “Good Day,” and all those other jams you remember from past years anyway. So what are you waiting for?
Friday, December 16, 8 PM
No BS! Brass Annual Canned Food Drive, feat. No BS! Brass Band, DJ Serge Protector, Luray @ The Broadberry – $10 in advance ($8 w/canned food donation)/$15 day of show ($10 w/canned food donation) (order tickets HERE)
I told you up at the top that we’d have a lot of holiday-themed shows coming up, and I’m gonna make good on that promise in a big way now, because in addition to the three I’ve already told you about, we’ve got three more coming fast and thick over the next little bit. Hang on, because you’re gonna wanna catch em all like you’re playing Pokemon Go. Or something. Friday night, it’s time for the annual No BS! Brass canned food drive. I honestly should be able to end this blurb right here, because I assume you’re all RVA scene veterans, know exactly what’s up with No BS! Brass, and know exactly why this will be a totally unmissable raging party for an extremely good cause.
However, for those of you who just stepped off a slow boat from China and have somehow stumbled onto this column, let me quickly bring you up to speed. No BS! Brass Band is a dozen-or-so-member ensemble that uses trumpets, trombones, sousaphones, and other horns, as well as good ol’ percussion aplenty, to update the classic New Orleans second-line jazz sound with influences from punk rock, metal, hip hop, and classic rock, making for a superfun blast of catchy jazz interspersed with unpredictable but highly enjoyable covers by Agent Orange, Led Zeppelin, A-Ha, and more! They’ll get the whole Broadberry rockin’ with no amplification necessary (those horns are LOUD), and they’ll be doing it to feed the hungry this Christmas, which is always a marvelous thing to do. Get some cans of food out of your pantry and bring em on down–and wear your dancing shoes! With opening entertainments from Luray and DJ Serge Protector (aka Landlady’s Adam Schatz), you’ll have a ton of fun spending the night with No BS!
Saturday, December 17, 8 PM
The 22nd Annual Hamaganza, feat. League Of Space Pirates, Herschel Stratego, Maximum Zero, TV’s Danny P, Corey Axt, Jonathan The Juggler, Atom Eve Eclipse, The Hamaganza House Band, host Dean Owen, guest of honor Donnie “Dirtwoman” Corker, plus more! @ The Camel – $10 (or a ham)
I know these days RVA has become synonymous with a tourism campaign run by Venture Richmond in collaboration with our municipal government, and that those three letters have become the buzzword for an upscale rebranding of Richmond’s cultural community. But anyone who has been paying attention knows that the real Richmond, the grass-roots artistic community that keeps it raw, real, and dirty, is still alive and kicking, more powerful than ever. There’s no greater example of this fact than the continuing annual tradition of Hamaganza, in which RVA’s original cultural ambassador, Dirtwoman, takes the stage as the guest of honor for an evening in which donating Christmas hams for charity becomes an excuse for all sorts of debauchery in the finest Richmond tradition!
This year, J. Dean Owen, known in his younger days as lead howler for local reprobates the Vapor Rhinos (that’s right, I HAVE been around that long), plays host to a party featuring all sorts of entertainment delights. Among them will be a terrestrial visit from space-faring weirdo-goth-punk ensemble League Of Space Pirates (don’t look now but that’s local artist Noah Scalin heading up this motley crew), a performance by fake commie digi-punks Maximum Zero, and a visit from RVA’s own Herschel Stratego, keeping the spirit of Andy Kaufman alive in a pint-sized body armed with a ukulele. There’ll also be jugglers, dancers, and all sorts of acts I’m not even sure to describe. And don’t worry, faithful, we’ve got a reliable source indicating that Dirtwoman herself, Donnie Corker, will be in attendance, reminding you all why Richmond is now and always will be dirty. Ham it up for FeedMore this year, and be a part of local history in the making!
Saturday, December 17, 8 PM
Skalidays, feat. Murphy’s Kids, Imaginary Sons, Space Koi, Signal Fire, Jackmove @ The Broadberry – $10 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OK so I just got finished telling you about the most Richmond event possible, but let’s not pretend Richmond’s punk scene doesn’t have holiday traditions of its own. Take Skalidays, the annual throwdown led by longrunning ska-punk crew Murphy’s Kids, which will take place once again this Saturday at the Broadberry. Murphy’s Kids have been following in the footsteps of bands like the aforementioned Operation Ivy as well as second-wavers like The Specials and Jamaican originals like The Skatalites since back in the dawn of the current millennium when ska-punk was kinda trendy. These freaks have withstood the test of time and the passing of trends to prove that their commitment to the genre is real, and this year, as they do every year, they’ll celebrate the blast of sincere fun that has become their calling card, and the holiday everyone looks forward to all year, with a whole bunch of friends who are all pretty great bands in and of themselves.
For starters, local wild rockin’ geniuses Imaginary Sons are getting in on the action. With their Cheap Trick-informed, melodic-punk-damaged sound, this trio never fails to let it rip and get everyone raising their fist to the sky in triumph. What a great time. Space Koi are a newer local band who take a psychedelic approach to the worlds of reggae, blues, and funk, so they’ll be taking the sound a bit out there. Murphy’s Kids’ NC compatriots Signal Fire bring a classic approach to the funky reggae sound, and Jackmove are headed up from VA Beach to add some more upbeat ska-punk sounds to the mix. All of this comes together on a benefit for the James River Association, so once again, your ticket price is going for a good cause! Get stoked, and practice your two-step, because you’ll definitely wanna strut your stuff on this high-energy Saturday night.
Sunday, December 18, 8 PM
Silent Music Revival presents The Night Before Christmas feat. Rattlemouth @ Gallery 5 – Donations appreciated
Oh hey, Silent Music Revival is back! That’s always great news, especially on the last Sunday before Christmas arrives–it’s an early gift from the spirits of RVA musical experimentation (aka the members of Lobo Marino, who have a big hand in the ongoing existence of Silent Music Revival). This time around, experimental jazz/world-music ensemble Rattlemouth are your musical stars, and they’ll be concocting an improvised soundtrack for a film called The Night Before Christmas.
But please don’t expect Santa Claus to show up–oh no, this Russian film from 1913 takes as its source material a Nikolai Gogol short story about a demon collaborating with a witch on the night before Christmas, stealing away the light of the moon and creating chaos for a small Russian village under the cover of darkness. How spooky is that? I for one am definitely interested. This film from pre-Soviet Russia comes to us as a time capsule of sorts, giving glimpses of another era in human history, even as Rattlemouth brews up musical motifs of every description with which to accompany the onscreen events. Sounds outstanding if you ask me. Bring donations for Gallery 5 and Silent Music Revival, and enjoy an evening of excellent outside-the-idiot-box entertainment.
Tuesday, December 19, 8 PM
ASM, Och, With Sympathy, Vulcanite, Majorel @ Strange Matter – $5
Over the last week before Christmas, Strange Matter is bringing us quite the array of locally-focused bills. It’s actually a three-day affair dedicated to their ongoing Locals Only concert series, but since it’s happening midweek, the three-day run straddles the line between this column and next. However, you can be sure you’ll hear more about this whole thing next week. For now, I will just let you know about Day 1, which is awesome enough on its own to be more than worth your time.
ASM are your headliners. The name apparently stands for Antichrist Siege Machine, and they bill themselves as “war metal,” which makes me think of that NYC early-2k band Irate but should more accurately inspire thoughts of early Darkthrone at their most raw crossed with early Death or Repulsion or something. Just total raging hatred blasts of raw metal power. It’s fucking awesome. So are Och, a black metal duo with a soul-scraping sound that should delight fans of early works by Ulver or Wolves In The Throne Room. With Sympathy cast my mind back to the days of early, goth Ministry albums, but their sound is closer to the scathing machine-driven damage of Godflesh. Vulcanite’s post-hardcore heaviness will appeal to fans of early Mastodon and Isis, while brand new heavies Majorel will bring to mind the dark loudness of bands like Welcome The Plague Year and Suis La Lune. Come find out exactly what your local scene has in store for you in 2017, before the year even starts! The hearing damage will be 100% worth it. (I mean, or you could wear earplugs… but I’m not trying to tell you how to live.)
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows (that take place after the week this column covers–this week’s column has obviously already been written): firstname.lastname@example.org
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