Strange Matter Locals Only Year-End Bash (Days 2 and 3)
Wednesday, December 21, 8 PM
Abomination In Conflict With Mechanical Death, Crucial Rip, Mangalitsa, Paint Store, High Canyon
Thursday, December 22, 8 PM
Voarm, Cruelsifix, Appalling, Desert Altar, Swathe
@ Strange Matter – both shows $5
It’s not all that common for smaller touring bands to come through town around this time of year. After all, most of us are celebrating the Christmas holidays ourselves this weekend–who wants to not only miss the holiday but also deal with underattended shows because everyone’s at their parents’ house for the weekend? Strange Matter has not wavered in their tireless commitment to bring us great music on a nearly nightly basis, though, so the folks over there decided to expand their recurring Locals Only feature into a 3-day midweek pre-Christmas blowout full of the best heavy, avant-garde, and otherwise fascinating new bands coming out of the RVA scene these days.
Logistically, of course, this didn’t quite work for my column, since the first of the three days was actually under last week’s purview, but I told you about that then, so I hope you caught day 1 last night. Today and tomorrow, there’s quite a bit more awesomeness on tap for you, so if you missed one day, no worries–there’s plenty more where that came from. Tonight’s bill is topped by mysterious new grindcore outfit Abomination In Conflict With Mechanical Death. The band is billed as “current members of Today Is The Day,” so the two Richmonders currently filling out that band’s lineup are apparently the brain trust behind this exercise. Expect blasting hyperspeed noise and sludgy breakdowns, if the raw demos posted online are any indication.
There’s way more on deck both tonight and tomorrow to grab your attention and your ears, though. Tonight, we’ve got the raging death metal of Crucial Rip, plus Paint Store’s Breadwinner-indebted instrumental math metal. Tomorrow, Voarm’s bleak black metal harshness tops the bill, with strong support from death metal headbangers Cruelsifix (featuring members of Cannabis Corpse) and black metal riffmasters Appalling (featuring members of Sinister Haze). Plus there are a few other bands I know little or nothing about, such as Mangalitsa, Swathe, and Desert Altar. But of course this is the perfect opportunity to discover the bands you’re gonna spend 2017 loving and rocking out to, so if anything I’m just as stoked about the bands I know nothing about. You headbangers really can’t deny it–for a necessary break from capitalist holiday suffocation and dysfunctional family discomfort, Strange Matter is bringing the goods this week! Brighten your Christmas week with these two shows–at $5 a pop, you really can’t go wrong.
Wednesday, December 21, 6 PM
Slug & Lettuce Zine Retrospective Closing Reception, feat. Dorthia Cottrell, Tess Fisher @ Gallery 5 – Free!
OK, I know I’ve already sent you out to the Slug & Lettuce Retrospective at Gallery 5 once. After all, it was secretly the best reason to stop by Gallery 5 on First Friday back in November–I certainly swung by! I geeked out over old issues of Slug & Lettuce, and then got disconcerted by finding reviews of bands and zines I did 10 or 15 years ago that I never saw at the time. Advice to youth from a jaded old lady: don’t read your reviews. Ever. Anyway, if you didn’t get by Gallery 5 during the six weeks this retrospective has been up, you’re missing out on some major punk rock history, both for Richmond in particular and for the scene in general. There are some amazing photos on display, and the newsprint tabloid issues of Slug & Lettuce laid out on coffee tables for anyone to peruse give a window into independent media creation and distribution from an entirely different time.
Plus, of course, there will be music on this night, music that you are sure to enjoy! Singer-songwriter Dorthia Cottrell is at the top of the bill, bringing her spooky, foreboding acoustic sounds to Gallery 5 for a holiday haunting. Some of you are sure to be more familiar with Dorthia due to her regular gig fronting doom-metallers Windhand, but her solo work is formidable in its own right, and its quiet gloom will subtly envelop your mind. Tess Fisher is also on the bill, and her band, Petrichor, already leavens their heavy, metallic songcraft with dark folk melodies, so her music should be eminently adaptable to the solo format. These sounds will go perfectly with an understated evening in which you take in three decades worth of scene-documentation excellence one last time before it’s all put back in boxes. Don’t miss out.
Thursday, December 22, 8 PM
Antero, King Easy, Burning Fire, DJ Seph Tekk @ The Broadberry – $10 (order tickets HERE)
The Christmas season is inspiring all sorts of unusual activity around the Richmond live music scene. Holiday-themed shows are a big thing, but unexpected returns to action by local fixtures from past years are also cropping up. This one’s for all the reggae fans out there: the return of Richmond’s stalwart rocksteady veterans Antero, hitting the stage for the first time in almost two years. Now, I will straight-up admit that I don’t really go as deep on reggae knowledge as I do with a lot of other genres, but I can tell you that this group does an excellent job of keeping that classic 70s Jamaican sound alive with deep grooves and instrumental fire.
What’s more, their lyrics show a strong class consciousness and revolutionary spirit, which is essential to making reggae that’s worthy of the name. This is protest music for the masses, and Antero deliver it with aplomb. They’ll be joined on this bill by several other reggae artists from the general area, making this a full night of smooth vibes and inspiring ideas. Everything this week feels like it exists to dispel a general gloom and weirdness around the holidays; after all, I’m sure no matter how much anyone loves Christmas, you’ve gotta be getting a little tired by now of the crowds and the endless capitalist huckstering. That’s all the more reason to leaven your live music diet this week with some danceable sounds. Antero has some for you that avoid the mindlessness that sometimes comes with music you can move to–what more can we ask for than that?
Friday, December 23, 6 PM
Silent Night Holy Mountain, feat. Stone Garden Jam Temple, The Rain Within, Flesh Control, Stephanie, Fake Object, Jaguardini, Stabbed In The Face, Hyperwizard @ Strange Matter – $5
About a year and a half ago, I hit up an ANIMAL dance party at Strange Matter with a bunch of my friends. Right when we were in the middle of tearing it up on the dance floor, we looked up and realized that the club was broadcasting Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain on the big screen over the stage. The bizarre, nigh-indescribable images lent a whole new air to the music pumping through the room, and I can’t help but expect a similar effect from any event titled in reference to that film–especially a holiday-themed one!
Silent Night Holy Mountain is an evening of avant-garde electronic, experimental, and noise music brought to you by some of the leading lights of Richmond’s noise community. The lineup does a great job of showcasing the breadth and the strength of this community, moving from the Eurodisco/horror-soundtrack sounds of Stephanie to the psychedelic experiments of Flesh Control to the wall of harsh noise cacophony that is Stabbed In The Face, this show is going to pull your mind in all sorts of different directions. Featuring multiple performers from outside RVA, including Charlottesville coldwave vets The Rain Within and DC breakcore freaks Hyperwizard, this night will open your mind to some rad new sounds from unexpected corners, before frying your brain with ritualistic extravaganzas of bizarre beauty. Get ready.
Saturday, December 24, 9 PM
Prabir’s Holiday Xmas Party, feat. Patrick Bates, Prabir Mehta, Pete Curry, Kelli Strawbridge, Russell Lacy, and more @ The Camel – Free!
So… are you back in town for the holiday weekend? Are you only making a 10-minute drive to grandma’s house tomorrow morning? Are you, perhaps, stuck at a crossroads that’s left you crashing back at your mom’s house in the suburbs for a while? Or do you just need to get out of your house Christmas Eve so you don’t end up crying over It’s A Wonderful Life for the 11th year in a row (spoiler: this last one is me)? No matter your pre-Christmas situation, rest assured the remedy is at hand. Musician, impresario, and general man-about-town Prabir Mehta has teamed up with his buddy Patrick Bates, the crew over at The Camel, and a cast of dozens to bring you an RVA music extravaganza that will put you right back into the holiday spirit and give you a great way to spend Christmas Eve, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.
With the sort of musical potpourri this group has planned, it’s hard to predict what will come of this evening’s entertainment. Patrick Bates doing a solo set of his emotional acoustic music? Prabir entertaining us all with Goldrush and Substitutes hits? All-star jams featuring the formidable crew Prabir has assembled for the occasion? All of the above? No telling! But with local leading lights like Kelli Strawbridge (KINGS/The Big Payback), Lindsey Spurrier (Hot Dolphin), Alexandra Spalding (Avers/Hypercolor), Pete Curry (Pete Curry… yeah, you know him), Russell Lacy (Grease Trigger/Virginia Moonwalker), and a whole bunch more on hand, this is sure to be a blast. Plus, you’ll get to chill with whatever other friends are out on the town. And the party can run as late as it needs to–it’s not like you’ve gotta work in the morning, right? (If you do, I apologize on behalf of the entire stupid world.)
Monday, December 26 & Tuesday, December 27, 8 PM both nights
Home For The Holidays, starring The Trongone Band w/Ron Holloway, South Hill Banks @ The Broadberry – $10 per day/$18 for both days (order Monday tickets and 2 day passes HERE, Tuesday tickets HERE)
Christmas day is Sunday, but you certainly should not expect that the whole world will go right back to normal once Monday morning dawns. After all, we’ve all got the new year to get through on the very next weekend, and a ton of kids and even adults are off work, out of school, or otherwise at loose ends during this final week of the year. Thus, it is no surprise that the Trongone Band is using this opportunity to throw a huge two-day party centered around the holidays and featuring all kinds of top-notch local talent!
If you don’t know the Trongone Band, it might be because you don’t really run in their circles–after all, this brother act focuses on the sweet spot where Southern rock, soul, and psychedelic blues all converge, and they tend to haunt the world of jam bands as a result. They’ve got some cool sounds, though, and the recent addition of RVA fixture Todd Herrington on bass surely cements their musical credibility here in town. Their two-night stand at the Broadberry will feature a more straight-up night of Trongone songs on Monday, and will apparently incorporate a huge all-star jam on Tuesday, so you probably don’t want to miss either night. With opening sets from saxophone legend/Warren Haynes sideman Ron Holloway and local bluegrass up-and-comers South Hill Banks, these will be jam-packed evenings for sure. It’s a great opportunity for you dyed-in-the-wool heavy music lovers to branch out a little; after all, if I can do it, so can you!
Tuesday, December 27, 9 PM
Chokey, Mama Kanti, Debrider, Pinkwench @ 25 Watt – $3-5 suggested donation
But why don’t we round out this week of great shows with one that is solidly in my personal wheelhouse? For starters, it’s a 25 Watt show featuring a touring band. What’s more, it’s being promoted by Great Dismal, of which I am a part. Hell, one of my bands is even on this bill! So yeah, even if you don’t run into me at any of these other shows, you’re sure to see me at this one. But even if I didn’t have to be there, I assure you I’d very much want to be, because Texas rockers Chokey are an incredible band. Featuring singer/guitarist Parker Lawson (Two Knights, Flesh Born, etc), this bassless power duo cranks out walls of midtempo Melvins/Jucifer-style sludge, but with an undeniable moshcore twist to it all. Parker and drummer Jade Wells’ dual vocals add a unique touch to the whole thing, making for a powerful blast of hugely fun energy. It really must be seen to be believed.
There’s a lot of other cool shit going on on this bill, too. To begin with, Mama Kanti is an artist the like of which I’ve never really encountered before. Blending power pop, emo, electronic sounds, and an obvious influence from mid-2000s metalcore, she creates beautiful songs that touch your heart and still make you wanna bang your head. At this show, she’ll be backed by local rockers Decide By Friday, so you can look forward to a particularly powerful delivery of some great tunes on this Tuesday night. Maryland dream-pop crew Pinkwench are also performing this evening, and will send your mind soaring to all sorts of beautiful places. This will pair nicely with the second full-band performance ever from Debrider, the longtime solo project of former A Marc Train Home singer Lia Pisa-Relli, now grown into a trio and featuring some random middle-aged lady on bass (spoiler: it’s me). Lia’s haunting, deeply personal songcraft was intact long before I joined the band, though; Debrider would be awesome with or without me. So yeah, a really great DIY show full of super-rad bands. Looks like things are starting to get back to normal.
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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