RVA Shows You Must See This Week: 1/18-1/24


Friday, January 20-Sunday January 22
Be Bad Weekend @ Strange Matter – All shows $10/$8 with musical equipment donation
Friday, January 20, 7 PM
Claw, Meter Feeder, Dazeases, Calyx, Haircut, Memory Loss, VV, Sha Shakusky
Saturday, January 21, 7 PM
Asylum, Maudlin, Nosebleed, S-21, Enamel, Rare Form, Sow, Roy Batty, DJ Dogpants
Sunday, January 22, 7 PM
Jucifer, Book Of Wyrms, Cremains, Petrichor, Womajich Dialysiez, DJ Julie
Oh my goodness, y’all! 2017 marks the fourth year in which killer musician and all around badass lady Rachel Sparkman brings together an incredible collection of female-fronted bands from RVA and beyond in order to inaugurate the year in fine fashion. This year, though, rather than going with a mere fourth edition of her Bad Grrrl Revue, she’s expanded the event into a three-day blowout known as the Be Bad Weekend. And if you think I’m gonna miss the chance to encourage–nay, DEMAND–that you be a part of it, you need to recalibrate your expectations just a bit. Because in the words of Austin Powers, “this kind of thing is my bag, baby!” Yeah!

The previous Bad Grrrl Revues have featured the occasional band from beyond the Richmond city limits, but this year Rachel’s really outdone herself with the excellence of the visiting performers booked for this event. Of course any discussion of said performers has to begin with Jucifer, who will close out Sunday night and the entire weekend with an incredibly loud and incredibly rad set of their signature sludge metal, played at mortar-obliterating volumes through a giant wall of amps aimed directly at your face. Bring earplugs, is what I’m saying–but no matter what you have to bring, you should really make sure you’re in the house for Jucifer’s set. This incredible duo is worth the price of admission all by themselves.

And of course, Sunday night–and all three nights of this action-packed weekend–is full of plenty more bands that are just as rad, both from out of town (Calyx, Rare Form, Meter Feeder) and local (Asylum, Petrichor, Dazeases, Book Of Wyrms). There are way too many more to mention, but if you like music that tends towards the heavier/more intense end of the spectrum, and you like seeing and supporting women onstage making music, then this show is an absolute, uh, must-see. What’s more, you can get $2 off the price of admission each and every night of the Be Bad Weekend if you bring donations of new musical equipment, including cables, tuners, batteries, drum sticks, and other such goodies. Both the equipment donations and half of the proceeds from the weekend’s events will be given to Girls Rock! RVA, a highly worthwhile local organization that provides music lessons and encouragement to local girls and gender-nonconforming youth ages 8-14. Help support this organization in their goal of mentoring the next generation of rockin’ local women by checking out the best of the current generation. It’s a great way to spend a weekend!


Wednesday, January 18, 8 PM
Big Thief, Sam Evian, Andrew Carter @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Tonight, a treat for the indie kids who like their lovelorn heartfelt ballads with a heaping helping of acerbic lyrics and distorted guitars stirred in. Big Thief released their debut LP, Masterpiece, on Saddle Creek last year, which means that fans of Cursive and Bright Eyes should already be paying attention. And their attention will be rewarded, because the songs frontwoman Adrianne Lenker and her bandmates have bestowed upon us with this release are going to hit all the sweet spots fans of Tim Kasher and Frances Quinlan’s work are clamoring for.

This show is actually a double treat for Saddle Creek fans, as Big Thief are joined on this trip by fellow Saddle Creek recording artist Sam Evian, aka Sam Owens. Owens is previously known for his time fronting Celestial Shore, but in contrast to that band’s indie sound, Evian’s solo work moves straight into the arena of full-blown electronic lounge. I find myself thinking, upon listening to recent single “I Need A Man” (no, it’s not an Annie Lennox cover), of Matthew E. White collaborating with Chromeo. Gospel-influenced soul sounds fed through a self-consciously cheesy/sleazy disco filter. And it’s all so damn smooth you can’t help but love it. Former Mad Extras frontman Andrew Carter and his backing band, which features other members of the Mad Extras as well as Manatree and Christi, will offer some tantalizing local support. Come catch the groove.


Thursday, January 19, 9 PM
The Heads Are Zeros, Gemtone, Voarm, Van Hagar @ 25 Watt – $3-5 suggested donation
Ooh, I am looking forward to this. Baltimore’s The Heads Are Zeros have hit town a whole bunch of times in the past, notably for both the 2015 and 2016 editions of Swamp Fest, and have pulverized the city every time with their exhilarating blasts of technically complex, chaotically played grind/noise. Mingling/mangling bits of metal, hardcore, punk, and screamo in their 1000 mph blender of high-volume insanity, this trio is prone to juxtapositions of super-complicated riffing and sudden pulverizing breakdowns. With the energy they always bring to their live performances added into the mix, they’re sure to blow your hair back.

In addition to The Heads Are Zeros’ sure-to-be-intense performance, a variety of local performers will also grace this bill, all bringing their own unique sound to the table. Gemtone is a one-woman project featuring electronic synth sounds, programmed beats, and heavily treated vocals, all brought together in service of creating an overwhelming emotional environment. Fans of AFI, Sisters Of Mercy, and Diamanda Galas will all find something to connect with when this project takes the stage. Van Hagar, like The Heads Are Zeros, are a bassless power trio performing high-speed hardcore of the most furious variety. However, where The Heads Are Zeros bring a genre-hopping complexity to their sound, Van Hagar gets down to the core of the sound, delivering a no-frills blend of speed, rage, and power. Strap in. Voarm rounds out the bill with their spooky, gloomy black metal, which will surely bring a passionate emotional atmosphere all its own to an evening full of powerful, intense noise. Be prepared.


Friday, January 20, 7 PM
Citrus City Records 2 Year Anniversary feat. Omni, Lance Bangs, Fat Spirit, Atta Girl @ Gallery 5 – $6 (order tickets HERE)
Damn, y’all. Any other week this show would have been right there at the top of the column; after all, the two-year anniversary of a record label that’s been right in the middle of everything happening in RVA’s thriving indie scene for the entire time it has existed is big news no matter how you slice it. It’s up against some incredible competition this week, that’s for sure–but there are reasons aplenty to find your way over to Gallery 5 this Friday night and catch up with the Citrus City crew. I assure you, even if you don’t own any of their releases yet, that will almost certainly change at some point during 2017.

Citrus City’s purview has generally been the sort of post-Velvet Underground/post-Strokes guitar-driven indie pop of the winsome, lo-fi variety that has become common within the more underground branches of the indie scene over the past few years. Atlanta’s Omni, while not having any releases on Citrus City (at least, not yet) are a great example of this sound. The same can be said of locals Lance Bangs, whose recent EP Lance Mountain is a Citrus City release. These bands have a ton of catchy songs, as do Fat Spirit (who’ve been keeping a low profile of late, and are making a very welcome reappearance on this bill) and Atta Girl (who’ve also been a bit scarce lately, what with half the band moving to other cities in the last few months). Citrus City’s been around for two years, but even after releasing over a dozen cassettes, they’re really just getting started. This is the perfect opportunity for you to get on the bandwagon.


Friday, January 20, 5 PM
The Evil One release party, feat. Big No, Julie Karr, Muuy Biien, Sports Bar @ Hardywood – Free!
“Oh god, ANOTHER Friday show?” I hear you, I hear you. There’s no way any of us are going to make all three of these. Nonetheless, I feel like I’d be derelict in my duties if I did not at least inform you of this free evening of rad sounds–and a cool new book–happening over at Hardywood on Friday night. The Evil One is the latest short-story compilation from local independent literary publisher Makeout Creek, and it features 36 different authors telling one story each, all inspired by Roky Erickson’s legendary 1981 LP of the same name. Erickson recorded this album, full of surrealistic visions, creature-feature references, and wild n’ wooly rock n’ roll, after his stay in a Texas mental institution. You can expect plenty of demons, zombies, and two-headed dogs to make appearances in this story collection, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, onstage, a variety of musical demons will be getting exorcised–or maybe just exercised–for your listening pleasure. Psychedelic rangers Big No and talented, passionate singer/songwriter Julie Karr share the headlining role, while Athens, GA-based postpunk quintet Muuy Biien and local garage-punkers Sports Bar add some spice in support slots. There will also be readings from over half a dozen of The Evil One‘s contributing authors, including Julie Karr, whose writing talents clearly extend beyond songwriting, and book editor Andrew Blossom. The whole thing is free, and it kicks off before either of the other two Friday shows I’ve told you about, so if nothing else, you really owe it to yourself to swing by. Have a quick pint, grab a copy of the book, and check out some readings and some music–it’s sure to enrich your evening.


Saturday, January 21, 7 PM
Joey Cook & The Partyraddlers, Dharma Bombs, Space Koi, Georgie Isaacs @ Gallery 5 – $7 in advance/$8 at the door (order tickets HERE)
OK, let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room–yes, this is the same Joey Cook who finished seventh on season 14 of American Idol. Yes, she is from Richmond; yes, she’s still making music; and yes, I do think you’re kind of a nerd for recognizing her from that TV show. The TV show is not what makes her notable, though; indeed, she has quite a bit of local cred going back years before anyone ever saw her on TV. These days, she’s leading a band called the Partyraddlers, who showcase Cook’s unusual instrumental choices (accordion, ukulele, etc) and unique songcraft, in which she brings folk, jazz, and old-time music influences together with an undeniably indie/punk background. This performance is guaranteed to be a lot of fun, and fans of World/Inferno Friendship Society, Gogol Bordello, and other such remarkable ensembles will find plenty to love.

Cook is joined on this bill by Dharma Bombs, a local folk crew who’s been picking up quite a buzz with their regular performances at The Camel and a few other local venues. They’ve never fully made it onto my radar until now, though, and what I’m learning from my investigations is that I should have checked into them a long time ago. This percussionless sextet combines classic prewar string-band sounds with the hot jazz of the 1920s for a damn good time with no amplification required. It’s the kind of fun I didn’t think you could have anymore without digging up mp3s encoded from scratchy old 78s–looks like I blew it. Come learn what we’ve all been missing, and also check out rad opening sets from reggae jammers Space Koi and wryly engaging solo folk artist Georgie Isaacs in the bargain. You won’t regret it; even the spectre of Simon Cowell won’t be enough to taint this evening, I promise. Plus, this show’s proceeds go to Planned Parenthood, and if that’s not a reason to come check it out, I don’t know what is.


Sunday, January 22, 7 PM
Benefit for Craig Zirpolo feat. Trey Hall (of Dharma Bombs), Blush Face @ Gallery 5 – $5-10 sliding scale
You guys, the details on this one are rather scant, and I’m not at all sure I have the full lineup on hand (all the discussion of “A Very Special Guest” on the facebook event page definitely makes me wonder), but I feel the need to alert you, because Craig Zirpolo is an excellent person and a major contributor to the documentation of our local scene. His photography and writing have shown up all over the place, most notably as the driving force behind The Horn RVA.

As a photographer, his camera is how he makes his living, and he’s recently had quite a bit of difficulties with the USPS and a variety of other companies, resulting in him being out both a camera and quite a bit of money. As a result, a bunch of his friends have gotten together to throw him a benefit and help him continue documenting the scene in his own inimitable way. I can only hope that if my laptop blew up, some good-hearted souls in the scene would do the same for me. Therefore, I highly recommend you checking out this bill featuring a solo set from Dharma Bombs leader Trey Hall, as well as some full-band excellence from local indie-poppers Blush Face. There will apparently be at least one more performer on the bill, but don’t ask me who. Either way, it’s for a good cause, and I back it 100%. That’s good enough for you, right? (Don’t answer that.)


Monday, January 23, 8 PM
Boy Harsher, Ships In The Night, Stephanie, R-Complex @ Strange Matter – $5
I’ve been hearing about Boy Harsher for quite a while, and based on who I’ve been hearing about them from, I was expecting, well… some harshness from some boys. I was clearly getting some mistaken ideas, though, as this electro-goth duo is actually drawing from the sorts of inspirations that fueled classic dark synth-pop bands like Clan Of Xymox and Sisters Of Mercy, among others. Singer Jae Matthews has an indelible voice reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux’s darkest moments, while synth/programming mastermind Augustus Muller dishes out some pounding beats that contrast nicely with his foreboding minor-key melodies. The result is suitable for the coldest, darkest dance floor you’ve ever encountered–think that Bauhaus-scored opening sequence from The Hunger (early 80s vampire film featuring David Bowie) and you’re almost there.

The local and regional acts on this bill have a similarly spooky yet undeniably danceable vibe. Charlottesville’s Ships In The Night pairs the hypnotic vocal melodies of Alethea Leventhal with layered synths and pulsing beats, then adds memorable choruses that draw equally from Kate Bush and Grimes. Stephanie is a haunting local coldwave act that has taken some strong steps since reincarnating from the ashes of longtime local project Skirts. R-Complex is perhaps the closest this bill will come to my original, thwarted harsh-noise expectations, as Prisoner/Asylum guitarist Pete Rosza greets us all with some morose solo electronic sounds. Wear black to this one, and bring your shades–this is one night on which it is highly appropriate to wear your sunglasses indoors.


Tuesday, January 24, 8 PM
Zero Crossing, feat. Vanilla Summit, Scoopkid, Nat Digga, Robalu, plus RECTalks w/BSTFRND @ The Camel – Free for 21+/$2 for 18-21 (weak)
Satellite Syndicate and Richmond Electronic Collective have both been holding down regular Tuesday-night slots at the Camel for quite a while, alternating weeks to bring you sounds located somewhere between crate-digging hip hop science and studious electronic dancefloor manipulation. It seems almost inevitable in hindsight that they would eventually join forces. Now that Zero Crossing, a regular Tuesday night event at the Camel of which this is but the first installment, has brought the two of them together, it all suddenly makes perfect sense.

The lineup the two crews have chosen to bring us reflects both their shared interests and the points at which they may slightly diverge. Vanilla Summit should probably be accorded the role of headliner, as this funk/jazz instrumental crew will be bringing us two sets over the course of this evening, but Nat Digga–the artist formerly known as Sound Genesius–is also noteworthy, his deeply funky beats drawing a great deal of attention in previous appearances on Jellowstone Records compilations. With sets from Scoopkid and Robalu, plus an introductory talk on the creative possibilities of the Roland SP-404 from local production wunderkind BSTFRND starting the whole evening off promptly at 8 PM, this is a jam-packed night of sound, beats, and knowledge from REC and SatSyn. If you don’t know what these two crews are up to here in RVA, it’s time for you to get familiar.


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): rvamustseeshows@gmail.com

Hit up my Patreon page if you’d like to be a supporter of my endeavors here! RVA Must-See Shows will always be free, but any contribution helps ensure I can keep the column going into the future, and is massively appreciated! $1 a month is all we ask. Please consider it. https://www.patreon.com/rvamustseeshows


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s