Saturday, February 4 & Saturday, February 5, 7 PM
Cory’s Big Sloppy Hatefest @ 25 Watt
Day One: Hate Diplomacy, Through The Discipline, Eye Of the Destroyer, Vomit Stain, Max Carl’s Frequency Therapy, Tomb Warden, Crucial Rip, Van Hagar, Murder
Day Two: Amara, Beaten With A Pipe, Bottom Feeder, Belligerent, Neck Breather, Health Crash, 3:33, The Donalds
$10 each/$15 for 2-day pass
There are a variety of big musical events happening in RVA this weekend, and one in particular is sure to get the seal of approval from every established local rag who dabbles in discussions of this sort of thing. I could easily jump on that bandwagon, but if I do that kind of thing too often, I tend to get bored. So hey, let others guide you to the local love-in happening this weekend–I’m sure it’ll be a blast. Me, I’m struggling to keep my head above water (anything keeping me from starving is massively appreciated–patreon.com/rvamustseeshows is the link), so right now I’m much more in the mood for a hate fest.
Thankfully, Cory Nicholas and Between 2 Beers Promotions are bringing me just what the doctor ordered. Death metal, grindcore, and other antisocial heavy noise will be blasting forth from the cauldron of Shockoe Bottom this weekend, and the amount of outstanding bands the fine folks at Between 2 Beers have on tap for us is nothing short of outstanding. As usual with shows like this, I will not have time to enumerate exactly what you can expect in any sort of extensive detail. However, I will tell you that night one is capped off by an all-star death metal project known as Hate Diplomacy, which features members of Waking The Cadaver and Dehumanized, bringing you a brand new take on that sort of brutal death metal that New York is famous for.
With the equally brutal death metal bands Through The Discipline (also from NY, also featuring members of Dehumanized) and Eye Of The Destroyer forming an absolutely unstoppable triple-headliner for Saturday night, you’re in for some serious decimation. And who doesn’t need that? That’s not to mention all the amazing locals on the bill–Vomit Stain, Crucial Rip, Murder… and show up on time so you can see my cool VHS-obsessed new roommates Van Hagar lay down some sick power-violence. And then there’s Sunday, on which the action will be more locally focused but no less intense. Highlights include post-Rotting Obscene grind project Beaten With A Pipe, VA blackened-thrash freaks Amara, the bizarre mania of Health Crash, and brand new Baltimore maniacs Neck Breather. I’m ready to rage, y’all–let’s make it happen. (PS 2-day passes will be available for purchase at the door Saturday night, but are not available online, so bring your cash!)
Wednesday, February 1, 8 PM
Reed Mathis & Electric Beethoven, Brock Butler @ The Broadberry – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s a really intriguing thing that I was lucky to stumble across. I don’t know a ton about Reed Mathis as a bass player, though I can tell you that he’s played with various surviving members of the Grateful Dead, and was a longtime member of Bay Area jam band Tea Leaf Green. Since leaving Tea Leaf Green last year, Mathis has been devoting his time to explorations of the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven, releasing an LP of reimagined pieces from Beethoven’s 3rd and 6th symphonies last fall entitled Beathoven. Since the LP’s release, Mathis has been touring with a company of musicians featuring drummer Jay Lane (Primus/Sausage), keyboardist Todd Stoops (RAQ), and guitarist Clay Welch (Panda Resistance).
And I mean all of this probably means a lot to some people. I am, to put it mildly, not typically a fan of jam bands, jamtronica, progressive experimentation, or most of the genre labels people might slap on music like this. However, I’m a sucker for hearing talented musicians flip the script on established classics and bring out new sides of it that have never been heard before. All of that is on the menu when Reed Mathis & Electric Beethoven take the stage tonight. The results will mix new twists on classic Beethoven themes with free improvisation sure to leave the players in an exciting new place. Ideally, even those who typically yawn at the prospect of jamtronica will find this fascinating. It’s a great opportunity to try something new. Let’s give it a shot.
Thursday, February 2, 9 PM
Alter, Eyelet, Samarra @ 25 Watt – $3-5 suggested donation
Meanwhile, the fact that I’m writing about this show is probably eminently predictable to most if not all of my readers. Alter and Eyelet are two touring bands that both fall at least loosely under the categories of screamo, emo, and/or post-hardcore. You know I’m a sucker for that shit. Alter has a proven track record with me, having brought their post-rock influenced shoegaze-metal heavyosity to town at least once before, and blowing everyone away in the process. Fans of Jesu, Envy, and Mogwai are sure to find something to enjoy here, and the psychedelic edge gives it all a very appealing melodic aspect.
Then there’s Eyelet. Veterans of Swamp Fest 2015, these Maryland screamers aren’t really “post-” anything. Instead, they’re using frequent tempo changes, intense screams, and dynamic shifts that encompass beautiful melodies and ferocious rage within 90-second songs to create a mood of passionate emotion. So yeah, I guess that’s “screamo,” right? I don’t care what you call it, just come see this band, because they’ll blow you the hell away. Get there on time if these weekly dispatches aren’t quite enough of my words for you, because RVA-based openers Samarra feature some girl named Drew Necci on vocals and chances are she’s gonna have a lot to say (and/or scream). Also, my bandmates are really talented musicians who write really great songs; if you like their other bands (Truman, This Land Is Now Dead, Swan Of Tuonela, Caust, etc), chances are we won’t bug you too much.
Friday, February 3, 5 PM
Black Marble, You, Unmaker @ Strange Matter – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’ve finally gotten old enough in recent years that all-ages shows have started to have a different appeal to me. When I was younger, the main appeal was that, hey, I could actually get into an all-ages show. Now, pushing 40 from the wrong side, I find myself stoked about all-ages shows mainly because they end early. After all, I’ve gotta get home and get some sleep before work in the morning! This Black Marble show is the kind of all-ages show that’s likely to draw just as many old heads who’re excited about the prospect of catching a show and getting to bed early as young kids who’re just glad they could get in the door at all. If you ask me, that’s part of its charm!
Black Marble hail from LA via New York, so they’ve got the stamp of the two hippest cities in the US on them. This may explain why their lo-fi coldwave sound, as masterfully showcased on 2016’s It’s Immaterial, has both a bleak, world-weary feel and a cosmopolitan palette of influences on which it draws. Synthesized melodies, ambient hums, programmed beats, and fatigued yet still melodic vocal lines all combine for a vibe that should work for everyone who missed the Cold Cave show last week–and those who caught it as well. With similarly synthesized and postpunk-informed New Yorkers YOU on the bill, as well as excellent support from local death-rockers Unmaker (featuring members of Occultist, but with 100% less metal), this bill is looking quite stacked. Catnip for the disaffected black-clad hipsters of RVA, as well as for those with good taste in music–and those who want to rock but also need their sleep.
Saturday, February 4, 8 PM
Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz, Radiator Hospital, Pinkwash @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
You know, I hadn’t even heard Allison Crutchfield’s new solo project when I decided I needed to write about this show. However, with the history she’s built up, she more than deserves the benefit of the doubt. Having started her career partnered with sister Katie (who you may know from Waxahatchee) in bands like The Ackleys, PS Eliot, Bad Banana, and others, she eventually became the frontwoman of excellent melodic punk band Swearin’. Since that band’s dissolution, Allison has struck out on her own with an LP full of songs she composed in the wake of her time playing in Waxahatchee’s touring band a couple of years ago (clearly, she and Katie remain close. Aww).
The new stuff found on her upcoming solo debut, Tourist In This Town, has a bit more of an indie feel, with less distorted guitars and the presence of the occasional synth leavening Allison’s tendency to go for the holler and crunch of the best punk music. That’s OK–exploration beyond one’s wheelhouse is never a bad idea when it produces songs as excellent as the ones she’s bringing to us on this tour. With tourmates Radiator Hospital and Pinkwash in tow, Allison’s created a veritable triple threat of talented Philadelphia punk bands whose melodic sensibility is matched only by their politically-informed intensity. This show is gonna be a banger from beginning to end. You’d be a fool to miss out.
Sunday, February 5, 6 PM
Occult Blood, Daggering, Lugweight, Yohimbe, Head Molt, Brown Piss, Flesh Control, Coteries @ Strange Matter – $8
They’re calling this show the “Super Bowl of noise,” and even beyond the date on which it’s taking place, I can understand why–a lot of high-quality talent from the experimental electronic and harsh anti-music worlds is coming together under one roof this Sunday night at Strange Matter. Most prominent are Aussies Occult Blood, your headliner for this event and experts in the sort of ear-blasting sound that skirts the line between extreme hardcore or grind and outright noise fuckery. Drums, guitars, and screaming all have a role here, but the results aren’t so much pleasing to the ear as delightfully damaging. This band will mess the place up–and isn’t that what you want from noise?
One thing you might not want, but are almost certainly going to get, is scumbaggery. Rumors of violence and abuse have dogged the RVA noise scene for quite a while now, and this lineup is certainly not immune. When you get into the fringes of outsider art like this, there are always these sorts of ethical dilemmas to ponder; it’s up to you to decide where you land. I will say that if you can deal with the potential for shadiness, you will find some incredible exhibitions of sonic atrocity and noise excellence from practitioners like NYC/RVA supergroup Daggering, formerly local/now Brooklyn rager Lugweight, and some of the best the RVA scene has to offer. It might get a little sketchy, but don’t worry–I can almost guarantee you won’t be hit by sparks from stray power tools. Almost.
Monday, February 6, 6:30 PM
Code Orange, Youth Code, Nicole Dollanganger, Lifeless, Lost Souls @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
If we weren’t sure before, Code Orange have definitely proven themselves not to be kids anymore with their latest album. Forever takes things further in the direction of outright mosh brutality than even 2014 sophomore LP I Am King, and continues with the explorations into synth textures, dissonance, and outright noise that marked that previous album. I must admit, I hear some vaguely nu-metal tendencies coming through in their new material; I’m occasionally reminded of Slipknot, or Mudvayne. But who am I to complain? After all, I love those bands. And I love Code Orange. The pit action might be a bit much for me at this show, but standing towards the back and banging one’s head never did anybody any harm.
There are some other awesome artists on this bill too, and they’re not exactly what you’d expect based on the headliner. Youth Code have the sort of name that might lead one to expect youth-crew hardcore finger-pointing. In truth, this band has more in common with Nitzer Ebb or Front 242, and for a middle-aged lady like me, the revival of this angry early 90s industrial sound is a welcome throwback to my teenage years. Nicole Dollanganger is a solo artist whose dark, sad songs combine with her last name to make me think she really might be related to that ill-starred Dollanganger family of Flowers In The Attic notoriety. Either way, the songs are hypnotic and brilliant, and impossible to mosh to (not that that’s a bad thing). With Philly HC band Lifeless and local punkers Lost Souls opening up, you’ll get a little bit of what you might have expected from the openers if you show up early enough. But what you should really want from music is for it to challenge you, to open your mind in new and unexpected ways. No matter which of these artists you show up hoping to see, the rest of the bill is going to do that for you. Be open to it–these kinds of shows are really the best ones.
Tuesday, February 7, 7 PM
Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White, Lonnie Holley @ The Broadberry – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OK, here’s at least one consensus pick for all the RVA music lovers. After all, Matthew E. White and his Spacebomb Records crew have spent the past couple of years riding a rising tide of acclaim and affection–and not because of bullshit hype, either. These musicians deliver the goods in a big way, and showcase their deep love for the entire history of American music through their soulful, passionate work. Now, as White partners with English folk singer Flo Morrissey on a covers album entitled Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, he and his Spacebomb compatriots get yet another opportunity to demonstrate their sure grasp on the rich traditions of American music. They knock it out of the park too, with some amazing covers running the gamut from Frankie Valli to The Velvet Underground to Frank Ocean.
Morrissey and White aren’t just releasing the album, either. White has long valued the live environment as the ultimate showcase for his work, and he’s brought that same attitude to this collaboration with Flo Morrissey. The two have combined with the formidable Spacebomb house band to form a touring company for the ages, with which they’ll bring Gentlewoman, Ruby Man to stages all over the US and beyond. Everything is kicking off right here in RVA with their performance at The Broadberry this Tuesday, and you’re sure to rub elbows with all the tuned-in RVA music heads when you make your way into this one. Smart music fans recognize brilliance when it walks among us, and everyone involved in the Spacebomb project has demonstrated a great amount of this trait over the past few years. If you haven’t already, it’s time to recognize.
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): email@example.com
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