Saturday, February 18, 8 PM
Inter Arma, Withered, Immortal Bird, Suppression @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes it feels like every new edition of this column brings a new way of letting me know just how old I’m getting. This week, I find myself confronted with a 10th-anniversary celebration of a band I first saw when I was in my 30s. Ugh. But don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked–after all, Inter Arma is one of the best metal bands this city has produced in its entire history, let alone the past decade. Their most recent LP, 2016’s Paradise Gallows, only expands on the brilliantly complex sound this quintet has carved out since 2006. Epic songs exploring many different riffs and musical styles side by side with one another have been Inter Arma’s stock in trade from the beginning, and the past ten years have seen them refining their sound to a sharply defined point.
That point will be thrust between the ribs of the unwary like a Viking sword on a battlefield at Strange Matter this Saturday night, and at the risk of stretching a metaphor past the breaking point, we’ll all ride the tip of that sword straight to metal Valhalla. Expect a special set honoring the RVA faithful who’ve been with the group since their early days rocking the Bonezone. And you can also expect some pretty amazing sounds from the other bands on the bill; after all, a fantastic double bill consisting of crushingly powerful blackened doom metallers Withered and epic black metal roarers Immortal Bird will be joining up with this special Inter Arma celebration, making this an unmissable evening for two completely different and totally important reasons!
I have to throw in a word here for openers Suppression, a bizarre grind/noise/postpunk/power-violence hybrid who have been around for over 25 years and find themselves in the position of opening for another band’s 10th anniversary celebration. Ringleader/bass demon Jason Hodges and drumming wildman Ryan Parrish have been at this for long enough that they probably deserve an anniversary show of his own, but failing that, show up on time at Strange Matter to give these guys a bit of your evening. As with the other bands on this bill, Suppression are not to be missed.
Wednesday, February 15, 8 PM
Get In The Car, Hallelujah, Trauma Lavern, Gorrak @ Strange Matter – $5
These Strange Matter Locals Only bills just keep on unearthing excellent sounds from right here in RVA, and I couldn’t be happier. With this particular evening’s fare, I suppose I am like any other regular participant in our local live music scene in that I already know all about the whole Get In The Car thing. This wild postpunk group, who incorporates elements of Devo and the Butthole Surfers into their spastic, frenetic music, have been generating a lot of buzz for themselves with frequent and memorable local gigs over the past year or so. This is sure to be another one, so if you aren’t on the bandwagon yet, show up tonight and join up!
There’s also a set from Hallelujah to look forward to. If you’ve been around long enough to remember the first Inter Arma gig, you probably also remember catching this local noise-rock group around town back in the day. They’ve been back in action for the past year or so, and their current stripped-down lineup only streamlines their hectic attack. All three members sing now, which only ups the chaos and makes the whole thing that much more fun. Trauma Lavern is the latest project from rapper PT Burnem and his bass-wielding frequent collaborator Erik Akers (Double Rainbow, D R O N E S, etc). If you’ve dug their other work, you know what you’re in for here–that is to say, something weird, funky, and totally unique. Kicking it all off is Gorrak, which sees drummer Matt Wild (Doubtfire/Hellbear) and saxophonist Tristan Brennis (Dumb Waiter) getting crazy with some wild noise. This is gonna be sick, y’all.
Thursday, February 16, 7 PM
Brandon Hurtado, Gemtone, I’m Sorry I Woke You @ Gallery 5 – $5 (order tickets HERE)
I’ve made allusions recently in this column to the fact that you’ll find a fair amount of scumbags within the noise scene. I am relieved to tell you that in this case, none of those scumbags will be performing on this bill. Brandon Hurtado most assuredly makes noise–excellent, hypnotic noise incorporating atmospheric textures and gorgeous ambient hums. Thankfully, he’s capable of doing so without engaging in any antisocial behavior. So yeah, if noise creeps you out sometimes, this evening will be a refreshing respite from all that.
It’ll also offer you an opportunity to grab Brandon Hurtado’s latest release, entitled Buried In Rain. Out on Chicago label Lillerne Tapes, this new album will enchant and hypnotize you. That’s also what you can expect from Brandon’s live performances–only when he plays live, it’s way louder. Which rules. This show will also feature a set from Gemtone, the solo project of Rachel Ludwig (Fetish Gear/Loneliness), which gets deeply emotional through some amazing goth/industrial intensity. If you haven’t seen Gemtone live, you’ve only got half the picture, so by all means show up. New experimental duo I’m Sorry I Woke You rounds out this bill full of cool kids making experimental noise in a welcoming environment. Which is always nice.
Friday, February 17, 8 PM
Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s Richmond: Mash Notes Benefit #2, feat. Gouda Mayhem (plus special guests), Kenneka Cook @ Gallery 5 – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The latest from the constant whirlwind of activity that surrounds singer-songwriter-WRIR DJ Paul Ivey is the forthcoming Mash Notes compilation, in which current Richmond artists cover music by Richmond artists of all eras. Ivey’s been masterminding a series of musical benefits over the past few months in order to bankroll this whole project, and we’ve now arrived at benefit #2. For this one, Ivey’s intermittently active quartet, Gouda Mayhem (which also features members of Lady God and Paint Store), will be coming together onstage to bring you a performance of the Sex Pistols’ legendary album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols in its entirety.
What’s that I hear you say? “What’s that got to do with Richmond?” Well, not that much in and of itself, but there will be a uniquely local angle in that Gouda Mayhem will play host to a variety of special guest singers during their set, including Lindsey Spurrier (Hot Dolphin/Roy Batty), Julie Storey (Doll Baby), Eddie Prendergast (Mikrowaves/Bio Ritmo), and Taylor Steele (Four Walls Falling). Wait, really? Taylor Steele? Yes, seriously–the old man takes the stage once again! With some other special surprise guests possibly in the offing, it seems this evening will be one of many uniquely Richmond-oriented joys! Kenneka Cook will open up the night with a set of her own music to provide a dose of the current day, so you also have that to look forward to. And at some point, your dollars will help to create a fun tribute album featuring all your fave RVA artists, past and present. What could be better than that?
Saturday, February 18, 7:30 PM
Open City, Elizabath Van Lew, Teargas Rock @ Black Iris – $6-10 (sliding scale admission)
Hey, are you paying attention? Close attention? I sure hope so, because if you’re not, some really great bands might play RVA right under your nose without you ever noticing. I bring this up because the Open City gig this Saturday night almost got by without me noticing, and boy would I have been upset. Open City is the latest project from Philly/Jersey punk superstar Dan Yemin (Lifetime/Kid Dynamite/Paint It Black/etc), bringing him together with Bridge & Tunnel’s Rachel Rubino, Paint It Black’s Andy Nelson, and Chris Wilson of Ted Leo’s Pharmacists. I know, what else do you need to even hear?
Well, of course, there’s the music. And believe me, you NEED to hear it! The band’s self-titled debut, which has only been available for a couple of weeks, is an absolutely blazing slice of angry, energetic, melodic hardcore which owes as much to the late, great Sarah Kirsch (Torches To Rome, Fuel, Bread & Circuits, about 15 other bands) as it does to the great bands the members previously played with. If you miss the days when no one was trying to tell you to call intelligent, politically informed hardcore “screamo,” this is a gig for you. The fact that it features yet another performance from the long-reputed-to-be-defunct Teargas Rock (featuring members of Young Pioneers, The Great Unraveling, and Born Against) can only count as a bonus. It’s a pretty big one, though. (Don’t ask me about their planned musical collaboration with a legendary Union spy from the Civil War era, though… your guess is as good as mine on that one).
Sunday, February 19, 8 PM
Turn To Crime, The Green Hearts, Doctor Collins @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
I gotta admit, there are a few things I’d expect from a Detroit band called Turn To Crime; raging, out-of-control garage rock, or maybe super-pissed muscular hardcore. What I got is not anything like that, but while this band’s sound doesn’t exactly fit my expectations, that’s by no means any strike against them. If anything, it should serve to remind us all not to judge books by their cover. In this case, the book is all about dark, spooky, synth-driven postpunk/goth sounds. There are times in which I find myself thinking of Future Islands, Disco Inferno, and Interpol, but in the end Turn To Crime has a sound all their own, one you’ll have to experience yourself to get the full effect. It’s worth it, I promise.
The openers on this show are sure to be fun as well. The Green Hearts play the sort of upbeat power-pop that often turns out to have lovelorn lyrics–but of course, when you sing along, you still smile, because the riffs are just so damn catchy! The bedroom stylings of Doctor Collins fit a bit more with your headliners, as they are driven by plenty of moody synthesized vibes, but are catchy enough to keep you smiling regardless. Really, I guess the headliners are the darkest band on this bill… but hey, what do you expect? They’re from Detroit.
Monday, February 20, 8 PM
Black Joe Lewis, Dams Of The West, Big Mama Shakes @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I’m pretty new to the whole Black Joe Lewis thing, but honestly, I’ve been hearing a fair amount of artists over the past few years who have a similar vibe going on. Heavy rock grooves mixed with a soulful R&B swagger is a sound that can be done wrong, but when it’s done right, it’s positively irresistible. Black Joe Lewis and his backing band (which may or may not still be called The Honeybears) have demonstrated that resistance is futile with their brand-new fifth LP, Backlash, which has only been out for a few days. Honestly, if you were a little more ahead of the game than I tend to be with these columns, you could have gotten a free digital copy of the album by buying advance tickets to this show; however, since the album came out on Friday, I’m not sure if that offer still holds.
Really though, it’s worth a shot. The blazing guitars, powerful soul vocals, and funky rhythms Black Joe Lewis has brought to previous albums seem if anything amplified on pre-release single “PTP,” and I’d say it’s the kind of song that’s worth buying the whole album just to get. It’s definitely worth buying tickets to this show to get, even if said tickets don’t come with the album–after all, you’ll still get to hear it live, where it’s all but guaranteed to blow your hair back. With Vampire Weekend side project Dams Of The West and local funk-damaged rockers Big Mama Shakes opening up this shindig, your hair will probably stay that way all night. Bring a hairbrush.
Tuesday, February 21, 8 PM
Lemuria, Cayetana, Mikey Erg @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Pop-punk bills so stuffed with nationally-known headliners that they have no room for locals are becoming more and more of a thing around these parts lately, and while I’m sure there are some bands hurting about missing the chances to open for various heroes of theirs, the pop-punk-loving denizens of this city are sure to be stoked at getting even more bang for their buck. Lemuria coming to town as part of a 10th-anniversary celebration for their legendary debut album Get Better (oh cool, yet another reminder that I’m a million years old) is excellent enough that the kids would come out in droves even if the openers were “veteran local scenester’s new band playing their third show” and “random kids you’ve never heard of from the suburbs.”
But when the openers are none other than Cayetana and Mikey Erg, well damn–now you’ve got a bill on your hands! Philly’s Cayetana are slightly younger, louder, and snottier than Lemuria, but are built on very similar DNA–irresistible melodies, snarky lyrics, gorgeous female vocals, peppy tempos, crunchy guitar chops… it’s all here. And Mikey Erg kinda laid the cornerstone for post-Y2K DIY pop-punk all by himself, if you think about it. Sure, his compatriots in The Ergs were a big help, but once he went on to play in The Unlovables, The Measure (SA), The Worriers, and something like 15 other bands (if not more), he’d pretty much established his presence in a class by himself. And this guy is the opener for this show. How amazing is that? Look, you’d drop $10 just to see any ONE of these performers. $13 for all three? That’s a steal. Don’t mess this one up.
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