Friday, April 14, 8 PM
Diet Cig, Daddy Issues, Waiting For Silence @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
There are a lot of people out there who think punk rock is about being tough. And it is, but not in the way you might think it is if you’re just looking at pix of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. When punks are tough, they’re tough because they stay real and stay true to themselves, in the face of an entire world telling them that what they are isn’t cool. And by that standard, Diet Cig are punk as fuck, regardless of how loud, fast, and noisy their music is or isn’t.
This up-and-coming duo combines a rough n’ ready sound featuring three-chord riffing, bashing drums, and absolutely no bass with the honey-sweet voice of guitarist Alex Luciano. Don’t let the way she sings fool you, though–Luciano’s lyrics, especially on the band’s brand-new debut LP, Swear I’m Good At This, cut to the core of some very important issues that need more discussion than they’re getting. Lead single “Tummy Ache” won me over with lines like “I’m starting to get real sick of trying to find my voice surrounded by all boys” and “It’s hard to be punk while wearing a skirt.” You’ll be singing the latter line to yourself all day if you’re not careful. Hopefully it will provide inspiration.
I will say this much: I’m very inspired to go see Diet Cig at Gallery 5 this Friday night. The fact that they’re coming through with NC surf-garage punks Daddy Issues doesn’t hurt at all. This trio has been a known rad commodity for a while. And what’s really cool is the fact that local openers Waiting For Silence came together originally as part of RVA’s long-running Girls Rock summer camp project. They’ve been playing together ever since, and remind me of bygone days when high-school aged opening bands were more the rule than the exception at local all-ages punk shows. This is going to be a great night for music in general, and you might end up with a new favorite band as a result of it. That’s never a bad thing.
Wednesday, April 12, 7 PM
Dumb Waiter, Brain Tentacles, King Sour, Paint Store @ Hardywood – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Now I get to talk about my own middle-aged status; not a suburban mom with a carseat-equipped minivan but a terminally broke weirdo with a beater car that barely runs. But I can talk your ear off about all the cool bands from back in the day. That counts for something, right? (Don’t answer that.) Anyway, Dumb Waiter is at the top of this bill, and for good reason, as this particular math-jazz-metal quartet is one of the most interesting and unique musical phenomena to come out of this city in quite some time. But the band causing the most buzz amongst the oldsters is King Sour.
You see, back in my day, sonny, we had math rock that actually rocked! None of this noodly Dead-influenced crap–I grew up associating the term with kickass instrumental headbangers like Pittsburgh’s Don Caballero, Morgantown WV’s Karma To Burn, and a couple of homegrown legends from right here in RVA (which was somewhat of a hotbed for math rock at the time): Breadwinner (if you don’t know what’s up with them, google now) and King Sour. King Sour’s five to seven minute epics were symphonies in miniature, many containing several different movements encapsulating multiple moods, all of them dark, spooky, and heavy as hell. After releasing two albums in the mid-90s, King Sour disappeared from the scene for nearly two decades. This gig marks their return, and those in the know are incredibly stoked to get in on the action. I should definitely have left myself more room to talk about equally powerful instrumental math-rockers Brain Tentacles, but if I tell you Dave Witte’s on drums, that’s enough to get you interested, right? Don’t forget the always-rad Paint Store opening up. What are you waiting for? Close this tab and head to Hardywood now! (You can read the rest later.)
Thursday, April 13, 9 PM
Zero Crossing, feat. Ohbliv, Jay Alpha, Cashby, Stimulator Jones, Gordy Michael @ The Camel – Free!
REC Room and Satellite Syndicate are two local electronic production collectives that are always making moves and keeping things interesting. They’ve been doing Zero Crossing, a monthly collaborative series of shows happening at The Camel, for a little while now, and I’m pretty sure I’ve hyped them to you at least once before. If you’re not on the bandwagon yet, this Thursday night is a great time to get familiar. After all, they’re hosting some of the most consistently excellent beatmakers on the East Coast this time around: Brooklyn’s Jay Alpha and RVA’s own Ohbliv.
I can’t imagine any of my readers still don’t know all about Ohbliv, but let me just quickly say in case anyone’s not up to speed yet that this incredibly prolific beatmaking legend and inspiration has continually cranked out deeply layered, soulful grooves by the bushel for a decade or so now. A good place to start would be his latest release, Black Fire, which dropped last month and is the first in a promised trilogy entitled Chaos In The Blood. His Yellow Gold series of collaborations with the amazing Nickelus F is also a great introduction. There’s tons of stuff on his Bandcamp, though–pick a spot and dive in. The same plan would also yield positive results where Jay Alpha is concerned, though Alpha’s slightly more contemplative productions have a different mood than most of Ohbliv’s work. Both of these men are working at the height of their ability, though, that’s for sure. With a succession of talented local beatmakers hitting the stage beforehand, this night is sure to blow your mind throughout. And you can’t argue with the price!
Friday, April 14, 7:30 PM
Matt Pryor, Dan Andriano, Matt Seymour, Lily Pryor @ Strange Matter – $14 in advance/$17 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If there’s one thing that’ll let you know you’re reaching A Certain Age, it’s when the punk rock singers of your youth start coming through town on solo acoustic tours. Of course, for me this has been going on for a good 10 years at least, so I’ve been A Certain Age for quite a while. Now this latest acoustic tour, featuring Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor and Alkaline Trio bassist/singer Dan Andriano airing out some of their mellower solo work from more recent times, just might be making some 30 year old friends of mine feel their age–if their pregnancies and mortgages aren’t already doing so, that is.
That said, all of us are surely suffering from hearing loss by now, so why not embrace it? Bands that are still milking their initial sound after two decades or more of being together tend to become boring nostalgia acts; it may come as a surprise to many of their fans, but the truth is that the most interesting work musicians like this can do happens when they step away from that project that made you care about them in the first place. Witness the country-inflected sounds Matt Pryor has been getting into on his solo albums, most recently this year’s Memento Mori. And of course, there’s the Weakerthans-ish more contemplative indie sound Dan Andriano’s been exploring in his Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room project. Wouldn’t you rather hear sets of these songs in 2017 than yet another rote run-through of “Don’t Hate Me” or “Every Thug Needs A Lady”? Come on, live a little.
Saturday, April 15, 8 PM
The Wimps, Hill Walkers, The Hoodoos, Strawberry Moon @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$6 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I admit I tend to look mainly for punk and metal sounds when I’m checking out the underground rock scene around town, but lately I’ve been unable to deny that there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening with bands that don’t remotely fit into either of those subgenres. This all-local showcase at Gallery 5 on Saturday night is a great example of what I’m talking about. The Wimps have been making a name for themselves on shows much like this one around town for the past year or so, and it’s no surprise. Their tuneful, keyboard-accented rock n’ roll has an intriguing quality that will draw you in every time. Brent McCormick’s strange yet alluring voice is a big part of this equation.
The other bands on this bill are newer around town; indeed, I’d only previously heard of The Hill Walkers, whose melancholy, shuffling pop tunes create an all-encompassing mood that creeps over you subtly but leaves an indelible imprint. The Hoodoos only have one song on the internet that I’ve been able to find, but it sure grabbed my attention, with a psychedelic alt-rock vibe that hits some sweet spots for me (and probably will for you too). Strawberry Moon opens up, and this band describes itself as “dark folk bedroompop,” which seems accurate from the sound of its self-titled debut EP. Whether the version of the band that appears at Gallery 5 will consist of more than one member is not something I can tell you for sure, but even at its most minimal, this band has a hypnotic quality that will make it well worth your attention. So show up to Gallery 5 Saturday night for an education in up-and-coming local rock sounds. It’ll be your most enjoyable educational experience all week–that I can guarantee.
Sunday, April 16, 8 PM
The Coathangers, The Smirks, VV @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
The Coathangers are back again! This is always good news. This snotty punk trio has been inundating the land with their killer sound for something like a decade now, and their forthcoming EP, Parasite, continues the streak, following up on 2016 fifth LP Nosebleed Weekend in powerful fashion. The fact that the Coathangers were formed as a joke and named themselves after the popular back-alley abortion method shows that they aren’t exactly trying to be super serious. However, where their music is concerned, these ladies are not fucking around. Get ready to get rocked!
The Smirks are another one of these up-and-coming local rock n’ roll bands that you’ve been hearing so much about lately. Led by a dynamic duo of angry young women who write songs about “being young and sexually frustrated” (that’s a quote from their Bandcamp, I know I’ve used it before, but it really does sum the whole thing up), this band makes a perfect local pairing for The Coathangers. The evening kicks off with a set of raw, primitive punk (maybe I should call it postpunk because it’s so sludgy and pounding, but that just makes it sound too goddamn intellectual and Joy Division-y) from VV, a new local project featuring members of The Nervous Ticks and Ultra Flake, among others. If femme-fronted punk with no desire to be respectable to mainstream society is your idea of a good time, this is the show for you!
Monday, April 17, 7:30 PM
Steel Panther, Citizen Zero @ The National – $23 in advance/$26 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Let’s just get one thing out of the way: Steel Panther is a joke band. You know it, I know it, they DEFINITELY know it, it’s just the way things are. None of this is to say that they’re a bad band. After all, if costume-wearing metal bands getting insane amounts of mileage out of a pretty tasteless joke was an intrinsically bad thing, none of us would be stoked about GWAR, now would we? (Yeah, I said it.) You may not be as into Steel Panther’s brand of wailing hair metal riffery as you are into GWAR’s thrashtastic chugfests, but that might be solely because you never gave these guys a fair chance. After all, how many listens did you really give Feel The Steel back in the day?
Don’t sweat it, though, because it’s never too late. After all, these goofballs have just released their fifth LP, Lower The Bar, and as always, they’re mixing their always on-point metal chops with some incredible pop melodies, reinvigorating the formula that allowed the Sunset Strip to rule the 80s and bringing us some tunes that could stand alongside many of that era’s glam metal greats (think Motley Crue or Poison… and yes, I will defend both of those bands, at least their first couple albums). This Monday night, don’t overanalyze, don’t take anything you hear too seriously, just rock out. You might be surprised at how much fun you’ll have!
Tuesday, April 18, 6 PM
Doyle, Element a440, 1 Last Chance, Half Past Dead, Graveside Breakfast @ The Canal Club – $14 in advance/$16 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As a longtime fan of the Misfits, I have to admit that I’ve always seen Glenn Danzig as the primary architect of that band’s genius. Founding bassist Jerry Only and his little brother Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, who joined the band after their first LP, had important roles, but their 90s revival of the band sans Danzig never quite had the same power as the original incarnation. However, Doyle’s recent eponymous venture, inaugurated with 2013 debut LP Abominator, has some definite elements to recommend it. No one should go into it expecting the Misfits, but if you can appreciate Doyle taking creative charge and doing his own thing–a decidedly thrashier and more metallic thing than the Misfits–there’s a lot here to appreciate.
Despite the name, Doyle is a band and not just a solo project, and that band is currently preparing to release their follow-up, As We Die, next month. Early previews indicate that the band is staying the course laid out on its first LP, and that means you headbangers who like brutal thrashing riffs are in luck. There’ll be plenty to enjoy on this bill, not just from Doyle but from tourmates Element a440, who bring a more industrial element into play with their own brand of pounding metal; fans of Fear Factory and early Marilyn Manson should be into this one. Some great local bands will kick this whole thing off, including Half Past Dead and Graveside Breakfast (both of which have pretty excellent names, I must say), and they’re sure to get you in the right mood for the night. Break out your black armbands, fiends!
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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