Saturday, April 22, 8 PM
The Make Up, Puff Pieces, Cigarette, DJs Marty V & Adam A @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh hello there. I write these columns while moonlighting from my part-time job in retail hell, and the week after holidays really sucks for me, so you shouldn’t look to me for much energy this week. However, if you do want a ton of energy, look no further than Strange Matter this Saturday night–for The Make-Up has returned! This quartet’s wild hybrid of soul music and punk rock was by far the most interesting sound coming out of the DC underground back in the late 90s. They originally disbanded not long after their 1999 fourth LP, Save Yourself, and other than two random festival reunions in 2012, have not performed together since.
Their long silence ends Saturday night at Strange Matter, and if you know anything about The Make-Up, you know it’ll end with a bang. When The Make-Up got together, most of their members were fresh from stints in groundbreaking jazz-influenced hardcore band Nation Of Ulysses. The Make-Up traded bebop jazz and speedy hardcore for high-energy soul and raw garage punk, resulting in a sound that mixed James Brown with The Sonics. The whole thing was powered by singer Ian Svenonious’s over-the-top stage presence. He screamed, hollered, leaped into the air and dropped to his knees, all while engaging in confrontational crowd interaction that sometimes caught audiences off guard but more often saw them worked into a frenzy.
The members of The Make-Up are not as young as they once were, but if footage of their performance from Coachella a few years back can be taken as an indication, the group hasn’t lost a step. Fans who’ve long awaited a return to the “gospel yeh-yeh” energy of the group’s heyday will get the musical explosion they crave, and new listeners are sure to learn exactly what all the hype is about. DC-based openers Puff Pieces and Cigarette will set the stage with intense postpunk tension and gothic shoegaze intrigue, respectively. This show is one of seven The Make-Up have booked this year, and four of them are in Europe, so if you have the least bit of interest in seeing them again (or for the first time), make sure you’re there!
Wednesday, April 19, 6:30 PM
Testament, Sepultura, Prong, The Convalescence @ The National – $23 in advance/$26 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I must say, I feel pretty bad that this show is the one hurt the most by my inability to crank this column out sooner. Maybe it shows my age to admit that I grew up on thrash metal, but I’ve found that year after year, bands like the longstanding veterans on this bill give me continued reason to believe in them. Testament is a great example. It’s been nearly 30 years since Practice What You Preach and Souls Of Black, the albums that originally got me into the band, were released, but the core lineup from that era is still intact for the most part, and Testament have shown they still have what it takes to get heads banging all over the world with powerful recent work like 2012’s Dark Roots Of Earth.
It’s a little harder to say the same thing about Sepultura, as only lead guitarist Andreas Kisser and bassist Paulo Jr. remain from the lineup that recorded dawn-of-the-90s thrash classics Chaos AD and Roots. However, singer Derrick Green has proven himself a more than capable replacement for Max Cavalera over the past two decades, and 2013’s The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart was full of sick riffs–especially impressive considering it was the band’s 13th album! Prong’s 2012 album Carved Into Stone impressed me just as much as early-90s classics Beg To Differ and Cleansing, so clearly bandleader Tommy Victor still has chops as well! And all of these bands have new albums released within the past year with which to bowl you over as well. I know very little about relative new jacks The Convalescence, but with this legendary triple thrash threat, what more do you really need? As I write this, the show starts in two hours. Hope you saw this in time!
Thursday, April 20, 10 PM
Small Talk #1, feat. Scott Burton, Toby Summerfield, Scott Clark, Alan Parker @ Vagabond – Free!
Avant-garde jazz is hardly a straight-up mainstream interest, but I for one have always been fascinated by it. And believe it or not, there’s a small but thriving scene for exactly that kind of thing here in RVA (I’m sure having VCU in town doesn’t hurt where that’s concerned). The latest development on that scene is this new series of collaborative performances at Vagabond, helmed by local guitarist Scott Burton. Burton has previously played in such bands as ARIZAL and Glows In The Dark, and is currently involved in intriguing local folk-pop group Luray.
For this inaugural edition of Small Talk, Burton will join with three of his local jazz compatriots, including drummer Scott Clark (with whom he has previously collaborated in the band SCUO) and guitarists Toby Summerfield and Alan Parker. The first set will feature Burton and Summerfield intertwining their guitar improvisations, while in the second set, Clark and Parker will get up to some extemporaneous guitar-drum madness. Finally, there will be a set featuring all four players jamming at once, which is sure to get pretty hectic–and, if we’re lucky, pretty transcendent. This evening of entertainment is free, and takes place at Vagabond, a relative newcomer on the local live music scene, so why not take a slight detour from your normal haunts and check out something out of the ordinary? You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it!
Friday, April 21, 8 PM
Iron Gag, Guilt, Trudger, Cut The Architect’s Hand, Born Hollow, Ashes Of Mankind @ 25 Watt – $7
Here’s a fun way to spend your Friday night–getting it blown apart by super-heavy bands who straddle the line between hardcore and metal. Lately Between 2 Beers have gotten into the habit of packing shows full of four or more touring bands, thereby giving those of us who show up some serious bang for our buck. The same is true of this Friday night show, in which New Hampshire bands Iron Gag and Guilt will be joined by UK epic metal crew Trudger, noisy NC weirdos Born Hollow, and Baltimore death-thrashers Ashes Of Mankind. RVA is represented on the bill by long-running local power trio Cut The Architect’s Hand, who’ve been delivering the goods for a long goddamn time and show no signs of slowing down.
But I know what you’re thinking–what’s the story with all these out of town bands? Fair question! Briefly, I’ve found that Iron Gag have a sort of blackened hardcore vibe, but not nearly as theatric as that might sound. These guys are more into delivering the raw, dark hardcore sounds than they are into YAITW-style melodrama (not that I don’t dig melodrama on occasion…) Guilt are not the Louisville post-hardcore group from the early 90s, more’s the pity, but they sure will rip your head off with some seriously angry hyperspeed grindcore madness–think the more HC-influenced sounds of Dead In The Dirt for a good guide here. Trudger bring a dark, epic sort of metal vibe from the UK, which endears itself to me by virtue of reminding me of mid-period Neurosis. That’s quality stuff. Born Hollow are way too enamored of spotlights pointed at the crowd for my taste, but the music makes up for it with some chaotic hardcore goodness. Ashes Of Mankind are brutal death metal, and I’m pretty much out of space! Go to this show!
Saturday, April 22, 9 PM
Cruelsifix, High Priest, Rat Infested, 3:33, Bad Off @ 25 Watt – $5 for 21+, $8 for 18-21
Saturday night, it’s back to 25 Watt to catch the latest new project to spin off from the Cannabis Corpse extended family. Cruelsifix features Cannabis Corpse drummer Josh Hall, who has joined up with some ex-members of lesser-known RVA death metal ensembles like Decay Crawler and Waiting Mortuary to form a totally ripping ensemble with a strong sonic resemblance to bands from the heyday of Morrisound. That’s a super-obscure inside-baseball reference, I know, so let me stop being pedantic and just say they remind me of Death, Morbid Angel, and Obituary. Which is a pretty awesome list of bands to sound like, if you ask me.
Cruelsifix are joined on this bill by some other up-and-coming RVA rippers, as well as a couple of new bands from slightly outside the region. We’ll start with the latter; specifically, Bad Off are a raging crossover-hardcore style band from Maryland who do not mess around. Rat Infested hail from somewhere just outside of DC and have a thrashy sound that makes me think of “Caught In A Mosh”-era Anthrax, only with gruffer vocals. On the RVA side of things, we’ve got more thrash-core rage from High Priest and 3:33. So basically, if you go to shows with the primary goal of circle-pitting and headbanging all night while wearing a jean vest with a Slayer backpatch, this one’s for you! I hope you’re over 21, though, because the pricing structure on this one sure punishes you if you’re not. Joke’s on them–I’m WAY past 21 and there’s no way I’ll spend the extra $3 on beer! But hey… that’s just me.
Sunday, April 23, 8 PM
All Talk, Wester Green, Hot Reader @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$6 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Super chill indie rock is such a thing around Richmond these days. It’s pretty rad, really. Because after all, not every show you go to can be a thrash extravaganza. I mean, at least, so they tell me. Anyway, this Sunday night, Boston’s All Talk is coming to town, and this band definitely fits the super-chill profile. They play some mellow tunes with a laid-back approach–undistorted guitars, unhurried tempos, the whole thing. However, despite the way their choruses sound lackadaisical and almost tossed off, I’m sure they involve quite a bit of work–nothing as brilliantly memorable as recent single “Sunday Driver” comes together without a good bit of effort. Nonetheless, the result is still super chill, so you can relax into a good mood while listening to All Talk’s set this Sunday night.
Locals Wester Green and Hot Reader will join All Talk on this bill, and bring out the super-chill local kids who love to groove to the indie rock tuneage. That should probably be you, at least once every couple of weeks–just to maintain your sanity, really. Wester Green takes things in that mellow direction that eventually ends up kinda ambient–sorta like Band Of Horses at their spaciest, or something like that. Hot Reader has a bit of a progressive vibe, and their tendency towards a loping shuffle can at times take them into borderline hippie territory. In the end though, these are super chill indie kids rather than super chill jam band kids… though they’re definitely approaching that particular boundary. On the whole, this show may not be the highest-energy show on this week’s slate (that honor will almost certainly end up belonging to The Make-Up), but if you’re looking for a good time that won’t cause you to work up a sweat, this is the show for you.
Monday, April 24, 9 PM
EdHochuli, Hang The Old Year, VV, Listless @ Strange Matter – $6
Well, this is neat! I can remember seeing Pittsburgh’s EdHochuli play at Strange Matter nearly a decade ago–on the floor, no less. I had no idea they were still at it, but I’m glad to find it out. This band’s heavy, emotionally-driven hardcore is the sort of thing that predates but is sure to appeal to connoisseurs of the modern screamo scene. They make me think of fellow heavy Pennsylvanians Fight Amp crossed with something intense and full of changes, like the Kidcrash. Of course, all the blazing leads and power-metal riffage is sure to bring in the straight-up metal kids who flee in terror from the 7-letter “s” word under normal circumstances. This show may end up being a real melting pot of different scenes out there in the audience. Or maybe the different crews will all just stand around with their arms folded, looking sideways at their opposite numbers. Hopefully things will go the former way and not the latter.
Portlanders Hang The Old Year are also on this bill, and their sound comes closer to replicating the sound of early-90s post-hardcore types Engine Kid, or Rodan. They aren’t exactly metallic, or post-rock necessarily–just an experimental band willing to explore an idea to the fullest. Expect drawn out tunes full of note-heavy guitar leads and slowly rising and falling dynamics. VV is a new band that I find myself writing about two weeks in a row; this week’s occurrence seems a bit less of a natural fit for this raw, pounding postpunk group featuring members of Nervous Ticks, Ultra Flake, and more, but their set should be no less energizing for that fact. Of course, I can’t fail to mention openers Listless, a band featuring members of quite a few local metal, hardcore, and screamo bands, who have burst onto the scene in recent months with a loud, pounding sound that demands attention. It’s good to see them here, actually, because the sorts of people who are digging on Listless are exactly the sort of people who’d get down with EdHochuli. Let’s all get down with this entire show, shall we?
Tuesday, April 25, 8 PM
Froth, Wildhoney, Big Baby @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
This will be an interesting gig–one that’s definitely worth cutting your Taco Tuesday celebrations a little short. Froth and Wildhoney both come from shoegaze-y backgrounds; Froth’s took place out in LA, while Wildhoney hails from the nearby land of Baltimore. Froth may have started out pretty noisy, but they’ve gone in a more overtly pop direction recently, specifically on brand new third LP Outside, Briefly. Their tendency to work within classic pop song structures and to create indelible melodies that hark back to the 60s heyday of the girl group mixes intriguingly with blasts of noise and effects. The result is quite fascinating.
Meanwhile, Wildhoney is a band that locals should definitely be aware of–hopefully for quite a while now, in fact. They’ve been making periodic trips down to Strange Matter for a couple of years now, and were impressing listeners with early EPs well before their breakthrough 2015 LP on Deranged Records, Sleep Through It. If Froth has made their way through shoegaze noise into the soothing realms of postpunk pop, Wildhoney’s path sees them merging punk heat and pop melodies into a beautiful noise that never hesitates to get quite loud. This remains true even as singer Lauren Shusterich croons beautifully overtop of guitars that spit volcanic noise–always a winning formula. Local openers Big Baby have hit on a winning formula themselves, and have shown it in recent months by winning over indie rockers around town with their simple, catchy tunes. On this bill, they’re a perfect complement to the dual headliners. Scarf down the tacos and get over to Strange Matter already–you’re not gonna want to miss a minute of this one.
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
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