Thursday, April 27, 8 PM
Those Manic Seas, Post Sixty Five, Lightfields @ The Camel – $5 (order tickets HERE)
Well, it’s certainly been a long time coming. Those Manic Seas, the band that will always probably be best known for having a mannequin with a TV set for a head in the frontman role, have been generating a buzz around Richmond for several years now. There was a point, probably two years ago now, when they were on the cusp of releasing their debut LP. Unfortunately, that particular deal didn’t work out, and the band ended up leaving their label and deciding to release the LP themselves, through Pledge Music. Now, after years of waiting, it has finally arrived. This Thursday night, we can all join This Manic Seas at The Camel, in a musical celebration of that long-awaited arrival.
The new LP is known as Telegenic, and features several songs the faithful will recognize from the years of buildup to this moment, as well as quite a few new tunes that are sure to delight fans of the group’s intricately constructed alternative rock sound. Resemblances to Interpol and The Killers show through in their ringing postpunk-inspired guitar lines and dramatic vocals (that mannequin sure can sing). Catchy tunes that you’ll find impossible to get out of your head abound on Telegenic, and are sure to make their live performance Thursday night a total blast you can’t possibly sit still for.
The other bands on this bill make for a good match with Those Manic Seas, and are sure to delight fans of the band. Charlottesville’s Post Sixty Five are a bit more ambient and a bit more delicate in their use of clear guitar-driven melody lines to construct their songs, but still arrive at a postpunk-influenced alt-rock sound that works quite well. Lightfields may be opening this whole thing up, but they’re certainly as much of a thrill as any other band on the bill, using a triple-guitar attack to bring out the volume and energy in their shoegaze-damaged rock n’ roll sound. They’ll start this evening off with a bang, for sure.
Wednesday, April 26, 8 PM
Charly Bliss, Blush Face, Majjin Boo @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
This is sure to be a blast! Charly Bliss is a quartet from Brooklyn who have learned to craft just the right mix of loud, sloppy guitars and effervescent vocal melodies, with which they’ve created a great new LP called Guppy, released last week on Barsuk Records. The LP takes the excellent songcraft they displayed on their early EPs to the next level, and in so doing, have created a collection of songs that would have sounded great blasting out of my car tape deck back in 1994.
I know we’re always supposed to be looking forward and stuff, but the revival of that post-Nirvana alt-rock sound over the past few years, complete with the sort of loud guitars that ultimately kept a lot of those bands off the radio, has sure made me happy. Like all of the best bands that are part of this whole thing (think Speedy Ortiz, or Swearin’), Charly Bliss take that sound in a fruitful new direction and make it their own. That’d be reason enough right there to find yourself at Strange Matter tonight, even without the added inducement of two excellent local openers, but the bubbling-under indie-pop sounds of Blush Face and the intricate math-rock melodies of Majjin Boo are sure to take an already great evening even higher. Don’t miss it.
Thursday, April 27, 8 PM
The Pretty Reckless, Them Evils @ The National – $23 in advance/$26 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OK yes, I know, The Pretty Reckless are ridiculous. Honestly, though, I can’t get enough of them. Former child actress Taylor Momsen grew up to be a glammed-up hellcat of a frontwoman, and with her backing band of LA rock scene dudes straight from central casting, she’s spent several years now seeing just how over-the-top she can get with Sunset Strip glam metal, whiskey-soaked arena rock, and a bunch of other genres that are way too unironic to be cool in 2017.
Then again, with tunes like “Take Me Down,” “Why’d You Bring A Shotgun To The Party,” and “Make Me Wanna Die” in their arsenal, you certainly can’t deny that The Pretty Reckless know how to rock. All that, plus Taylor Momsen’s way-too-intense black eyeliner? Let’s be real–she’s everything I wanted to be when I was 14 and reading Metal Edge every month. I may have missed my opportunity to be a twenty-something glam queen with a ridiculous(ly awesome) hair-metal band backing me up, but I will definitely enjoy reliving those fantasies with The Pretty Reckless Thursday night. If you can relate, even a little bit, this might just be the show for you.
Friday, April 28, 8 PM
Daikaiju, Suneater, Paint Store, Gorrak @ 25 Watt – $5
Oh damn, this is fun! Surf music, monster movies, and flaming guitars all come together in the form of Daikaiju, a quartet that plays wild punk-inflected surf tuneage with a hyperkinetic stage presence and a Japanese monster movie theme. These veterans of the touring circuit hail from Alabama, of all places, but their lack of personal experience with huge waves and invading giant nuclear lizards hurts them not one iota in their creation of killer sounds and an entertaining stage show that’s sure to brighten up 25 Watt’s rather dim performance area… perhaps with the flames from burning guitars? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Suneater may not have much in common musically with Daikaiju, but their anarchic spirit and hyperactive performance style makes them good spiritual companions with the monster-surf quartet, so it’s good to see them on this gig. The band’s recent debut LP, Mirage II, demonstrates their tendency to cram a ton of different ideas into a single epic song and make it all work somehow. Think The Mars Volta, Jane’s Addiction, and Faith No More, plus probably some Smashing Pumpkins and some Hella circa There’s No 666 In Outer Space, and you’ll be somewhere in the ballpark. Or just show up at 25 Watt Friday night and let them bowl you over. Instrumental math-rock warriors Paint Store and bizarre new sax-drum project Gorrak will kick things off. Get ready to get wild!
Saturday, April 29, 8 PM
Horrible Girl And The Hot Mess, Madison Turner, Private Cry, Listless @ Comm Room – $6
Sometimes it seems as if the best way to deal with one’s own issues is just to revel in them, bare all and let the world judge if it wants. For most of us, every person who reacts with scorn and superiority will be matched by at least 10 others going “wow, yeah, I relate.” That “wow, yeah, I relate” feeling comes to me a lot when listening to Horrible Girl And The Hot Mess, a sort of jangle-folk/cow-punk project that hails from South Carolina and is bringing tunes about awkwardness and heartache to Comm Room this weekend. If you like dancing and smiling with the occasional rueful wince mixed in, this is sure to be an excellent show for you.
And I mean, that’s twice as true with Madison Turner on the bill. Having played quite a few local solo shows since arriving in town a year or so ago, Madison has recently acquired a backing band and turned her act into a trio, which should only make everything more fun. You might have a little trouble keeping up with her verbose lyrical flow at times, but her self-aware eloquence is always worth listening a little more closely. Private Cry’s moody melodic rock will add another layer to this show’s palette, while Listless’s brutal hardcore attack will act as a sort of mid-show palate cleanser. The whole thing adds up to awesomeness.
Sunday, April 30, 8 PM
Veery, The Smirks, Twin Drugs, Large Margin @ Strange Matter – $5
Strange Matter’s Locals Only series continues to be a total winner, especially this week as it brings together a powerful RVA trio who were only starting to get rolling when they scattered to the four winds. Singer/guitarist Harris Mendell (Sundials/Atta Girl) has been in Boston for a few months now, while bassist/singer Chris Carreon (Atta Girl/Sundials) is apparently plotting a move to Philadelphia, and drummer Alex Wilhelm (Hold Tight/Cross Eyed) appears to be the only one remaining in RVA for the long term… and even that could always change. So the point is, we’ll only have infrequent opportunities to catch Veery live in the foreseeable future, and any band with this powerful a post-hardcore sound, as displayed on their killer debut EP, is worth going out of your way for.
Meanwhile, The Smirks have been everywhere lately, and I feel like I’ve written about them several times so far this year. I’ll do it again with pleasure, though, as their angst-ridden teenage grunge-punk garage rock n’ roll thrills me every time. If you’re not into this band, you have no soul, so have fun with that or whatever. The rest of us will be dancing. Twin Drugs are a new shoegaze project from around town, and have definitely captivated me with their tremolo-loaded debut EP from last summer. And Large Margin round it out by making me think of Large Marge from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Twas 10 years ago, on this very night… wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah, go to this show.
Monday, May 1, 8 PM
Forcefield Records 10-Year Anniversary, feat. Battlemaster, Unsacred, The Catalyst, Dorthia Cottrell @ Strange Matter – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Speaking of 10 years ago, it’s apparently been a full decade since Tim Harwich decided to throw his money into releasing the many bands, both local and otherwise, that he loved. Forcefield Records is a label that’s always led with the heart and done things their way, and they’ve reaped the rewards of having a bulletproof roster. You can see that when you look at this particular lineup–all Forcefield Records artists, all completely incredible. And while it might be easy to lump all of these artists in under a really generic label like “metal,” the fact is that you’ll hear a whole lot of different sounds from this gig, with each band standing significantly apart from the others.
Battlemaster leads off the charge, and their thrashing metal sound has a lot of variety to it, pulling from death metal, black metal, and all sorts of other genres to create blazing epics with lyrics drawn straight from your favorite fantasy novels. Unsacred takes things in a much darker direction, with a hardcore-influenced black metal sound that is blistering and terrifying. The Catalyst have been coerced out of retirement as well, and will showcase their powerful blend of epic metalcore, raging noise-rock, and pissed-off hardcore punk for all the true believers that still remain. Finally, Windhand’s Dorthia Cottrell gives us a set of her always-captivating solo material, featuring the darkest folk sounds that are simultaneously not metal at all and somehow draw from the same well as her main project. Come celebrate the continued existence of a truly top-tier local label, perhaps the best Richmond has produced, and get overwhelmed with incredible sounds in the process. You won’t regret it.
Tuesday, May 2, 8 PM
Brokeback, Mind Over Mirrors, Gardener @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This one is a bit of an anomaly, at least for me. I am aware of the modern instrumental post-rock scene, and often find it fascinating, yet generally end up on the outside looking in. However, I feel a bit of a connection to Brokeback, as it is a project headed by Douglas McCombs. Yeah, I know, you recognize his name from Tortoise, but for me, Doug McCombs will always first and foremost be the bass player for Eleventh Dream Day. That Chicago alt-rock band was a big one for me as a teenager; LPs like Lived To Tell and El Moodio definitely rocked me back at the dawn of the 90s when I was trapped in rural high school hell.
More recent Brokeback work, such as 2013’s Brokeback And The Black Rock and this year’s excellent Illinois River Valley Blues, sees McCombs and co. getting away from the multi-layered electronic-infused textures of earlier Brokeback work and moving towards more involved explorations of the guitar-driven live band that the group has recently become. Those who come to view the band’s live performance at Strange Matter this Tuesday night can expect to find as much Crazy Horse as Tortoise in the band’s sound, and if you ask me, this is a welcome development. Drone-driven post-rock project Mind Over Mirrors, also hailing from Chicago, is along on this jaunt, and local electronic experimentalist Gardener will open the evening. Expect cerebral challenge to exist directly alongside visceral rock n’ roll on this bill. It’ll be awesome.
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