Friday, May 5, 9 PM
First Friday Benefit For Girls Rock RVA, feat. Clair Morgan, Atta Girl, Big Baby, Georgie Isaacs @ The Camel – $6 in advance/$8 at the door (order tickets HERE)
First Friday, y’all! It’s always great, especially when this time of year comes around–it’s warm enough to go walking around at night without heavy jackets, but nowhere near as deathly hot and humid as it’ll get in a couple of months. There’s a ton of stuff to do on First Friday every month, too, and a lot of it is free! Nonetheless, I’m gonna encourage you to shell out a little bit of cash for your entertainment on this particular First Friday, because this edition of Clair Morgan’s First Friday residency at The Camel is being used to benefit a very good cause, one you should definitely back.
Girls Rock RVA is a week-long summer camp for girls and gender non-conforming youth between the ages of 8 and 14. It happens every summer due to the tireless year-long efforts of a mostly unsung crew of volunteers. It is wildly successful at its goal of getting young women to discover and unlock their creative potential; in fact, it’s been around long enough now that some of the earlier alumnae are now playing in local bands. And it survives and thrives partly due to the many local musicians and music fans who spend the year raising funds to keep it alive.
There you go–that’s a bunch of good reasons to pay the cover charge at this show right there. However, you’ll be getting such a great night of local music in exchange for your cash that you’d be getting a great deal regardless. Clair Morgan’s become a local mainstay, with his/his band’s brand of intricate, melodic math rock, while Atta Girl have knocked a lot of people out over the past couple of years with their punky, spunky brand of indie pop. They’re releasing the follow-up to their excellent debut EP, Fuck The Sun, at this show, and it’s gonna be one of their last live performances, if not THE last one, so you’ve got even more reasons to catch them now! Big Baby is another local indie pop band, but this trio is still on the come-up and looking for opportunities to impress. This is a good one, considering how rad they are and all. Georgie Isaacs opens up with some wry, sincere folk tunes that are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Wednesday, May 3, 8 PM
惡AI意, Long Knife, Sow, Unwanted @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
This show looks like it’s gonna be a great big sloppy mess. But don’t get me wrong–I mean that as a compliment. The best punk rock is at least a little bit out of control, and a lot of times things are most memorable and meaningful when they’re teetering on the edge of chaos. AI come from a long tradition of noisy, hectic Japanese hardcore punk, which dates all the way back to pioneers like GISM and Confuse in the early 80s. This leather-and-spike-adorned ensemble keeps things fast, blurry, and chaotic, and their performances are totally out of control genius. This will be one of those nights when sweat and beer flies liberally around the dance floor at Strange Matter, and I know there are a lot of us out here who like nothing better.
Portland’s Long Knife will be supporting AI on this tour, and they’ve got a similar sound, although they’re coming from that more American-style brand of wild n’ crazy hardcore, with roots in the sounds of Poison Idea, Negative Approach, and scratchy old garage-punk 45s. This band should tear things up with just as much energy as AI, and the two relatively new local bands on the bill will get people going as well. Sow, after all, features ex-members of short-lived buzz band Kommunion, and Unwanted is bringing together members of Orgasm, Fuckheads, and 15 Minute Roadkill Explosion, so these guys are sure to get nuts. Wear your steeltoed boots to this one, y’all.
Thursday, May 4, 8 PM
Omni, Mom And Dad, Lady God, Ing @ Strange Matter – $8
Oh hey, this is cool! Omni, who last came through only a short time ago for the Citrus City Records two-year anniversary throwdown, are back in town already. And while I know a lot of people crammed into Gallery 5 for that event back in the late winter, I’m sure there are still plenty of y’all who haven’t gotten hip to this charming, ramshackle, yet strangely kinda mathy melodic indie band. It’s time to fix that; after all, what better way to spend Thursday night (aka the start of the weekend)?
Especially considering that Omni aren’t even the only awesome touring band on this bill. Nashville’s Mom And Dad have had a buzz of their own for a while, and their recently released LP I Am, Therefore I Is shows exactly what’s causing it. Catchy guitar-driven pop with synth accents and an unstoppable groove, to be specific. It’s enough to get anyone’s butt moving. With Lady God, a psychedelic quartet who’ve done quite a bit to establish themselves as local mainstays, and Ing, a hot new band coming out of Charlottesville and impressing heads all over the RVA, filling out the bill… oh man, this sentence might be a bit convoluted but this show will be a clear winner.
Friday, May 5, 7 PM
Fat Spirit, Dynamo, Big No, Slump @ Gallery 5 – Free!
Remember earlier when I talked about how there’s always a ton to do on First Friday? Well, sure enough, I couldn’t stop with just one First Friday recommendation for y’all this time around. This show is for those of you who can’t scrape up the cash to make it to the Girls Rock RVA benefit at the Camel–the traditional First Friday night of free music at Gallery 5, which continues to deliver in excellent fashion as it has for quite a few years now. This time around, Fat Spirit will be headlining, in celebration of the release of Nihilist Blues, their second full-length, on Citrus City Records. The band’s undergone a significant overhaul since recording their debut album, but with talented singer/songwriter John Graham fronting the band and Ian McQuary’s always-stunning guitar pyrotechnics still taking a prominent role, the band’s core elements remain intact, with new rhythm section Matty Timko (bass) and Robert Lindstedt (drums) holding down the bottom end as powerfully as ever.
But rejoicing at the arrival of the excellent and hotly anticipated new Fat Spirit album isn’t the only reason for you to cruise into Gallery 5 after you’ve hit up the art walk. Another enticing element of the evening comes from Nashville’s Dynamo, a jazzy funk ensemble with some melodic, soulful vocals. They’ll bring a totally different vibe than Fat Spirit will, but it should be just as invigorating. Opening sets from psych rockers Big No and freaky heavy punkers Slump will bring completely different elements of their own, for a widely varied and hugely entertaining night of sounds that should make a perfect capper to an evening of awesome art.
Saturday, May 6, 8 PM
Dysrhythmia, Sabbath Assembly, Manzara, Petrichor @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Oh damn, this is looking like a pretty sick bill. Dysrhythmia have been around long enough and done enough awesome shit that, at least in the experimental metal community, they need no introduction. For those of you not tapped into the intricate workings of that particular subgenre, though, I should explain that this instrumental power trio draws from all sorts of different influences–jazz, progressive rock, ambient electronic drones, technical death metal, you name it. The resulting melange of incredible instrumental heaviness lands not too far from what legendary RVA instrumental power trio Breadwinner were doing back in the day, mixed with King Crimson at their most progressive and technical.
Dysrhythmia has long featured talented bassist Colin Marston, also known for his membership in Behold The Arctopus and the more recent incarnations of Gorguts. But while Marston was not a founding member, founding guitarist Kevin Hufnagel has just as impressive a resume, having also participated in more recent incarnations of Gorguts, as well as Vaura. Sabbath Assembly, who join Dysrhythmia on this tour, also feature Hufnagel on guitar, and in this band he turns his skills towards a completely different sound. Sabbath Assembly’s spooky metal atmospheres aren’t that far from what local favorites Windhand create, only with a much more energetic attack that recalls the riff-heavy sounds of early Scorpions or Judas Priest. The dark, driving postpunk of Manzara and the moody psychedelic riffage of Petrichor will provide apt local support for this brilliantly intricate pairing of headliners. Be prepared to do some thinking while you bang your head. It’s good for your brain, you know.
Sunday, May 7, 7 PM
Everymen, Park Sparrows, Walk The Plank, SteveO & The Crippling Addictions, Matt Seymour @ Strange Matter – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I admit I did not know Everymen before finding out that local label Say-10 Records was releasing their new album. However, just a bit of investigation has been enough to more than pique my interest. This Florida group’s energetic attack, which mixes high-energy acoustic punk sounds with Eastern European folk traditions like klezmer and the sound known as “gypsy music,” is sure to appeal to fans of groups like World/Inferno Friendship Society and Gogol Bordello. Meanwhile, their obvious punk lineage and passionate vocal performances have more in common with politically-driven punk powerhouses like Against Me and Defiance Ohio. If you’ve heard enough folk-punk in your time that the very thought of the genre squicks you out, believe me, I understand. But Everymen might just be the band to make you believe once again.
There are a ton of great local bands on this bill too, so you certainly won’t be yawning or glancing at your watch while you wait for the headliner to take the stage on this night. Park Sparrows have been on the scene for a relatively short amount of time, but their persistent energy has helped them cover quite a bit of ground during that time. Their new split with Maask sounds amazing, bringing the speedy upbeat fury of bands like the sadly-departed local heroes Hold Tight as well as the melodic passion of equally missed local legends Avail. DC hardcore punks Walk The Plank have a similarly driving sound with a bit more of an aggressive feel, as displayed on new LP Cemetery Vacation (which they’ll have for sale at this show… hint hint). SteveO & The Crippling Addictions have a lot more to do with the Holy Mess than Jackass, but fans of both should probably check them out. And of course, Matt Seymour is opening the whole thing up with a solo acoustic set that one imagines will draw pretty heavily from his time fronting Pedals On Our Pirate Ships. Only one way to find out…
Monday, May 8, 8 PM
Throne Of Botis, Crucial Rip, Voarm, Tond, R-Complex @ Strange Matter – $5
What immediately jumps out at me about this particular bill is the fact that this crew of raging death and black metal bands, along with one harsh noise merchant, have come together to benefit The Humane League (no, not the synth-poppers who did that “working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” song, that’s someone else entirely). Organizations raising money to help reduce animal suffering aren’t the sorts of groups you’d necessarily associate with brutally extreme genres like this, especially when all of them are known for some pretty brutal associated iconography. Then again, Carcass apparently sang about vivisection a lot because they were vegans trying to spread a message of reducing cruelty, so it’s by no means unprecedented. Takes all kinds, I suppose.
Anyway, let’s talk about the music on offer here. VA Beach’s Throne Of Botis is absolutely brutal death metal of the incredibly technical variety, while RVA death metallers Crucial Rip have a more rough n’ ready approach to the genre that at times veers relatively close to the goregrind end of the spectrum. Voarm’s black metal is of the howling hellspawn horror variety, while Tond take a more downbeat, spookier approach. R-Complex just want to shred your face with blasts of raging noise. If you dig loud, heavy music, you’ll find something to love on this bill. And of course, your admission will go to support loving animals. Which is cool, though I must admit I’ll still be eating meat the next morning. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
Tuesday, May 9, 8 PM
Preoccupations, Basmati, Sacramence @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Brutal communist regimes aren’t exactly the most widely appreciated of organizations, especially when they come from completely different parts of the world than one’s own, so it’s no surprise that the white men who formerly performed under the name Viet Cong were eventually shamed out of the entire thing. These days they call themselves Preoccupations, and they continue to make enjoyable guitar-driven postpunk with synth and electronic touches to give it all a hint of strangeness and charm. Their self-titled LP from last fall has many things to recommend it, and nothing written on the cover to turn off prospective buyers who might cringe at too-casual references to controversial military factions.
I don’t know too much about the people we were fighting in the Vietnam war, but I do know I enjoy this new Preoccupations album quite a bit. I never bothered to listen to them before, but I’m glad I can make up for lost time with a clear conscience. Going to see them this Tuesday night is the perfect opportunity for others in similar circumstances, and with rad locals Basmati plying their complex alt-rock on the bill as well, there’s at least one regional addition guaranteed to sweeten the pot. Strange electronic project Sacramence is a bit more of a wild card at the top of the bill, but at minimum they are sure not to bore you.
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