Saturday, May 20, 9:30 PM
Bash & Pop, Long Arms @ The Camel – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OK so I know there are shows on this week’s itinerary with greater popular appeal than this one. I know most of you are probably sitting there thinking, “Bash & Pop? Who even are they?” I know the only person I can be sure is more excited than me about this show is James Menefee, and his band is opening up. But regardless of all that, I have to put this show at the top of the list this week, precisely because so few of you probably know who Bash & Pop are–which is a crime, if you ask me.
Y’see, Bash & Pop is the band Tommy Stinson formed right after the Replacements imploded. They released one absolutely killer album, Friday Night Is Killing Me (and yes, for the American Nightmare fans in the house, Wes Eisold is intentionally referencing it in “There’s A Black Hole In The Shadow of the PRU”), back in 1993, but fell apart soon afterward. I remember the album coming out, but it took me something like 10 years before I finally listened to the whole thing, at which time I discovered that rough n’ ready pop gems like “Never Aim To Please” and “Loose Ends” made it a way better album than anyone had given it credit for at the time. It captured that loose, tough, anthemic vibe that made mid-period Replacements so crucial; in fact, it did a better job of doing so than the first few Paul Westerberg solo albums ever did. The fact that no one really paid it any mind at the time is a huge bummer.
But so to bring us up to date–after spending some time playing with both Soul Asylum and Guns N’ Roses, and releasing two solo albums, Tommy Stinson decided to reform Bash & Pop last year. In all honesty, he’s the only remaining original member, but he was the driving force of the original band so I’m not docking them any points for that one. The band’s second album, Anything Could Happen, came out back in January, and hits all the same sweet spots their debut connected with 24 years ago. It’s great to have them back; maybe this time they’ll grab the attention they unjustly missed the first time around. You can do your part to make sure that happens by heading down to The Camel Saturday night and checking out their set. As was previously mentioned, James Menefee’s alt-country combo, Long Arms, will be opening things up, and I’m sure they’ll rise to the occasion. So get there on time, grab some libations at the bar, and grab a spot in the front row. You won’t regret it.
Wednesday, May 17, 8 PM
Cloud Nothings, Eric Slick, Sea Of Storms @ Strange Matter – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Cloud Nothings are back in town in support of their latest album, Life Without Sound. Their fifth album (or maybe fourth, depending on how you’re counting) isn’t quite as heavy and loud as the last couple, and Dylan Baldi’s cranked back on the distortion and the sandpaper in his throat that made earlier work land closer to Dinosaur Jr. than Badfinger. However, the slightly less loud 2017 model still rocks hard and has hooks aplenty to get caught in your head. Cloud Nothings have never been a band to rest on their laurels, and the fact that they continue to progress into new territory speaks well for their creative spark. Their new album was refreshingly unpredictable, but one thing’s for sure about the live show–it’s gonna deliver the goods.
Eric Slick’s been showing up on a lot of bills lately, which has been interesting. The Dr. Dog drummer recently released a solo album, Palisades, on trendsetting RVA label Egghunt, so that should certainly explain his high profile around town. Meanwhile, the psychedelic pop jewels populating the track list of Palisades will help to explain why local bookers want to put him on shows in the first place. Dr. Dog has never really been on my radar, but regardless of what you think of that band, Eric Slick’s solo material definitely has quite a few significant factors to recommend it. Sea Of Storms will open things up with some driving, passionate post-hardcore to get the night started off right. This show should be A-plus all the way through.
Thursday, May 18, 7 PM
Cupid McCoy, Big Baby, Cream Dream @ Gallery 5 – $6
Here’s something you don’t see every day–a band releasing a lookbook! I’m not entirely sure what the implications are here, but based on the promotional material I’ve seen for this show, I have reason to believe that Cupid McCoy will be offering a streetwear line, so apparently this really is one band that wants to make as much of a mark in fashion as in music. The performance side of things will introduce you to a group who seems to draw as much from the bedroom synth-poppers of the chillwave movement as from the languid, dreampop-influenced indie sound that’s become prominent in recent years. Recent release Major Crush creates an enveloping atmosphere of hazy sweetness; the transporting feeling it creates will hopefully come through just as clearly in the live setting.
In addition to bringing us a musical performance, Cupid McCoy is also joining with a couple of other fashion-oriented collaborators to create a “performative clothing show” entitled This Too We Shall Hold Dearly. Sounds like exactly the sort of totally bizarre art happening that Gallery 5 should be hosting, if you ask me. With local indie pop faves Big Baby and up-and-comers Cream Dream opening up, this should be a pretty rad experience on a strictly musical level as well. So give all of your senses, not just your hearing this time, a thrill, and come out to Gallery 5 Thursday night. Maybe you’ll stumble upon a great new look for summer!
Friday, May 19, 8 PM
Doug Tuttle, Antiphons, Various Eggs @ Gallery 5 – $7 in advance/$8 day of show (order tickets HERE)
When I was checking out the many shows happening around town this week, the name Doug Tuttle didn’t immediately jump out at me. However, once I investigated a bit further, I realized that I knew Tuttle’s music from his previous tenure in Mmoss. I’m pretty sure Revolt Of The Apes put me onto that band originally. Man, back when Ryan used to update more frequently, I found a ton of music from that blog. But hey, I know how it goes–I actually make a teensy bit of money off this column, and it’s still hard to find time to actually write it. I remember when I started the wordpress version, I had all these crazy ideas about doing two or three articles a week… guess that wasn’t too realistic after all.
What was I saying? Oh yeah, Doug Tuttle. After nearly a decade playing guitar in Mmoss, Tuttle’s now two albums into a solo career, and 2016’s It Calls On Me takes Tuttle’s melodic, exploratory psychedelic sound to greater heights even as it delivers quite a few memorable pop tunes that are sure to get stuck in your head. Fans of The Diamond Center, Tame Impala, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra are sure to connect with this one, as will 60s garage-rock nerds like myself. And in a live setting, Tuttle’s only going to take things farther out, and to ever higher points. Should be rad. With local heroes Antiphons, who are at the height of their powers in the wake of releasing debut full-length Groan, and enigmatic avant-popsters Various Eggs opening up, this show will have all sorts of sonic layers at work. Dip your toe in, the water’s fine.
Saturday, May 20, 8 PM
Xasthur, Johanna Warren, Sinister Haze, Lugweight @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Black metal is a strange genre made up of many levels. One of the most intriguing corners of the genre is made up of one-man projects that are shrouded in secrecy and tend to create spooky, riveting noise that’s impossible to forget. One of the most fascinating of these groups was Xasthur, a band created and brought to life by Scott Conner, aka Malefic. Back in 2010, that group ended, with Conner choosing to pursue an acoustic direction with a project called Nocturnal Poisoning. However, in 2015, Conner united the two worlds, recreating Xasthur as an acoustic project picking up where Nocturnal Poisoning left off.
Last year’s Subject To Change, the first Xasthur release in six years, showed that the group’s sound is significantly different from their black metal roots. However, it shares some important spiritual links; the multilayered acoustic guitar textures of the reincarnated Xasthur create the same foreboding mood as did the original incarnation’s much louder early works. Songs like “Parole Fearing” and “Shit Creek” feature the same sort of downbeat, antisocial lyrical topics that showed up on Xasthur records 15 years ago. The band is not nearly as loud as it once was, but those who connected with their earlier material will find a lot to enjoy in their modern incarnation. Prepare to be enraptured in bleakness. Darkly talented folk performer Johanna Warren joins Xasthur on tour, and local metallers Sinister Haze will contribute a stripped-down (acoustic, one assumes) performance, while RVA via NY noise merchant Lugweight will make some noise for those who maybe sorta kinda miss the old Xasthur.
Sunday, May 21, 12 noon
The 10th Annual Jonny Z Festival, feat. Josh Small & The Easy Company, Sick Bags, Gull, Big No, Municipal Waste @ Hardywood – Free!
It’s hard to believe it’s been a full decade since my old pal Jonny Z departed this world. I’m but one of many people who’s lives he touched, and who’ll never forget him. The good folks at Bizarre Market have done a great deal over the past decade to keep his memory alive, and the 10th annual edition of their Jonny Z Festival is just the latest of those things. Jonny loved to play music more than just about anything (check his off-the-chain drum skills on this Tigershark song), so the fact that several great acts will be performing at this Sunday afternoon celebration of his life is eminently appropriate.
Josh Small is a guy who gets too little attention these days, probably because he’s not really interested in being a part of the internet age and therefore doesn’t have much of any music available online. Regardless, he’s an incredibly talented songwriter with a unique voice and approach that’ll grab your attention and refuse to let go. Sick Bags are a new punk band from some people you’ve been seeing around town for quite a while (members of Bad Advice, Goddamn Wolves, The Ladies, etc). Gull should need no introduction, but for those who haven’t caught up yet, he’s a one-man guitar-drum whirlwind of avant-garde sonic transcendence. Big No is a hazy psychedelic combo with a hypnotic buzz that’ll get under your skin in a good way. And I’m kinda burying the lede by waiting til my next-to-last sentence to be like “Oh hey, Municipal Waste are playing too,” but that’s how it’s written on all the promotional material, so I figured I’d play along. Chances are they’ll be previewing their forthcoming sixth album, so you might wanna be there. Just sayin.
Monday, May 22, 8 PM
Pharmakon, Wolf Eyes, Container, Coteries @ Strange Matter – $15 in advance/$18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Fucking PHARMAKON. Hell yes. I will admit that, though I’ve always respected the art of experimental noise, and have appreciated the visceral thrill of using machines and amplification to produce completely atonal walls of sound that send most people running, it’s been tough for me to connect emotionally with most of the sonic artistic creations lumped into the broad category of “noise.” However, Pharmakon reached me on a deep emotional level from the very first basement performance video I saw on youtube, and I’ve been enraptured ever since. Margaret Chardiet’s rhythmic oscillations of dissonant sounds and low ambient hums, over which she screams, howls, and moans with passion and vitality, speak to me on a deep level. The live performance of hers that I caught a couple years ago at Sediment Arts also made a profound impression on me–one that was entirely positive.
Pharmakon returns to Richmond in support of her third album, Contact, which demonstrates the latest evolution of Chardiet’s exploration of the alienation and struggle for meaning that is inherent to humanity. The same basic sonic structure explored on the two previous Pharmakon albums remains intact, but goes deeper and pushes farther in the continued attempts to connect with listeners. Chardiet’s live performances seek the same sort of connection, and you can expect this one to be powerful, meaningful, and memorable. Wolf Eyes, perhaps the most well-known of the few noise artists who’ve received mainstream publicity, join Pharmakon on this tour, and while I’m sure that matters to a lot of people, I gotta be honest–Pharmakon is the whole fucking show as far as I’m concerned. Providence project Container and buzzworthy local artist Coteries will get the evening rolling–and don’t get me wrong, that’ll be pretty cool too.
Tuesday, May 23, 7 PM
Animals As Leaders, Veil Of Maya, Alluvial @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets HERE)
I know it’s not the kind of hot buzzword it was five or so years ago, but I remain fascinated by the metal subgenre known as “djent.” It apparently takes some inspiration from Swedish tech/math-metal band Meshuggah, though I honestly think most of the bands who self-apply the term these days sound pretty far from that band’s headbang-worthy quantum mechanics. Animals As Leaders, for example, are a two-guitar instrumental group with a complex, layered sound and highly complicated riffs for miles. And regardless of all the chugs they throw in, at the end of the day I see more of a connection between them and King Crimson than between them and Meshuggah.
That’s not an insult by ANY means, either, so don’t start having knee-jerk anti-prog reactions on me or anything. King Crimson’s fascinating mid-70s period, during which founding guitarist Robert Fripp united with bassist John Wetton and former Yes drummer Bill Bruford to create instrumentally-focused classics like Starless And Bible Black and Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, shares a real musical kinship with the sounds Tosin Abasi and his co-conspirators create on Animals As Leaders’ 2016 fourth album, The Madness Of Many. If you find complex guitar interplay to be fascinating, but get bored to tears by the endless noodlings of your average jam band, Animals As Leaders are right up your alley. And they’ll even get your head banging on occasion, too–though you better pay close attention, or you’re liable to get off beat. Animals As Leaders’ tourmates for this particular visit are Chicago metalcore monsters Veil Of Maya and brand new instru-metal band Alluvial, who feature members of Conquering Dystopia and The Faceless, among others. Headbangers who get bored with 4/4 time signatures will be all over this one–get in on that shit.
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