Tuesday, June 13, 7 PM
Lee Ranaldo, Steve Gunn, Meg Baird @ The Broadberry – $20 (order tickets HERE)
I am really stoked about this show. A confession for you, gentle reader: while I readily acknowledge the godlike greatness of Kim Gordon and the irreverent charm of Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo was always my favorite of Sonic Youth’s three singer/songwriters. He didn’t jump into the spotlight much, but if he had one song on a Sonic Youth album, it was guaranteed to be an absolute killer and the perfect mixtape pick. Look at the record: “Wish Fulfillment,” “Mote,” “Karen Revisited,” “Pipeline/Kill Time,” fucking “Eric’s Trip”… the man’s work speaks for itself.
Since Sonic Youth’s unfortunate disbanding in the wake of Kim & Thurston’s divorce, Ranaldo’s solo career has taken a similar arc. Thurston’s solo stuff is weird and great, Kim’s book blew everyone’s mind, but out there just past the edge of the spotlight, Lee’s been killing it with his solo work. 2012’s Between The Times And Tides and 2013’s Last Night On Earth were both incredible. He hasn’t released any new stuff since then, but over the past year or so he’s been doing some touring with Steve Gunn, which has included both solo acoustic performances of his own material and collaborations with Gunn. Meg Baird toured with the duo back in January, and the three of them came together to play some music during those performances as well.
Next Tuesday, all three of them are hitting RVA’s own Broadberry, and we are so lucky to be graced with their presence. I’ve told you enough about Lee Ranaldo, but Steve Gunn and Meg Baird are distinguished in their own right. Gunn previously played with Kurt Vile’s Violators, and has done various solo and collaborative projects over the past year or so, including multiple albums with VA acoustic legend Mike Gangloff (Pelt/The Black Twig Pickers). His 2016 Eyes On The Lines LP got quite a bit of attention, and is the likely focus of his performance at this show. Meg Baird is perhaps most famous for her time in psych-folk group Espers, but has also played with Heron Oblivion and Watery Love, and has released three mesmerizing solo albums, the most recent being 2015’s Don’t Weigh Down The Light. All three of these artists mingle strong melodic senses with acoustic psychedelia to stunning effect, so this will be an incredible gig from beginning to end. Even if I am still most stoked about Lee Ranaldo.
Wednesday, June 7, 8 PM
Horse Jumper Of Love, Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, Fat Spirit, Hill Walkers @ Strange Matter – $8
This whole lazy jangly guitar thing that the college kids are into these days is so great. Horse Jumper Of Love are but the latest in a whole long line of bands that seem to be tapping into that same sluggish angst that characterized great early 90s groups like Pavement, Slint, and Galaxie 500. I for one am stoked about it. The self-titled debut by Horse Jumper Of Love, released last year, has a little bit of that whole modern-bro Mac DeMarco acoustic jangle thing stirred in, but thankfully knows when to get loud and how to turn its sluggish momentum into sudden mind-scraping jolts of slow-motion noise. I can definitely get down with that.
Spencer Radcliffe started out releasing records under the name Blithe Field, but ditched the nom de plume and signed to Run For Cover Records under his own name back in 2015. Enjoy The Great Outdoors, his first release with backing band Everyone Else, fits with that same 90s-reminiscent slacker-rock ethos displayed by Horse Jumper Of Love. Jangly, languidly catchy, but underpinned with a subtly anxious angst, the album strikes a mood that’s extremely appropriate for the dawning of the age of Trump. Maybe if we’re all this sleepy for the next eight years our anxiety won’t render us totally non-functional. Local rad rockers Fat Spirit and Hill Walkers open this gig up. Don’t panic.
Thursday, June 8, 7 PM
Weedeater, Black Wizard, Serial Hawk, Battlemaster, Druglord @ The Broadberry – $20 (order tickets HERE)
Weedeater are a completely unique experience. Oh, it’s sludge metal, or doom, or whatever you wanna call it, and you can expect a lot of downtuned riffs set to dragging tempos, as you would no doubt expect from any band with a name like Weedeater. But it’s the energetic spirit that singer/bassist Dixie Dave Collins brings to this group that truly sets it apart. Bounding around the stage with a wild hillbilly energy, Dixie Dave riles up the crowd in a somewhat humorous fashion, punctuated by the stick tricks much beloved by drummer Travis Owen. Meanwhile, the music stays heavy and serious as fuck, and will knock you over like a high wind if you’re not prepared. This band’s colorful personality makes their live shows a must-see and will keep you entertained no matter how bored with doom metal riffs you might think you are.
The support lineup for this bill is heavily stacked, so don’t think Weedeater constitute the only reason for going or anything like that. They’re accompanied on tour by Vancouver band Black Wizard, who mingle sludgy riffs with a galloping power-metal energy, and by Seattle’s Serial Hawk, who keep it slow, heavy, and spooky in a Neurosis-ish sort of vein. Local support from raging death metal demons Battlemaster and sludge-core veterans Druglord rounds out the bill with some serious quality. This show may not be as cheap as your last Taco Bell meal, but it’s guaranteed to satisfy you as much as those bean burritos did. Don’t skip out.
Friday, June 9, 7 PM
Tired & Pissed: The Show, feat. Ganges Phalanges, 3:33, Pissing Contest, Bust Off, The Donalds, Skumboyz, LNT, Genosha, Menstrual Parasite @ 25 Watt – $7
I’ve definitely given the Between 2 Beers crew, and in particular its head honcho Cory Nicholas, a bunch of props over the past couple of years for their work in revitalizing the local death metal scene and bringing life to the dive bars of Shockoe Bottom. But another factor that has to be taken into account is the recent ascent of Tired & Pissed Records, a local label giving some shine to bands in VA and beyond that straddle the line between punk and metal. Their first two releases were compilations featuring songs by something like two dozen bands that were united both by relative geographical proximity and a similarly angry mindset and chunky guitar sound. It’s not gonna be everyone’s cup of tea, but these guys are way more concerned with expression of their frustrations than they are with making friends. So if you’re down with this kind of fast, heavy, antisocial rage, then 25 Watt’s a place you’ll wanna be this Friday night.
Leading off this incredible nine-band bill is Ganges Phalanges, a Georgia-based speedy punk band who’ve been moving in a grind-ish direction in recent recordings. This show also features DC band Bust Off, who’s old-school USHC sound is closer to Verbal Abuse than Minor Threat but sure to please fans of any 82-style hardcore, regardless of the city it comes from. All the rest of the bands on the bill hail from right here in VA, and from the familiar metallic crust sounds of Pissing Contest and 3:33 to the chunky mosh chug of Genosha, there’s a lot to enjoy here. I must admit I don’t really enjoy contemplating the name of openers Menstrual Parasite, but I have a feeling the band members would be amused to know they’ve grossed out a 40 year old woman, so I’ll give them credit for that much. Nine bands is a lot to take in even on a Friday night, I’m well aware. But everyone needs a good thrash-punk overload every now and then, right?
Saturday, June 10, 10 PM
Pressure Fit, Majjin Boo, Hot Reader @ Flora – Free!
I’m extremely intrigued by this show. I may not be able to listen to Pressure Fit–after all, that Soundcloud link they’ve been posting everywhere is dead as a doornail–but just knowing who’s involved and what they’re about is enough for me. Pressure Fit is the latest project from Reginald Chapman, a longtime member of No BS! Brass Band and a sideman with credits running from Tim Barry to Foxygen.
Pressure Fit sees Chapman teaming up with local musicians who’ve played with Butcher Brown, Sam Reed, and uh… MC Chicken, among others. This talented group of jazz musicians are inspired by hip hop and post-rock, according to things I’ve read on the internet. That sounds intriguing enough to me that I’m willing to take a chance on it regardless of what that disappeared demo sounded like. I think you would be well advised to do the same thing. Local indie buzz bands Majjin Boo and Hot Reader start things off, and you can expect all of these artists to deliver the goods.
Sunday, June 11, 9 PM
Sect, Watchdogs, Hybrid Warfare, Shattered Xistence @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
According to the (mostly self-imposed) guidelines under which I create this column, I can only feature one show per week. However, despite all my ranting about the greatness of Lee Ranaldo up top, I can tell you right now that I’m just as stoked about the work of Chris Colohan. This veteran Toronto hardcore vocalist has fronted such outstanding bands as Left For Dead, The Swarm, Cursed, and Burning Love, among others. His latest project, Sect, combines the crushing heaviness of Cursed with the thrashing speed of The Swarm, and adds in a significant dose of 90s-style vegan metalcore.
The latter element is doubtless due to Colohan’s collaborators in Sect, who include Undying guitarist Jimmy Chang, Earth Crisis guitarist Scott Crouse, Day Of Suffering bassist Steve Hart, and Vegan Reich drummer Andy Hurley (who, yes, you probably know better due to his involvement in Fall Out Boy). Their 2016 self-titled debut is a vicious blackened screamer of an album, which rips your face off just as hard as Old Blue Eyes Is Dead did back in 99. Good god I am so stoked for this. Local support from Watchdogs, Hybrid Warfare, and Shattered Xistence is sure to be capable, but the best part of this whole evening is the part they’ll be saving for last. Bring earplugs, because Sect is gonna blow your head apart if you’re not adequately prepared.
Monday, June 12, 7 PM
Queer Folk Dreams, feat. Madison Turner, Petni, Sammi Lanzetta, Strawberry Moon, Dan Mango, Ricky Steece @ Comm Room – $6
The great thing about smaller, less conventional venues like Comm Room is the sort of out-of-the-ordinary performances they’re able to give space to. This Queer Folk Dreams night is an excellent example, as well as being a great quiet-but-intense way to start off your week. The event is tagged as “an evening of lo-fi, acoustic, and performance art pieces by artists who identify as queer,” and in a world where loud angry straight men are the norm, Queer Folk Dreams stands as a promising antidote to what can become a very same-y music scene.
Madison Turner and Sammi Lanzetta bookend the evening, and are likely to be the most familiar names on the bill for RVA music fans. Turner’s verbose, angst-ridden folk-punk has an eminently relatable charm and will no doubt take on some intriguing additional layers with the backing of Private Cry’s Micah Barry for this event. Lanzetta’s incredible voice works well with her melodic songwriting skills, and is sure to close out the evening on a powerful note. And New Orleans musician Ricky Steece is sure to be a midshow highlight, bringing their incredible voice, unorthodox acoustic instrumentation, and unforgettable songs to the RVA massive in powerful fashion. Acoustic sounds from Strawberry Moon, ambient sounds from Dan Mango, and performance art from Petni round out this bill with an excellent diversity of creativity and creators.
Tuesday, June 13, 8 PM
Bleachers, MUNA @ The National – $21 in advance/$24 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I haven’t really spent too much time with the music of Bleachers, but I must admit that I’ve been very charmed by the group’s leader, Jack Antonoff. Every interview I’ve read with him makes him seem like a really cool guy. I’d been meaning to look further into his music, and in so doing, I’ve found that it totally lives up to what my advance impressions had led me to hope for. Antonoff’s pop sensibility obviously draws a lot of influence from the mid-80s heyday of John Hughes soundtrack pop anthems by Naked Eyes, Simple Minds, Cyndi Lauper, etc. However, there’s nothing retro about Bleachers, whose songs are based around eternally shining melodies and feature powerful, uplifting choruses.
And doesn’t that sound like something we could all use more of in our lives? The fact that Antonoff writes substantive, complex lyrics for songs like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Don’t Take The Money” only sweetens the deal. The same could be said of the fact that Bleachers has brought openers MUNA along on this tour. This trio of queer women deliver some powerful music that they call “dark pop” with the sort of solid insight that we music journalists like to flatter ourselves that we possess. MUNA reminds me a bit of Haim, but with a significant influence from groups like CHVRCHES and Goldfrapp to make things more intriguing. Bleachers are the reason you’ll wanna be at this show, but MUNA offer powerful incentive to show up on time.
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