Sunday, July 16, 6 PM
Circa Survive, Citizen @ The Canal Club – $22 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Over the past decade-plus, Circa Survive have risen to the level of mainstays and torchbearers where the “prog-emo” genre is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty skeptical of that genre tag in general, but it’s serviceable shorthand to describe bands who straddle the line between emo and metal, so I am guilty of using it from time to time. And few bands seem better suited for it than Circa Survive, a band driven by the unmistakable vocal timbres of Anthony Green and the complex interwoven guitar lines of Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom. Steve Clifford’s drums are pretty outstanding too, now that I think of it… OK, let’s just put it out there–everyone in this band is super talented.
Talented players are only half the story, though. What really makes Circa Survive’s work so enduring and popular is their consistently excellent songwriting. Memorable choruses vie for the spotlight with intricate, melodic guitar lines and driving rhythm riffs, all of which is topped by Anthony Green’s brilliant lyrics. Early albums Juturna and On Letting Go have both been the subject of tenth anniversary tours; the latter tour ended only months ago. It’s been a few years since Circa Survive released their fifth album, Descensus, so there isn’t a bonanza of new material to hear for the first time or anything. No, the real reason to go see Circa Survive is just to appreciate the consistency and longevity of an excellent band who’ve remained at the top of their game for over 10 years now.
The opening set from Citizen is a special bonus on this tour, which should delight anyone who appreciates what emo was back before the early-2000s wave of poppy/popular bands took it in a catchier direction. Their 2013 debut, Youth, was an important document of that early-10s phenomenon known as “the emo revival,” and 2015 follow-up Everyone Is Going To Heaven proved that Citizen weren’t just a flash in the pan, showing a degree of intensity lacking in a lot of the follow-up albums from emo revival bands, who mostly seem to have gone shoegaze at this point. So yeah, these guys are a good addition to a night the awesomeness quotient of which is already guaranteed. Get stoked.
Wednesday, July 12, 7 PM
Undergang, Necrot, Battlemaster, Left Cross @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you’re anything like me, the thing that surprises you the most about this show is that it’s happening at neither Strange Matter nor 25 Watt, but instead at The Camel, which tends to bring us decidedly less heavy fare. Seeing a metal show in a venue like this just seems like further proof that metal, like communism, is the end stage of all truly enlightened societies. And in case you think I’m overstating the case about the metal-ness of this Camel show, let me clarify: all of the bands on this show are heavy as fuck. Touring headliners Undergang hail from Denmark and pair grinding, downtuned riffs reminiscent of prime Incantation and Malevolent Creation brutality with the sort of death metal vocals that are so low-pitched they seem like they must be coming from an orc or an ogre or something like that.
And then there’s Oakland’s Necrot, who recently released their latest and greatest full-length, Blood Offerings, on the excellent metalpunk label Tankcrimes. I’m still hearing some prime early-90s Florida death metal sounds from these guys, though my mind turns more towards the sounds of Morbid Angel and Deicide here. Regardless, this evening is going to be a cornucopia of headbanging delights for all true metal fanatics, especially with wild n’ crazy thrash powerhouse Battlemaster and crossover revivalists Left Cross adding local support. Let’s hope this show is only the beginning of a new era of metal dominance here in RVA. I don’t know about you, but I would be waaaay into that.
Thursday, July 13, 7 PM
Camp Cope, Worriers, Thin Lips, Doll Baby @ Gallery 5 – $8 in advance/$10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This show caught my eye because Worriers are on it. I’ve written about them multiple times in this little column, and every time they come back to Richmond I try to send y’all their way. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Camp Cope, a band who are billed as headlining over Worriers that I had somehow never heard of. Google informed me that this band is from Australia, and demonstrated to me that this world of heartfelt melodic punk that has been a very positive movement in the underground music world over the past few years stretches far beyond the USA’s borders. Camp Cope’s self-titled album has that same jangly guitar sound paired with intensely delivered yet sweetly sung lyrics that I’ve come to love from bands like Hop Along and Cayetana (the latter of which actually did a split with Camp Cope earlier this year). There’s also a tinge of the Aussie alt-guitar sound that’s been pushed forward recently by artists like Courtney Barnett and Scott And Charlene’s Wedding, which can’t be anything but good.
So it turns out that you don’t even need Worriers on this bill to make this show very much worth seeing. But oh, how much more worth seeing is it with them there? This Brooklyn collective, which exists as a vehicle for the songwriting of the brilliant Lauren DeNitzio, hasn’t been too prolific thus far, what with their shifting lineups and peripatetic habits. However, they recently signed to Side One Dummy and released an excellent new single, “Future Me,” which stands as a harbinger of great things to come. Their set is sure to be outstanding, and the prospect of new material only makes a great thing greater. Don’t miss it! I don’t even have much space left to devote to excellent Philly band Thin Lips, but they’re a great pairing with the other two headliners and have a ton of catchy, meaningful tunes of their own to charm you with. RVA’s own awesome melodic jangle-punk group Doll Baby gets this whole night rolling. It’s gonna rule.
Friday, July 14, 7:30 PM
Madison Turner, BLVCKPUNX, DRUG, Meow Twins, Freeman’s Dead, Guilty Flesh @ Comm Room – $6
Here’s a rad show that’s sorta two shows at the same time! The main gig going on this fine evening is the illustrious Madison Turner’s 30th birthday celebration. Madison’s apparently feeling a little old what with the departure of her 20s and all. I know the feeling, Madison–turning 30 SUCKED. I also had to throw a birthday show to feel better about it. But hey, let me assure you, it only gets better from here! And readers, I can assure you that Madison Turner’s set this night will delight you no matter what age you are. Her folk-punk jams have catchy intensity and humorous heart even when she plays them by herself, but on this night she’ll be fronting a four-piece band that’ll really amp things up. Get ready for a party!
And oh my goodness, this party has so much more going on than just Madison Turner’s headlining set. Tampa psych-punk weirdos DRUG are on hand to spice up the night with some surprisingly danceable weirdness, while BLVCKPUNX will bring their aggressive noise-infused hip hop to the stage with characteristic intensity. And then there’s the whole-other-show aspect I referenced earlier. Long Beach, CA bands Meow Twins, Freeman’s Dead, and Guilty Flesh will play all three of their sets back-to-back on the same equipment, giving you three killer punk bands inside a single hour! Meow Twins are in the same sort of weird-psych-y vein as DRUG, Freeman’s Dead are ramshackle fun-loving punk rockers, and Guilty Flesh rage through hyperspeed catchy tunes as if the cops are on their tail. All of them are sure to kill it–just like this show as a whole!
[SAD BUT IMPORTANT ADDENDUM: unfortunately a couple bands dropped off this bill at the 11th hour and it has forced the show’s cancellation. There are a TON of other shows happening this night, from Issues at The National to Demons at Gallery 5 to Drivin N’ Cryin at Capital Ale House Music Hall. Check out any or all of the aforementioned instead. Sorry!]
When I’m making this column, I value the quality of the music a lot more than the diversity of venues I’m highlighting (thus Strange Matter managing to dominate quite a few weeks… just sayin). So it’s rare that I have a column in which every show happens at a different venue. We came close this week, except for the fact that both Friday and Saturday nights drew me to shows at Comm Room, a rad new DIY space that is more legit than a house (and therefore something I can write about without worrying that I’m calling down the law), but not as rigidly structured as a club, thus allowing for all sorts of different outside-the-mainstream projects to get space. It’s therefore not weird at all that we go from a Friday show featuring quirky melodic punk to a straight-up hardcore show on a Saturday. But it is awesome!
Tennessee’s Dawn Patrol are your headliners for this night, and considering former TN residents Van Hagar are also on the bill, it seems likely that Dawn Patrol made it here through their auspices. Dawn Patrol are not a grinding blast of powerviolence energy the way Van Hagar are, though; they stretch their songs out a bit more and tend to build energy through midtempo hardcore grooves, beautifully interspersed with biker-crust speedcore. New single “Chemical Lobotomy (MK ULTRA)” is a ripper of a record, for sure. Van Hagar will, as previously mentioned, blast your face off with some seriously pissed high-energy grind, while Listless go for a darker, moodier take on metallic hardcore, complete with dual vocalists. BLVCKPUNX finishes out a back-to-back run of performances at Comm Room to round out the bill, and even if you saw them the night before, you’re gonna want to see them again. This I can assure you.
Sunday, July 16, 8 PM
Tond, A Deer A Horse, Tel @ Bandito’s Burrito Lounge – $Free!
When a band gets described as “doom/post-rock,” it conjures up certain images in my head. I figured at best, Brooklyn’s A Deer A Horse would have a strange, spooky mid-period Neurosis type vibe, and at worst, they might be as boring as the snooziest later Isis albums. Turns out I was pretty seriously misled by a brief genre tag and my own preconceptions. What I found was a darkly atmospheric take on heavy alt-rock, complete with the occasional grinding metal riff but more characterized by downbeat, droning riffs and distinctive female vocals that reminded me most of Thalia Zedek’s early 90s project Come. A Deer A Horse is way closer to “Fast Piss Blues” than “No River To Take Me Home,” and as much as I like the latter sound, I’m way more stoked to discover a band tapping into the former.
The other two bands on this bill hail from right here in Richmond and are a bit easier to pin down, though that’s certainly not a slam on either of them. Tond have been drawing some attention around town of late with their epic approach to black metal, mingling Opeth-style gothic melodies with classic growling shred styles a la Emperor. Tel is an even newer crew that features some of the same members as Tond, and they definitely delve into the sort of gloomy funeral doom I was sorta expecting from A Deer A Horse. They’re a bit more like 40 Watt Sun than Neurosis, but I’m certainly not complaining about that! This is the first show I’ve ever seen at Bandito’s with an admission price, so don’t show up empty-handed, especially since you need to score some tacos as well, while you’re there and all. [UPDATE: Apparently this show is free after all! I wondered!]
Monday, July 17, 8 PM
Captain We’re Sinking, Sea Of Storms, Teen Death, Clever Girl @ Strange Matter – $10 (order tickets HERE)
By now all of my readers should be aware that my two great musical loves are metal and emo. I always come back to them, and they never let me down. We’ve already talked a fair bit about metal this week, so it’s time for some emo. You probably guessed that much just by headliners Captain, We’re Sinking’s presence on this bill. I say that even if you’ve never heard of this band; let’s face it, that’s an obviously emo band name. No power-violence band would ever call themselves that. But that’s OK, because Captain, We’re Sinking are doing a lot with their relatively predictable name. This is clear as soon as you listen to their brand new LP, The King Of No Man, which came out on Run For Cover a few weeks ago. Its heartfelt choruses, memorable riffs, and powerful rhythm section are everything you want from an emo album. Or at least, everything I want. And since my taste is impeccable and unassailable, that should be all you need!
OK, whew, had to get out of that paragraph before I dug myself an even deeper hole. I’m on more steady ground now, because I’m talking about the three rad Richmond bands that are opening this show. Sea Of Storms are first up, and if you ask me, they’re the most noteworthy; their 2015 full-length debut, Dead Weight, was one of my favorite albums of that year and still means a ton to me. These guys are not as young as they once were, so they don’t exactly play out every single week, and therefore it’s imperative that you catch them whenever they play. No, seriously, trust me on this. Teen Death are a super-fun trio featuring former members of Hold Tight and Springtime getting into a sort of grunge-punk groove that simultaneously calls to mind Nirvana and the New Bomb Turks. Clever Girl opens up with some catchy pop-punk that’ll kick the night off right. You don’t wanna miss a minute of this one.
Tuesday, July 18, 7 PM
The Dharma Bombs, Look Homeward, Keilan Creech @ Capital Ale House Music Hall – $5 (order tickets HERE)
When a band describes itself as “Appalachian Dixieland” and features instruments like mandolin and banjo in its lineup, you might think you know exactly what you’re getting. “Oh, like that ‘old-time Americana’ stuff that alt-country kids like?” That’s certainly what I thought about The Dharma Bombs, a band that’s been getting a lot of attention for quite a while in certain Richmond circles. I’ll admit, those circles aren’t the ones I usually run in, and it’s taken me a while to dig in deeper. But when I finally did, I got a pleasant surprise.
You see, The Dharma Bombs may have some old-time string-band instrumentation going on, but they’ve also got horns and clarinet in the lineup, and the music they play on their recently released LP, Old Time Romance, has a lot more in common with the early days of jazz (think 1920s, or even late 1910s) than with any of the stuff that gets thrown in with alt-country or Americana. That’s a pretty cool thing in a time when stuff like this is damn hard to find. So hey, slide me a #latepass, and I’ll eat some crow, because it turns out The Dharma Bombs are worth way more attention than I’ve been giving them. Check them out at Capital Ale House Music Hall–a venue that has also been way more on my radar of late, though I think that’s an improvement more on their part than mine (keep it up, y’all!)–and catch Durham’s Look Homeward when you do, because this melancholy country-rock crew has a lot to recommend them as well. Local singer-songwriter Keilan Creech kicks things off, and although I know very little about him, he seems like an appropriate mood-setter for this night of old-school sounds from the country.
Special for this month only! My fiancee and I are getting married on the other side of the country and we’re making a zine about it! Help us make the whole thing happen, get yourself a copy of the zine plus some other cool perks, and help our dreams come true! You can do that right here: http://igg.me/at/drew-n-saras-wedding-album We will be eternally grateful for anything you can throw our way!
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