Friday, July 21 & Saturday, July 22, 6:30 PM (both days)
WRIR & The Commonwealth Of Notions Presents: Volume Seven
Day One: Sports Bar, Young Scum, Camp Howard, Saw Black, Magnus Lush, Buddy List, Piranha Rama
Day Two: Opin, Black Liquid, McKinley Dixon, Sammi Lanzetta, We Never, Hot Reader; plus closing Ice Cream Social dance party by Ice Cream Support Group @ Strange Matter – $7 each night
Richmond is so great. I’ve been doing this column for years now, and never had any trouble finding a ton of talent from this city to spotlight. And while this city may have had issues with sustaining a high-profile annual music festival dedicated to genres more underground-oriented than jazz and folk, a ton of smaller, more DIY-centric events have more than filled the void. This weekend, one of the longest-running local events of this nature celebrates its seventh year of existence with what just might be its most diverse and powerful bill yet! You’d be a fool to miss it.
The Commonwealth Of Notions is a radio show on WRIR helmed by local music journalist/impresario Shannon Cleary and dedicated to celebrating the music of Virginia. Once a year, Shannon takes his radio show from the airwaves to the stage, throwing a jam-packed weekend of shows featuring all his current local favorites. This year’s edition features a welter of up-and-coming talent from all sorts of different genres. Day one sees a variety of punk, postpunk, and rock n’ roll talent–almost all of which you’ve read about in this column before–converge upon Strange Matter for an anthemic celebration of riff power. Melodic punk veterans Sports Bar and hot young indie hopefuls Young Scum top a bill laden with melody, energy, and verve.
Meanwhile, Day Two leavens the indie-ness of it all with a significant infusion of hip hop from local powerhouse Black Liquid and up-and-comer McKinley Dixon. The electronically-powered postpunk sounds of Opin and the alt-rock brilliance of Sammi Lanzetta help to create a diverse sonic palette for the day, and it’s all capped off with an Ice Cream Social–in this case, actually a dance party thrown by the politically-inspired, POC-focused artistic collective Ice Cream Support Group. There’s even a whole bunch more stuff happening on these two nights that I don’t have space to address, and the fact that you can get all of it for less than you’d pay for a meal at Chipotle (OK, maybe that’s not entirely true… I tend to go pretty big) makes it an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in everything our local music scene has to offer, all in the space of two miraculous nights. Seriously, y’all, this one’s a no-brainer.
Wednesday, July 19, 9 PM
Abinnet Berhanu’s Organ Meeting, feat. Abinnet Berhanu, Jonah Kane-West, & Alan Parker @ Vagabond – Free!
I’ve really been digging what’s been happening over at Vagabond lately, y’all. It’s nice to know that there’s a steady spot in town at which you can hear intriguing excursions into the world of avant-garde jazz. There are a lot of people out there who’d love to convince you that jazz is just music for boring old people and the weather channel, but there’s a big difference between endless recreations of what was happening in the genre 50 years ago and what talented young players who push the boundaries of the genre are dipping into right now. Vagabond seems to be setting itself up as a place where you’ll find the latter. I definitely approve.
Take this free midweek gig happening there Wednesday night. Abinnet Berhanu is a talented local jazz drummer who’s been bashing the skins around the local scene for a while. Alan Parker is a guitar-slinging weirdo with a propensity for side trips in all sorts of different musical directions. Jonah Kane-West is an organist who’s previously led a Jimmy Smith-style organ-driven soul jazz trio. What will these three players come up with when they combine their relatively disparate styles in improvisational fashion? That’s something no one’s gonna know until they step onto the Vagabond stage Wednesday night. But rest assured, it’ll keep your attention.
Thursday, July 20, 8 PM
Supersuckers, The Upper Crust, Chrome Daddy Disco @ The Broadberry – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Back when I got into the Supersuckers, they were a wild punk quartet who only had a couple of EPs out (that’s right kids, I am a million years old). They had the kind of irreverent energy combined with pedal-to-the-floor speed that put them in league with awesome mid-90s garage punk projects like The New Bomb Turks, or The Dwarves on their less-indecent days. They cranked out a couple of incredible albums shortly after I discovered them, but their sound took a surprising turn with the release of 1997’s Must’ve Been High, a straight-up outlaw country album that brought another dimension of this band’s personality to the fore.
In the two decades since that album appeared, the Supersuckers’ career has seen them swing wildly back and forth between these two modes. In 2014 and 2015, the band released back-to-back albums which, together, demonstrated both sides of their modus operandi. 2014’s Get The Hell is a little twangier and not quite as fast as their earliest EPs, but is undeniably punk as fuck regardless. Conversely, 2015’s Holdin’ The Bag is so straight-up old-school country it even contains a Hank Williams Jr cover! Whether the Supersuckers will be more in a wild punk mood or on an outlaw country tear when they take the stage at the Broadberry this Thursday night remains to be seen, though the fact that powdered-wig-bedecked colonial rockers The Upper Crust are Supersuckers tourmates on this one and local rockabilly maniacs Chrome Daddy Disco open up leads one to believe that things will head in more of a punk direction. Regardless, you’re sure to enjoy whatever you get when these rock n’ roll outlaws hit town.
Friday, July 21, 8 PM
Buzzherd, Murdersome, Suppressive Fire @ 25 Watt – $7
There’s so much metal happening in Shockoe Bottom these days that it’s easy to get jaded to it, and start taking it for granted. However, considering the state of the RVA non-doom metal underground a few years ago, I think we should all make sure we keep thanking our lucky stars that Between 2 Beers Promotions came along to re-invigorate those of us getting bored with warmed over Saint Vitus riffs. This show is exactly the sort of shot in the arm the scene needed back in 2013 or so, and it still needs it now, so don’t sleep!
Buzzherd in particular are worthy of your attention. This PA metal band may use “sludge” as a term to describe themselves, but they seem to me to have way too much speed and energy for the term to be fitting. Sure, there’s a bit of classic Cavity in their sound, but I hear just as much from prime early metalcore bands like Suicide Nation or Fall Silent in what they’re doing, and all of it makes me really goddamn happy. These guys will have everyone banging their heads, so get stoked for that! Locals Murdersome are sure to attract some attention, consisting as they do of members from Gritter and Humungus ripping out some intense, pissed-off thrash. This bill is rounded out by North Carolina’s Suppressive Fire, who bust out a more classic 80s-style take on thrash to get everyone waving the devil horns. All of it rips like crazy, all of it rules, all of it is worth your time, and all of it is something we should all be thankful for. After all, this shit doesn’t just happen on its own!
Saturday, July 22, 9 PM
The You Go Girls, The Smirks, Blush Face @ Flora – $5
OK, I have a confession to make. When I first saw The You Go Girls play, it was very early on in their career, and I was definitely not wowed. Between the singer’s wild antics and the ultimate leather-jacket rock n’ roll riffage the backing musicians were dishing out, it all seemed a bit over-the-top. I honestly couldn’t tell whether I was even supposed to take them seriously. That was a while ago, though, and this band’s done a lot of growing since then. For one thing, somewhere along the way they added local songwriter Pete Curry on keyboards, which gave their sound a layer of buzzy melody that really took it to the next level. For another, they developed a much more fully-realized sound, finally growing into their potential and turning what might have seemed a bit like a hot mess at first into a really catchy, enjoyable rock n’ roll band.
I mean, they’re still a little bit of a hot mess these days, but I think that’s by design, as vocalist Shawnis seems to have reached his goal of being an even more out-of-control frontman than Iggy Pop. With the passel of excellent tunes that the band has included on new EP Teeth in their arsenal, The You Go Girls are prepared to both entertain you with a night of completely insane hijinks and get your head nodding to some legitimately great songs. They’re basically the total package where live rock n’ roll is concerned, and if you haven’t had the experience in the past, now’s definitely the time! With supercool young punks The Smirks and fast-rising melodic rockers Blush Face on the bill, this night is also a total package of sorts. What more could you ask for?
Sunday, July 23, 3 PM
Positive No, Death Valley Rally @ Hardywood – Free!
Shows don’t have to be totally serious all the time, right? Like, it’s awesome when you’re super stoked for a big band you’ve been waiting to see for a long time and the night becomes a 6-hour extravaganza consisting of two or three opening bands and a two-hour headlining set. But it’s also awesome when sometimes you can just roll into a place where you’re comfortable, in the middle of a weekend afternoon, catch a couple rad bands, and head home before it even gets dark. That’s the exact sort of show happening Sunday afternoon at Hardywood, and it’s the perfect chill way to end your weekend.
I’ve been telling you about Positive No in this space for years, and my ardor for this band has not dimmed in the slightest since the last time I wrote about them. The melodic indie rock tunes cranked out by singer Tracy Wilson and guitarist Kenneth Close (along with a revolving rhythm section) are powerful and unforgettable. Their 2015 album Glossa was one of the best albums that year to come out of any city, let alone our own RVA, and Positive No hasn’t lost a step in the two years since then. Norfolk’s Death Valley Rally are an apt pairing with Positive No, bringing a hazier, more shoegaze-influenced vibe to their sound while still emphasizing the indelible melodies that make their music so striking. Bliss out to these two excellent bands, and maybe pick up a pizza on the way home. Sounds like a great weekend night to me.
Monday, July 24, 8 PM
Vril, .gif From God, 60659-C @ Comm Room – Donations requested
Oh boy, another screamo show at Comm Room! I love these a lot, especially when they’re thrown by my pals in Great Dismal. This time they’re bringing in Vril, a California band with some connections to the local area despite being from the other side of the country. This quartet has a killer sound that mixes raging riffage, which descends from both hardcore and epic metal, with some hints of post-rock arpeggiated guitars and some incredibly passionate vocals. In other words, it makes you feel feels but it’s also heavy as fuck. As far as I’m concerned this is the perfect musical combination. But hey, that’s just me.
A couple of local heavies will round out this bill to give Vril some local company and make sure you get sufficiently rocked over the course of this evening. I am, of course, speaking of .gif From God, who continue to crank out early-00s style sass-grind complete with brutal breakdowns. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say they sound like Orchid and Slipknot collaborating in His Hero Is Gone’s practice space–and in case anyone is confused, this is a positive description (I love all three of those bands). 60659-C are a brand new band featuring members of Ostraca, .gif From God, and Majorel ripping out some fast, angry chaotic hardcore a la early Hot Cross or, to get obscure here, Get Fucked (yes, that’s a band name). Their set will be over way quicker than you want it to be, so show up on time!
Tuesday, July 25, 8 PM
Palm, Palberta, Lance Bangs, Private Cry @ Strange Matter – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Sometimes there’s an obvious pick for a particular night in the week, and I barely have to think about it. Other times, during the middle of the week especially, nothing really stands out. I end up having to do research. Thus was the case with this random Tuesday. But as soon as I hit play on Palm’s Bandcamp page, the research period was over. This band’s strange, tangled compositions pulled me in immediately. The intricate syncopation of their riffs, which involves sudden clusters of notes paired off with moments of silence, complex dual-guitar interplay, and complicated drum patterns that only resolve themselves over the course of several minutes, is an entertaining conundrum for your mind to explore and play with.
Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt not only dish out the intricate duelling lead guitars but also supply the vocals for Palm’s music, and their ability to pair the incredible complexities their fingers are creating with smoothly glowing melodic vocals is an extraordinary musical skill that is certainly way beyond anything I can do. The overall result is hypnotic and wonderful, and will definitely reward your attention on a random midweek night. New York trio Palberta are joining Philadelphians Palm on this excursion, and while their tuneage leans in more of an early 80s postpunk direction (I immediately find myself thinking of The Raincoats, or Kleenex aka Liliput), the overall effect–tangles of guitar, strangely syncopated rhythm, beautiful melodic vocals–is much the same. Locals Lance Bangs and Private Cry join the bill as local openers, an apt pairing which should make this entire evening one to remember.
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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