On August 1st Strange Matter and Vinyl Conflict teamed up to bring Swedish punks Holograms to Richmond with local support from Teen Death and Unmaker. But Holograms had troubles with their visas and unfortunately had to cancel their tour.
Rather than giving up on the show, the booking team swapped out a few locals and moved Teen Death to the headlining slot. Things further complicated the day of the show when Unmaker had to drop, but luckily Richmond has no short age of great punk bands ready to jump in and save the day. In its final form, Naked Pictures and Sinister Purpose (Vinyl Conflict) completed the bill with house sounds by DJ Devolved.
I arrived around 7:30 p.m. as a couple finished their dinner served with a cold can of Black Label, the venue’s choice “value brew.” I grabbed a seat near the end of the bar and was delighted to discover it was $5 burger night, so I ordered a vegan black bean burger with all the veggies and followed suit with my first round of Black Label. While I waited for my meal, The Afghan Whigs’ album “Black Love” shrouded the dimly lit dive bar in a calming serenity before the chaos of the night ensued.
As Greg Dulli sang, “Step into the light,” the burger pumped me up with flavor. Served on a Kaiser bun with melted vegan cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, slices of tomato, onion and pickle and healthy squeezes of vegan mayo, ketchup and mustard alongside Cajun fries, it was the best way to start off the night.
As the crowd slowly streamed into the venue and bands loaded in their gear, DJ Devolved, Bobby Egger of Vinyl Conflict, blasted punk beats. Beer tabs popped around the room like fireworks. The night was underway. Despite the inevitable punk time that we’ve all come to love and hate, woes were soon forgotten as Sinister Purpose took the stage.
Pulling influences from the likes of Motörhead, Discharge, and “all the punk” throughout the years, according to vocalist Marcus Tisdale, the band brought enough thrash and speed riffs to make your head spin. “It’s all about keeping the heads bobbin’,” he added.”That’s our main objective.”
The band’s short and sweet performance, backed by projections of The Simpsons by sound engineer Chris Compton, included songs off their latest EP, Burn in Hell, released on tape in June by Vinyl Conflict.
As the band packed up after closing their set, Grant Fanning, bassist of Naked Pictures, shouted out from the crowd, “Y’all just opened up a can of whoop ass!” Bobby Boucher would be proud.
Up next, Naked Pictures, best described as power slop with an edge, brought their energies to the fore. The band expressed gratitude for being added to the show just hours earlier, though they showed no signs of lacking preparation. Their fun-loving attitude was quite present on stage, and the audience reciprocated with positive vibes.
“We always prioritize having a good time all the time,” said guitarist Zach Wish, who recently returned to Richmond from a vacation to Switzerland and Italy. “This was our first show back in about a month or so, and we were happy to do it.”
In May, Naked Pictures released the single “Too Gold Too Cold,” and they are currently working on writing and producing songs for their next album, which Wish plans to record and mix himself.
Finally, Teen Death (6131 Records) got on stage and tore it up. While it was my first time seeing the band perform, I felt like I’ve known this band for years given their catchy power punk vocals and shredding riffs.
While the band pointed out they were unable to play fully cranked up to a “stupid volume” like at a basement show, their sound translates well in a venue setting. As long as the crowd is feeling the music and boozing it up, you’d be hard pressed to tell a difference in their energy.
Teen Death ended their set with the crowd favorite “Drag” from their 2015 7”. But it’s safe to say that the bands turned the night into anything but that.
For a complete list of upcoming shows at Strange Matter, visit their Events page.