Running the gamut from heavy synthwave to twee pop, there was a little something for everyone at Strange Matter Thursday night as Hoops and Ó rolled through Richmond with support from local trio Keep and Norfolk’s True Body. The seemingly disparate lineup elegantly carried the crowd’s energy through the night, a testament to Manny Lemus’ cross-genre curation skill.
You might have sworn the doors of 929 W. Grace Street were a time-machine as True Body howled and grooved through haze and dim lighting to open the night. The Norfolk group’s heavy, pulsing synth melodies, coupled with frontman Isaac Moreno’s booming voice, made for an intensely absorbing performance.
Shoegazy punks Keep took the stage next, trading synths for the atmospheric guitar effects and driving rhythms. Their hypnotic performance washed over Strange Matter like a wave of sound, often as much a physical sensation as an auditory one.
Drummer Nick Yetka’s voice roared above the densely layered instruments, creating an entrancing dynamic from heavy riffs to airy twinkles. The set included a chunk of songs from their most recent release, For Your Joy, which they announced will be re-released on tape via Citrus City Records in the near future.
Ó then took the night for a 180-degree turn with her lush bedroom pop. Gabrielle Smith’s clear delivery and often brutally honest lyrics cut through any leftover haze from the two earlier acts. The band played through several old favorites, including a sing-along of “Broken Necks” guided by Smith and a handful of unreleased new songs that kept the young crowd moving their feet.
Sitting at the intersection between the melodic pop of Ó, ethereal textures of Keep and synth heavy groove of True Body, headliners Hoops tied the seemingly disparate night together during their first performance in Richmond.
By the time they hit the stage, the crowd had gone from head-bobbing to head-banging to bouncing then to full on dancing to the smooth, funky melodies.
The group kicked off the set with “Sun’s Out”, the first track off their debut album, Routines, a fitting introduction to their sun-drenched sound. Though on recordings the vocal track effects make for a dream pop feel, their live performance had a more raw sound, making for a more lucid groove.
While it was the group’s first show in Richmond, they instantly found a home on stage. We hope they don’t wait too long to bring those friendly vibes back to Richmond.
Check out photos by Craig Zirpolo below: