As I arrived at Gallery 5 and locked my bike to a nearby “no parking” sign, it was plain to see that December’s First Friday event was already in full swing. The venue was swarming with people, keeping the doorman on his toes (especially considering it was only 7:30) excited for the night’s festivities.
After a year of free First Fridays shows, Gallery 5 dubbed the last installment Krampusnacht. Promising to go out on top of a year of fantastic free shows, Krampusnacht, celebrating the German half-goat/half-demon who acts as a sort of weird character foil for Santa Claus, featured not only 4 fantastic bands and a two person burlesque show, but a Krampus Group art show entitled Yuletide Monsters and a Holidaze Market featuring local brands selling various wares on the first & second floor.
Madame Onça and Vera Babalon opened the shows of the evening burlesque routines, followed by Kenneka Cook’s looping wizardry. She created wonderful soundscapes using only her voice, and near the end of her set she played wonderfully charming renditions of The Ronettes “Sleigh Bells” and Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang.” OPIN rocked a set of old and new songs that built on the lush soundscapes from Cook. With catchy melodies, delay soaked guitars and spacious synths, they got the crowd moving early and showed no signs of stopping. (Side note, I’ve had the melody for “Flee” stuck in my head for weeks). Unmaker blew the crowd away with not only their ferocious sound but their incredibly entertaining stage presence. Not to mention all of the riffs. Richmonders packed the gallery all night up until the headliners, Big No, a five piece band with an absolutely enormous sound.
There was something to be had for everyone Krampusnacht, a decidedly more fun community art event than the creepy goat-man who inspired it.
Check out photos by Jack Wolfe below:
Madame Onça and Vera Babalon