Words by Marilyn Drew Necci
Friday, May 12, 8 PM
Trust The Vibes Tour, RVA Face Off, feat. Noah-O, Cadillac Cat, J-Slim,Peter $un, Easalio, Kelow Latesha, Miah Travis, Harsh, Lul Big Brother, music by Prince Gravy @ Strange Matter – $5 in advance/$7 at the door (order tickets HERE)
The RVA hip hop scene has been constantly growing, thriving, and producing tons of great stuff since quite a while before I started writing about it (which was 7 or so years ago). However, sometimes it feels really difficult to tell outsiders where to dive in. Thankfully, this high-profile EP release show is finally providing me with a killer hook to get all of you fully immersed. Time to dive in.
This show celebrates the release of the Face/Off EP, a six-song collaborative project that brings together local hip hop artists Noah-O and Cadillac Cat. Of the two, Noah-O is definitely most easily cast in the veteran role, with a long tenure at the top of the local scene that began back in 2010 with his surprise MTV hit video for “I Got It.” Since then, releases like The Rain (with DJ Mentos), Monument Avenue (with Taylor Whitelow), and All Souled Out (with Kleph Dollaz) have solidified Noah-O’s status as a guaranteed hitmaker. The hotheaded youth in this collaboration, Cadillac Cat of the Die Young crew, burst onto the scene in the last year or so, hosting local showcases (usually in collaboration with Noah-O and his Charged Up Ent crew) and dropping some hot tracks. The Face/Off EP helps show Cadillac Cat’s strengths as a rapper and creates some intriguing contrasts between his hard style and Noah-O’s slightly more introspective one.
These two rappers are taking the Face/Off EP on tour over the next few weeks, and it all kicks off with a huge blowout at Strange Matter this Friday night. Not only can you look forward to solo and collaborative sets from Noah-O and Cadillac Cat, some other fine local and regional rappers will be performing as well. I’ve been a fan of Peter $un’s material for quite some time, and he definitely brings the fire, so I personally recommend keeping a close eye on his set. J-Slim and Easalio also have a positive buzz coming into the evening, if my recent listens to The Cheats Movement podcast are any indication. Tons of other talent will be grabbing brief runs at the spotlight on this night as well, so there’s plenty to discover for the unfamiliar listener, and a ton of obvious highlights to delight the true heads. If you like hip hop at all, this will be a great night for you.
Wednesday, May 10, 8 PM
Opin, Dazeases, VV @ Sound Of Music – $5
Here we go, a great night of local heat to start the (mid)week off right! Opin’s self-titled debut album on Egghunt Records is out now, and the band has responded by getting right to work with some live dates. They’ll be kicking off a brief tour of the northeast with not one but two back-to-back local performances, and for my money, the one to hit is this Wednesday night showcase at Sound Of Music. Not only is it by far your best bet for entertainment on this relatively mellow midweek evening, it features two other excellent local artists as well.
To refresh everyone’s memory real quick before I move on, Opin brings together former White Laces frontman Landis Wine with current and former members of Night Idea, Magnus Lush, Navi and more to create a new, more electronically-centered take on the songwriting style that made White Laces such a memorable group. You’ll find less loud guitars here, but with everything else Opin has going on, you won’t miss them. Meanwhile, Dazeases has also released a recent EP, Local Slut, through Egghunt Records, and that EP takes this one-woman project’s ambient electronic sound beds and formidable vocal melodies to a new, even more captivating level. Expect Dazeases to deliver a performance impossible to turn away from. Finally, VV brings together members of local punk rock groups like Ultra Flake and The Nervous Ticks to create a rampaging garage-postpunk attack. Best of all, this is a three-band show so it’ll be over relatively quickly, before you have time to get restless. Get stoked! Get rocked! Get to bed on time! That’s a platform I can get behind.
Thursday, May 11, 9 PM
The Super 45s, Nick Woods @ Cary St Cafe – $5
OK yes I am sending you to a performance by a cover band BUT I have my reasons which in this case I happen to think are very valid and worth exploring so hear me out, OK? The Super 45s are not just any old cover band! This shifting musical collective was originally formed as a house band of sorts for the Emilio’s open mic nights of old. Its membership has been a rather fluid thing, but these days it features members from all corners of the jazz, funk, prog and jam scenes here in RVA, including members of The Milkstains, The Congress, The Shack Band, The Big Payback, The Larri Branch Agenda, KINGS, The Trongone Band, and more! Hearing these impeccable players sink their teeth into excellent material from across the varied history of rock n’ roll itself is sure to be a blast of an evening.
With Nick Woods opening things up, there’s an extra thrilling dimension to this show. Woods had a pretty significant presence on the local scene around a decade or so ago, fronting the Cheap Seats and Orioles and bringing his songwriting talent to a folk and country-inflected approach to rock n’ roll that differed from band to band but always had a ton of heart. He brought an end to all of his projects years ago when he left Richmond headed for Nashville, but he’s back in town and slowly venturing forth once again as a solo artist, at least for the moment. Old friends and the unfamiliar are both advised to show up early to this one and see what Nick’s up to these days. It’s bound to make an impression.
Friday, May 12, 7 PM
Jandek @ Capital Ale House – $25 in advance/$30 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Oh wow. I didn’t feature this particular Friday night gig, because it’s not exactly going to have universal appeal. Plus, Jandek’s cult following is enormous and incredibly devoted, so there’s also the chance this show will sell out before I even get a chance to tell you about it. Regardless, it can’t go unremarked, and certainly should not go unseen if you have any ability to pull the funds together and get yourself in the door at Capital Ale House this Friday night.
Jandek’s tough to explain. There have been multiple documentaries about this incredible outsider artist, so I doubt I’m gonna shed too much light in the space of one paragraph. Suffice it to say that he’s the king of all enigmas, releasing albums from an anonymous PO Box in Texas starting in the late 70s and picking up steam slowly over the decades since. The man behind the music would often appear on his album covers, but never gave interviews or performed live for the first quarter-century of his career. However, suddenly in 2004 he started to play live, appearing on various stages all over the world with improvisational bands featuring talented local musicians, and coming up with a completely different result each time. However, all of his performances retained the stark, desperate intensity and brilliantly off-kilter emotion that had drawn fans to his blues-derived but otherwise indescribable albums.
He last performed in Richmond in 2007–here’s what I wrote about it at the time (please forgive the juvenilia). Chances are this performance will be similar, at least in infrastructure. Small theater, small backing group of some sort, long intense pieces that flow from one to the next, no opening acts, a total immersion into strangely atonal but ultimately riveting sound. Having seen him once, I know firsthand that every performance is an event unto itself (he’s been releasing each one as separate albums, further proving this point). Whether you have studied the minutest iterations of his catalog or have only heard that random Kurt Cobain quote about him that floats around, you’re sure to find something worth paying close attention to when Jandek plays at Capital Ale House this Friday night. Or maybe you’ll just think it’s a bunch of noise–some have said as much. As for me, though, I know which side I’m on.
Saturday, May 13, 10 PM
Sid Kingsley, Sammi Lanzetta @ Flora – Free!
Rising from the ashes left when a certain ill-advised Halloween costume created a conflagration that eventually obliterated all traces of the venue once known as Balliceaux comes Flora, a new performance space that will seem at least somewhat familiar in both appearance and choice of programming to those of you who’ve been attending local shows for a decent amount of time. There’s definitely a younger, fresher focus to what Flora has been bringing in so far, though, and credit is surely due to booker Shannon Cleary for that. In this particular case, he’s collaborated with hot new promotion team Jet Trails Media to give us this brief showcase of two talented young solo artists at the top of their game.
Sid Kingsley has recently arrived in Richmond from his tiny hometown of Branchville, VA. With some previous experience as a jazz saxophonist, the fact that he’s able to create emotionally intense, personally-driven country-pop hybrid sounds with only his voice and a piano was apparently a surprise to those who’d known him for a while. Regardless, his just-released debut album, Good Way Home, depicts an assured songwriter with formidable skills and wide-ranging appeal. Meanwhile, Sammi Lanzetta is a fiery young singer-songwriter with an incredible voice who has moved from her previous position as the confident bass-wielding frontwoman for local alt-rock trio Venus Guytrap to an equally assured solo artist with no problem seizing the spotlight and dominating the stage. She and her backing band have just returned from a multiweek tour and are ready to show Richmond just what they’ve got to offer. There’s a lot of great new stuff to take in here, and with admission being free, there’s no reason you should miss any of it. So hey, don’t do that.
Sunday, May 14, 7 PM
Sir Richard Bishop, Robert Millis, Daniel Bachman @ The Camel – $10 in advance/$12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
We’re exploring all sorts of esoteric nooks and crannies from the modern musical underground this week, folks. This Sunday night, Sir Richard Bishop comes to town as a formidable veteran statesman from the world of solo acoustic guitar improvisation and experimentation. This fascinating underground movement has its roots in the 60s, with the pioneering work of instrumental solo guitarist John Fahey, who explored his fascination with the blues and roots music of pre-WWII America in a style he dubbed “American primitive.”
Sir Richard Bishop may have started out with experimental postpunk band the Sun City Girls, who spent a quarter-century exploring territory that could be covered only by the very broadest definition of the term “postpunk,” but since the late 90s, Bishop has been finding his own path within the world of experimental acoustic guitar creation. His most recent release is The Tangier Sessions, recorded in Morocco with “a mysterious 19th century parlor guitar” and released on Drag City in 2015. He comes to town accompanied by Robert Millis, another explorer of esoteric acoustic guitar sounds, perhaps best known for his work with Climax Golden Twins, or his collaborations with Sublime Frequencies. Daniel Bachman, the young American primitive guitar explorer from right here in VA, whose recent releases on Three Lobed Recordings have raised his profile considerably, will open the evening. You can leave the earplugs at home for this one, but make sure you keep your ears and mind open.
Monday, May 15, 7:30 PM
Mike Watt + The Jom And Terry Show, The Milkstains, Bucket @ Strange Matter – $12 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s tough to keep up with Mike Watt these days. The cofounder of the legendary LA punk band The Minutemen, who used jazz chords and unorthodox arrangements to completely upend a tendency to see punk as a rigid sound and not a wide-open mindset, Watt has not only led a variety of trios since the dissolution of his early-90s band fIREHOSE but has also taken part in all sorts of different bands, from collaborative efforts like Il Sogno Del Marinaio to sideman roles with legends in their own right like The Stooges and J Mascis.
These days Watt is back on tour with the Jom And Terry Show, a backing band he previously led in 2001 and 2002. His last solo album, 2010’s Hyphenated-Man, featured Jom And Terry guitarist Tom Watson, and drummer Jerry Trebotic was part of Watt’s mid-2000’s ensemble the Secondmen, so there’s no real way to know exactly what tunes from the bass king’s voluminous discography will show up in the set list on this night. Everything from the Minutemen to the Missingmen could be on the table, as well as some stuff you never thought you’d hear at all. Regardless, it’ll all be delivered at maximum intensity and with that unique, colorful, bigger-than-life personality that Mike Watt brings to all his efforts. The Milkstains and Bucket, a couple of long-running Richmond trios on their own behalf, will make an appropriate opening pair for whatever Watt brings us this night. Rest assured, it’ll be worth hearing.
Tuesday, May 16, 8 PM
Soul Glo, La Luna, Ostraca, BLVCKPUNX @ Comm Room – $3-5 suggested donation for touring bands
Look, for my money, the Comm Room is where you need to be going if you want to be in touch with the true DIY underground as it exists in Richmond in the year 2017. Run by and for participants in the scene, it’s free of all the bullshit that comes with rock clubs and allows for open expression from voices not usually heard in the local community. The fact that Philly firebrands Soul Glo will be headlining a performance at the Comm Room Tuesday night, accompanied by impassioned Canadian screamers La Luna, only further underscores my point.
Soul Glo’s intense, driving hardcore shows a creative approach and a powerful political consciousness which drives everything the band brings to their music. Several recent local performances have really built the heat for this band within Richmond, and it’s time those who don’t know what’s up got familiar. La Luna bring more of a melodic undercurrent to their equally driving, passionate brand of emotionally informed hardcore (OK, OK, “screamo.” Sigh). These groups are well paired with the crushing metallic fury of Richmond’s own Ostraca, whose recent split LP with Fleshborn is total fire, y’all. BLVCKPUNX open things up with a slight musical departure in the form of angry rap featuring harsh, atonal backing tracks. Fans of B L A C K I E should definitely get to this show on time and catch this furious duo, whose political outlook is just as on-point as the rest of the artists on this killer bill.
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows (that take place after the week this column covers–this week’s column has obviously already been written): rvamustseeshows@
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