Sunday, May 28, 5:15 PM
Real Friends, Have Mercy, Tiny Moving Parts, Broadside, NothingNowhere @ The Broadberry – $22 in advance/$25 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I am but a simple creature, you guys. I may enjoy almost all styles of music at one time or another, but I just can’t pretend that I don’t have a seemingly limitless soft spot for emo. I always end up feeling like I should apologize for it, too, but to tell the truth, the only thing about this show I feel like apologizing for is the slight sticker shock I’m sure all of us felt when we clicked the ticket link. Then again, I’d certainly say that at least four of the five bands on this bill are worth $4.50 each, so even that seems justifiable on further consideration.
Whatever, that’s enough time spent on concerns that are entirely too meta. Let’s get on with the column and talk about how great Real Friends are. I’ve heard all the standard complaints about their early work–too whiny, too stoked about acoustic versions, too many uses of the phrase “bony knees,” etc etc. The people making these criticisms can’t possibly have kept up with the group, though. Their 2016 sophomore LP, The Home Inside My Head, may not represent quite as much of a quantum leap in quality as the third Wonder Years LP or anything, but it certainly shows quite a bit of evolution in both lyrics and music, and without any uncomfortable stabs at “maturity” or attempts to tone down the heartfelt struggles with difficult emotions and complicated life situations that made up the best parts of their imperfect yet charming early work. To be blunt, this band is fucking great now.
And they are but one of five bands on this double-stacked bill! Have Mercy hail from Baltimore and are also getting deeper and more intense with their brand new third album Make The Best Of It. Meanwhile, Tiny Moving Parts continue to impress on their third LP, last year’s Celebrate, melding technically complex guitar leads with powerful, affecting choruses. And of course Broadside are local heroes whose second LP for Victory Records, Paradise, will be out in a month or two. These guys are probably closer to pop-punk and easycore than the other bands on this label, but should nonetheless appeal to any fans of the three out of town headliners who haven’t already been won over in the past five or six years of their excellent hometown performances. I can’t tell you much about NothingNowhere, the openers, but at this point, do you really need anything else? Sure, you anti-emo scrooges out there are never gonna open your hearts to sounds like this–I get it. But if even a tiny spark still glows within your chest, chances are you’ll get a lot out of what these bands have to offer. So dig deep and scrape up the cash to get in the door at the Broadberry Sunday night. It’s worth it.
Wednesday, May 24, 8 PM
A Place To Bury Strangers, Buck Gooter, Ceremony, Don Babylon @ Strange Matter – $12 in advance/$14 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OK, so I just spent a few paragraphs extolling the virtues of emo, and I stand by that! But I must admit, I have an equally powerful love for noise. Not really the kind of thing that is generated by dudes hooking up weird electronic machines to huge amps (though that shit has its place too), but the kind generated by a really loud rock band that uses ridiculously powerful overdrive and distortion effects to blow their music apart and create serious top-volume chaos. It’s even better when that kind of glorious messiness is laid overtop a skeleton made up of rock-solid riffage. A Place To Bury Strangers have dished out this sort of fuzzbox glory for four straight LPs now, and over ten years into their career, they’ve slowed down not one iota. Currently prepping for their fifth LP, the band’s sure to drop some new hotness at this RVA date–you don’t wanna miss that.
Buck Gooter’s got a bizarre style all their own, which lands somewhere inbetween the kind of noise APTBS makes and the sort that has no real resemblance to conventional understandings of music. They’re a strange experience on any bill, but one can certainly imagine that they’ll find a way to fit in on this one. Meanwhile, Ceremony is not a Cali (post-)hardcore group but a two-piece drum-machine fuzz orgy led by APTBS bandleader Oliver Ackermann’s former Skywave bandmate, John Fedowitz. There may just be no one else in the band at this point, though I’m sure they’ll still generate plenty of heavy riffs regardless of how many members they’ve got. Local alt-rock rookie sensations Don Babylon open things up and get everyone in the mood.
Thursday, May 25, 7 PM
Tobin Sprout, Elf Power, Lightfields @ Strange Matter – $13 in advance/$15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Back in the 90s, lo-fi power-pop geniuses Guided By Voices emerged from the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio to wow the indie rock masses the world over. Laboring away in obscurity since the early 80s, they finally achieved the recognition they’d always deserved with mid-90s albums Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. While Robert Pollard was the band’s founder, chief songwriter, and only original member, another important creative contributor to GBV’s mid-90s peak was guitarist Tobin Sprout, who consistently brought the fire with songs including “It’s Like Soul Man” and “Awful Bliss,” among others. Since leaving Guided By Voices 20 years ago, he’s released six solo albums–the most recent of which, The Universe And Me, just might be his best overall effort thus far.
The Universe And Me was released earlier this year on Burger Records, a fitting home for one with the lo-fi power-pop lineage Tobin Sprout brings with him. And Elf Power are fitting tour partners for Mr. Sprout, with their own two-decade-plus history of cranking out obscure psychedelic pop gems as part of the Athens, GA-based Elephant 6 collective (best known for birthing Neutral Milk Hotel and The Apples In Stereo). Their recently-released sixteenth (!) album, Twitching In Time, carries forward their faintly-Beatlesque sunshine pop legacy in fine fashion. This should be reflected to fine effect by their live performance. Local alt-rock charmers Lightfields will open the evening with some lovely sounds of their own, which are fine enough to stand out even in such rarefied company.
Friday, May 26, 8 PM
HIRS, Romantic States, Young Scum, Sammi Lanzetta @ Gallery 5 – $5 in advance/$6 at the door (order tickets HERE)
This touring bill, featuring two Philly bands that hit Gallery 5 for the first time, is a study in huge contrasts. On one hand, we have Romantic States, a melody-driven band fond of contrasting buzzing guitar distortion with crooning vocal choruses. The cool thing to do these days is to call all bands with that sort of sound “shoegaze,” but it’d be way, way more accurate to group Romantic States with slow-simmering underground bands of the early to mid 90s such as Unrest or The Spinanes, combined with that whole post-Velvet Underground psychedelic haze that one can hear in modern bands like Creepoid.
On the other hand, we have HIRS, a brutal grind two-piece featuring programmed beats and chugging guitars, overtop of which singer JP rants and screams about her experiences as a trans woman. There’s an uncompromising political viewpoint at the core of everything HIRS does, but the music is hella rad too. After releasing two 100-song compilations of 30-second-or-less grind blurts, they’ve greatly expanded their musical palette on recent efforts like You Can’t Kill Usand Trans Girl Take Over. They’re sure to be a galvanizing radical force when they appear onstage at Gallery 5, and the fact that they’ll be presented in tandem with Romantic States makes for one night where there’s no danger of being lulled by similarities between acts. Young Scum and Sammi Lanzetta provide tuneful, fun support for this study in opposite sounds attracting.
Saturday, May 27, 5 PM
Card Against Humanity, feat. Radio B, Michael Millions, Henny L.O.w/Mutant Academy, RocStagis, Cane; plus battles: Nickelus F vs Big Jinya, Bravo vs Trill Nik, Ray Manley vs Peedy Westro, Blood Code vs Face, Chance Fischer vs Blacc AB, TRIG vs FUNDS @ Strange Matter – $15 in advance/$20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It can be tough to keep up with all of the various strains of local hip hop, especially with this city’s highly active underground scene. But I would think that anyone making any effort at all is by now aware of the excellent music being produced by the cooperative known as AGM. All three of the rappers who work under that banner are on this show in one way or another, with Radio B and Michael Millions performing live in the headlining spots. These two artists collaborated on an excellent LP last summer (TENTHSNDHRS aka “10 thousand hours”), and have stayed prolific sense, with Radio B dropping the excellent Sunday’s Best EP last month, while Michael Millions released a preview of his upcoming solo album last summer with the excellent Muhammad Ali elegy “Ali.”
These two artists are reason enough to hit Strange Matter this Saturday night, but there’s a whole other aspect to this evening’s entertainment: MC battles, in which two rappers pit their skills directly against one another by improvising braggodocious verses in a head-to-head context. Nickelus F’s formidable reputation in the battling arena was solidified by his Hall Of Fame winning streak on BET’s 106th & Park over a decade ago, so his battle against fiery young turk Big Jinya is at the top of the card for a reason. But several other talented local rappers will also be testing their mettle in competition, and all of them, from Chance Fischer to Bravo, will bring the heat and provide a great deal of entertainment for everyone in the house. You won’t see a show like this in any other artistic discipline, and it’s always a wild time. Don’t miss out!
Sunday, May 28, 7 PM
Okilly Dokilly, Beatallica, Los Ramónes @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
OK, I’ll admit right now that this is a totally goofy night of themed silliness. Most of us appreciate an event like that every once in a while though, right? For your monthly dose of pure hilarious novelty, you could do a lot worse than this touring double bill of Okilly Dokilly and Beatallica. The Simpsons fans among you have doubtless already realized that Okilly Dokilly must have something to do with Ned Flanders, and it’s true–the band is a quintet of metal dudes looking and dressing exactly like Flanders to deliver moshtastic metalcore tunes about very Flanders-ish things. In fact, the majority of their lyrics are quotes from Ned Flanders himself. Come see the band rock out with tunes from their recent LP, Howdilly Doodilly, and revel in unabashed Simpsons nerdery.
Meanwhile, tour partners Beatallica have put a massive amount of effort into creating an even cross between the Beatles and Metallica, combining the best-known songs and characteristics of both bands to create songs like “Hey Dude” (“Hey Jude” crossed with “Nothing Else Matters”) or “And Justice For All My Loving” (this one’s DNA is probably obvious). Fans of the Beatles and/or Metallica will get a real kick out of this band, provided that they’re able to bring a sense of humor to their appreciation for the originals. Local “Spanglish” Ramones tribute act Los Ramónes, which features members of several popular local punk rock bands, will kick the evening off with some silliness of their own. Come on, it’ll be fun!
Monday, May 29, 8 PM
Crumb, McKinley Dixon & Friends, Lance Bangs, Ing @ Strange Matter – $7
It’s always dope to check out what the busy bees behind Citrus City Records are up to. Having recently immersed myself into their prolific output for a story published by RVA Magazine, I’ve had plenty of time to familiarize myself with Crumb, whose self-titled three-song EP became the 29th Citrus City release in February. This Philadelphia quartet has a soft and lovely approach to their vaguely psychedelic indie sound, bringing in a vibe that approaches smooth jazz on occasion but always moves forward with an undeniable energy.
Now the city has a chance to learn what the Citrus City crew found so entrancing about Crumb, as they hit the Strange Matter stage this Monday night. Support will be provided by stalwart Citrus City compatriots Lance Bangs, whose loosely tuneful jams split the difference between Pavement and Mac DeMarco. Also on the bill will be Charlottesville indie-poppers Ing, who have a peppy bounce sure to give the Smatter denizens a thrill. Up and coming local rapper McKinley Dixon will add some spice to the bill with his lush backbeats and assured flow. This one will be full of friends and fun–get into it!
Tuesday, May 30, 9 PM
Disparo!, Bruised Ego, Van Hagar, Venomspitter, Amara @ 25 Watt– $5-$8 (sliding scale?)
I certainly appreciate it when shows feature varied acts from all over the musical spectrum. But sometimes what you really need is a very strong dose of one particular style. This is especially true of grindcore, and this is one night that will consist almost entirely of loud, fast, raw grind. Australia’s Disparo! head up this five-band show (which will still most likely wrap up in less than three hours) with an old-school approach to superspeed fastcore that takes me back to the late 90s with its resemblance to long-gone stars like Devola and Crucial Unit. I know, I know, I’m being too obscure. Is Charles Bronson a more familiar reference? Hellnation? I have no idea at this point in history, so let’s just move on.
Baltimore’s Bruised Ego act as domestic support for this world-spanning jaunt by Disparo, and take a slightly more modern power-violence driven approach to their hyperspeed grinding–though, as it turns out, they do a Charles Bronson cover, so they’re closer to Disparo! than they might initially appear. As for the RVA locals on this bill, my roommates Van Hagar will kick your ass with some Bass VI-fueled high-speed low-end rage. Venomspitter (who feature multiple ex-bandmates of mine) take things in more of a His Hero Is Gone-influenced dark hardcore direction these days than they did at their inception, but fear not, these rippers still know how to put the pedal to the metal when the occasion calls for it. Openers Amara hail from Newport News, of all places, and bring a stronger black metal vibe than any other band on this bill, with plenty of crust fuzz thrown in as a bonus. This whole show is gonna be fast, angry, and sick as fuck. You need to be there.
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