RVA Shows You Must See This Week: April 17 – April 23

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Saturday, April 20, 4 PM
The Broadberry Turns 10, feat. The Infamous Stringdusters, No BS! Brass, Prabir Trio, The Mitras @ The Broadberry – $30-$40 (order tickets HERE)
This year 4.20 falls on a weekend, and all kinds of people are celebrating with all sorts of events relating to cannabis or whatever. But regardless of who’s toking up on what, the most important live music event happening here in Richmond this weekend hasn’t got anything at all to do with getting stoned. Indeed, it’s a celebration of a completely different type — a celebration of The Broadberry’s 10th anniversary. And maybe this is just a function of the fact that I’m pretty damn old these days, but sometimes it still feels like The Broadberry’s only been over there on Broad St for a couple of years now. And yet, at the same time, I can’t imagine Richmond without it. After all, it came along at a time when there was a desperate need in the local scene for a venue of its type — a place that knew music was the main attraction, a place that could host bands who were too big for The Camel and too small for The National, a place that could become the lynchpin in Richmond’s always vibrant independent music scene.

The Broadberry’s sure done that; if anything, it had done that by the time it was open for six months. But sometimes I think that people start to take it for granted, precisely because it fills such an essential niche in Richmond’s music scene. That’s why the celebration that’s happening this Saturday evening is so important; it reminds us all to recognize the excellent venues that exist in our midst, and to count ourselves lucky to have them. One of the ways it’s doing that this Saturday is by bringing us all a headlining set by The Infamous Stringdusters, a Nashville-based bluegrass collective that has established itself over the past 15 or so years as one of the cornerstones of the modern progressive folk scene. Along with bands like Trampled By Turtles and Railroad Earth, they’ve established a sort of parallel acoustic scene alongside the modern jam band scene — and uh, for my money, they’re a lot more fun and enjoyable of a listen than most electric jam bands these days. With this show lasting for six hours and featuring only four bands, you can be sure Infamous Stringdusters will give us plenty of music during their extended headlining set.

The same will certainly be true of No BS! Brass Band, a group that’s been every bit as important to Richmond’s local scene over the past decade-plus as the Broadberry itself. This dozen-member brass ensemble has always incorporated a variety of other genres into their horn-heavy sound, from hip hop and soul to punk and pop. And while their covers of artists as wide-ranging as Michael Jackson, Agent Orange, and Rush have always been crowd-pleasing, its the brilliance and staying power of their original sound that has made them so important to this city’s music scene. And then there’s Prabir Trio, the most recent group led by one of the hardest-working people in Richmond indie history, Prabir Mehta himself. They’ll have some catchy power-pop tuneage to lay on us all and remind us how blessed we’ve been to have Mr. Mehta at work in this city for the past two decades-plus. Finally, the Mitras will kick things off, representing as the latest in a long tradition of incredible alternative rock bands that have arisen from this city’s powerful indie-rock underground. It’s a fitting lineup of musical greatness to commemorate the greatness of the venue where it’s all taking place. What a time to be alive in Richmond, Virginia.

Wednesday, April 17, 7:30 PM
Broken Record, Cape Crush, Oh Devil, Curriculum @ Bandito’s – $10-$20 donation
Here’s a show that feels almost tailor-made for my own particular musical obsessions. I’m sure you all know them by now — raging thrash metal, chaotic hardcore, old-school punk and garage rock… and above all: emo. I fucking love emo. Which is not to say that I’ll send you to any old emo show, regardless of quality. There are just as many bad bands in the genre as there are in any other, and I’ve heard more of them than you can possibly imagine. Therefore, when I tell you that an absolutely incredible emo band is coming to Richmond on this very Wednesday night, I would hope you’d all take me seriously. Because look — I know of what I speak.

Broken Record comes from Denver, and recently released their second LP, Nothing Moves Me. It’s an incredible collection of songs, weaving a sound with roots in the heartfelt pop songcraft of Jimmy Eat World and the epic emotional grandeur of Sunny Day Real Estate through a glittering, almost symphonic guitar sound that recalls The Cure and New Order at their least synthesized and most memorable. This quartet is well known as a strong live act, and with such a formidable catalog of memorable tunes in their repertoire, their set at Bandito’s tonight is sure to hit hard and leave you shaken and moved — even if their album title might make you think otherwise. They’re currently touring with Cape Crush, a Massachusetts-based group whose 2023 debut EP, San Souci, conjures thoughts of legendary late-90s/early-00s emo forebears like Rainer Maria and Braid, and shows itself to be the equal of that formidable lineage. We’ll also get a set from Richmonders Oh Devil, who just released a great debut single that jangles and snarls with the best of the 90s riot grrrl-adjacent indie pop. Fellow locals Curriculum will open up with a set of chaotic punk tunes about billionaires terraforming Mars (no, seriously). It’s gonna be a great night — don’t miss out.

Thursday, April 18, 7:30 PM
Mikaela Davis and Southern Star, Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears @ Get Tight Lounge – $24.25 (order tickets HERE)
I can imagine that for most people, the idea of playing a harp has some strong associations with cartoons of angels floating on clouds or whatever. I might have had those impressions at one time too, but about 20 years ago, I encountered indie-folk harpist Joanna Newsom, whom I immediately recognized as a genius (don’t @ me, you know I’m right). Since then, any musician who plays the harp gets my immediate and undivided attention. That said, it doesn’t happen very often — since Joanna Newsom was brought to my attention back in 2004, I’ve encountered exactly two more harpists. One is the ambient-shoegaze musician Mary Lattimore, and the other is Mikaela Davis.

Davis sounds nothing like Newsom — or Lattimore, for that matter — but she’s still every bit as talented. On her 2023 album, Mikaela Davis and Southern Star, she leads her alt-country band through a collection of gorgeous, downcast folk ballads that should please fans of both Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac. Davis’s harp may have been what initially caught my attention about her, but it’s not always at the forefront of her band’s sound, instead weaving in and out of the pedal steel leads laid down by guitarist Kurt Johnson. The contrasting textures of her pizzicato-classical harp and his high-lonesome twang unsettle your initial impression of Davis and Southern Star as yet another Americana ensemble, and the psychedelic hints that appear at important points throughout the group’s set only further set it apart. Indeed, even if Mikaela Davis played a far more conventional instrument, her work with Southern Star would still be well worth your time and attention. And with the harp incorporated in, it’s downright incredible. You better not miss this group — their like won’t come around again soon.

Friday, April 19, 7 PM
Daikaiju, You Bred Raptors, Deathbirds Surf Club @ Cobra Cabana – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Surf music is a deceptively complex genre. What makes it deceptive is its seeming simplicity. Indeed, it’s not hard to do. What is difficult, though, is to do surf music well. Most bands in the modern era that attempt to do a modern take on surf guitar shredding either end up engaging in mindless Dick Dale/Ventures worship, or find themselves struggling to top the refreshing modern takes on the genre laid down by its best revivalists, such as Man Or Astro-Man and Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. Therefore it’s all the more shocking when a band with a truly fresh take on the surf sound comes along. Daikaiju is one of the only 21st century surf bands to successfully do so, and if you haven’t caught on to what they’re up to by now, then your course of action is obvious: head for Cobra Cabana this Friday night, where they will be bringing their killer sound to the Richmond masses.

Forming at the dawn of the 21st century, Daikaiju originated in Alabama, the same state that brought us Man Or Astro-Man (indeed, some speculate that the two bands share members, though that has never been confirmed). They let loose with a sound that mixes classic surf guitar tones and riff stylings with metallic distortion and punk aggression that gives them an air of menace unmatched by even the most ferocious of classic surf bands. That air of menace is definitely reflected by their live performances, during which band members are known for setting fire to their instruments even as they continue to play them. Between their literal pyrotechnics and their firecracker guitar stylings, you definitely won’t forget what you’ll see when you come to Cobra Cabana this Friday night and watch Daikaiju. And even if you stay far away from the flames onstage, you’ll be thinking of their fiery guitar riffs for weeks to come. Get stoked for this one, y’all.

Saturday, April 20, 8 PM
Zombii, Tentative Decisions, Pamphlets, Wallpaper @ Bandito’s – $10
Let’s clear up some confusion right away: the band headlining this show is not the Pittsburgh-based synth duo heavily influenced by Goblin and John Carpenter horror movie soundtracks. That’s Zombi — one I. This is Zombii, with two I’s, who come from Connecticut and play sharp-edged metallic punk. I love this kind of thing, too — probably more than I love synthesizer horror soundtracks, if I’m honest. On Zombii’s latest LP, 2021’s Fail Harder, the New England ensemble dish out a collection of melodic punk with extremely heavy guitars, in a manner that reminds me of legendarily awesome bands like Four Year Strong, Strung Out, and Thrice circa Illusion Of Safety (their best album — again, don’t @ me). If you think you’d dig Dillinger Four more if they were just a bit more metal, you’ll get a big kick out of what Zombii have to offer.

Richmond’s own Tentative Decisions are scrappy and punk in their own way, but are decidedly lacking in metallic distortion, in a manner that will make their set a pleasant contrast with the one Zombii brings us. Their nervy, jangly punk sound should connect with anyone who loved the first Feelies LP or wished Devo had ditched the synths after the first LP. Wallpaper, another local act gaining some buzz, will complement this sound well with their slacker approach to punk, as heard on their most recent single “Walkin'” that was a favorite around Auricular head office last year. Brooklyn group Pamphlets will round out the bill, and while their new LP, Take Your Place, won’t be out until May, we’re sure to get an extensive live preview of what it has to offer. Based on the songs I’ve heard, I’m expecting something with the sharp guitar sound of Zombii mixed with the frenetic sounds of Tentative Decisions, along with a strong undercurrent of melody that’s all their own. These four groups all complement each other very well, and it’ll be a perfect complement to your Saturday night for you to head over to Bandito’s and catch them all — plus a big plate of nachos while you’re there.

Sunday, April 21, 7 PM
Circle Breaker, Bangladeafy, Flesh Machine @ Gallery 5 – $8 (order tickets HERE)
Things are getting heavy in the awesomest possible fashion over at Gallery 5 this Sunday night, and I for one am excited. Even though they’re not first on the flyer (I imagine they will play inbetween the two local bands), I want to start out this blurb by talking about Bangladeafy, whose name has always baffled me but whose music always delivers. This duo mixes powerful noise-rock drumming and howling-chaos vocals with low-end beds of sound constructed by synths and samplers, all of which comes out sounding a lot more discombobulating than a band of a similar genre but using conventional guitars and basses could ever get. In case it isn’t clear, this is a compliment — Bangladeafy’s unsettling grooves are perfectly constructed to get you to do the stagger-mosh around the dance floor at Gallery 5 with all your best circle-pitting friends.

Speaking of circles, local metallic noise-punk trio Circle Breaker might also be good circle-pitting music… if it weren’t for that name, which makes me think we should all just rock out wherever we’re standing. God knows this queercore crust combo will give you plenty of excuses to do that. Beware of bangovers, though — after all, you’ve got work in the morning. And at some point in the evening you’ll also get a set from local chaotic noisecore troupe Flesh Machine, whose music is chaotic and frenetic at the best of times. Pay close enough attention on this night, and you just might shake apart completely. That said, there’s no better band in Richmond to act as a soundtrack for your personal disintegration. Go with what feels right on this one. (Spoiler alert: rocking out always feels right.)

Monday, April 22, 7 PM
Soft Blue Shimmer, Keep, Trembler @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s another one of my periodic obsessions: shoegaze. I’ve loved it ever since I was in high school over three decades ago. The combination of soaring, ethereal vocals, pounding drums, and raging distorted guitars has always hit me right where I live, and the same could certainly be said for Los Angeles-based Soft Blue Shimmer. Somehow I am only hearing about this band now, after they already have two LPs and two EPs out, and I’m kinda bummed about it. God knows I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for where this band is concerned — but of course, if you’re in the same position as me here, the best way to fix it is to go see Soft Blue Shimmer at Richmond Music Hall this Monday night.

If you like shoegaze at all, you definitely won’t regret it. Soft Blue Shimmer, who recently followed up their 2022 second album, Love Lives In The Body, with an EP remaking earlier songs in a slightly more industrial fashion, aren’t afraid to mix things up and try something totally unforeseen. But no matter how far afield they get from their initial sound, they always remain devoted to the first principle of shoegaze: the mixing of gorgeous melodies with high-volume fuzz. Gotta love that. Their pairing on this bill is certainly an apt one: Keep is one of the best shoegaze bands coming out of Richmond right now, and anyone questioning that assertion need only listen to their recently released Audiotree performance to see how right I am. If you still don’t believe me, come to this show. Keep will definitely make themselves clear. Texas band Trembler will kick off the evening with a set of fuzzed-out indie pop that’ll get things started off right. Get stoked for this one.

Tuesday, April 23, 7 PM
Pyramid Theorem, Falset, Spiral Fracture, Arkaza @ Another Round Bar & Grill – $10
Only a few blurbs ago, I was telling you how surf music was an easy genre to do, but a difficult genre to do well. And now, before we wrap up the column for the week, we need to have that same conversation about a completely different genre: progressive metal. Sometimes it rules, and challenges all your preconceived notions of what metal should be. More often, it becomes a twiddly, meandering mess without an ounce of true heaviness to offer. I hate that, and I’ve heard it happen way too often — to the point where, these days, I often don’t even give prog-metal bands a chance to disappoint me. I just close the tab and move on.

I’m glad I didn’t go that route where Pyramid Theorem are concerned, though. This Canadian quartet definitely draw from some pretty expected influences, Rush and Dream Theater foremost among them. However, the fact that I can clearly hear unexpected elements drawn from groups like Iron Maiden, Coheed And Cambria, even Fall Of Troy keeps my interest piqued long enough to realize that 2020’s Beyond The Exosphere is a great listen — even if it does lift its overall structure from Rush’s immortal 2112. Pyramid Theorem’s tourmates in Falset have an even more overt prog-metal pedigree than their tourmates: specifically, the drummer’s father is in Dream Theater. They also incorporate more elements of overt mainstream pop into their sound than I ever expected to hear in the prog-metal world. But honestly, that’s a good thing. Say what you will about a prog-metal single with an undeniable Justin Timberlake influence — it’s definitely not something you’ve heard a million times before. In conclusion, even if you’re not usually a prog-metal person, you owe it to yourself to head over to Another Round this Tuesday night and check out what these bands have to offer. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you like what you find there.

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@gmail.com

Please consider supporting my Patreon, where I’m documenting my progress on two different novels and (sometimes) writing about music of all types. patreon.com/marilyndrewnecci

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