RVA Shows You Must See This Week: April 3 – April 9

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Sunday, April 7, 7 PM
VV. Lovely Little Girls, Headscratcher, Three-Brained Robot @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’m not really big on going back to the same well twice. Sometimes I’ll write about a band, and a week later, they’re emailing me again, all “You should cover our next show too!” I don’t usually take the bait; I figure my audience wants to see a wide variety of stuff happening around town. However, I’m sorta breaking that rule this week, because last week’s featured show was BTCHFEST, and this week I’m already bringing you another Madi Thompson joint. The rules are different for show promoters, though — the dirty little secret that only insiders know is that, at any given time, there are at most a dozen people responsible for 90% of the shows happening in this town. If anything, we need to speak more often about how frequently the same people bring us the city’s best live music events, week after week after week. Really, we should all be grateful.

For example, here’s this showcase of freak-rock awesomeness from Richmond and beyond, happening at Gallery 5 only eight days after BTCHFEST ended… once again courtesy of Madi Thompson. It looks to me like local noisy synth-punk legends VV will be closing out the night, but we’ve discussed them before, so let’s start out by talking about Lovely Little Girls. This Chicago art-jazz-punk conglomeration is led by visual artist Gregory Jacobsen (that’s his art on the flyer above), who appears to be very interested in exploring androgyny, ambiguity, and an aggressive, grotesquely glamorous sexuality. All of this comes across in the band’s stage performances, which are truly a sight to behold, not only because of Jacobsen’s ambiguously gendered onstage costumes and in-your-face performance style but also because of Lovely Little Girls’ jazzy, proggy sound. Featuring former members of the legendary Flying Luttenbachers, one can’t really be surprised at this group’s twisted take on brassy singalong sounds. One can certainly be amazed by it, though.

As for the other three groups on this bill, the aforementioned VV are always noteworthy, continuing to bash us all over the head with their single-minded, maniacal synth-punk noise on their excellent Tour Tape 2023, their first release in three years and their first as a trio. Scaling down their membership hasn’t slowed this band down at all; having your face blasted off by VV remains a strong way to end a Sunday night and get prepared for the working week to come. Then there’s Headscratcher, a three-piece that straddles the line between raging three-chord hardcore punk and downright face-melting noise. Due in part to the fact that they feature members of avant-garde noise performance art ensemble Fracking, this band is always wild in the live environment, and this Gallery 5 show should be no exception. The evening will begin with a performance from Three-Brained Robot, who recently relocated from New Orleans to Richmond and brought their nigh-unexplainable bizarro noise performance art with them. Want to understand what they’re about? Your best bet is to show up on time for this show. It’ll only get more awesome from there.

Wednesday, April 3, 9 PM
Puck’s B-day Bash + RRFP Fundraiser, feat. Toward Space, Station Aries, Northern Draw, Lt. Headtrip, Daddy Fat Snacks @ Fuzzy Cactus – $5-$10 suggested donation
Y’all know Puck, right? Me too! Well, sorta. See, we’re friends on social media, but I’m pretty sure we’ve never met IRL. Which is mostly my fault because I work too much and have no social life anymore, but that’s not really relevant here. What is relevant is that Puck is celebrating his birthday tonight with a big ol’ rock n’ roll party over at Northside’s home of rock n’ roll, Fuzzy Cactus. What’s more, the funds raised at this party will be donated to the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, an even more important cause than it used to be back before Roe v. Wade was overturned two years ago. So whether you want to come wish Puck a happy birthday, rock out to some hot punk rock sounds, or support a good cause, you’ve got a very good reason to head to Fuzzy Cactus tonight.

At the top of our esteemed bill of rock n’ roll awesomeness are legendary local garage-punk trio Toward Space, who are probably in their late 20s by now but still have the youthful energy and piss n’ vinegar snarl they brought to their music when they began as a crew of angry teens. That self-titled LP they put out last year didn’t get as much attention as I would have liked but that just means that a lot of you still have the opportunity to discover it for the first time. Cue it up on your streaming service now, and you’ll definitely be stoked by the show tonight. Local disco swaggerers Station Aries are also on the bill, and the whole evening will culminate with a DJ set from Portland electronic hip hop dynamo Northern Draw, featuring an assist from NYC rapper Lt. Headtrip. This will act as a preview for their full-on live performance at Cobra Cabana Thursday night. As a bonus, you’ll even get an opening DJ set from Puck himself, spinning killer tunes by bands he knows and loves. This is gonna be a great party; don’t miss it.

Thursday, April 4, 7:30 PM
Shid, Red King, Sloptart, Disaster Artist, Shagg Carpet @ Bandito’s – $10
This Thursday night at Bandito’s brings us a totally different type of rock, as three Philadelphia bands roll into town on a rip-roaring tour together. Shid are the first under consideration, and their latest release is a remaster of their debut EP, Masquerade. Full of heavy guitars, 90s-style alternative rock flourishes, and punk rock energy, this is a slab of tuneage that’ll appeal strongly to fans of long-gone legends like The Toadies, Veruca Salt, and Nirvana. Judging from the song titles and lyrics I’m able to decipher, there’s a strong queer energy happening here as well, and I’m always stoked to see that. As for Red King, even before I heard them, I appreciated the bold choice they made to call their first EP Cop Killer. Once I listened, I dug the combination of primitive drum-machine beats, humming double-time synth lines, and distorted roaring vocals that made me think of The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow trapped at the bottom of a deep well. These guys have a second EP coming out on the very same day they’ll be playing at Bandito’s, and there’s no better way to get your introduction to their new tunes than by hearing them blasted out of the Diablo Room sound system.

The third band in our Philly trio is Sloptart, and I must give them props for their entertaining name, even if I’m not very likely to pick up a pastry with their name on it next time I’m at the grocery store. This group has a bratty old-school punk sound that makes me think of riot grrrl originators Bikini Kill and Bratmobile on their early EPs, and that’s always a great sound to hear. Their 2022 LP, Full Of Juice, crams nine songs into 17 minutes and is a ton of fun. It stands to reason that you’ll get a similarly entertaining experience from their Bandito’s set. Disaster Artist, who contributed a remix to the most recent Shid EP and recently released an outstanding noise-damaged bedroom-indie single, “Rock & Roll/Deathwish,” will also perform on this well-stacked bill. Shagg Carpet, a local synth-punk ensemble who just released their raging debut full-length, Bugged, a couple of months ago will get this one started in fine fashion. This show will be all of that — and a bag of chips (if you order some awesome Bandito’s nachos when you get there, which is always a highly recommended move).

Friday, April 5, 7 PM
The Bad Plus, Nucleus Trio, VCU Jazz Quintet @ The Broadberry – $30 (order tickets HERE)
Unless you pay pretty close attention, you don’t often hear much about jazz in the 21st century. Sure, people might talk about Miles Davis or John Coltrane, but those guys were active contributors to the art form a long, long time ago. Thankfully there are at least a few currently active jazz musicians who’ve received enough widespread recognition to remind the world that jazz is still a strong, vibrant musical movement. One of the foremost names on that too-short list is The Bad Plus, who started as a piano-bass-drum trio back in the very early 2000s and gained momentum on the strength of their unusual yet delightful instrumental jazz takes on popular tunes from other genres. Their version of Aphex Twin’s “Flim” was particularly inspired, and covers of songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” are still some of their most played tracks on streaming services.

People who know The Bad Plus from that era of their work might therefore be surprised to learn how much has changed for the group since the pandemic. After original pianist Ethan Iverson left the group in 2017, and new pianist Orrin Evans only made it two albums with the group before departing as well, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer David King decided to go in a completely new direction, bringing in guitarist Ben Monder and sax player Chris Speed for their self-titled 15th album. It’s this new quartet that will come to Richmond this Friday night, bringing a sound that is very different from the sound The Bad Plus made their name with. That being said, though, the fundamental spirit of exploration, improvisation, and influences brought in from other musical genres remains intact. If anything, the interjection of new blood and completely new textures in the group’s sonic palette has added a level of vitality to the Bad Plus’s approach that hasn’t been there since their early days. And there’s something undeniably exciting about hearing Monder and Speed take off in simultaneous flights of musical fancy, even as the rhythm section continues to hold things together and display incredible levels of talent and virtuosity as they’ve done for the band’s entire 20-plus year history. Whether you knew The Bad Plus in their earlier incarnation or are unfamiliar but find yourself curious about what’s happening in the world of jazz right now, this show is essential listening. Richmonders Nucleus Trio, a piano-bass-drum combo who released a cover of “Killing Me Softly” on their recent debut EP, will evoke the feel of Bad Plus’s original lineup, while the VCU Jazz Quintet will begin the evening by giving us a preview of the next generation have to offer the genre. It’s all right here; missing out would not be a good idea.

Saturday, April 6, 7 PM
Absolut, Destruct, Fried Reality, Arrogants @ Cobra Cabana – $12
“Noise not music” is a slogan fans of the raw, harsh end of the punk rock spectrum like to throw around. To someone well acquainted with the work of artists like Merzbow or Nurse With Wound, those bands might seem conventional compared to how far into the world of formless atonal noise things can actually go. However, the typical pop/rock fan is still likely to get their ears blistered a bit if they come upon a band from that end of the punk spectrum. It’s always good to broaden your horizons, though, and if you’re someone who is used to pleasant, soothing sounds from your bands of choice, you should definitely head for Cobra Cabana this Saturday night and see for yourself just how raw and harsh things can get and still be part of the wider rock n’ roll spectrum. You might find out that all that smooth polish is just a bit overrated.

The evening will culminate in a set from Toronto punk maniacs Absolut, who give you a hint of what they’re about by naming themselves after a brand of very potent liquor. They’ll scorch your ears the way vodka scorches your throat with their brand of high-speed thrash punk, covered in thick layers of echo, fuzz, and overdriven guitar feedback. If you like crust, d-beat, or old-school Scandinavian hardcore, you’re gonna love what this band has in store. Richmond’s own Destruct will add their own wall of angry punk noise to the proceedings, dishing out some Disrupt-style metallic crust-core with an apocalyptic tinge that’s weirdly comforting in these nihilistic times. Fellow Richmonders Fried Reality have a similar sound, though they are, if anything, even harsher in their approach. If anyone besides me fondly remembers that raging 90s German hardcore band Luzifers Mob, you’ll surely get a big kick out of Fried Reality. Newcomers Arrogants will open things up with a batch of Negative FX-style superfast old-school USHC tunes. The whole thing is gonna rule. Wear your steel-toed boots for this one.

Sunday, April 7, 7 PM
Teen Mortgage, Death Lens, Strawberry Moon @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I swear I don’t ever mean to put together a show column that’s almost entirely focused on punk. It just kinda… happens. I guess it makes sense though, because this city’s long been known for having the kind of vibrant, active punk scene that you’d be more likely to find in a much more highly populated area. For example, Washington DC, the home of The Camel’s Sunday night headliners, Teen Mortgage. DC’s certainly got history as a musical hotbed, but it’s somewhat sleepy in the modern era. Therefore I suppose it makes sense that one half of Teen Mortgage, singer/guitarist James Guile, is originally from Liverpool, and found drummer Ed Barkauskas via a classified ad when he got to town. You might not be able to count on DC circa 2024 to produce more than one talented, ambitious musician at a time.

This duo’s been rocking hard ever since they met up, releasing two EPs over the past five years and recently following them up with their debut self-titled full-length. Mixing surf-garage riffs with heavy crunching chords, pounding beats, and energetic tempos, Teen Mortgage have cooked up a record that should appeal to fans of fellow rock duos like JEFF The Brotherhood, The White Stripes, or Japandroids, with some Cramps, Black Flag, and Stooges mixed in. When Teen Mortgage hits The Camel this Sunday night, things are gonna get loud, I promise you that. They’ll be joined on this trip through Richmond by Death Lens, a veteran Los Angeles punk rock band with a new album coming out on Epitaph next month. From what I’ve heard of it so far, it’s well worth seeing live, so make sure you don’t just saunter into this one right as the headliners hit the stage. Indeed, you need to show up even earlier, because killer Richmond rockers Strawberry Moon are opening this one up, and they are always an essential listen — and an essential watch. Make sure you’re there.

Monday, April 8, 7 PM
Infant Island, Infernal Gaze, Autumn Sonata, Thieves Of Shiloh @ Bandito’s – $10
It’s been a few years since Fredericksburg’s Infant Island had their big early-pandemic moment of productivity, releasing two different albums, Beneath and Sepulcher, within six or so months of each other. If you expected them to maintain such a prolific pace, you might have been disappointed with their relative silence during the ensuing three years. However, these folks have made up for all of that with the release back in January of their latest LP, Obsidian Wreath. Their latest album finds Infant Island going further than they ever have before on multiple musical frontiers; more metallic and harsh than ever, but also more melodic and atmospheric. The album represents a long-awaited fulfillment of the promise displayed on their two previous LPs, and makes abundantly clear that, in their current moment, Infant Island are better than they’ve ever been.

And of course, that’s a great reason to head over to Bandito’s this Monday night… but it’s not the only one! Just as important is the co-headlining set from the Shenandoah Valley’s own metal thrashing hardcore exports, Infernal Gaze. Eschewing the more melodic and atmospheric touches that leaven Infant Island’s harshest material, Infernal Gaze is focused entirely on heaviness and brutality at the intersection between metallic hardcore and moshy death metal. Having followed up their debut EP, the aptly titled Appalachian Death, late last year with a brief promo release, Infernal Gaze have certainly given metalheads reason to belive that more is forthcoming from them in the near future. Even if they don’t have enough tracks for a full-length yet, there is one thing you can be sure of, and that’s that they’ll blow you out of your shoes when they take the stage at Bandito’s this Monday night. Local support will be provided by newcomers Autumn Sonata, who have only released a brief demo thus far but seem like a promising raw screamo upstart, and Thieves Of Shiloh, who’ve been plying their trade in spooky experimental synth-based sounds around Richmond for at least a decade now. Expect harsh, passionate transcendence.

Tuesday, April 9, 6:30 PM
Movements, Tigers Jaw, Webbed Wing, Paerish @ The National – $28 (order tickets HERE)
It might not seem all that weird to recent arrivals to the world of emo that bands from that scene can now fill large halls even in mid-size cities like Richmond, but if you’re like me and have been in the emo scene for something like three entire decades, it can still surprise you a little bit. After all, twenty or so years ago, you still mostly saw bands like this playing basements. Trust me, I’ve seen more than my share. But I’m not mad — if anything, I’m glad that the music of bands like Movements, music that’s meant a ton to me over the course of my life, can reach wider crowds today than it used to. Movements are currently on tour in support of their third album, Ruckus!, which will sound great to fans of everything from State Champs to Into It. Over It. to Jimmy Eat World. If anything, though, I think they’re closest to the more epic bands from the emo world — think Manchester Orchestra with Sparta’s guitar sound.

So yeah, Movements are great, and will absolutely be worth your while as headliners on this big-time show at The National. I can’t deny, though, that I’m even more excited to see Tigers Jaw on this bill. This band came straight out of the DIY side of the “emo revival,” which it’s hard to believe was over 10 years ago at this point. Of course, a lot has changed about Tigers Jaw in the years since Charmer, the final album featuring the band’s original lineup, was released. Continuing with a new rhythm section, Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins have charted a new course for themselves, and on 2021’s I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, they proved that they’ve still got all the charm, grace, facility for melody, and lyrical sincerity that made this band such a hot prospect in the first place. If you quit paying attention to Tigers Jaw after Wicca Phase left the band, you should really repair that mistake immediately. A great way to do so is by going to this show and falling in love with Tigers Jaw’s sound all over again. Webbed Wing, which is the current project from Superheaven’s Taylor Madison, will be providing adept support on this one, bringing their melodic post-hardcore excellence to a big stage with aplomb and panache. Heavy Parisian post-hardcore luminaries Paerish will kick off a show that’s sure to be a brilliant emotional experience from beginning to end.

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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