RVA Shows You Must See This Week: February 21 – February 27

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Private Hell (Photo by Michael Thorn), Blood Ritual, Kontusion, Blazing Tomb, Vigil @ Bandito’s – $10
I’ve been going to hardcore shows for several decades now, and there’s one trend I keep seeing over and over in the hardcore scene, returning every half decade or so to take over a new generation. And that trend is metal. Hardcore kids might start out wanting finger-points and singalongs and stagedives, but at a certain point, almost everyone falls in love with the hard-hitting fury and harsh, aggressive noise of metal — and whenever that happens for the latest generation of hardcore kids, hardcore bands start sounding super fucking metal.

Every time this takes place, there’s a new generation of older kids who get kinda snobby about it. But I’ve never been one of those kids, because I fucking love metal, and I love seeing the way it changes and intensifies each new wave of metal-loving hardcore kids and hardcore bands. It’s happening here in Richmond (and all over the country) right now, with bands like Private Hell leading the charge. This Richmond band’s latest EP, Days Of Wrath, is clearly coming from a hardcore background — there are too many chugging mosh breakdowns for me to doubt that. But at their fiercest and most inspiring, this band has a lot of thrash and death metal in their DNA, as well as a fair amount of D-beat riffage — though always with the heaviness cranked up to the maximum.

Private Hell are doing a mini-tour this weekend, and their show at Bandito’s this Friday night is the first of three that pairs them up with North Carolina band Blood Ritual. Blood Ritual are releasing a new EP, Do You Believe, at the end of this month, and this show will act as a preview of coming attractions where that’s concerned. The two-song preview of that EP that has come into the world at this point leads me to believe that this band is also made up of hardcore kids who’ve fallen in love with metal, though the hardcore foundation of their sound is augmented less by D-beat and death metal and lands much closer to the more fun-loving thrash sound of legends like Exodus and Sacred Reich. Either way, if you’re as into metal as I am, you’ll love this band just as much as you’ll love Private Hell.

The lineup of this one is super stacked, though, because the other three bands playing this show are every bit as awesome as our two headliners. DC-based duo Kontusion pairs up former Iron Reagan guitarist Mark Bronzino with DC fastcore drumming legend Chris Moore (of Coke Bust, Sick Fix, Disciples Of Christ, and so many more) to dish out some raw, blurry deathgrind that’ll blow everyone’s eardrums out. Richmond locals Blazing Tomb and Vigil will round out the bill, the former bringing some serious death-metallic moshcore, while the latter goes more for straight-up thrash metal gnarliness. All of these bands will sound great blasting out of your tape deck at the skate ramp, but they’ll sound even better when they’re rocking out live before your very eyes at Bandito’s. If you like it loud, fast, and heavy, this one is unmissable.

Wednesday, February 21, 7 PM
Bat Boy, Dim Wizard, Madison Turner @ Gallery 5 – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
About a decade ago, this city was undergoing a melodic punk renaissance of sorts. Those were the days of the Stay Sweet Festival, and a house-show venue everyone just called “House Address” (immortalized in a song by emo revival stars You Blew It!). The biggest and most important Richmond bands of that era were Hold Tight and Sundials, two bands that grew out of a close-knit group of highly creative friends. They’re both gone now, and many of the members have moved to other places, but they have fortunately stayed active in the music scene, and I for one am always keeping an eye out for the latest efforts from that camp. These days, that includes Dazy and Bashful. It also includes Bat Boy, which finds Hold Tight’s Jake Guralnik and Sundials’ Cory Chubb teaming up with singer/guitarist Hannah Eagle to create some excellent melodic emotional punk.

Bat Boy released a couple of EPs back in the late 10s, but they’ve mostly been out of action since the pre-pandemic era, so it’s great to see them returning with their debut full-length, especially when it’s such a step up from their previous material, full of catchy tunes with great lyrics, crunchy yet melodic riffs, and killer drumming. This show tonight at Gallery 5 will be a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with Bat Boy and grab a copy of their rad new LP, Fun Machine. The “ex-members of Hold Tight/Sundials” tag continues to be a surefire symbol of quality, and let’s be real — even if you never heard any of their previous bands, Bat Boy is impressive enough to earn a spot at the top of your playlist rotation entirely on their own merits. They’ll be joined by Dim Wizard, another project with a strong pedigree; it’s led by David Combs, who is best known as frontperson and chief songwriter for DC pop-punk legends The Max Levine Ensemble. Dim Wizard combines the songwriting talent Combs displayed in TMLE with a stronger emphasis on programming for musical accompaniment in a manner that should feel familiar for longtime Jeff Rosenstock fans. The result is a lot of fun, and should keep everyone dancing. Madison Turner opens up with a full-band set, and I for one am really glad to see her playing shows regularly again. This one’s gonna be a thoroughly great time.

Thursday, February 22, 7 PM
Kristeva, Ultra Deluxe, Headscratcher, Camp Werewolf @ Bandito’s – $15
Listen, before we talk about any of the bands on this bill, I gotta say one thing real quick: I love the renaissance in live music that’s been happening at Bandito’s over the last year or so. I’ve always loved their food, and I’ve always thought they secretly had one of the best-sounding rooms for live music in the entire city, so the fact that I am getting a chance to talk about them more and more often lately is downright delightful for me. And for many of the same reasons, it should also be delightful to you — because as far as venues at which to see a show in this city, you really can’t do much better. Especially if you start your evening with a delicious plate of nachos.

This show in particular should be quite a delight. Richmond’s Kristeva have been active in the post-pandemic era, but haven’t released a record since their 2019 EP Goliad. If you haven’t heard them since then, they’ve apparently taken their Godspeed You Black Emperor-influenced postrock sound in a decidedly screamo direction on their newer material, and that’s always a welcome development in my book. They’ve apparently got a whole bunch of new tunes to play for us at this show, so you’ll want to come get a preview for what is hopefully developing into their next studio release (make it happen, y’all). You’ll also get to see Ultra Deluxe, a New York band with a sound that mixes intensity and emotion drawn from the emo-punk world with more electro-pop influences, in a manner that should definitely appeal to fans of The Armed. The bill is rounded out by queer noise-punk rippers Headscratcher and moody melodic project Camp Werewolf, just to give us a total study in contrasts. This one’s gonna rule for sure — be there.

Friday, February 23, 7 PM
Twin Temple, Vowws @ The Canal Club – $25 in advance, $30 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s not very often that I get a chance to say this, but: Twin Temple is a band unlike any I’ve ever heard before. In part, that’s due to the strange yet delightful contrast between their sound and their imagery and lyrical themes. See, this is a band that tops 60s girl-group sounds with overtly Satanic lyrics. They’re currently on tour for their second album, which is entitled God Is Dead and features song titles like “Burn Your Bible,” “Let’s Have A Satanic Orgy,” and “Be A Slut.” It’s clear that this husband-wife duo from Los Angeles are familiar with the teachings of the Church Of Satan, and while that group’s message has never appealed to me all that much (too close to Ayn Rand-style libertarian selfishness), it certainly sounds bracing and hilariously shocking when laid overtop musical backing you’d expect to hear on an old Shangri-Las record.

Musically, there’s been a bit of misdirection taking place around Twin Temple, mainly perpetrated by the band themselves. Their first LP was called Satanic Doo-Wop, and I’ve heard that phrase used a lot in press around the band, but if you’re familiar with the classic doo-wop sounds of 50s bird groups like the Orioles and the Flamingos, you won’t find that here. Instead, scholars of music from past eras are more likely to be reminded of not just the aforementioned Shangri-Las, or Phil Spector-produced groups like The Ronettes or The Crystals. There’s also a strong lounge/exotica influence running through these songs, which feels closer to the early 90s lounge revival of groups like Combustible Edison and The Coctails than the original 60s sound of Martin Denny or Esquivel. Either way, Twin Temple is decidedly non-contemporary in sound, which means this show is something you could take your grandparents to… assuming they don’t mind overt Satanic messages and plenty of fake blood. As for you, these are great songs to dance with your lover to, so get dressed up nice and go party with Twin Temple at The Canal Club this Friday night. Hail Satan!

Saturday, February 24, 7 PM
Stand Still, Family Dinner, Bagged, Cobalt Revolver @ Bandito’s – $15
This show should be delightful, especially if you’re into melodic hardcore/post-hardcore. Both of these bands were brought to my attention by local show promoters Love Tiger Connection. I wrote briefly (half a sentence) about Stand Still when they played LTC Fest last year, and almost wrote about Family Dinner last time LTC brought them through town before changing my mind at the last minute. It is high time that I give both of these bands some more detailed consideration. This week is a particularly appropriate time to talk about Stand Still, in fact, because they just released a brand new single, “Steps Ascending,” yesterday. It follows up their two previous EPs, A Practice In Patience and In A Moment’s Notice, in excellent fashion, capturing the band’s uptempo melodies, driving riffs, and catchy vocals in what might be their best moment yet. I don’t know if this new single heralds a coming LP, but fans of Lifetime, Title Fight, and first-LP Saves The Day will certainly be delighted by whatever these folks have to give us.

As for Family Dinner, they haven’t released anything new since last summer, when they followed up 2021 debut EP, You’re So Cool, with a pair of excellent post-hardcore singles: “Morning Haze,” a song about getting high and floating through the early hours of your day, “Revenge Dress,” about getting dressed up sexy after a breakup and hitting town to raise hell and prove you don’t need your dumb ex anyway. A sort of post-hardcore “Return Of The Mack,” if you will. These two singles definitely find Family Dinner working in a slightly more indie/shoegaze-influenced lane than that of Stand Still, but both bands’ emphasis on tough-sounding guitars and catchy, hard-hitting choruses will make them a perfect pair to delight all comers at Bandito’s this Saturday night. They’ll be joined by two local openers: alt-rock/power-pop duo Bagged, whose 2020 EP Mourning Hike is a ramshackle blast; and Cobalt Revolver, whose just-released debut EP definitely brings the gloomy post-hardcore heaviness of Hum, Quicksand, or Soul Blind. There’s a bit of Deftones in there too — which, to be clear, is a good thing. This one should be good throughout, in fact. Don’t miss it.

Sunday, February 25, 7 PM
Stomping Grounds, feat. Ty Sorrell, Lunch $pecial, Earfth Girl, DuctTape Jesus, Billy Capricorn @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $12 (order tickets HERE)
It’s time for another installment of Stomping Grounds, the monthly local-artist showcase from Plan 9 and Richmond Music Hall, featuring co-sponsorships from Cut N’ Run Vintage and lil ol’ us, The Auricular. To be clear, I don’t have anything to do with any aspect of these shows, but regardless of The Auricular’s involvement, you’re not going to find a better show happening this Sunday night anywhere else in the Richmond metro area. For starters, there’s Ty Sorrell right there at the top of the bill. The Richmond rapper’s 2022 LP, Homegrown, was a great example of laid-back soulful rap with strong R&B influences, the kind of thing you don’t really hear on the radio anymore. Its major summer vibes are definitely a welcome listen here in the dreary late weeks of winter. I look forward to being able to drive with the windows down and that record blasting through my speakers once again, but in the meantime, going to see Ty Sorrell at Richmond Music Hall will be a great way to fill that summer-shaped hole in your February.

There will be plenty of other awesome acts on this bill to enjoy as well. First on that list is Lunch $pecial, one of my favorite discoveries in the Richmond hip hop scene last year. His EP from last summer, Kasablanca, showed that despite Lunch’s tendency to lead with jokes, there are a ton of skills hiding just below that goofy exterior. Fans of golden-age legends Pharcyde are sure to find a lot to enjoy about this talented artist. As for DuctTape Jesus, this Richmond rapper has a huge buzz right now, and blew a lot of minds with his latest LP, Chester Skate Land, which came out a few months ago and hasn’t stopped making waves since. DTJ’s stoned-out flow combines with his intense stage presence to make his live performances a can’t-miss event. Earfth Girl brings a more vibey pop feel, but there’s definitely still a hip hop/R&B sensibility at work in her music, so she’ll have a sound all her own to offer on this bill. Really, there’s nothing here you can afford to miss, so how about this: show up as soon as doors open, and hang out til the last note is played. After all, what else do you have to do — go home and go to bed early?

Monday, February 26, 7 PM
Backseat Driver, Cougar Beatrice, REIN @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Our Monday night standby, The Camel, comes through once again. I’m always glad to head over there and see a show, regardless of the night of the week, and this week is no exception. Our headliners this time around are Backseat Driver, a group from Charlottesville who has one 2022 self-titled EP to their credit so far. Based on what I hear from the tunes on that EP, I fully expect this group to bring a twin-guitar attack that is strongly influenced by classic rock to an overall sound that feels a bit more power-pop in structure. Sorta like Weezer jamming with Derek Trucks is the vibe I get, and the results are awesomer than you might expect.

Cougar Beatrice are also from here in Virginia, and also feature a strong rock guitar sound, though the song construction on recent singles “Solomon Grundy” and “Yours Or Mine?” is a bit more left-of-center than what Backseat Driver bring to the table. These guys are clearly quite talented, and the fact that their name makes you think of an old lady hitting on you at the bar is only a little odd, so, overall: thumbs up. The bill is rounded out by REIN, aka youthful guitar slinger Jordan Reinecke, whose most recent release is a fun original pop-rock Christmas song, but normally goes more in the direction of heavy riffs and catchy tunes. His songs would probably have fit right in on the Top 40 back in the mid-80s, but these days they’re going to take some digging to uncover. Fortunately for you, you can learn all you need to know by showing up to The Camel this Monday night. You know what to do.

Tuesday, February 27, 7 PM
Omni, Olivia O., Jake The Dog, Dry Talker @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Sorta weird to realize sometimes that you’ve completely missed a band who are making waves in a scene you used to follow pretty closely, but I suppose it happens to everyone eventually. It’s happened to me with Omni, a postpunk group from Atlanta who just released their fourth LP, Souvenir, on Sub Pop last week. And I never would have known if they hadn’t put Richmond on the roster for their tour in support of that brand new LP. But better late than never, I suppose — after all, Omni have a lot to offer, and they still sound great even if you, like me, only hear them for the first time nearly a decade after their debut LP came out.

I haven’t listened to that debut LP yet, but the aforementioned brand new album, Souvenir, is full of catchy, quirky tunes with a slightly menacing undercurrent. Despite the foundation of dance beats and the strong beds of synth sounds that underlie most of these tunes, sharp lead guitar lines and driving bass keep the punk in postpunk for this duo (whose guitarist was previously part of Deerhunter… OK, it’s starting to make sense now). This band is sure to please Gang Of Four and Bloc Party fans, and will be great to hear in a darkened club as scowling dancers dressed in black leather jackets and shiny Doc Marten boots dance with their hair falling into their faces. And if you don’t fit into that severe profile, don’t worry — this show will be fun enough that it won’t be a problem for you to crack a smile occasionally.

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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