RVA Shows You Must See This Week: February 28 – March 5

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Sunday, March 3, 7 PM
A Celebration of the Life of Nick Rockefeller, feat. Mouthbreather, For Your Health, .gif From God, Heavy Is The Head @ Bandito’s – $15
Y’all know I like to keep it light and have fun in this column, but I hope you understand that there’s just no way to talk about the circumstances behind this show without getting serious. Last month, Heavy Is the Head guitarist Nick Rockefeller passed away. He had been undergoing treatment for cancer, and when his medical condition prevented him from going on the tour Heavy Is The Head had already booked, he insisted they go anyway. He died on February 1, while the rest of the band was still on the road. I can’t imagine what kind of grief and pain Nick’s friends, family, and bandmates have gone through since this happened. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Heavy Is the Head to finish their tour after that.

Thankfully, the members of Heavy Is The Head have found the strength to continue on, and turn the pain of their loss into something positive. In collaboration with promoter Lost Life Booking, this show — which was already booked when Nick passed away — has been transformed into a celebration of Nick’s life and a benefit for the American Cancer Society. So whether you were lucky enough to know Nick or just someone who enjoys heavy music, come out and celebrate in memory of a man who loved making music and made the most of his short time on earth.

Heavy Is The Head will be performing on this bill, of course. But the other bands on the bill are every bit as noteworthy, regardless of the evening’s occasion. The chaotic, metallic screaming noise of Ohio’s For Your Health is always a total treat. They’ll pair very well with Richmond’s .gif From God, who has a similarly chaotic songwriting style, full of sudden stops, swift tempo changes, and harsh screams galore. And of course, there’s Mouthbreather — not the Richmond band that broke up over a decade ago, but a newer band from Jack Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. Their latest LP, Self-Tape, finds them engaging in some truly epic brutality, of the sort that will pair well with the kind of head-crushing metallic stomp that is also Heavy Is the Head’s stock in trade. For those of you feeling some really intense emotions right now, whether they be about friends who departed way too soon, the ongoing US-funded bombing of Palestinian civilians, the tragic death of Nex Benedict, or any of the million other truly horrific things happening in the world right now, this show will offer plenty of emotional catharsis.

RIP Nick Rockefeller.

Wednesday, February 28, 7 PM
Open Mic Night, feat. Warren Campbell/Dead Billionaires, Richmond Chronicle premiere @ The Camel – Free! ($5 for those under 21)
I admit it — I would not normally ever send you to an open mic. Even one at a venue as top-shelf as The Camel, hosted by as excellent a musician as Warren Campbell of Dead Billionaires. You just never know what you’re going to get with an open mic, and I don’t usually want to take a chance on sending anyone into such a total question mark of an event, even if it is run by an amazing host. That being said, this open mic night at The Camel has an added attraction that definitely makes it a much more intriguing prospect: the premiere of the 2023 Richmond Chronicle. This is a publication put together by photographer Miranda Jean, who has devoted the past six months of her life to putting together a yearbook of sorts for the Richmond music scene. It includes photos of dozens of people involved in the Richmond music scene at this point in history, as well as art from the founders of HearRVA and a lengthy writeup by my boss here at The Auricular, Doug Nunnally, of 25 noteworthy things that happened in the Richmond music scene this year.

I’m sure there’s quite a bit more on offer in the Richmond Chronicle 2023 as well, but the only way any of us are going to find out for sure is to pick up a copy for ourselves. Miranda will be selling them at this show for $10, and they should be available at The Camel while supplies last… but I can tell you that there’s always a big audience for publications like this, and if you snooze, you just might lose. My advice? Head down to The Camel tonight, pick up your very own copy of the Richmond Chronicle, and then stick around to see what Warren Campbell and his many surprise guests have to offer at The Camel’s monthly open mic night. Regardless of what I said up top, I think you’re far more likely to discover one or more awesome new songwriters than you are to be bored silly by weirdos reading bad poetry. So yeah — make it happen.

Thursday, February 29, 8 PM
Chandler’s Leap Day Birthday show, feat. Chandler, Lunch $pecial, TMA, Kaay Taurus, DJ TuffLuck @ RVA Boombox – $8 in advance, $12 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I know I write about Chandler all the time, but this is a very special occasion. You see, Chandler’s a February 29th baby, which means that even though he’s in his late 20s, this Thursday will only be his seventh actual birthday. Let me tell you, if you only had a birthday every four years, you would go crazy when it finally came around too. And this year, Chandler’s probably going to go even crazier than usual, because he has a lot to celebrate in 2024. For one thing, his steady run of absolutely [fire emoji] singles just keeps rolling on. The latest, “This Shi Sick,” is possibly my favorite track of his yet. The thumping bass beat will definitely make you dance, and his punchlines are next-level. For example: “I played your music for my family, and let me tell you: they were not vibing.”

I know, I know, you can’t tell why that’s hilarious. You’ve really gotta hear the song to get it. And if you come to this show, I’m certain you will. DJ TuffLuck, who produced “This Shi Sick,” is also on the bill. You’ll also get a set from Chandler’s most frequent partner in crime, the equally talented and entertaining Lunch $pecial. Lunch released a really great album late last year that y’all need to hear if you haven’t already — or you could just come to the show and enjoy his set. By the way, Chandler has more than enough incredible singles by now to put together an album chock-full of bangers, so I gotta ask: hey Chan, when’s the LP coming out? I’m fully prepared to put it on my best of 2024 list. Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, the show will also feature a set from Richmond rapper TMA, who also just released a new album named after that immortal late-night text: U Up? It’s definitely hard, full of menacing beats and belligerent flows that will make you sit up and take notice. The bill is rounded out by Kaay Taurus, an R&B diva who croons overtop of smooth hip hop beats on the few singles she’s released thus far. This will be a great night, so come out, wish Chandler a happy birthday, and stick around for some excellent hip hop. You won’t regret it.

Friday, March 1, 6 PM
Koyo, Anxious, One Step Closer, Life’s Question @ The Canal Club – $25 in advance, $28 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I love a lot of different genres of music, but one that’s been with me longer than almost anything else is hardcore. Over 30 years after I first got into Black Flag and Minor Threat, I’m still keeping up with everything happening in the hardcore scene, and let me tell you, I like some developments better than others. Probably the most pleasing development to my ears in the recent history of hardcore is the new wave of melodic bands that have been coming out over the last five or so years, mostly from the Northeast United States. Koyo, Anxious, and One Step Closer are all standard-bearers for this new movement, so to have all of them come to town on the same bill is a veritable bonanza for anyone who is anywhere near as stoked as I am about this new sound.

Koyo are topping the bill for this tour, and this Long Island band is certainly doing a lot right now to make a name for themselves. Their 2023 debut album, Would You Miss It?, is full of catchy choruses and energetic yet melodic riffs that occasionally tip over into outright harshness. Somehow, though, their heaviest moments still feel incredibly emotional, and tug at your heartstrings just as hard as their best melodies. As for Anxious, they made a lot of fans with their slightly more indie-influenced debut LP, Little Green House. Since then, their more recent singles have felt a little less grounded in hardcore, and that Dinosaur Jr influence they’ve always shown has gotten a bit more prominent. The next Anxious LP is sure to take things to a whole new level for this band, but to really know what they’ve got coming down the pike, you’re going to have to see them this Friday night. One Step Closer’s 2021 debut, This Place You Know, found them striking the same vulnerable, melancholy notes as Turning Point’s immortal It’s Always Darkest… Before The Dawn LP. On follow-up EP Songs For The Willow, they moved in a more melodic direction, but the emotional intensity of their previous work hasn’t dulled one iota. Chicago-based openers Life’s Question are undoubtedly the heaviest, least melodic of the hardcore bands on this bill, but if you appreciate the places Koyo, Anxious, and One Step Closer are coming from, you’ll definitely find a lot to like about Life’s Question. Really, if you like hardcore of any kind, this show is sure to make you happy. Don’t miss it.

Saturday, March 2, 8 PM
Prabir Trio, Pebbles Palace, Dhemo @ Bandito’s – $10
I’ve gotta give it to Prabir — the man never stops. He’s always got a whole bunch of creative projects in a variety of genres and media going on at once, and he never seems to run out of ideas, energy, or talent. He’s continued to prove that over the last several years at the head of his latest musical project, Prabir Trio — which, like all trios in the post-modern era, has recently expanded to a quartet. I don’t think anyone could complain about the addition of Kenneka Cook on vocals, though. Anyone who has been around Richmond for awhile is aware that Kenneka is just as much of a world-class talent as Prabir himself (or, for that matter, drummer Kelli Strawbridge and bassist Jeremy Flax — no dead weight in this band).

This latest gig by the four-piece trio is actually a record release show, and that makes it doubly important that you attend. The brand new Prabir Trio single, “God’s Song,” is being released by Shockoe Records in an edition of only 50 copies — so if it doesn’t sell out by the end of this evening, I will be shocked. What’s more, rather than being released on vinyl, it seems the single will be released in the form of prayer candles, as designed by Richmond artist Brent McCormick, each of which comes with a download code for the new song. In the age of streaming, it’s always interesting to see what new ways bands come up with to make merch viable and important. If you ask me, this is a pretty neat way to do that. As for the show, Prabir Trio will play second out of three bands, with alterna-soul artist Dhemo opening things up, and psychedelic indie space rangers Pebbles Palace closing things out. It should be an excellent evening — and as always, that’ll be even more true if you grab some tacos from Bandito’s while you’re there. Do that shit.

Sunday, March 3, 7 PM
Gravesend, Maul, Blazing Tomb, Lair @ Fallout – $12 in advance, $15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
This Sunday night, it’s time for things to get really heavy down at the Shockoe Bottom goth-fetish club known as Fallout. While shows at that venue are generally closer to industrial, postpunk, or electronic in tone, this is one night in which the place will be fully taken over by harsh, raging metal. Get stoked for that, because it means we’ll all get to see a set from New York City’s own Gravesend. This band plays a fast and noisy metal hybrid that mingles elements of grind, death metal, and blackened thrash together into a dark and potent cocktail of rage. Their latest LP, Gowanus Death Stomp, introduces its subject matter with its very title, betraying a fascination with the dark underbelly of the densest and toughest city in the United States that fuels everything about Gravesend’s angry stomp.

Gravesend will be accompanied on their trek into Richmond by another band from out of town. Maul hail from Fargo, North Dakota, a completely different sort of northern city, and their music evokes an entirely different atmosphere, though they are certainly as heavy as Gravesend. On their latest EP, Desecration and Enchantment, Maul rides the line between death metal and sludge like a 21st century update of Autopsy, with some elements from groups like Khanate or Seven Sisters Of Sleep mixed in. This should make them a good match for Richmond openers Lair, who mix melancholy doom with downtuned thrash crunch on their new album, The Hidden Shiv. Fellow Richmonders Blazing Tomb are probably the most straight-up thrash band on this bill, and their heavy riffage and thick distortion has a clear foundation in the world of metallic hardcore, even as it hits a sweet spot that’ll please even the most purist of death metal fans. This whole show is going to be heavy as fuck, and you might want to swap out the mirrored Docs for your pair of scuffed steel-toes for this one — this show’s gonna hit hard.

Monday, March 4, 8 PM
Alley Trash (Photo by Killing It Entertainment), Silenus, Jackal, Terror Cell @ Ipanema – $10
Monday nights are often the hardest night of the week to fill, so I’m always glad when there’s a total no-brainer of a show taking place on a Monday night. It’s definitely the case this week — this metallic hardcore quadruple bill hitting the Ipanema basement is a can’t miss night of musical awesomeness. That sure makes my job easier. Before I go on, let me say that Terror Cell, the one local group on this bill, may be opening or closing the evening — I’m really not sure. But anyone who reads this column even semi-regularly by now should know that Terror Cell is a great band, with powerful metallic mosh riffs for days. So let’s leave it at that where Terror Cell is concerned, and focus on the three out-of-town acts coming through Ipanema this Monday night.

At the top of the list is Alley Trash, who not only have a great name but also describe themselves as a “regressive metalcore” band. One listen to their latest single, “Instant Regret,” made clear exactly why they use that term; it’s a fair description for a band who so perfectly evokes that metallic rock n’ roll stomp and swagger of early Every Time I Die. This band’s rollicking riffage is some of the best I’ve heard since Hot Damn!, and I’m sure anyone else who misses ETID as much as I do will get a big kick out of this band. New Yorkers Silenus are darker, deeper, and heavier in tone, striking an ominous note on 2021 EP The Garden Is Burning that, at least for me, brings to mind first-LP As The Sun Sets. The bill is rounded out by Jackal, a relatively new band whose self-titled debut EP is full of choppy chaotic metalcore that is supremely enjoyable in its relative unpredictability. Every band on this bill has a lot to offer, and when you’re getting a bill this good on a Monday night, you don’t question it. You just go.

Tuesday, March 5, 7:30 PM
Shockoe Sessions Live! presents: IT IS @ In Your Ear Studios – $15 (order tickets HERE)
As longtime readers of the column know, when I’m looking for a cool show on a Tuesday night, Shockoe Sessions Live! at In Your Ear Studios is always my go-to. Depending on how active you’re feeling at this early point in the work week, you can easily just chill at home and watch these shows on your TV or computer like so many other people do. However, it’s always better in person, and when the band playing is as intriguing as the one playing this Tuesday night, I’m always gonna recommend that you go the extra mile and show up to see them in person.

IT IS is a band whose name I’ve been hearing for a while, but it took me until this week to discover their 2023 LP, The Exister — possibly because “it is” isn’t really the most SEO-friendly name. Whatever the reason, though, I’m very thankful that I’ve discovered this band now, because they really do have a fun and fascinating sound. There’s a little bit of jam-band DNA in there, for sure, but I’m far more intrigued by the post-indie psychedelia and sharp alt-rock riffs, as well as the band’s intense delivery. Too often, bands in that whole jam world are extremely laid back. IT IS has real energy in their sound, and that’s incredibly refreshing. Show up or tune in this Tuesday night and find out for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

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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