RVA Shows You Must See This Week: February 7 – February 13

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Saturday, February 10, 8 PM
Justin Golden & Devil’s Coattails, Brent from The Wimps @ Reveler Experiences – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Folks, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and while I’m a happily married lady these days, I still know exactly how it feels to find yourself singing the blues on February 14. It is appropriate, then, that this week’s featured show is all about the blues. Old-school blues, to be clear — blues from the days before electric guitars and drum kits had become standard fixtures of the genre. That’s the sort of blues Justin Golden evokes on his new album, Golden Country Vol. 1, which was recorded in collaboration with local folk group Devil’s Coattails. Those of you who first noticed Golden through his early live performances or his outstanding 2022 debut, Hard Times And A Woman, are surely more familiar with Golden’s electric guitar blues work, which lands closer to the work of legends like Muddy Waters, Junior Kimbrough, or John Lee Hooker. But Golden has always been an artist with a strong foundation in the deep roots of blues, and it’s those roots that he’s exploring on Golden Country Vol. 1 — and in this performance at Reveler, which will celebrate that album’s release by pairing Golden with Devil’s Coattails once again.

The album name is entirely appropriate — folks often call the early, pre-WWII acoustic blues of the Mississippi Delta, eastern Texas, and the North Mississippi hill regions “the country blues,” and on Golden Country Vol. 1, Justin Golden is teaming up with musicians who have an extensive background in other country-style genres. Specifically, folk, bluegrass, and Americana are Devil’s Coattails’ bread and butter. When you first hear Golden and his acoustic guitar at the front of the Devil’s Coattails trio, you might even think you’re hearing a country band. But no — listen for a minute. This is clearly the blues, even if it’s being played on instruments you might not expect. And it’s the sort of blues that originally defined the genre a century ago, when artists like Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly, and Frank Stokes (all of whom Golden and Devil’s Coattails cover on this album) were in their prime.

It’s that old-time blues spirit that Golden and Devil’s Coattails leader Trey Burnart Hall hoped to capture when they teamed up for a set at last year’s Vocal Rest Fest (a showcase for Hall’s label, Vocal Rest Records). There was magic in the air when Golden and the Coattails came together, and they sought to recapture that magic when they went into the studio late last fall to record Golden Country Vol. 1 over a marathon two-day session. Now they’ll bring that magic to life once again as they team up for this show celebrating the album’s release — on Vocal Rest Records, natch. Brent McCormick of The Wimps will start the evening off with a solo set, and then Justin Golden and Devil’s Coattails will pay their respects to a musical tradition that is well over a century old and, in their hands, still very much alive and kicking.

Wednesday, February 7, 7 PM
Safari Room, Crystal Flowers, Blackwood Station @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
True indie bands sometimes feel like they’re pretty tough to come by in this day and age. Everyone is doing retro-synth, bedroom-pop, beard-stroking dad-core, and other fundamental deviations from the formula, and therefore you don’t hear things that come across as actual indie all that often anymore — or at least, I don’t. To my ears, Nashville band Safari Room feel like they’re bucking the trend where that’s concerned. Since their 2022 LP, Complex House Plants, they’ve been releasing a series of singles that have been combined into a few different EPs (at least on the streaming services… what counts as a proper release is sometimes hard to determine in this day and age), all of which land in one corner or another of an indie template that would certainly be familiar to those who grew up with the Pitchfork darlings of the 00s. I hear elements of Spoon, Arcade Fire, and Bloc Party — even a little bit of Gang Of Four mixed in at times. Then at others, things get quite pleasant and melodic, though thankfully they never fall into the log-cabin morass that has really taken a lot of the energy and excitement out of indie in recent years.

On the whole, Safari Room has quite a bit to offer the discerning indie consumer who is tired of 21-year-old guitar slingers trying to go Americana. However, those who prefer dissonance and quirkiness kept to a minimum will also appreciate what this band has to offer. Maybe this is the rare band that will please both me and the people who can’t get enough of Bon Iver or whatever. Regardless of where you land on that spectrum, you should definitely check these guys out when they come through town tonight. Richmonders Crystal Flowers, who I haven’t heard too much of but certainly seem simpatico with Safari Room’s sound, will be offering local support on this show. And while Colpa Mia has apparently had to drop, fellow Richmond group Blackwood Station has stepped up to take their place. This project, led by Ian Blackwood, released an LP late last year that is full of warm, smooth folk sounds that manage not to turn into dad-core at any point. Keep that same energy, folks.

Thursday, February 8, 7 PM
Evan Dando, Willy Mason @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $25 (order tickets HERE)
I suppose it’s possible that there are folks out there these days who don’t know the name Evan Dando. After all, this leading light of the late 80s and early 90s alternative rock scene has been keeping a pretty low profile in recent years. Thankfully, he’s back on tour, and coming to Richmond this Thursday night. Better yet, he’s bringing a brand new Lemonheads 7 inch single, “Fear The Living,” which features the first new original Lemonheads song since they released their self-titled LP back in 2006. Dando’s on tour by himself right now, so we’ll be getting a solo acoustic set, but considering that the new Lemonheads EP features him playing all of the instruments himself, it’s not like we’re missing out on some current band members he’s leaving home for this solo jaunt.

Besides, one of the greatest things about The Lemonheads was always the fact that their songs were such perfect examples of power-pop melody. Often featuring prominent acoustic guitars, they are tunes that will survive a reduction to their bare bones without any noticeable damage. I’ve squinted at the set list Evan has taped to the guitar he’s holding in the photo above, and if it has anything to do with the sort of material he’ll be playing on this tour, we’re going to get to enjoy classics from all phases of his career, both with the Lemonheads and solo, including some gems from unforgettable career highlight It’s A Shame About Ray. Get stoked, y’all, because this one is gonna be awesome.

Friday, February 9, 7 PM
Wetwork, The Magpie, Crystal Spiders, Book Of Wyrms @ Cobra Cabana – $10
This one should be fun — a night of hard-edged ragers from around the Mid-Atlantic region, all converging on Cobra Cabana to dish out some filthy, sludgy metallic rock. At the top of the bill is Wetwork, who are a relatively new Richmond band with only one three-song EP out. They’re admittedly a new discovery for me, but they’ve been making a name for themselves around the city for a couple of years, and based on the aforementioned EP, they absolutely deserve it. The kind of guitar sound these guys have might make you expect some slowed-down stoner riffage, but instead, they put the pedal to the metal and let it rip with a savage, unrestrained feel that harks right back to the early days of American hardcore. I’ve heard My War-era Black Flag used as a reference, and that’s certainly not an inaccurate one, but for my money they are closer to Take The Manic Ride-era Bl’ast with a dose of Nine Shocks Terror mixed in. In other words, this band is fucking awesome. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you need to make sure you’re at Cobra Cabana this Friday night.

And make sure you catch the other three bands on the bill as well. The Magpie are the first of two who are heading up to Richmond from their hometown of Raleigh, and these guys bring a more psychedelic feel to their raging noise. That being said, they are also very much straddling the line where old-school proto-metal sludge meets early 80s hardcore energy — no surprise, considering they feature ex-members of heavy hitters like Double Negative and Demon Eye. Their set should definitely connect for anyone who digs what Wetwork are about. Meanwhile, fellow Raleigh citizens Crystal Spiders will take things in a bit more of a power metal direction, thanks to Breanna Leath’s triumphant vocals. Still, though, as with all of the bands on this bill, heavy fuzz remains the theme. The same can be said for Book Of Wyrms, who round this one out with the sort of lovely psychedelic stoner doom they’ve been gracing our ears with for nearly a decade now. Their most recent release, a collaborative remix with Richmond rapper Illa Styles, is definitely a whole new level for their sound. And while I have no idea whether Illa Styles will make an unannounced cameo during their set, I suppose I can’t rule it out… Regardless, Book Of Wyrms is sure to dish out a raging set of pure third-eye-gazing awesomeness to kick off an outstanding evening at Cobra Cabana. Be there.

Saturday, February 10, 8 PM
Reverse Yr Curse, Dysphonia, Julie Karr @ Bandito’s – $10
Here’s a thing I dig: we’re getting past the era in which all new bands formed right at the start of the pandemic, and getting into the era in which the new bands were formed after everything started opening back up. That’s true of Reverse Yr Curse, a band formed in the last year or so that brings together a trio of talented folks from around the city’s artistic underground — specifically, former More Fire For Burning People/Lorem Ipsum drummer Bret Payne, painter/onetime VCR member Bonnie Staley, and solo artist/ramen enthusiast Matthew Park. Together, they make catchy, somewhat minimal postpunk/indie tunes that remind me at different points of Parquet Courts, The Warmers, and even Young Marble Giants (though, to be clear, they never get THAT minimal).

This show celebrates the release of Reverse Yr Curse’s self-titled debut EP — which is, for my money, one of the best releases to come out of the Richmond scene thus far in 2024. These songs are sure to be a lot of fun when they dish them out to a waiting audience at Bandito’s this Saturday night. Hopefully everyone will have finished with their tacos a while before the headliner comes on, because it’s definitely gonna be an occasion for dancing, and I don’t want anyone to feel like they jumped back in the pool too fast after lunch. Support for this gig will be provided by Dysphonia, a local group with a paucity of available music but plenty of hazy guitar fuzz to offer in the brief snippets I’ve heard thus far. Julie Karr will round things out with her sad, soulful rock n’ roll tunes, which are always a great treat to hear live. This one’s gonna be essential, folks. Get there.

Sunday, February 11, 7 PM
The Cult Of Chunk, Shawnis And The Shimmers, Rubber Dagger, Hardcount @ Cobra Cabana – $10
I don’t know if any of y’all remember when I used to complain about bands not having their records available anywhere besides streaming services, but sometime last year, I decided “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” That decision was made easier by my getting Apple Music for free through my phone plan, but that’s another story. My point in bringing this up is to tell you that The Cult Of Chunk is one group that hasn’t given in. In fact, they’re pretty committed to ensuring that you only access their music through their website. Not only are they not on streaming services, their Bandcamp contains recordings of short spoken messages telling you how to get more information and where to find their music. The actual Cult Of Chunk EP, Drink The Koolaid, is only available for streams or downloads at thecultofchunk.com. The good news, though, is that it’s free.

Another piece of good news is that the lengths you have to go to hear this mysterious Brooklyn band are totally worth it — the EP is a great four-song slice of power pop, one that is infected with a subtle dose of Talking Heads/Devo-style quirkiness. It’s a great deal of fun to listen to, and it’ll be a ton of fun to hear played live at Cobra Cabana this Sunday night. Plus, if the band’s stage presence is anywhere near as mysterious and quirky as their online presence, we can probably expect some fun hijinks to occur during their performance. Even if they don’t bring any sort of hijinks to the table, though, you can be sure that things will get wild at some point during the evening thanks to the fact that Richmond’s own Shawnis And The Shimmers are playing. This queer garage punk group’s been keeping things lively around town for a few years now, and they’ve just released their second EP, Whip It Out, for which this show will act as a release party. The tunes on the new EP are catchy and fun as hell, and are sure to get a big dance party going when they’re played live. Rounding out the bill will be two other local projects: Rubber Dagger’s oi-infused singalong garage-rockin’ styles, and Hardcount’s pell-mell surf-core attack. This one’s gonna be great.

Monday, February 12, 7:30 PM
Out Of Your Head Records presents Second Mondays, feat. Adam Hopkins’ HobbyHorse (Photo by Peter McElhinney) @ Artspace – $10 suggested donation
Always a delight to see the Out Of Your Head folks doing their thing over on Southside, bringing us all a variety of 21st century jazz sounds from the many talented players in and around the Richmond music scene. They missed us in January due to the renovations happening over at Artspace, but they’ve returned for February 2024 with a performance by Adam Hopkins’ HobbyHorse, a stripped-down trio featuring bassist Hopkins and drummer Scott Clark (the masterminds behind Out Of Your Head Records), along with trumpeter Bob Miller, who’s played with everyone from Bio Ritmo and Matthew E. White to Foxygen and The Mountain Goats.

Adam Hopkins’ HobbyHorse was actually the first group to play one of these Out Of Your Head Second Mondays, a full year ago (and a few months before I’d caught wind of this ongoing series). All three of the members are part of Adam Hopkins’ School Work (pictured above, performing at the Camel in January), but unlike School Work, HobbyHorse sees them cutting loose on some original Hopkins compositions, all of which will be laid down in a recording session later this month. So this is really your first chance to hear what will soon be the new LP by this avant-garde jazz trio — and that will surely be a treat. As for the opening act on this bill, well, all I can tell you for sure is that there will be one. Rumor has it that it might be a solo set by a well-known local musician; however, I could end up being entirely wrong about that one, so… you didn’t hear it from me. Regardless, these shows are always a treat, and always present sounds, tunes, and instrumental configurations you won’t hear anywhere else. You’d be well advised to be there.

Tuesday, February 13, 10 PM
The Octavias “Bad Dates With Strangers” video premiere @ Fuzzy Cactus – Free!
OK, first, let me say this right up front: as far as I can tell, no live music will be played at this event. Which means it is certainly out of the ordinary for the show column. But listen: it’s not only the night before Valentine’s Day but also a Tuesday, and not too much is going on around town. When I looked at the very short list of what was going on, this music video premiere was the obvious choice for how to spend your Tuesday evening. Plus, it’s a pretty chill event, on the whole, so it’ll be the perfect low-intensity hang for those of us fortunate enough to be coupled up, who already know we’re gonna have a big night on Wednesday.

So what’s going on at Fuzzy Cactus on Tuesday night? Well, the big news is that raucous Richmond rock trio The Octavias are premiering the video for their brand new single, “Bad Dates With Strangers.” It will hit the internet the next day, but this is officially your first chance to see it anywhere. This will be even cooler, since the video was filmed right there at Fuzzy Cactus by Seyla Hossaini, who has been doing quite a bit of short-form directing over the past few years and continues to hone her skills in addition to making killer garage rock sounds in her own excellent trio, Toward Space. February 13 happens to be Seyla’s birthday, so we’ll all celebrate with her as her latest cinematic masterwork is unveiled. Plus, we’ll all get to hear that new Octavias single for the first time, which is sure to be a real banger. Finally, if you want to stay a while and hang out, it’s Honky Tonk night at Fuzzy, so you can chill and enjoy drink specials and George Jones records until closing time. Cheers!

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. Now including the occasional video! patreon.com/marilyndrewnecci

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