RVA Shows You Must See This Week: January 10 – January 16

 In News

Special Editor’s Note:

This month marks ten years that Marilyn Drew Necci has been writing the RVA Must See Shows column, an impressive achievement that really deserves commemoration. Drew, as she is affectionately known, has been one of the city’s most prolific music writers for decades now, through physical zines, online newsletters, and her lengthy tenure as editor for RVA Magazine. All of that writing draws on her encyclopedic knowledge of not just local music, but popular and underground music as a whole, expertise that continues to grow even today as she tirelessly researches bands and genres for her writing and curiosity. Her most consistent work has been this weekly concert column where she writes between 2,000 and 4,000 words weekly on several upcoming concerts happening all over Richmond, drawing on that deep insight to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the city’s diverse music scene.

“RVA Shows You Must See This Week” first began on RVA Magazine, taking over the reins from John Lewis Morgan who, for the prior three years, had penned “One Way Richmond Must-See Show Previews”, an off-shoot of his popular blog at the time. Drew’s first column was published on January 1st, 2014 where the featured show was a concert at Gallery 5 with a loaded bill of The Milkstains, Toxic Moxie, Navi, and Heavy Midgets. She continued at RVA Magazine until March 2016 when she left the publication and moved the column’s home to its own website, RVA Must-See Shows, starting on April 12, 2016. The column returned to RVA Magazine in August of 2017 without missing a beat as she continued to champion local shows in all pockets of the city.

Photo credit: Sara Necci

Beginning in August 2018, the column was rebranded as VA Shows You Must See This Week and expanded to include a few concert recommendations from outside of Richmond, with the first column featuring eight concerts in the city and two shows in the Hampton Roads area. This would continue until March 4th, 2020, the last column before the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic hit our nation. Live concerts disappeared for months and even when they returned, they existed in a weird limbo for the remainder of that year as well as into 2021, often being altered or outright canceled at the last minute due to either a possible exposure or positive test result. In light of this, the column went on hiatus while Drew continued to cover local music in other aspects, still highlighting shows whenever she could with articles, e-mails, or just text messages. The column made its official return in November 2021, reverting to its RVA title and focus, and soldiered on as if no time had passed at all. In January 2023, Marilyn Drew Necci left RVA Magazine and brought the column to The Auricular with the first edition being published on January 18th, marking a fresh chapter in the ongoing chronicle of must-see shows in Richmond.

The significance of Drew’s column over the years cannot be stressed enough. Countless local musicians received their first-ever write-up in her column, introducing their music to people long before there were even songs and records to hear. In this way, her work goes past the goal of highlighting local shows and serves as an essential resource for documenting the ever-changing landscape of Richmond music. “Drew’s writing is so tremendously valuable both before and after shows,” states Style Weekly writer Davy Jones. “I learn about shows before they happen, but I also learn about bands after the fact. Drew’s column is a treasure trove of details you can’t find anywhere else, reflecting just how thoroughly she’s kept tabs on this city’s music community. It’s awe-inspiring.”

Evelyn Dyer, the mastermind behind Richmond grindcore project R.O.T.W.L.C.F.T.S.C.B.M.H., shares that belief for the column that has now become part of her weekly schedule. “I love this column a lot,” she says. “It was brought to my attention when we were tagged in it one day, I checked it out, and I read it every week now usually. I think it’s really important to showcase these local shows in articles like this, not just for promo but also for archiving the history of Richmond’s music.”

One of the defining aspects of this show column is Drew’s commitment to covering the music scene completely without regard to size or sound. She’ll point to you to shows that are close to selling out at The National or The Broadberry, as well as small free shows happening at breweries on a random weekday. The same energy and wordcount are spent covering a two-day festival with prominent performers as a random bill featuring people playing their first show ever, something that lets readers know there’s just as much musical enjoyment to be had in a small cramped space as there is in a large theater. This week’s column itself features punk rock, battle rap, cool jazz, death metal, indie rock, and more, just one of many examples of her vast coverage scope.

“RVA Shows You Must See is a great way to keep up with what’s happening in the many different corners of the Richmond music universe,” says Prabir Mehta, a beloved local musician who also oversaw music venue and art space Gallery5 during the majority of this column’s tenure. “I truly love that I get to see all of my buds in the rock, jazz, classical, metal, DIY, world music, and many other genres equally represented. I’m also an audience member so I love knowing what salsa, indie, and R&B shows are happening around town. This column keeps me in the know!”

For musicians themselves, being included in the column is not just a goal in show promotion, but also a badge of honor. “The feeling of accomplishment when your show has made it into RVA Shows You Must See is huge,” states local singer-songwriter Mackenize Roark. “Infinite thanks to Marilyn for putting together this list every week and making us musicians feel like bigshots in our little city.”

Photo credit: Sara Necci

In-depth doesn’t begin to cover the work Drew does with this column. Each column features eight concerts with around 25-35 individual musicians and bands being listed, each of which she does a deep dive into so she can understand their intention and distinction. Putting together an all-day festival with a dozen performers? Drew is going to listen to all of them and give a unique appraisal on them so readers can really know what to expect when they purchase a ticket.

“Drew has put an immense amount of care into a decade of highlighting local artists,” says Sera Stavroula, who currently performs as part of GIRLSPIT and was previously a member of Toxic Moxie, a band featured in the very first edition of RVA Shows You Must See. “It’s clear that she listens, researches, and appreciates the music herself while also creating something that makes the music scene feel more supportive. I personally am so thankful for this unique resource in the city!”

With over 75 spaces in town existing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the live music happening in town. Even for those in the know, Drew’s work helps shine a light on notable shows that, for one reason or another, just fly under the radar.

“For the past 10 years, Drew’s weekly show picks articles have consistently been a go-to resource for me when finding live music in Richmond,” says Andrew Cothern, Director of Communications at Virginia Tourism Corporation who is also known for his work chronicling local music over the years through RVA Playlist. “The amount of care and attention put into these recommendations for that long shows Drew’s heartfelt dedication to local music. As someone who regularly covered the RVA music scene, I would always discover a new artist through these articles. Congrats on 10 years!”

After all this time, Drew shows no sense of slowing down. Even today, after finishing this column, she’s already hot on the hunt for concerts happening next week or the week after that she knows will be interesting in some way. This unwavering commitment is nothing short of remarkable, and the local music community owes her a profound debt of gratitude. While such praise will surely make her blush or modestly deflect, it remains an undeniable truth: the vibrant tone of Richmond’s music scene wouldn’t resonate with the same strength and excitement without her constant dedication and contributions.

With all that said, please enjoy her column from this week, written with the same passion and enthusiasm as that very first one a decade ago.

Doug Nunnally
The Auricular Editor

Saturday, January 13, 8 PM
Destructo Disk, Strawberry Moon, Babe Haven @ The Camel – $15 (order tickets HERE)
From time to time here at the Auricular, we hear from local bands who are trying to get coverage for one of their shows, and while those shows don’t always make the column, we always at least give them a shot. In this case, both Destructo Disk and Strawberry Moon let us know about their show this Saturday — but in both cases, they were mostly trying to hype the out of town band they’re sharing a bill with. North Carolina’s Babe Haven is, they wanted us to know, out of this world and entirely worth every Richmond music fan’s time.

That pitch certainly got our attention, but you wouldn’t be reading about this show in the featured spot if Babe Haven hadn’t totally followed through on all the hype Destructo Disk and Strawberry Moon gave them. They did, though — their debut LP, Uppercut, is a wild n’ crazy mix of riot grrrl energy, hardcore crunch, and power-pop melody. There’s also a great deal of variety in their sound, with each song landing at a different point on the spectrum of their sound. Some are catchy and bouncy, others are heavier and more attuned to the mosh. But every Babe Haven song is full of feminist fury, often directed at the sort of lame dudes who treat every female musician like she can’t possibly have any idea what she’s doing. It’s sad that 30 years after Bikini Kill, these song topics still need to be covered once again, but as a female musician, I can tell ya: they do. And Babe Haven is the perfect band to deliver the message.

But listen, I don’t want to minimize the work of the Richmond bands who reached out to us in the first place, because both of them are excellent groups in their own right. Let’s talk about Destructo Disk first, because they’re making big moves in 2024 thus far, dropping a new six-song EP on New Years Day. Kelly Green Hardcore features frequent examples of this band’s refusal to take themselves too seriously, but amid the goofier moments lies plenty of the sort of melodic punk awesomeness this band has made their stock in trade over the past several years. Strawberry Moon are making things happen in their own right, having released a new EP — also on Destructo Disk’s Sockhead Records — two weeks before the end of 2023. My Offering finds Strawberry Moon moving even farther in the louder, heavier direction they started taking with 2022’s excellent Habitual Creatures. Expect a hard-hitting set from these folks to get this punk rock banger started in fine fashion.

Wednesday, January 10, 7 PM
Clayheads, Inferior Brain Power, Rubber Dagger @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
As we often discuss in this column, the live music scene slows down toward the beginning and middle of the work week. This means there are fewer shows to pick from on any given Wednesday night than there will be on a Saturday, but that can be its own sort of blessing — it offers us the chance to check out lesser-known bands who might not be able to get our attention on nights when there are a dozen other shows happening. Clayheads is that sort of band for me, a young trio who’ve only started playing shows in the last few months and have very little music available online as yet. What they do have, however, is intriguing; moody, melodic alt-rock sounds that distinguish themselves through the foregrounding of acoustic guitar. This lets the vocal melodies and guitar leads take center stage, and the resulting sound is charming and delightfully unpolished. I think it would connect well for the folks who remember the glory days of K Records; this trio would fit right in with groups like The Softies and Boyracer (references that I’m sure the kids in Clayheads are far too young to get. It’s a compliment, guys, I promise).

The folks from Inferior Brain Power caught my attention when they released their debut LP, Inferior Brain Power Today!, back in 2021, but a few years later, it still feels like they are underrated and overlooked in the local scene. Tonight’s the perfect opportunity to change that and come appreciate the off-kilter charms of Inferior Brain Power as they take the Camel’s stage. Their sound is reminiscent of some of the weirdest, most rule-breaking bands of the early punk era; I hear Modern Dance-era Pere Ubu, The Minutemen, and even first-LP Devo at work in their jazzy, melodic take on postpunk. If you haven’t heard this band yet, you’re missing out. Rubber Dagger round things out with some lo-fi garage punk that’ll delight fans of Billy Childish and The Saints. Lots of new local sounds on offer from this one — don’t miss it.

Thursday, January 11, 8 PM
Hotspit, Rugbie, Gone, Dysphonia @ Bandito’s – $10
We’re big Hotspit fans here at The Auricular. This quartet’s brand of emotional slowcore shoegaze might seem subtle at first, but once you really let yourself sink into their sound, you’ll realize how intense and captivating they really are. It took me a few listens to really get their most recent single, “Stacy,” but in the past week, it has finally hit me really hard, and I’ve been playing it on repeat. Hotspit are that sort of band — the one you put on late at night when all the lights are off, and you just listen to the same song on repeat for an hour or two, because nothing else connects with how you feel quite as much as it does. And then you go see that band, and they play that song, and you have to sit there trying not to cry in front of all your cool music scene friends. Wait, is that just me?

Either way, the point is that Hotspit are just as amazing live as they are on record, and you can finally listen to their songs at top volume without worrying about your neighbor pounding on the bedroom floor. Their set at Bandito’s this Thursday night is sure to be some much-needed emotional catharsis for us all, what with SAD season in full effect and all. They’ll be joined on the bill by Rugbie, an emo/alt-rock duo who seem to have released their first EP seven years ago but only played their first show back in October. I can’t reconcile that seeming contradiction, but I really like the songs on the demo, so I’m cool with it either way. Norfolk’s Gone are also on the bill, and I’m probably the only person who saw their name and thought of Greg Ginn’s post-Black Flag instrumental outfit from the 80s, but the fact that I’m that much of a nerd is why you read this column, right? Gone does not include any members of Black Flag, but they do feature a member of You’re Jovian, and they play the sort of fuzzy shoegaze melodies that wash over you so delightfully, so they’re definitely a band you’ll want to show up in time for. I don’t know much about Dysphonia, who are getting this night of music started, but snippets of their songs I’ve heard on Instagram videos make me think that if you like the other bands on this bill, these guys are going to keep you satisfied. Just like the Bandito’s nachos you eat before the show starts.

Friday, January 12, 8 PM
Armagideon Time, Rise Defy, Deafwall, DJ Skate @ Bandito’s – $10
It’s always nice to see veterans of the music world come together to produce exciting new music after decades in the scene. We got just that in 2022, when Armagideon Time combined the talents of longtime Richmond hip hop heavyweight BlackLiq with the talents of veteran screamo/hardcore guitarist Jesse Mowery and multi-genre talent Taimir Gore to bring us the harsh, energetic political hardcore of their debut EP, Crime As Theatre. It was one of the most exciting local releases of 2022, and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’m ready for more from this killer ensemble. A hot live set is a great start for all that, and we’ll surely get one when Armagideon Time hit Bandito’s this Friday night. So get stoked.

But of course, that’s only part of the reason we’re talking about this show. The other is that Rise Defy is playing. Rise Defy are a bunch of DC punk and hardcore veterans, including members of Scream, H.R.’s solo band, and Police & Thieves. They started during the Trump administration as a reaction to the creeping fascism that’s been invading US politics over the past decade or so, and they kick back against all that garbage with some fun, catchy tunes that land closer to the punk side of things than hardcore. If you dig The Clash or Stiff Little Fingers, you’ll appreciate what these folks are up to in a big way. I know way less about the rest of this lineup — Deafwall’s only online presence is an empty Instagram account, and all I know about DJ Skate is that his real name is Wayne Deavers and he’s gonna play records before and between the bands. But regardless of what Deafwall and DJ Skate are bringing to the table, you’ve got more than enough reason to head out to this one. So do it!

Saturday, January 13, 7 PM
Horrendous, ROTWLCFTSCBMH, Redundant Protoplasm, Restrictor Plate, Human Infection @ Bandito’s – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I know the grind and death metal kids are all stoked about this one. Philadelphia’s Horrendous have might quite the name for themselves in the world of extreme metal over the past decade and a half or so, not only by making some of the most ferocious and progressive metal records of the era, but also by never being afraid to expand, evolve, or even re-invent their sound entirely. On their fifth album, Ontological Mysterium, they try something new once again, but this time it feels less like a further evolution of their sound than a synthesis of every different aspect of metal that they’ve previously dipped into. Raging epic metal riffs coexist with melodic leads, progressive song structures, and harsh, old-school vocal roars, and all of it flies past you at a high rate of speed, never landing in one place long enough for you to get comfortable, but also never making an unwelcome choice or putting a foot wrong. The 2024 version of Horrendous is a ton of fun to listen to, and you can expect their performance at Bandito’s this Saturday night to be a total headbanging blast.

You can also expect all of the local metal groups who are also on this bill to bring their A game at this show, as all of them will be excited to share the stage with Horrendous. Expect ROTWLCFTSCBMH to be at their grinding, blurry, chaotic best, especially in light of their brilliant new split with Bloat (which we premiered right here at The Auricular only a few short weeks ago). Virginia Beach goregrinders Redundant Protoplasm are bringing some truly messy and noisy goregrind, full of detuned thudding bass strings, thousand-miles-an-hour blastbeats, and incoherent bloody shrieks — the mosh pit will be going hard for this one, I predict. Richmond’s own Restrictor Plate, who I’m guessing are fans of NASCAR super-speedway races, are bringing some thick-necked New York-style death metal to the stage. And Roanoke’s Human Infection will get the whole thing started with some ripping death thrash rage that should have plenty of heads banging. Go metal thrashing mad for this one, y’all.

Sunday, January 14, 4 PM
Southpaw Battle Coalition presents The Battles At Boombox Vol. 3, feat. Ro$$etti vs. Big Jinya, Rel Lyfe vs. Tson, Chance Fischer vs. Era Hardaway, King Fizzle vs. Introverse, Chef Tokin vs. Juanski @ RVA Boombox – $20 in advance, $25 at the door (order tickets HERE)
I’m not always able to keep up all that well with the battle rap scene in this city. While a lot of the rappers involved do make records at least occasionally, rap battles are kind of their own thing, and some of the rhyme-spitters with the most hype in this world aren’t necessarily all that prolific or well-known for their recordings. That being said, you will definitely hear some incredible rapping at any event run by Southpaw Battle Coalition, the first name in Richmond battle rap. It’s run by Radio B — who really is one of the biggest names in any area of the Richmond hip hop universe — so you know it’s put together well and features the top talents in this arena, coming forth to flex, flow, and defend their rep.

The most familiar names on this card for me are two local MCs who are competing against each other: Chance Fischer and Era Hardaway. Of the two, I’m more familiar with Chance’s work, and he’s made some truly incredible records in his time. The man’s definitely got skills aplenty, but I know enough to know Era’s got a ton of skills himself, so I’m not gonna even attempt to pick a winner in this one, let alone any of the other battles where I’m less familiar with the individual rappers. But that’s OK, because the real thrill of watching MCs battle in an arena like this one is not seeing who wins — it’s seeing the fiery combat, in which the heat builds in the room as each rapper breaks out their best lines and comes up with the best ways to dis their opponents right off the top of their head. Music as competition is an unusual format, but it can result in some of the best sounds ever to come out of the hip hop world. And while listening to the recordings later is always a good time, there’s nothing that can compare to being in the room and experiencing the tension and the atmosphere as two killer MCs lay it all on the line. So come out to RVA Boombox this Sunday and see for yourself what it’s all about. I guarantee you’ll never forget it.

Monday, January 15, 8 PM
Church Clothes, Sweat, Kontaminate, Fried Reality @ Bandito’s – $10
Mondays are always rough. The weekend’s over, we’ve all gotta go back to work, and that’s not much fun for anyone. However, if you have the right show to go to on Monday night, sometimes it can make up for everything that’s been awful about the day up to that point. It seems highly likely to me that this four-band bill taking place at Bandito’s Monday night is just such a show, and if you show up early enough to combine this unstoppable lineup of four killer hardcore bands with some happy hour tacos, I’m sure you’ll go to bed with a smile on your face. The band that’ll be most responsible for that smile is New York group Church Clothes, whose name can be pretty easily confused with a variety of clothing brands on the internet. But don’t worry, this band is not here to be reverent or respectful; they tear shit up with some hard-hitting old-school hardcore that combines a positively enraged vocal approach with some subtly melodic basslines that’ll make all of these songs feel catchy as hell even as they make you want to start the fiercest circle pit you’ve seen in a long time.

Not to be outdone, Los Angeles band Sweat will hit just as hard when they take the stage. These guys feature members of Graf Orlock, Dangers, and Ghostlimb (which really just means Justin Smith aka Jason Schmidt is in the band, but whatever), but they take things in a much more rockin’ rollin’ direction than any of those groups, giving us the same sort of garage-infused hardcore that Cloak/Dagger were always so good at, only with a much higher dose of Motorhead-style hard-hitting swagger. This band is a killer listen on record, so their live show should bowl us all over. Two awesome Richmond hardcore punk bands will round out this bill, and remind us all that this city lays down some outstanding sounds on its own behalf. Kontaminate just released a new 8-song, 9-minute EP of raw D-beat rage, and they’ll certainly have plenty more where that came from to unleash once they hit the Bandito’s stage. As for openers Fried Reality, they definitely fit into the category of “noise punk,” overlaying their old-school hardcore anthems of fury with a wall of fuzz. This one will be a perfect opportunity to vent all of the rage that a typical workday inspires within you, so you can sleep peacefully Monday night — that is, until your alarm goes off five hours after you laid your head on the pillow. Ugh.

Tuesday, January 16, 7:30 PM
Shockoe Sessions Live! presents Rex Richardson Group @ In Your Ear – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Regardless of anything else happening around town on any given Tuesday night, Shockoe Sessions Live! is always a solid bet for the perfect musical evening. As someone who also tries to incorporate all genres of music into my purview, I appreciate the way Shockoe Sessions covers the full gamut of music that exists in the Richmond music scene and beyond, from pop, hip hop, metal, and indie to jazz, classical, and avant-garde. It’s the latter half of that spectrum that Shockoe Sessions will be bringing to us this week, as they welcome trumpeter Rex Richardson into the studio for a performance. Richardson is an acclaimed veteran of the classical and jazz world who has taught at VCU for the past two decades, and while those of us who don’t have an academic background for our musical studies may not know his name, he’s certainly got a strong resume — one that will surely influence his performance at In Your Ear Studios this Tuesday night.

It’s hard to say what Richardson will bring to us in this performance, especially since he’s done so many different things over the course of his career. One of his two most recent albums as bandleader, 2018’s Freedom Of Movement, found him playing 21st century trumpet concertos that to my less-than-educated ears at least somewhat resemble intense, dramatic works like Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring. The other, 2019’s Bugles Over Zagreb, found him joining with The Croatian Radiotelevision Jazz Orchestra to create some fun jazz that combined bop and big-band sounds with elements that seem to derive from Eastern European and African indigenous sounds. There’s a pretty broad spectrum laid out just in the space between those two albums, and once you look at the many other things Richardson keeps himself busy with as a sideman, it feels impossible to predict what he’ll be playing on any given night. What is great, though, is that he always brings formidable talent, technical prowess, and heart to whatever he’s doing. This performance on Shockoe Sessions Live! will not be an exception. So come out, or tune in — but make sure you catch this one.

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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