RVA Shows You Must See This Week: January 18 – January 24

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Saturday, January 21, 9 PM
Los Saicos Experience (Photo by JEO Photography), Beex, Shawnis And The Shimmers @ Bandito’s – $10
Ever wake up for the first time in a new house and have no idea where you are? That always happens to me. Anyway, good morning Auricular, it’s nice to be here! I’m already more comfortable in my new room by the stairs. And best of all, when I step out the front door, it’s still the same Richmond live music scene that greets me. There are plenty of awesome shows happening in Richmond this week, just like every other week for the past nine years, so let’s stop messing around with debatably successful meta references and get to the rock n’ roll already, shall we?

To start with, we’ve got Los Saicos Experience, taking over Bandito’s this Saturday night in the name of the original Los Saicos, a Peruvian band from the mid-1960s, who have officially licensed this DC-based tribute band. Los Saicos are given credit in certain circles for inventing the whole punk rock template, and while their original recordings from the mid-60s are certainly sharp and abrasive for their era, you shouldn’t show up expecting them to sound like the Ramones or anything. Instead, be prepared for a Latin American twist on the classic garage-punk sound of US-based Latin American groups like ? and the Mysterians, Thee Midniters, or Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs, as well as the wild-n-wooly low-budget frat rock of early 60s Pacific Northwest luminaries like The Kingsmen, The Sonics, and the Wailers.

What’s more, you’ll need to be prepared for a blistering punk attack, because the young Washingtonians now giving this music a voice believe in it with all their hearts, and put every ounce of energy they have available into turning the classic Los Saicos numbers collected on their lone album, Demolicion!, into raging 21st century punk stompers. So maybe you should expect some Ramones/Cramps-type action at that. This will certainly be a wild rockin’ evening with Los Saicos Experience on the bill. And it’s one heck of a bonus that the rest of the lineup features classic early 80s Richmond punks Beex, who released a killer compilation, The Early Years 1979-82, on Tidewater label Beach Impediment Records back in 2021. And then, of course, there’s Shawnis And The Shimmers, one of the main bands carrying the torch for classic garage-punk in Richmond 2023. This show is crammed full of talent, and will be a big wild blast of fun times. Don’t miss a minute of it — not even to eat a giant plate of nachos.

Wednesday, January 18, 9 PM
Hammered Hulls, Clear Channel, Sifter @ Fuzzy Cactus – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’m pretty excited about this one, y’all. Dischord Records has been tarred with the slander in recent years that they’re mostly surviving on catalog repackages, but I think that’s an unfair characterization, and Hammered Hulls are one of the biggest pieces of evidence against that theory that I’ve encountered over the past few years. This raging quartet captures a lot of what made Dischord’s late 80s/early 90s era so great; they keep the ferocious energy and spirit of classic hardcore punk alive, while never being afraid to push the boundaries of the genre or try new and unusual techniques. In that way, they’re very reminiscent of the members previous bands.

Indeed, Hammered Hulls carries quite the pedigree: singer Alec MacKaye was not only the sleeping baldheaded punk on the cover of the first Minor Threat EP (nope, it’s not Ian) but the singer of such outstanding previous Dischord bands as Faith, Ignition, and the Warmers. Guitarist Mark Cisneros has done time in Chain And The Gang, Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, and Des Demonas, among many others. Bassist Mary Timony has previously fronted Helium and Ex Hex, played with Carrie Brownstein in Wild Flag, and more. Drummer Chris Wilson is most known for his time in Ted Leo’s Pharmacists. And if that isn’t enough to get you to give this band a shot, one listen to last fall’s excellent debut LP, Careening, should remove all remaining doubt. DC’s Clear Channel had to drop off the show due to a COVID scare, and it’s actually too late to grab tickets online (though there are apparently plenty still available at the door), but none of that should stop you. This is going to be an outstanding show. Be there.

Thursday, January 19, 10 PM
Heavy Is The Head, Betty Grey, Slaat @ Ipanema – $10 (or $5 with nonperishable food donation)
This column started out heavy and steadily gets heavier as we move toward the weekend. Who doesn’t love a week like that? Thursday sees the heaviness showing up right there in the band name, as Richmond newcomers Heavy Is The Head lead off a local triple bill at Ipanema that fosters the punk rock spirit of making the world a better place by offering a discount on the ticket price if you bring a food donation. I fully approve of that. But let’s talk about Heavy Is The Head, a band I knew featured veteran Richmond guitar-slinger (and friend/former bandmate of mine) James Hoffer as soon as I read their two-line bio. James writes very distinctive bios for his bands, and he never likes to throw around names of the members’ previous projects, preferring to let the band stand on their own.

However, I have no such reservations, so I’m going to come right out and tell you that this group features members of Seraph, Diet Blood, and Rough Age, among many others, throwing down with some serious metalcore power on No More Time, the four-song cassette they released last month with GGT Records. Their songwriting throws some serious curveballs, jumping from heavy mosh parts to ripping uptempo metallic punk riffage and then into some subtle melody, all within the first three minutes. It only gets more interesting from there, as will Heavy Is The Head’s set at Ipanema — one you really shouldn’t miss. They’re joined on this bill by Betty Grey, a new Virginia hardcore band with a tendency toward throwing swaggering Southern-rock riffs in the midst of their swamp-biker-sludge core. Think Every Time I Die and Tragedy stealing riffs from Eyehategod. These guys are a lot of fun. Richmonders Slaat add a dose of tortured noise-rock pain to the proceedings, and are sure have you banging your head. What a rush.

Friday, January 20, 8 PM
Infandus, Le Morte, Cause, Cimitir @ Bandito’s – $10
I hope you’ve got some extra scratch put aside for tacos and nacho plates, because this is two killer shows in the course of one weekend at Bandito’s, and opportunities like this don’t come along all that often. That said, you’re gonna want to show up early both nights so you can maximize your experience with some truly great music. In this case, it’s Infandus who are the reason for the season, and this crew of NYC punks of death metal experience come to town with some dark, sludgy riff monsters to crack all of our skulls with. They had a good sound from the outset, with 2020’s Lithium-6 demo, but 2022 follow-up Beneath The Rising Moon takes things to a whole new level, pairing that classic Morrisound feel of early Morbid Angel and Obituary records with the metallic crust rifffage of early Napalm Death and the evil atmosphere of legends like Watain and Nile. I know not everyone loves death metal, but everyone SHOULD, and Infandus will show you exactly why, if you only give them the chance.

And of course, Virginians Le Morte will be there as well, to present a full set of their doom-and-gloom take on sludgy death metal, which lands somewhere between Autopsy and Khanate. If you don’t know those references, just trust me — it’s never gonna be fast, but it’s always gonna be heavy, and that’s always a good thing. As for the final two bands on this bill, I really can’t tell you much. Cimitir has confounded me a couple of times in the past few weeks, as there’s a more famous metal band with that name who are not the local Richmond band, and therefore I can’t seem to ferret out any info about the new Richmond band besides that it has members of defunct local crust-punkers Asylum. And I don’t even know for sure that that’s true (I sure hope the rumor mill hasn’t let me down). As for Cause, well… you try doing any search at all that can narrow things down enough to get any sort of coherent search results on that one. I know they’re not the Spokane punk band of the late 90s who had a split EP with fellow Washingtonians Intifada. Beyond that… no idea. But hey, who cares? Infandus and Le Morte are more than enough reason on their own to show up for this one. And for that matter, so are the Bandito’s nachos. Get better acquainted with all of those things this weekend.

Saturday, January 21, 8 PM
Voarm, Mo’ynoq, Nganga @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
More metal? Sure, why not? After all, it’s a cold weekend in January, and black metal is notoriously a sound filled with fire and blood, designed to help you get through the cold Viking winters by appealing to bloodthirsty pagan gods. Or something like that, I don’t know — I just like the music, man. Especially when it’s played by American bands who’ve never come close to burning down a church. Bands like Richmonders Voarm, who rage hard and let loose terror-inducing howls on their killer self-titled debut from 2019. No new music’s been forthcoming in the nearly four years since, but yo — we’re cutting everyone some slack in the post-pandemic era, right? I’m just glad to see these guys playing shows at all. Especially free shows at cool venues like Garden Grove.

Even better, they’re bringing along some very talented out-of-towners for this one, first and foremost being Mo’ynoq, who come from Raleigh with a killer five-song LP they released last fall called A Place For Ash. Starting as it does with raw unaccompanied screams, which soon dissolve into some fiery double-time blast beats and classic black-metal shredding, these guys had me at hello. Considering the five songs on their latest LP stretch across 40 minutes, they clearly know how to write some epic tunes, so expect their set to be a real metal odyssey. I for one can’t wait. Mo’ynoq (still have zero clue how to pronounce that name) are bringing fellow Raleigh black metallers Nganga with them for this show, and they should get things started on a high note with their frantic black metal tunes. Limber up your neck, folks, because we’re going for at least three straight days of metal thrashing madness this week. Which, of course, rules.

Sunday, January 22, 6:30 PM
Pyramid Mass, Murdersome, Armagideon Time, Druglord @ Gallery 5 – $10 (order tickets HERE)
This one confused me a bit at first, mainly because I couldn’t figure out who Pyramid Mass were. I figured it out once I investigated their bandcamp page, though. This trio, featuring members of Dumb Waiter, Hellbear, and Night Idea, was once known as Doubtfire, and considering the problematic associations that word has in my mind, I’m glad to see them picking up a new name — one that I personally think is quite a bit better than the old one. This show will celebrate the new Pyramid Mass record, entitled Monolith, which comes out Friday, so by the time the show happens, you’ll have had a chance to hear every note of it. I myself have only heard three songs, but I’m very impressed with what I hear, as the progressive elements of these musicians’ backgrounds shine through in a big way on these tracks, especially eight-minute opener “Offerings.” I imagine the rest of this record will be equally as great, and I wish Pyramid Mass a propitious return to action under their much-improved new name.

As for the rest of this bill, it features some other veteran Richmond progenitors of heavyosity. Murdersome is the first of these, which brings together former Alabama Thunderpussy vocalist Johnny Throckmorton with former Humungus axe-slinger extraordinaire Ian Dishman and a few other talented metal slayers to bash out some classic thrash that’ll please every Slayer, Exodus, and Kreator fan within a ten-mile radius. Then there’s Armagideon Time, the group that finds rapper Black Liquid fronting a band of metallic hardcore veterans and bashing out some prime dark hardcore a la Fight Amp or Trap Them. And of course, Druglord have been bringing us prime slabs of groovy sludge doom for at least a decade now, so it’s no surprise that these guys can hold down a spot on a strong bill like this one with no problem at all. Pace yourself this weekend — you won’t want to run out of steam before this one comes around.

Monday, January 23, 7 PM
Wrong Worshippers, Evan Solomon, The Glares, Scruffie @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
On Monday nights, we go to The Camel. Why? Because on a night when many local venues (and restaurants) are shuttered, The Camel keeps the music going, often giving us our first taste of some new and upcoming local bands. That’s absolutely true this Monday, on which Richmond duo Wrong Worshippers will headline a bill full of youthful new faces. Wrong Worshippers use nothing more than bass, drums, and vocals to make their many sounds, but they don’t come up with anything like previous bands who used this minimalist lineup: not the sloppy punk of Godstomper, the heavy rockin’ riffs of Big Business, or the noise overload of GodheadSilo. Instead, these boys find a way to lead with melody and write some truly killer choruses on their 2021 debut, Negative Irrational Obsessions. I suppose if you could compare them to any previous bass-drum two-piece, it would be Death From Above 1979, but these guys write more straightforward punk anthems than anything Death From Above created after their first EP.

All of these factors add up to a very intriguing situation for this young band, one that merits seeing how the whole thing comes across live. If you didn’t catch these guys while wandering through Ginter Park for Porchella last year — or even if you did — you’ll want to be there for their headlining set at The Camel. It’ll be something to see, for sure. The other locals on the bill include Evan Solomon, who writes driving punk-pop tunes that’ll get your feet moving. Then there’s The Glares, a very young duo (or trio? Depends on the Instagram video clip you watch) take a sort of jangly punk approach that simultaneously reminds me of Tiger Trap and Nirvana. Their snarky, over-it attitude is endearing and relatable, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they carry it off live. Openers Scruffie have an adorable name and some catchy tunes on their bandcamp, so their set should certainly be a crowd-pleasing toe-tapper. Kudos to The Camel for using the least-booked night of the week as a continual opportunity for showing off some new bands very few of us know about as yet. Keep it up!

Tuesday, January 24, 6:30 PM
Hail The Sun, Sun Against Artemis, Followship @ The Canal Club – $20 (order tickets HERE)
This is a fun one that made me think it’d be one thing and quickly turned out to be another, better thing. Hail The Sun are a band from the metalcore scene of the late 00s who’ve been around for over a decade now. I was waiting for them to be another Dance Gavin Dance-style veteran metalcore act with very few members left from their glory days. And don’t get me wrong, I like that stuff a lot too, but sometimes it’s hard to talk about with other people (especially the sort of people who believe in “guilty pleasures”). Thankfully, I was in for a very pleasant surprise, because when I checked out Hail The Sun’s fifth and latest album, New Age Filth, released in 2021, I discovered a prime slice of melodic, progressive emo. It’s the exact sort of thing bands like Chiodos and Fall Of Troy did so well back in the late 00s, and it’s a sound I really miss.

Perhaps Hail The Sun, who have not only had a similar sound throughout their career but have also kept the same lineup together for over a decade, have become the torchbearers for that bygone era. OK, there’s also Coheed and Cambria, but if that band and their comic-book epics are too bombastic or stylistically variegated for you, Hail The Sun are the perfect antidote. What’s more, the album they put out two years ago are are currently touring in support of is maybe the best work they’ve done yet, so unlike so many bands from that era who you really would have been better off seeing back then, Hail The Sun is probably better now than they ever were before. Go to this gig, enjoy their incredible music, and be glad that at least one band from this whole era is still doing it, and doing it well.

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

Also, I’m a freelancer now, and I’m looking for commissions, so if anyone needs press releases, band bios, or even actual articles written, you should hit me up! I work cheap.

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