RVA Shows You Must See This Week: January 24 – January 30

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Thursday, January 25, 7 PM
Stomping Grounds, feat. Piranha Rama, The Mitras, Rikki Rakki @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Back at the height of the pandemic, when live shows were all but unheard of and absolutely nobody was touring, a variety of theories got bandied about relating to what the music biz would be like in the post-COVID era. My own theory was that it would take a lot longer for touring to come back, and instead live performance would become a much more locally focused thing for a while — lots of residencies, lots of local showcases, etc. I wasn’t entirely right, mainly because I underestimated how hungry bands who made their living off touring would be to get back on the road after a year and a half off. But I did have one part of the equation correct; residencies and local showcases, already becoming a bit of a thing in the late 2010s, have been a big deal since live music has come back.

The best way to prove this allegation is for me to point out that not one but TWO monthly local showcases are kicking off this Thursday night. We’ll get to the other one in a few paragraphs, but for now let’s start with the first one: Plan 9 and Richmond Music Hall’s Stomping Grounds — which, yes, is co-presented by The Auricular. Even if it weren’t something we were involved with, though, I’m quite sure I’d be eager to tell you about this new showcase, which is going to be bringing us monthly live performances from some of the hottest acts in Richmond. They’ll be coming from, as Plan 9 puts it, “all stomps” of the local scene, which I guess means all sorts of different genres. Works for me, because this time around it gives us a nicely varied bill that’s sure to please a wide swath of local heads.

At the top of the list is Piranha Rama, an ensemble of anywhere from three to nine musicians, which comes together to present us with a multi-genre melange of psychedelic indie country-punk blues that’ll connect with anyone who has ever enjoyed a Flaming Lips, Broken Social Scene, or Animal Collective album. 2022’s Omniscient Cloud Cover took their already all-encompassing sound to a whole new level, and by now you’d think this ensemble would have pushed things even farther. Find out how far at Richmond Music Hall this Thursday night. And show up on time, because you’re also not going to want to miss a note of The Mitras’ set either. These jangly indie-style alt-rockers still haven’t given us a full album, but the EP and singles they released last year gave a real good taste of what side one of a Mitras full-length might sound like. Which is to say: awesome. We’ll take more of that stuff anytime we can get it, and when it’s live and loud right in front of us, so much the better. Rikki Rakki, who are still riding high on the killer debut they released last year, Breaking Skin, will start this show out with a generous helping of their moody, guitar-driven indie sounds. As always, it’ll be a treat.

Wednesday, January 24, 10 PM
Zulitas, Strawberry Moon, Gusher @ Don’t Look Back – Donations requested
For a certain generation of RVA showgoers, a 10 PM show at the spot formerly known as The Triple will surely strike a nostalgic chord. Personally, I don’t really miss the days when prime time for live music in Richmond was between 11 PM and 2 AM — my 48-year-old ass can’t stay up that late anymore. But I’m consoling myself on this score because this week features two different places where I can show up an hour early for a killer show and scarf some delicious tacos while I wait for things to get rolling. You should all avail yourselves of that opportunity, but make sure you don’t go too hard, because this evening of wild rock n’ roll action has a real risk of inducing a back-in-the-pool-too-soon-after-lunch sort of feeling. And we wouldn’t want to mar this evening with anything like that, would we?

That’s especially true because headliners Zulitas are driving up from North Carolina to rock the hell out of us all. Their live debut LP, Live! At! Ajja!, was just released last week, and I certainly hadn’t heard of them before this show listing caught my eye, but now that I’ve listened to the aforementioned slab of wild garage awesomeness, I know that missing Zulitas would be a totally terrible idea, even if right now you have no idea who they are. Another major factor that should convince you to come out to this one is the powerful double shot of local openers kicking this one off. It was only last week (if I remember correctly) that we discussed Strawberry Moon, their tilt further toward punk rock, and their awesome new EP, My Offering, but if you missed that one, listen: the new stuff really is their best shit yet. Which is saying a LOT. As for Gusher, who are kicking this whole thing off, the Blue Cherri EP that they released last fall shows them leaning into the harder edges of the sharp, clever postpunk sound they’ve defined over their two years or so as a band. They’ll wake you up from your post-taco food coma and get this one started on a delightfully noisy note for sure.

Thursday, January 25, 7:30 PM
Amplify Me, feat. Steven Boone (Photo by Dylan Akers), The Rumble Trio @ Ember Music Hall – Free! (Must reserve tickets HERE)
Now it’s time to talk about the other monthly local showcase that’s premiering this Thursday evening. This one is coming to us from Baripete Productions, a booking company who is not only heavily involved in the yearly Daydream Fest (a top-notch local showcase if I’ve ever seen one) but has also brought us a lot of great music at a variety of local venues over the past several years. This series is happening at Ember Music Hall, a relatively new Arts District venue with a capacity similar to that of the Broadberry and a location in the vicinity of The National. They’ve mostly focused on EDM in their early months of operation, but the new Amplify Me showcase series Baripete’s bringing to Ember will give locals from a variety of scenes around town to see what this new venue is all about. Hopefully that connection will help Ember achieve its full potential as a Richmond venue — lord knows we can never have too many of those.

The first installment of Amplify Me focuses on Steven Boone, a Richmond-based guitarist who is probably more familiar to local showgoers from his work as a sideman with musicians like Sam Reed and Ms. Jaylin Brown. That being said, Boone has lots of music and inspiration all his own to share with a local audience, and he doesn’t get that many chances to share it. So far, his only solo release has been his 2017 album SoulLow, on which he shared smooth jazzy ballads, soulful uptempo jams, and psychedelic mood pieces, all of which were unified by Boone’s effortless guitar mastery and self-assured vocals. That was over half a decade ago, so it seems likely that he’s got some new tunes to share with us this Thursday night — though I have no doubt that some of SoulLow‘s highlights will make the set list as well. This will be a night of incredible music, and a great way to kick off a new showcase and introduce a relatively new venue. Support sounds on the bill will be provided by The Rumble Trio, a surf-rock group featuring folks who’ve done quite a bit around the local music scene over the past 15 years or so coming together to get their Link Wray on. This whole evening promises to be rad as heck.

Friday, January 26, 9 PM
40 Reps, Bad Idols, Payphones @ Ipanema – $7
Emotionally-driven pop-punk is always a great soundtrack for a Friday night, and it’s even better when you can dig it for cheap in a welcoming, intimate space. All of this is to say that you’ll definitely want to spend your Friday night down in the basement at Ipanema enjoying this three-band bill with prominent affiliation to veteran local pop-punk label Say-10 Records. 40 Reps released their debut full-length, Heads Up, on Say-10 back around Thanksgiving time. It’s got crunchy guitars and a heartfelt vocal roar that should connect well with folks who love classic gruffly emotional pop-punk groups like Latterman and Leatherface. But considering that 40 Reps have been playing out a lot around Richmond over the last year or so, that information might just be review for you. You’re less likely to know about Bad Idols, the Knoxville-based band joining 40 Reps on this bill.

Bad Idols also released a new album on Say-10 Records late last year, though their full-length came out closer to Halloween than Thanksgiving. Popstar is the fourth LP by Bad Idols, who sound assured and in full command of their plentiful songwriting chops on their latest effort. They’re more of a straight-up pop-punk band than 40 Reps, foregoing some of the gruff emotion in favor of faster tempos and the occasional upstroked ska riff. They also have a slightly goofier outlook on the world, as reflected by song titles like “Grind Me Up Grindr.” Don’t get it twisted, though — Bad Idols are still a very heartfelt band, one that’s sure to connect with folks who are emotionally exhausted after a long work week. You’ll want to be there for that. The bill is rounded out by Richmond newcomers Payphones, who released an EP on Boston’s Sound Investment Records right after the New Year. The four songs on that EP have plenty of punk aggression, but leaven things with a strong melodic sense that will make this group fit right in with the others on this bill. Show up on time for these guys, then stick around all night. You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, January 27, 7 PM
Analog Suspects, Ant Marshall, DJ B-Rice, art by Will Zimmer @ Black Iris Social Club – $10 in advance, $15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
This Saturday night sees Black Iris’s dual roles in the local artistic milieu merging, as they bring us a multimedia extravaganza combining art and music under the banner of hip hop. Specifically, this event, known as The Ripple Effect, comes to us from Charged Up Ent. and that production company’s mastermind, Noah-O. This is Noah-O’s first time dipping into curating art shows, and it’s sure to be a wild one that you won’t want to miss. Most importantly, this event sees the return of Noah-O’s collaborative project with DJ Mentos, Analog Suspects. Back in 2019, they released Transmission 001, an impressive debut that backs skilled lyrical flows full of sociopolitical import with moody, multilayered beats. The name Transmission 001 implies more transmissions on the way, and it’s been nearly five years since that first Analog Suspects record dropped, so… could a live showcase like this one mean that a new transmission from this killer duo is headed our way in the near future?

Well, we can hope. But even if not, it does mean that we’ll get another chance to see Analog Suspects do their thing live and uncut. That should be enough to get local hip hop fans excited, even if no one else is on the bill. Fortunately for us all, there are other artists on the bill, most importantly Ant Marshall, who cofounded the legendary Lyricist Lounge. Marshall will bring us a full set of killer hip hop sounds, and DJ B-Rice of WRIR’s Mid-Atlantic Jams radio show will also be jumping on the decks to keep the beats going. And of course, while all this is going on, you’ll also be able to take in the art of Will Zimmer, a local artist whose work incorporates elements of expressionism and pop art to create raw, multilayered images incorporating abstract colors and the faces of cultural icons, among many other things. Make sure you’re in the house for this one. Also, word has it that you’ll save $2 on the price of admission if you wear a ski mask, so if you’ve got one, break it on out. As cold as it’s been lately, you should know right where it is.

Sunday, January 28, 7 PM
Betty Grey, Uga Buga, Greenhead, Inconsolable @ Bandito’s – $10
Sunday nights at Bandito’s are a longstanding tradition here in Richmond, going back to the days under the old management team when they only did shows on Sunday nights. These days it’s more like every night of the week, and I’m sure I’m far from the only person to be glad that’s come to pass. However, there’s something almost nostalgic about wrapping up the weekend with a show at Bandito’s, and I for one am excited to do so once again — almost as excited as I am to order a big ol’ plate of nachos beforehand. Don’t go too hard with the pre-show eats, though — this is one night on which you’re going to want to spend your fair share of time in the pit. Richmonders Betty Grey are headlining this one, and their thick, tough, metallic take on hardcore takes no prisoners, brutalizing you with blast beat chaos at one second only to crush your head with powerful, sludgy breakdowns at the next. Recent EP Tear The Stars From The Sky is Betty Grey at their best, and these killer songs are sure to hit even harder from the stage at Bandito’s. Get ready to mosh.

The heaviness continues with the trio of supporting acts on this bill, starting with Uga Buga, a Virginian trio who describe themselves as “hog rock.” The sludgy sound of their two-song demo — the only release they’ve got so far — lands closer to the proto-metal of bands like Sir Lord Baltimore or first LP Blue Cheer than to more modern titans of sludge like Eyehategod, but anyone who appreciates dirty, heavy, rock n’ roll riffage will find a lot to like about these guys. Northern Virginia combo Greenhead is similarly sludgy but trades the retro feel for a strong psychedelic influence on their “Nature’s Pyramid” single, which might even connect a bit with the post-hardcore crowd. Fredericksburg’s Inconsolable get things started off with a set of skate punk played by metalheads. Will that sound more like Strung Out or Fall Silent? I couldn’t tell you, because I haven’t heard them yet, but I’m certainly intrigued. Come rock out with all of these bands, and end your weekend on a high note.

Monday, January 29, 7 PM
North By North, Tentative Decisions, Orbweaver, Roughshod @ The Camel – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Chicago’s North By North have been doing their thing for quite a while now. Indeed, I first saw them at Macrock 2014, which was an entire decade ago now. They’ve remained consistent ever since those days, bashing out their upbeat, catchy garage pop in a stripped-down duo format that does nothing to slow them down. They haven’t been the most prolific band, only releasing three LPs in the past decade or so, but they’ve made up for it by never releasing anything that wasn’t strictly top notch. At this point, it’s been quite a while since 2020’s excellent Get Weird, and they did give us a brand new single, “Baby’s On Fire,” back in 2022 (no, it was not a Brian Eno cover, though that would have been cool too), so one could certainly be forgiven for hoping that they have a whole grip of new songs to lay on us all in preview of a forthcoming new album. Even if they just stick to previously released material, though, their set is sure to be outstanding, and we’ll all have a blast chasing away the Monday blues while we listen.

A trio of excellent Richmond bands will make it more than worth our while to show up on time for this one. Tentative Decisions are a young trio playing aggressive yet off-kilter postpunk sounds that could easily have been released by Rough Trade Records back in 1980. If you dig The Swell Maps or The Clean, you’ll find a lot to like about these folks. As for Orbweaver, this grunge-metal trio hasn’t released anything new since their 2020 debut, May Yell, but they’ve certainly accumulated a reputation around town over the past year or so, even as recent performances indicate that they’re pushing their psychedelic-era Soundgarden vibes to an ever heavier and more math-metal level. Meanwhile, Roughshod will get things started with a set of their chunky alt-pop bangers. Get your week started off right with this one.

Tuesday, January 30, 8 PM
Bat, Mower, Private Hell, 15 Min. Roadkill Explosion @ Cobra Cabana – $10
We almost went through this entire week without a metal banger at Cobra Cabana. But that would never do, would it? So thankfully for us all, the Cobras are bringing us an amazing night of punk-metal power on a Tuesday, saving us from a week woefully deficient in metal. At the top of the bill is Bat, the thrash metal trio that initially gained fame for bringing together members of Municipal Waste and DRI. In recent years, former DRI drummer Felix Griffin has been replaced by Ultimate Disaster’s Chris Charge, but that hasn’t slowed these ragers down a bit. Bat’s still raging in classic 80s thrash style, with plenty of dirty D-beat punk energy stirred into the mix, and you’ll get tons of all that when they hit the Cobra Cabana stage.

They’ll be joined on this bill by Pittsburgh’s Mower, a band with a very similar vibe to that of Bat. Mower just released a new LP, Mower II, which mixes early 80s NWOBHM-style rockin’ rage riffs with Motorhead/Discharge-style dirty punk energy. There’s not quite as much classic thrash in their mix, but they make up for it with hard-charging old school power that’s sure to get the circle pit swirling. Get stoked for these guys. Richmond’s Private Hell displayed their metallic hardcore chops with aplomb on the recent Days Of Wrath EP, and should offer a solid helping of ripping thrash roar when they take the stage. And of course, 15 Min. Roadkill Explosion remains an indescribable burst of absolute noise chaos, even after 25 years in existence. No idea what you’ll get from their set, but it will certainly be memorable. Get stoked for this one, y’all.

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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