RVA Shows You Must See This Week: January 3 – January 9

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Sunday, January 7, 7 PM
Lair, Harsh Realm, Cave Grave, Disrotter @ Bandito’s – $10
For a long time now, it’s been the Camel that I’ve looked to when I want to find a venue that’s guaranteed to come through in the clutch with a good show even on a cold, quiet night. But in recent months, another name has started to become just as reliable: Bandito’s. The word I’ve gotten is that the increase in awesome shows happening at this Tex-Mex burrito spot has to do with a change in management, but if I got that wrong you didn’t hear it from me. Either way, the food’s still great every time I head over there, so it seems to me like a win-win. If you aren’t already looking to Bandito’s as one of the most reliable places to hear good music on any given night of the week, let this week’s edition of my little ol’ show column stand as a clear indication to you that you need to start doing so.

This Sunday night is a great example. On a winter’s night at the tail end of a post-holiday weekend that’ll be marked by cold temps and moisture, they’re presenting us with a formidable roster of sludge metal brutality. At the top of the bill is Richmond’s own Lair, who started 2024 off on the right foot by releasing their latest album, The Hidden Shiv, on New Year’s Day. Gotta love that. And you’ve also gotta love the killer collection of thick, swampy riffs this trio lays down on the album, which veer from dragging, terror-infused swamp crawls to blasting downtuned biker-thrash rage. Regardless of tempo, if you like bleak, heavy music with a decidedly apocalyptic worldview, Lair is the band for you. The new album may only be available digitally thus far, but come out and celebrate its arrival in the world regardless.

And while you’re at it, check out the other awesome metal acts on this bill too. For starters, there’s Harsh Realm, from Asheville, NC, who have a slightly more death-metallic sound than Lair (more Autopsy than Corrupted) but still luxuriate in painful sludginess on recent material that’ll surely kick your ass all around the mosh pit when they lay it down at top volume at Bandito’s on Sunday night. They’ll be joined on this jaunt through Richmond by fellow Ashevillians Cave Grave, who have a bit of a goregrind vibe on their latest LP, 2023’s Unfurling Putridity. Things will be at their most rapid during Cave Grave’s set this evening, but don’t get it twisted — the heaviness dial will remain locked on “maximum.” Richmonders Disrotter will open things up by evoking early death metal innovators like Repulsion and Scream Bloody Gore-era Death — so you know that’ll be awesome. And on top of getting to see all that, you’ll be able to order the best nachos this city’s eateries have to offer? Damn, sign me up.

Wednesday, January 3, 7 PM
Combust, Worn, Bulls Shitt, All 4 All, Prime Suspect @ Bandito’s – $15
If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you know why I’m always able to come up with explanations and references for every single band that plays a show in this city: it’s because I’ve been around forever, like the Sphinx. I’m old as dirt, folks, which is why I remember as if it were just yesterday the early 90s era in which rap-core had its brief heyday. I say “brief” because, while everyone was stoked to integrate hip-hop grooves and lyrical cadences into their sound circa 1992, by 1994 people were kind of embarrassed by the whole thing. Rage Against The Machine was one of the only bands from that whole wave that survived beyond the initial flowering. But now, 30 years later, it seems a whole new generation is infatuated with the groovy mosh bounce and hard-swaggerin’ flow that defines rap-core. And I think I’ve gotta give bands like Combust credit: they pull it off better than most of the early 90s rap-core innovators.

Combust recently followed up their unstoppable 2022 LP, Another Life, with a two-song promo EP that one would think foreshadows a forthcoming release sometime in 2024. If whatever they’ve got coming hits anywhere near as hard as the two new songs on BBB Promo, it’s gonna be downright earth-shattering. I would expect no less from their show tonight at Bandito’s, where they’ll surely have people losing their minds within the first few minutes of their set. It’s gonna be wild as hell, and the fact that they’re joined by the more brutal hardcore group Worn on this tour means you can expect double the hardcore mosh awesomeness. Really, all of the bands on this bill will make significant contributions to the hardcore fury on display. The imaginatively named Swedish group Bulls Shitt plays tough, angry hardcore punk that should get the old-school kids starting a circle pit with the quickness. Syracuse HC ensemble All 4 All are bringing some swaggering NYC-style riffage with which to stir things up, and Virginia Beach crew Prime Suspect will take things in more of an old-school 82-style USHC direction without lowering the intensity even one iota. This show’s gonna have plenty of swag and plenty of rage. Get stoked.

Thursday, January 4, 7 PM
Zack Mexico, K9, Future Mantis @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
There’s no way around it: fact is, Zack Mexico is kind of a weird thing to name your band. Because if you’re anything like me, your first thought upon hearing that band name will be one of the weird hippie dudes who lived in your dorm during your freshman year of college. You know the ones — dudes with Phish posters and lava lamps, who were running around barefoot and unshowered at all hours of the day and night, and never seemed to make it to class. Because of those sorts of associations, you might expect the band Zack Mexico to sound like one of the bands a guy like that would listen to, which (again, if you’re anything like me) would not exactly stand as a high recommendation,. Fortunately for us all, the actual band Zack Mexico, who don’t appear to be anything like the burnout jam-band guys who lived on your dorm floor freshman year, have a much cooler and more interesting sound than any of those assocations might suggest.

You can find that out for yourself with one quick listen to their most recent album, Sound Waves For The Relaxed And Dying, which mixes indie vibes with math-rock complexity and a strong dose of pop psychedelia. The result lands somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Brian Jonestown Massacre, and is a sheer delight to listen to — especially when the band decides to stretch out, as they often do (the album’s five songs boast a 36-minute total running time). This is the kind of music that perfectly lends itself to live performance, and seeing Zack Mexico recreate their songs onstage at The Camel will surely be a treat. They’ll be joined at this show by K9, a local band who plays ramshackle acoustic punk tunes at top speed and keeps things charming throughout. Fellow Richmonders Future Mantis will get things started with some dramatic bass/drum gothic punk shoegaze vibes, brought to you by two of the people who were previously responsible for Canary Oh Canary and Manzara — so if you’ve been around for a while, you know these folks are well worth showing up on time for. Do that shit.

Friday, January 5, 9 PM
Los Malcriados, MISC., Films On Song, Roughshod @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
As the year turns, the torch is passed. This Friday marks the first First Friday of the new year, and therefore will bring us the first show by the Camel’s 2024 First Friday artist in residence. Taking over from Ten Pound Snail, who brought the heat to First Fridays at The Camel throughout 2023, Los Malcriados have big shoes to fill. However, this horn-driven Richmond funk band is showing every sign of being equal to the task, regardless of their relatively recent formation. At this point, this dozen-member funk ensemble has only released two singles, so unless you’re checking out their Shockoe Session from last year (certainly a solid idea if you get the notion), the only way to get the full picture of what this band is about is to go see them live. A lot of Richmonders have already done so, and that’s a big part of the reason why they draw jubilant crowds full of mischievous energy every single time they play. If you know, you definitely know. But if you’re still in the dark on what this band brings to the table, don’t wait until their 2024 residency at the Camel is half over — go down there this Friday night and get on the Los Malcriados bandwagon while the getting is good.

Of course, the bands in residence are always the biggest reason to go to these First Friday shows at The Camel, but almost as interesting is the shifting lineup of support acts that grace these performances. It’s cool to see which bands the headliners choose to bring along with them each month, and it’s also a good opportunity to take a chance on bands you haven’t heard yet, knowing that if nothing else, the headliner’s gonna be a surefire hit. This time around, MISC. is the first band on the dynamic lineup of support acts, and they act as a bit of a call-back to the Combust writeup which I talked about rap-core. I wouldn’t say MISC. sounds too much like Combust — they’re much more informed by 90s alternative and modern rock grooves than any rap-infused hardcore band. But they do owe more than a little of the energy, technique, and flow of their sound to artists like Rage Against The Machine, even as they bring in decidedly more melody than you’d expect from De La Rocha, Morello, and company. These guys are a great example of youthful vigor — the sort of thing the scene definitely needs more of at all times. Charlottesville residents Films On Song released a new album, Slightly Nightly, only two months ago, and are coming to Richmond Friday night to get the word out about its catchy electro-pop awesomeness. They’re sure to pick up at least a few new fans during their set — trust me on this one. The evening begins with a performance by Richmond quartet Roughshod, who’ve got a varied sound that mixes together indie and alternative with just enough funk and soul to make them fit right in with the night’s headliners. Start your 2024 off right by hitting this one up.

Saturday, January 6, 8 PM
Boyscott, The Mitras, Shormey @ The Camel – $15 in advance, $20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s time to brighten up the first Saturday of the new year (and one of the most awkward dates to mention in casual company of the last several years) with some lovely indie rock brilliance. Boyscott’s name is surely a play on the Boy Scouts and bandleader Scott Hermo Jr’s first name, but this band isn’t as goofy as that name might make you think. Indeed, new single “After Dark” is downright lovely, full of chiming guitars and lovely vocal harmonies. Weirdly enough, it’s actually the first release Boyscott have brought out since their 2015 debut LP, Goose Bumps, which was released on well-known emo label Topshelf Records. I initially figured they must have broken up for a few years somewhere in there, but I did a bunch of digging and it seems they really did just tour on their first album for close to eight years before putting out a follow-up. That’s either serious dedication or major writer’s block — only Scott knows the difference.

It doesn’t matter too much for our purposes, though, because Boyscott’s music was just as lovely a shade of indie pop brilliance back in 2015, so even if their set at this show is mostly decade-old songs, you can’t go wrong. They’ll be joined on this bill by relatively prolific Richmonders The Mitras, who have a more straight-up rock n’ roll sound that hits hard and heavy in a post-Nirvana sort of way on their most recent EP, Ripe. These guys are always fun and get the Richmond crowds hype, so get ready for a rockin’ party when they take the stage. Shormey is also performing, and this solo electronic musician has a tendency toward lo-fi grooves and sunny melodies that will make their set a powerful inducement to dance. Get ready to party for this one — which, by the way, is yet another Underground Orchard joint for all those Citrus City heads. Symbol of quality, for sure.

Sunday, January 7, 7:30 PM
Lillian Leadbetter, Abby Huston, Tiara & Andrew, Justin Golden @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I don’t know about y’all, but when I hear the name Lillian Leadbetter, I’m immediately reminded of all those Appalachian artists of the 1920s and 1930s who mostly just worked in fields and scraped to feed their families, but occasionally came down the mountain to record at some nearby hotel ballroom, and are now only preserved on scratchy 78s. It’s 100 years later, and Lillian Leadbetter is still quite young, so I know she wasn’t around for all that, but if you listen to her latest album, State Of Romance, you can tell immediately that she’d have fit right in with the songwriters of that era. I tend to think that this sort of folk-country balladry works best when it’s kept stripped down, with only minimal instrumentation to augment the singer’s acoustic guitar, and that’s how Leadbetter’s songs are constructed, so I’m immediately a fan. It makes her music a quiet listen, and therefore casual bar conversations might not be all that welcome at this Gallery 5 performance, but the effort it’ll take to stay quiet and listen will be richly rewarded.

Leadbetter is joined on this bill by three different Richmond artists, all of whom have their own quiet — or not-so-quiet — brilliance to add to the mix. Abby Huston got a lot of attention around town with their 2021 LP, AH HA, which is full of subtle yet catchy indie tunes with a groovy undercurrent. They haven’t been doing too much in the realm of music-making over the past year or so, mainly because they took time off to have a kid (!), but they’re back at it and Richmond is, as ever, lucky to have them. Come see what they’ve been brewing up over the past year or so — you know, besides a baby. Alt-pop duo Tiara & Andrew, who apparently have an LP coming soon on Grimalkin Records, will also be on the bill to give us all a preview of coming attractions. Things will kick off with a performance from local blues guitar phenom Justin Golden, who I assume is doing a solo set (but you never know). Either way, it’ll kick ass and get this show started off right. Come early, stay for the whole thing, and go home a fuller, happier person.

Monday, January 8, 7 PM
Her Majesty, Baby Yaga, Half Fortune @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
As mentioned back at the beginning of the column, The Camel is still the most reliable spot in town for great music every damn night of the week. Or at least, one of the two most reliable spots. And thank goodness for that, because when Monday night comes dragging around, and we all need some awesome sounds to shake away the workweek doldrums, it’s good to know there’s somewhere that’s always got the cure for what ails you. This week, that cure comes in the form of Her Majesty, an alt-rock/power-pop trio from somewhere in the Commonwealth. Having recently released their latest full-length, State Of The Union, Her Majesty are full of piss n’ vinegar and ready to rock all our asses to the maximum.

Depending on what scene you’re in, you may or may not have been aware of these folks before now, but the preponderance of catchy tracks on their new release should change that in a big hurry — Her Majesty have plenty of killer tunes to lay on us all, and regardless of how tired you are after your first Monday back at work since halfway through December, you really should come out and experience exactly what this band has to offer. They’ll be joined on this bill by Charleston, SC power-popsters Baby Yaga, who have a little less punk to their sound than Her Majesty but will nonetheless fit right in on this bill with their uptempo Fastbacks-style tuneage. Roanoke rockers Half Fortune will get things started with a set of Nirvana-style hitters. This one will be fun.

Tuesday, January 9, 7 PM
Thornede Crown, Lolth @ Bandito’s – $10
OK, and now it’s time for the other venue that’s been lighting up the slow nights of Richmond’s recent weeks to step up. Take a bow, Bandito’s! Not only does it always have the delicious tacos and nachos I love to sing the praises of in this column, it’s also become a reliable spot for live music, even on the deader nights of the week. And “dead” is a very appropriate term for the sounds that will greet you if you head over to Bandito’s this Tuesday night, as headliners Thornede Crown (yes, that is the correct spelling), who hail from Rochester, New York, are leaders in the “dungeon folk” movement. Which is a relatively obscure genre I admittedly had to do some research on before I wrote this blurb.

Basically, dungeon folk is an outgrowth of dungeon synth, a form of ambient, moody electronic music that had its origins in records by Scandinavian black metal musicians. Mortiis is an early proponent, and Burzum made a couple of formative records in the genre (back when Varg Vikernes’s murdering Nazi ass was still in jail). These days it’s become a sound all its own, featuring electronic instruments harnessed into loosely constructed movements that feel more atmospheric than propulsive. Thornede Crown and other similar groups have in turn taken the overall sound of dungeon synth and recreated it using acoustic instruments to come up with the nascent genre of dungeon folk. And it’s that sort of sound you’ll be taking a deep dive into at Bandito’s on Tuesday night. This won’t be a loud, heavy, or harsh performance, but it will be one to remember. NoVA-based black metallers Lolth will bring some loud heaviness to get the evening started, just in case you were worried this show wouldn’t be metal enough. Get stoked.

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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