RVA Shows You Must See This Week: June 12 – June 18

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Friday, June 14, 7:30 PM
Tennishu, Dhemo @ Tabol Brewing – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you rewind about a decade of the Richmond music scene, you can find Marcus Tenney’s two main creative endeavors, Butcher Brown and Tennishu, sounding significantly different. Butcher Brown was a jazz quintet with a soulful feel, with Marcus playing trumpet and saxophone. Tennishu was straight-up hip hop with an aggressive approach, and in this group, Marcus rapped and produced beats. They were very different projects that no one would ever mix up. Ten years later, though, that’s not really true anymore. Butcher Brown has integrated more and more hip hop into their sound — 2022’s Triple Trey LP featured lots of rapping from Marcus Tenney, while their high-profile 2022 single “Black Man” found the group collaborating with Richmond hip hop heavyweight Michael Millions. Then they started out 2024 by releasing a note-perfect cover of Run DMC’s legendary track “Down With The King.”

All of this brings up an important question: with Butcher Brown moving farther and farther into the world of hip hop with, does Tennishu still have a role in Marcus Tenney’s creative life? All it takes is a quick glance at the Tennishu Bandcamp page to see that the answer remains a resounding yes. That said, what’s been most interesting about Tennishu over the past few years is that, just as Butcher Brown moves farther into the world of hip hop, Marcus’s jazz chops and influences have been creeping into the sound of Tennishu. For the past few years, the records he’s released under that name have mainly been instrumental, and they’ve mingled the beats and cut-up samples we know and love from Tennishu’s earlier work with smooth, pensive melodies that feel closer to something Butcher Brown would have done back in 2016 or so. If you’ve followed Marcus Tenney’s career for a while, you can’t help but wonder what his next move will be.

Fortunately for us, we won’t have to wonder for long — he’s just about to release a brand new Tennishu LP called More To The Story, which brings his creative journey over the past several years to a natural apex over the course of 17 tracks. I haven’t heard the whole thing, but the three singles that have been released in advance of the full album show off a sound that mixes smooth soul-jazz grooves with highly lyrical rhymes and killer beats of both the sampled and performed-live varieties. It’s the most fully realized, vertically integrated Tennishu release yet, and proves that Marcus Tenney’s work is still worth your undivided attention regardless of whether he has the rest of Butcher Brown with him or not.

Having said that, I’m not sure what lineup Marcus will bring with him when he comes to Tabol Brewing this Friday night for a live performance celebrating the release of More To The Story. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if at least one or two of his Butcher Brown compatriots, as well as any number of top-level jazz and hip hop talents, were to show up as part of this performance. That’s certainly a worthwhile reason to turn up at this show, but I gotta tell ya — even if you show up and it’s just Marcus up there, cueing up the beats and laying down the rhymes by himself, this will still be a riveting performance that you’d be a fool to miss. Plus, it’ll give you an early listen to the full extent of what More To The Story has in store — and considering how much of a buzz I’m expecting this album to get as soon as it drops in full, that’s gonna be a real treat for everyone who shows up to this one. Indie-soul quartet Dhemo will get this evening started with a set of delightful pop grooves, but Tennishu’s the star attraction on this one. Get down with it.

Wednesday, June 12, 7 PM
LustSickPuppy, Uniity, Trapcry, Alfred. @ Cobra Cabana – $18 in advance, $20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
You might think of Cobra Cabana as a place to hear heavy music, but the folks over at Carver’s favorite metal bar aren’t afraid to get weird with it every now and then. This show is just the latest example, and kudos to Cobra Cabana for bringing it to us on a Wednesday night. Our headliner for this one is LustSickPuppy, a project led by painter/make-up artist Tomasyn Hayes and featuring a sound that’s difficult to pin down. Hyperpop is a good starting point, and there’s clearly a little bit of Alec Empire’s digital hardcore DNA mixed in here as well, but LustSickPuppy goes through many more sounds than just those two in the 19 quick minutes of their most recent LP, Carousel From Hell — which, not coincidentally, supplies the name for this tour. Hip hop, electronic noise, the distorted pop chaos of both The Armed and early Sleigh Bells… all have a place somewhere in the mix here, as do the rhymes of Azealia Banks at her best.

So yeah, LustSickPuppy has a lot going on, and when they take the stage at Cobra Cabana tonight, you’ll get treated to all of it at once, at hyperspeed and with considerable chaos mixed into the bargain. And if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll almost certainly love Uniity as well. This artist brought the heat at BTCHFEST earlier this year, and is back to give us another powerful dose of heavy electro-hip hop mixed with chaotic hardcore riffage and a wild live performing style. The two local performers on this show might not be quite as intense as the two out-of-towners… though really, that just depends on what kind of intensity you’re talking about, because queer hip hop project Trapcry brings an intensity all their own, trading the chaos for a sort of sensual urgency. Also, on their new single,  “Nothin 2 Me,” they’re mixing in a little bit of country. Is this a new direction for a well-established Richmond fave? Show up at this show tonight and find out. And show up on time, because Alfred’s hazy vibes and psychedelic approach to hip hop are always a lovely experience. You don’t want to miss a minute of this one.

Thursday, June 13, 6:30 PM
Undeath, Jarhead Fertilizer, Restrictor Plate, Ulamog @ The Canal Club – $16 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s not like brutal death metal ever really goes out of fashion, but I must say that lately it feels like we’re experiencing a particular renaissance of the genre. Not a week goes by these days where I don’t discover another band previously unknown to me who are dishing out the rifftastic excellence that makes for the best the death metal genre has to offer. Upstate New York riffmeisters Undeath are the band of choice for me this week, because they do death metal the way I like it best — not just a never-ending cavalcade of guttural growls and low-end bass rumble, but a strong and varied sound with plenty of thrash-style riffs, roaring vocal rage, and frantic rhythmic attacks to bust out on every track. And of course, their breakdowns always hit hard as hell. Really, what more could you ask for?

Well, how about a bill featuring not one but two of these sorts of tremendous death-metal monsters of rage? If you head out to The Canal Club tomorrow night, that’s exactly what you’ll get, as Undeath are joined on this bill by Maryland’s masters of brutal thrash grind terror, Jarhead Fertilizer (gotta love that name). These guys love to go fast as heck, and are less focused on thrash-style riffing than they are on straight up grind-style hyperspeed mayhem, but they’ve also got plenty of brutal mosh breakdowns to keep things crazy out on the dance floor. Their set should be plenty of what Exodus once called “good friendly violent fun.” Local support on this bill will come from NASCAR-themed deathcore rippers Restrictor Plate, who seem more aligned with the local hardcore scene than straight-up metal but sure do fit in on this bill full of guttural death ragers and grinding riff maniacs. As for Ulamog, who come from the Hampton Roads area but are in Richmond often enough that I’m sure they have a signifcant local following, these guys mix the thrashing mad mania of classic 80s speed-metal like Slayer and Overkill with the haunted house vibes of bands like Venom and Bathory. Gotta love that. This one will be a headbanger’s paradise, so show up ready to rage.

Friday, June 14, 7 PM
Nuclear Tomb, Prisoner, Private Hell, Heavy Penalty @ Cobra Cabana – $10
One good metal show deserves another, so this Friday night will find us heading back to Cobra Cabana to take in a show that’s more on-brand for that particular venue — not that I’m ever complaining about them mixing it up. If you are, though, this show’s sure to put a smile on your face, because Nuclear Tomb is bringing a fistful of metal to this Friday night headbanging party. This Baltimore quartet has been raging hard for the past decade, and have really taken their sound to its logical conclusion on their new album, Terror Labyrinthian. Mixing the complex structures and crossover speed of prime early Voivod with a raw thrash attack that makes me think of both very early Mayhem and first-LP Morbid Angel, this ensemble really delivers some intense thrash power and fury that’s sure to singe your eyebrows if you stand too close to the stage.

Not that I’m advocating taking a giant step backwards or whatever bands say when the dancefloor gets too crowded — you don’t want to miss a second of this show. When Nuclear Tomb aren’t on stage, you’ll be getting a great deal of killer heavyosity from multiple bands based in the Richmond area. First on that list is Prisoner, still riding high on their excellent sophomore LP, the recently released Putrid/Obsolete, which finds them mixing their blackened biker-crust sonics into a potent brew of Neurosis-style horror-prog atmospherics. Then there’s Private Hell, a local thrashcore crew who manage to dish out some incredible Slayer-style riffs at times while never sliding across that thin line into the world of full-on metal. It helps that they’re not afraid to bust out some classic Discharge riffs on occasion, just to keep the old punks smiling. Finally, all I’ve seen of Richmond newcomers Heavy Penalty, who are opening this one up, are a few lo-fi Instagram videos, but that’s enough to make me think these folks are following in the tradition of underrated Richmond legends Humungus and giving us some incredibly fun thrash metal to bang our heads to. And we can’t have too much of that, now can we? So let’s go get ourselves a heaping helping this Friday night at Cobra Cabana, shall we?

Saturday, June 15, 8 PM
Bruiser, Seikilos, Blame Game @ Ipanema – $10
Usually when I describe a show as “underground” it’s more of a metaphor for bands that people haven’t heard on the radio or seen on TV or whatever. Every once in a while, though, I’m being very literal — as is true of any show at Ipanema, which is quite literally located beneath the earth’s surface. Well, I mean, it’s a basement restaurant on Grace St, so maybe I shouldn’t be so dramatic. The lineup on this show kinda compels me to, though, especially since Richmond hardcore standard-bearers Bruiser, who are headlining this gig, have made it known that this will be their last show, at least for a while. They say they’re not ending the band permanently, and they also have made it known that they have a new EP in the works, but I guess the show thing isn’t fitting into their lives at the moment.

So that’s one very important reason you should make sure you’re in the Ipanema basement for this one. Another reason is that Northern Virginia’s Seikilos are also on the bill. These guys refer to themselves as “groove metal” in their social media description, but I must say, having listened to their self-titled debut EP, I hear a lot of driving hardcore in their riffs as well. The result is somewhere between Satisfaction-era Hatebreed and Pantera at their best — and that’s certainly something that will get the dancefloor moving, even in a room with a pretty low ceiling. The evening starts with a set from Blame Game, whose raw 45-second hardcore blasts are always a treat, and sure to bring the energy up to an incredibly high level right at the start of the show. This one will be a lot of fun, even if it is the last time we get to see Bruiser for a while.

Sunday, June 16, 6:30 PM
Classical Revolution RVA presents Hidden Gems @ Gallery 5 – $10 suggested donation
We’ve had plenty of hardcore and metal in the column so far this week — why not take things in a completely different direction? That’s something you can always count on Classical Revolution to do. If you haven’t caught up to the work of this collection of classically trained musicians, their goal is always to bring classical music out of the rarefied atmosphere of symphony halls and into the kind of space where the rest of us go to enjoy music. They’ve been bringing regular Sunday night gigs to Gallery 5 for the past little while now, and the one happening this Sunday night constitutes the end of their 2024 season. As such, they’re adding a theme to the proceedings — Hidden Gems.

If you’re wondering what that means, no worries; I’m about to explain it. This Sunday night’s performance will consist entirely of music that is not heard all that frequently. Whether it be a piece that has never gotten the attention the performers think it deserves, one that was overlooked in its time, or even something new that almost no one has heard as yet, all of the music performed on this bill will be music you aren’t going to know by heart, music you’ve never heard the orchestra play when you were on a middle school field trip. And what’s great about that is that it makes it a lot like the other indie shows you can go to around town, where you’ll hear local performers making music you aren’t that familiar with yet. Classical music is often thought of as old and stuffy, but this is the perfect opportunity to find out how fresh and new it can feel when you aren’t just hearing the same dozen pieces over and over again. So come to Gallery 5 this Sunday night and hear classical music through fresh ears. You might be shocked at how much you like it.

Monday, June 17, 7 PM
Always Other, Logo Scars, Squeeze The Squid, Sterling @ Bandito’s – $10
I try to keep as close an eye on the Richmond music scene as I possibly can, but I can’t hear everything right when it comes out, and that’s why it took me over six months to discover the brilliance of Always Other’s incredible 2023 LP, Far From Everyone You Know. It really only sank in for me when I had my entire music library on shuffle and randomly landed on an Always Other song. Within a minute, I was excitedly navigating to the entire LP and starting it from the beginning. Taken as a whole, it was just as brilliant as the individual song I first turned up — a languid shoegaze mood, full of hazy melodies and fuzzy guitar textures, all adding up to songs that felt like sinking into a warm bath at the end of a long, difficult day. I’ve listened to that record quite a bit since then, and I was therefore even more excited when the band’s full-length follow-up, A Dream Of The Other (1991 cassette) turned up last month. I’ve seen references to this collection as a “mixtape” rather than a full LP, but it sounds like a whole bunch of rad new Always Other tracks to me, so as far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason to quibble over the details.

Instead, I’m ready to head over to Bandito’s this Monday night, scarf down a plate of nachos, and then vibe hard to the loud fuzzy melodies Always Other will bring to the stage. It’s going to be a welcome balm for all comers after a long Monday at work, and it’ll help us sleep through the night with pleasant dreams instead of the usual bad dreams about serial killers chasing you through a party (oh, am I the only one who has that nightmare all time?). On a completely different note, we’ll also get a set from Richmond synth-punk duo Logo Scars, whose Buy Now Pay Later EP has an excellent Devo-meets-Lost-Sounds feel. Folks who enjoy local groups like Knifing Around and the dearly-missed VCR should definitely be paying attention when these folks hit the stage. The lineup is rounded out by Zappa-style funk-prog-punk goofballs Squeeze The Squid and intriguing newcomers Sterling, who bring a catchy emotional pop-punk vibe to the proceedings. This show will be the feelgood hit of the summer. You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you? I thought not.

Tuesday, June 18, 8 PM
Keisha Plum, Eskay Home, Pyromelik, Ri$ch, Cloze, DJ Aquaria @ RVA Boombox – $35 in advance, $40 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s always fun to head over to RVA Boombox and check out the latest happenings in the world of hip hop. This time around, Tuesday night finds a crew of artists from the Buffalo, New York area cruising through Richmond to wake us all up. The “Last Name Legendary” tour is headed up by the one and only Keisha Plum, who is part of Westside Gunn’s Griselda crew. Plum considers herself a poet rather than a rapper, but her verses (which have mostly appeared on Westside Gunn/Griselda releases, though she does have one or two solo singles out) have the same sort of menacing, intense feel and strong lyrical flow that you expect from Westside Gunn. That being said, Plum brings literary influences like Nikki Giovanni and Gil Scott-Heron into her hip hop tracks, stretching the boundaries of what’s possible within the genre and making her music some of the most vital and intriguing coming out of hip hop in 2024.

Co-headliner Eskay Home isn’t quite as groundbreaking as Keisha Plum, but that’s OK — he happens to be very talented in his own right. On his most recent LP, 2021’s Pardon My Heart, Eskay Home dishes out rhymes full of heart and passion overtop of old-school sampled beats and melodic choruses that evoke the strong emotion of classic soul tracks. It’ll make for a strong contrast with Keisha Plum’s set, and the whole thing is sure to add up to an evening full of excellent hip hop. And that’s without even talking about the other artists on the bill — Pyro Melik, for example, who has been involved in the scene as both an artist and a producer for quite a while. I know less about Ri$ch and Cloze, who round out this bill (in addition to host DJ Aquaria), but at this point, do we even need to worry about the details of what the opening acts bring to the table? We know this show’s gonna be pure awesomeness already. Just show up prepared to be blown away. The rest will take care of itself.

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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