RVA Shows You Must See This Week: June 26 – July 2

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Saturday, June 29, 11 AM
Thrash & Splash 2024, feat. The Convalescence, Dead Reckoning, Saint Diablo, Wolf Legion, 9 Realms, Spiral Fracture, Divided, Rebel Messiah, Roachzilla, Catharsis, Scissorfist, Fatehaven, Pagan River Madness, Sacrificial Betrayal, The Plan, Autopsy Affair, Artusha, Alpha, Path To Exile @ Harbor Blast Concert Series – $20 in advance, $30 at the gates (order tickets HERE)
It’s officially summer, y’all. Time to get out of the house, lather on the sunblock, and go splash around in the nearest body of water for a few hours. We all love it, even those of us who like to pretend we’re too proper for such things. And what really makes it great is when there’s a rad show happening while we’re all taking turns splashing around, eating food off a grill, and getting crazy. Metalheads and punk rockers in particular are suckers for that sort of thing, which is what made those legendary bygone Best Friends Day and GWAR-B-Que parties out at Hadad’s Lake so spectacular. It’s also what’s gonna make the all-day Thrash & Splash event happening out at the Appomattox Boat Harbor this Saturday so awesome.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “where the heck are you sending us, Drew?” But I assure you, this unusual venue is quite close by. Indeed, it’s only 30 minutes south of downtown Richmond, a couple miles east of Colonial Heights. Unless you’re on a bike, it won’t take you much longer to get there than it used to take to drive out to Hadad’s. And you’re going to get an absolute all-day rager of a metal fest when you arrive, so it’s definitely worth the trip. Two up-and-coming touring metal acts are at the top of this bill. I’m going to talk about Georgia’s Dead Reckoning first. These guys just released a new album, Red, and it’s full of rip-roaring modern American metal of the sort that takes clear influence from Richmond godfathers (pun not intended, I swear) Lamb Of God. This band brings an unrelenting attack that is full of throat-shredding screams and brutal chugga breakdowns; it’s mosh-pit gold. Even if that mosh pit is happening in the middle of the Appomattox River.

I do want to spare a thought for our other headliners, Toledo’s The Convalescence, as well. Their tour has fallen apart so badly that they’re currently running a GoFundMe to try to get their bus fixed so they can make it back onto the road. Whether or not they’re able to make it to Harbor Blast is an open question, but I’m choosing to remain optimistic, especially since I know they’ll bring some absolute fire if they make it. Their gothic speed-thrash attack is somewhat reminiscent of early Cradle Of Filth, only with a thick glop of the purest death metal stirred in to bring a higher level of heavy. If they don’t make it up to Appomattox Boat Harbor this Saturday, you can learn all about it by blasting their latest album, Harvesters of Flesh and Bone, at top volume. But it is my sincere hope that you get to experience these guys live — it will be quite the experience.

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg, though. This show gets started at 11 am, which feels like the crack of dawn to a metalhead on Saturday morning, I know. But drag yourself out of the sack and get there — you’ll be glad you did. I won’t pretend I know all of the support acts on this bill; I am familiar with some of the more established RVA metal veterans, like long-running groove-metallers Saint Diablo or heavy-prog stompers Spiral Fracture, but I would imagine that some of the less familiar bands on this bill hold a similar sort of status in the deep Southside metal scene, bringing tri-cities metalheads out to whatever acts as the Petersburg/Colonial Heights version of Another Round (does Wabi Sabi in Petersburg still do metal shows? Someone drop me a line). Regardless of whether you’ve heard all of these bands or only a few, a full day of regional metal bands old and new that takes place while you’re chilling by a river, ideally chowing grill food and slamming beverages (by which I of course mean Diet Mountain Dew)… what could be better? I can’t think of anything.

Wednesday, June 26, 7 PM
Fall Of The Albatross, Greenhead, Bend The Knee, Possum Den @ Bandito’s – $10
I’ve only known the name Rival Booking for a few months now, but it’s quickly become one of the local booking conglomerates that catches my eye immediately. These folks have brought a whole bunch of really interesting shows to the local area in the last few months, and they’ve got a couple more coming up in the next week or so. In this column, we’re gonna focus on this one, because it’s the one I’m most excited about, featuring New York City maniacs Fall Of The Albatross. This quartet released their latest full-length, Rite, last summer, and it’s a wild n’ crazy slab of chaos that keeps you guessing throughout it’s 8-song, 32-minute length. Indeed, the riffage is so dense and fascinating, it might take a song or two before you even notice that there aren’t any vocals (spoiler alert). As with past legends of instrumental noise-rock madness, you definitely won’t miss the additional musical ingredient in Fall of the Albatross’s spicy musical stew, as the guitars will fill in all the space and then some. Think math-rock heroes like Don Caballero or Breadwinner, plus a strong jolt of the same sort of frantic complexity that marked Hella’s best work, and you’ll have a pretty decent idea of what to expect — though dropping it all into the live environment always kicks it up a few notches.

Support is provided by a trio of Virginia bands, the first of which is Greenhead. I always expect these guys to be some sort of stoner groove metal based on the name, and then every time I put their music on I remember just how proggy and spaced-out they are. Indeed, their music has that same every-genre-of-heavy-music-at-once feel I can previously remember getting from Inter Arma in their early days — a sign of great things to come. Chaotic thrashers Bend The Knee will offer a set of intense heavyosity that should also be a highlight of the proceedings, and the whole thing will start with some tunes by local newcomers Possum Den, who certainly have an evocative name. Musically, these folks have some good noise-rock energy to offer — and you sure can’t get mad at a song called “Crockskin Buttercream.” All that plus an opportunity to order some happy hour tacos if you arrive at Bandito’s early enough? Count me the hell in.

Thursday, June 27, 8 PM
Bradberry & Company + Charles Owens @ Reveler Experiences – $12.50 (order tickets HERE)
Guitarist John Bradberry hasn’t exactly been the highest-profile axe-slinger on the Richmond jazz scene over the past few years. However, if you’ve kept your ear to the ground, you’re sure to have caught wind of his talent. While his work under his own name has flown under the radar a bit, he did release a couple of excellent instrumental guitar tracks back in 2021 as the head of the John Bradberry Trio (backed by the rhythm section of onetime local sensation Bandrew), and has done work with other well-beloved local musicians, including Faceship and Jackass Flats, among others.

This Thursday night at Reveler, Bradberry’s taking the stage at the head of a quartet, featuring talented jazz rhythm section Randall Pharr (bass) and Ralph Mason (drums). But the real headline is that highly decorated Central Virginia saxophone veteran Charles Owens is taking the fourth spot in the quartet. Getting to hear Bradberry’s guitar in duet with Owens’s excellent sax playing is sure to offer thrills aplenty for all the jazz lovers out there — and will probably do plenty for the soul, R&B, blues, and indie fans as well. Really, if you like music at all, you’re going to want to see what happens when these two formidable talents join up into an unstoppable hurricane of sound. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience at Reveler (pun definitely intended this time).

Friday, June 28, 7 PM
Grails, Nathan Bowles Trio @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $25 (order tickets HERE)
It still feels to me like Grails are a relatively new band, but a quick look at Wikipedia leads me to the sobering fact that they’ve been together for a quarter-century now. Even the album that got me into them, 2007’s Burning Off Impurities, is closing in on two full decades old. These years may have passed without me really noticing, but Grails bandleaders Alex John Hall and Emil Amos were definitely feeling them when they headed into the studio with an expanded quintet lineup to record their eighth album and first in six years, Anches En Maat. They deliberately chose to move away from anything they felt sounded too much like the sonic signature they’d created over the past two decades-plus. And if all you expected from their latest round of material is another slab of cinematic Eastern-tinged post-rock, you might be a little surprised at what they came up with.

That being said, if you can open your mind a little, you’ll still find a lot about Grails’ latest musical direction that fits right in with their many previous eras. After all, they’re absolutely still writing soundtrack music for the vivid moving pictures that unspool in your mind when you hear their music. And despite integrating some instrument configurations that aren’t normally part of the Grails pallet, the deep moods and emotional resonances of their previous work are still captured here in vivid detail. If you can appreciate the kind of music that always feels like a movie even when the TV screen is dark, you’ll get a lot out of what Grails bring to the stage. This evening also features a set from the Nathan Bowles Trio, which brings the always-innovative eponymous banjo player (also of The Black Twig Pickers and Pelt) together with a rhythm section featuring members of Cave and Jake Xerxes Fussell’s backing band. The trio are soon to release a new album called Are Possible, which shows off a sensibility combining American primitive approaches, Appalachian folk roots, and post-rock perspectives that should act as a worthy scene-setter for the Grails set that will come after. Make sure you show up on time for this one.

Saturday, June 29, 7 PM
Organ Trail, Bananaslama, Disrotter, Septic Vomit @ Gallery 5 – $8 in advance, $15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
Grindcore is fun. For a genre that made its name by dishing out the absolute fastest and heaviest metal/hardcore riffage possible, it might be surprising when you first realize what a significant undercurrent of sheer goofiness runs throughout the genre, but longtime fans know all about it. And unless they’re totally humorless (when you’re dealing with metal fans, there are always a few), they’ll appreciate the goofier side of grindcore whenever it comes around. This show is a definite instance of goofball grindcore at its best, and you can tell that because we’ve got both Organ Trail and Bananaslama at the top of the bill. Organ Trail come from the Maryland/Pennsylvania area, and have been around for over a decade now. Their 2022 LP, Appetite For Dissection, was jam-packed with maniacal slabs of grind monstrosity, complete with blurry vocals and low-end overload guitars, always powered by lightning-fast drumming. The goofball side of things was made clear by the album’s title, and by songs like “Get Off My Fucking Lawn” and “The Don’t Wipe Type,” (if you don’t get the reference in the latter song title, I’m not going to explain it). It all added up to a seriously fun wall of rumbling rage, which is definitely my idea of a good time.

In light of all this, pairing Organ Trail with Richmond’s own Bananaslama is a stroke of goofy genius, and I’m proud of whoever thought to do it. Bananaslama show off their own appetite for laughable grind lunacy on 2022 LP Jagged Little Peel (see what they did there?), which features a heaping helping of their trademark blend of primate-noise vocals and brutal grind riffs, interposed with plenty of all-too-human growls and roars, plus breakdowns aplenty. It’s not necessarily something you’ll want to listen to every day, but in a world of highly predictable bands, Bananaslama are a totally unique quantity, and you have to love them for that. Plus they’re a heck of an entertaining spectacle in the live environment, so witnessing them doing their thing at Gallery 5 will certainly be a highlight of your weekend. This bill is rounded out by local grind newcomers Disrotter, who might be the most serious and straight-ahead band on this bill, and by lo-fi goregrind ensemble Septic Vomit, who hail from Charlottesville and have the classic “grind power trio” lineup of vocalist/guitarist/drummer/no bass. As with every other band on this bill, these guys will be a blast.

Sunday, June 30, 6 PM
Evergreen Terrace, Thuggernaut, Earth Burial, Die Today @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $18 (order tickets HERE)
I certainly didn’t have this one on my “early-00s metalcore revival” bingo card, but like Chuck Berry says, it goes to show you never can tell. Evergreen Terrace, who named themselves after the street the Simpsons live on, got their start at the dawn of the new millennium and made a big splash with a fun take on chaotic metalcore that featured sardonic lyrics and quippy song titles like “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em” and “No Donnie, These Men Are Nihilists.” As they continued on through the 00s, they incorporated greater doses of melody, becoming the sort of band you could rely on to give you both stagedive-worthy breakdowns and catchy choruses you’d have in your head all day at your fast-food job (maybe that was just my experience though). They went through a few big lineup shakeups in the early 10s, and after releasing their sixth album, 2013’s Dead Horses, they disappeared for over a decade. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’d quietly called it quits.

And yet, last year they suddenly released their first new single in 10 years. And now, Evergreen Terrace are out on a full US tour. It seems they are back to being a full-time band for the first time in a decade. Which is an exciting development if you are someone who spent a lot of time with classic material like 2002’s Burned Alive By Time or 2005’s Sincerity Is An Easy Disguise In This Business. While Evergreen Terrace don’t sound exactly the same today as they did 20 years ago, would you really want them to? They’ve managed to maintain a strong core of catchy heaviness within their metalcore grooves, and will still bring plenty of energy and emotion to the stage at Richmond Music Hall this Sunday. What more could you ask for? Well, in this case that’s not a rhetorical question — you’ll get three Virginia bands with strengths aplenty to bring to the table as openers. Earth Burial are a new harsh metallic noise bands from members of Richmond non-metal groups like Shy Low and My Darling Fury. Thuggernaut are from the 757 area, bring wrestling-style attitude to the stage, and will definitely have to be around for a while longer before Google believes that I’m not actually looking for “juggernaut” when I search their name. And Die Today are a ripping thrash metal group from right here in Richmond, featuring former members of Occultist, among others. So yeah, this one’s gonna be awesome from beginning to end. Get stoked.

Monday, July 1, 7:30 PM
Kendra Morris, Shera Shi, Lauren Cash @ Get Tight Lounge – $20.62 (order tickets HERE)
I know I’ve said it in this column a million times, but no matter how cliche a sentiment it is, it remains true: Monday night is a weird night for live music. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Fortunately for us, there are some Mondays that come along and remind us all that it’s still possible for a truly great show to hit town on any given night of the week. Even on Monday.

Take this Monday, for example, which finds Kendra Morris coming to town for a gig at Get Tight Lounge. Kendra Morris is an excellent vocalist, which is always a good start, but what really sets her apart is the variety of music she’s able to dabble in without ever seeming anything but sure-footed and brilliant. On 2023’s I Am What I’m Waiting For, she veers from 60s pop to psychedelic soul to slinky, jazzy riff-fests, all of which she delivers with delighted aplomb. Recent follow-up single “Fine Right Here” finds her delivering an R&B ballad worthy of Roberta Flack or Erykah Badu, and she pulls this one off with flying colors as well. Joining the lineup on Monday night is surging Richmond band Shera Shi, always a delight on stage with their captivating mix of alternative rock and neo-soul, a sound that hopefully will be hitting the streaming platforms later this year in the form of a single or, fingers-crossed, a record. Rounding it all out is local musician Lauren Cash, whose eclectic mix of soul, rock, and blues perfectly complements the night’s diverse sounds. These are all artists with a lot to offer, and you’re going to want to hear it all when they take the stage at Get Tight Lounge this Monday night. Stay home at your own peril.

Tuesday, July 2, 7:30 PM
Shockoe Sessions Live, feat. Carrie Brockwell @ In Your Ear Studios – $17.85 (order tickets HERE)
Tuesday nights can be almost as weird as Monday nights, but we’re lucky, because we always know that Shockoe Sessions Live will be bringing a full set from a talented artist that we can beam right into our living rooms via YouTube live stream, even if we can’t find the energy to bring ourselves down to In Your Ear Studios. This is one Tuesday night on which I advocate making the trip out even if you are tired, though — Carrie Brockwell brings an upbeat pop sensibility to country tunes that don’t overdo the twang or veer into cheesy Meghan Trainor territory.

You might not necessarily recognize her name, and therefore might think this is one of those times Shockoe Sessions have brought in one of their occasional out-of-town performers, but actually, Carrie got her start in musical theater right here in Richmond. However, she’s spent the past several years traveling all around the country looking for a way to break into the music business. She did the American Idol thing at one point, and has received some recognition from the Nashville scene over the last few years, though she still hasn’t quite broken through in the world of the Grand Ole Opry. That said, all it takes is one listen to recent singles like “Not Your Forever Home” and “Ever Stop Loving You” to know that she’s got what it takes to break out. So hey, check out what Carrie Brockwell’s got to offer this Tuesday night. That way, you can someday tell people you saw her before she got famous. Plus, you’ll hear a lot of great tunes. And that’s really why we do this thing, isn’t it?

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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