RVA Shows You Must See This Week: March 20 – March 26

 In News

Friday, March 22, 7 PM
MISC. (photo by Jay Spencer), Wrong Worshippers, Dayfiction @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $10 (order tickets HERE)
There’s one thing I can say about every single one of us on this planet, and that’s that every new day we’re older than we’ve ever been before. It feels especially true for me as I enter my 31st year of involvement in the Richmond music scene and encounter bands made up of kids who were born when I’d already been in the scene for a decade. MISC. is one of those bands, a crew of fresh-faced young zoomers who I’m pretty sure can’t legally drink yet. They’ve got a ton of energy, and have galvanized a new generation of young rockers around them by putting on intense shows that get everyone in the room excited. Here’s the plot twist, though: in a lot of ways, the music these young musicians are making sounds just like the stuff that was happening in the scene when I first started going to shows in this town back in 1993.

You see, there are a few influences MISC. are pulling from that were just as important to young rock bands 30 years ago. The first and most notable of these is Rage Against The Machine, the group that famously combined a hip hop vocal approach with crunchy metal riffage. MISC. are doing much the same, and the aggressive rapping of their vocalist is going to be the first thing listeners both young and old will notice when they first hear this band. If you’re as old as me, you might have thought you would never see a revival of this sound. Indeed, you might have hoped you wouldn’t. But MISC. proves that it might not be an entirely bad thing. They dish out chunky, funky riffs full of intriguing left turns and creative changes, showing us all that it’s still possible to make heavy music that works well with a hip hop vocal cadence, even 30 years after RATM’s debut LP.

Speaking of debut LPs, MISC. will be releasing theirs, the pronunciation-aiding Sounds Like Whisk, at this Richmond Music Hall gig. It’s a collection of tunes that hit hard and bring plenty of urgent energy to the table, and once you get used to this band’s 21st century twist on a three-decade-old sound, you’re sure to recognize the musical quality on display. That’s if you’re old like me; the kids already understand. Come to this show and see for yourself. And get there early, because if you haven’t yet caught up to the angry teen punk brilliance of bass-and-drums duo Wrong Worshippers, you really need to be initiated into it as soon as possible. Think Big Business, or early Death From Above 1979 — yes, it’s that good. Newcomers Dayfiction will start things off with some noisy alt-rock that buries subtly catchy melodies beneath an ocean of guitar fuzz. Gotta love that.

Wednesday, March 20, 7 PM
Sunken Cages x dragonchild, Dave Watkins, Gull, (Eli)zabeth Owens @ Gallery 5 – $10 in advance, $15 at the door (order tickets HERE)
We get a ton of great shows in this town, and I don’t want to minimize or overshadow that, but one thing I must point out is that the vast majority of them are extremely predictable. You know what you’re getting when the bill features a hip hop act, or a metal band, or a singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar. But every once in a while, something comes along that is totally outside most people’s experience, and leaves most of us with very little idea of what we’ll be in for when we walk up to that stage. You could see this as a scary thing, but I encourage you to appreciate these moments of musical unpredictability on the rare occasions when we get a chance to experience them. There’s always the possibility you’ll find your new favorite band.

In this case, your new favorite band would actually be a combination of two different projects. Sunken Cages is a project from Indian-born musician Ravish Momin, who started as a drummer and percussionist but soon got into using electronic instruments to expand the percussive palette he had available. Meanwhile, dragonchild is the solo project of Ethiopian-American saxophonist D.A. Mekonnen, who is best known as the co-founder of Debo Band, who are based in Boston and play traditional Ethiopian music. The combination of Sunken Cages and dragonchild is a whole new project, featuring Momin behind a kit featuring acoustic and electronic drums as well as programming tools he uses to generate loops. Meanwhile, Mekonnen plays sax and adds gongs and cymbals into the mix. The result is an otherworldly sound that calls to mind everything from Balinese gamelan to Miles Davis’s Sketches Of Spain to Bollywood dance nights. It’s a unique and riveting sound that’s sure to get everyone dancing, and you definitely won’t want to miss a minute of it. The addition of brilliant multi-genre Richmond musicians Dave Watkins, Gull, and (Eli)zabeth Owens to the bill only sweetens the prospect of this fascinating new musical experience. Be a part of it.

Thursday, March 21, 7 PM
Free Throw, Super American, Carpool @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $20 (order tickets HERE)
I’m very excited about this show, and if you’ve been reading this column for a while and have any advance knowledge of the three bands on this bill, you know why. For the rest of you, I’ll spoil it right now: this is an emo show, and I fucking love emo. And why wouldn’t I? It’s a genre full of sincere yet witty lyrics, catchy tunes that still have a post-hardcore bite, and complex guitar leads that add both melody and a hint of twisting unpredictability to song structures. Of course, it’s also a genre predominantly created by straight white boys, which can create some problematic tendencies, but fortunately all three of these bands avoid the Wentz-ian excesses of the more self-indulgent bands in the emo genre.

Therefore, I can be stoked about this bill without any lingering doubts! That’s always nice. Free Throw are at the head of this lineup, and their latest album, Lessons That We Swear To Keep, is the first of their five albums that I’ve really gotten familiar with. It’s been a pleasing experience, too — these boys write catchy tunes that strike the perfect balance between sentimental melodies and guitar crunch. What’s more, their song titles betray a deep fandom for the Pokemon franchise (I’ve never gotten into it myself, but I’m sure that will make some people happy). Super American occupy the middle slot on this bill, and their sound is a little closer to the pop-punk than the post-hardcore end of the emo spectrum, but is still full of enough punky energy and alt-rock melody to please all comers. For me, it’s the guys who are starting this one out that feel like the true headliners: I’ve been a huge fan of Carpool since the release of their outstanding 2018 mini-LP, I Think Everyone’s A Cop. At this moment, they are on the verge of releasing their second true full-length, My Life In Subtitles, which actually comes out the day after this show. Advance singles show them to have expanded their sound, getting both heavier and more melodic than ever, and they still write brilliant, hilariously relatable lyrics, so I fully expect them to be at the top of their game for this show. Lucky for Free Throw and Super American that they are also really great bands — they’ll have a tough act to follow on this bill. So yeah, make sure you get there early for this one.

Friday, March 22, 6 PM
Origami Angel, Equipment, Magazine Beach, Flight Club @ The Canal Club – $25 in advance, $30 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Wow, that was fun — let’s keep the vibe going, shall we? Because Origami Angel are coming to the Canal Club only a day after Free Throw, Super American, and Carpool come to town, and we all know one good emo show deserves another. Origami Angel are a DC-based duo whose approach to the emo genre is one of the most expansive and creative in the game, incorporating everything from hip hop beats to acoustic ballads to hardcore ragers into a sound that always, in the end, comes back to gorgeous, catchy emo excellence. They got started back in the late 2010s with a debut full-length, Somewhere City, that set the scene on fire. When the pandemic put their dreams of world tours to bed for an extended length of time, they spent their forced break putting together a breakthrough second LP, Gami Gang, which stretched the limits of their sound a bit, but was nothing compared to their 2022 EPs, the metallic hardcore DEPART and the folky acoustic re: turn.

Most recently, Origami Angel have released an EP called The Brightest Days, which they refer to as a mixtape, presumably because it combines all of the different musical side trips they’ve taken over the past few years into one endlessly varied eight-song, 22-minute stretch. If there’s anything we’ve learned from these guys, it’s that they can do all sorts of different sounds well without ever losing the ability to sound exactly like themselves. I don’t know if the Gami Gang will stick to the straightforward hits of their catalog or take us on all sorts of side trips during their set at The Canal Club, but considering that they’re great no matter which direction they take things, it’s safe to say that we’re in for a treat regardless. Ohio’s Equipment will bring us an enjoyable set of tunes in their own right — their recent LP Alt. Account finds them channeling relatable insecurities into catchy accounts of neurosis like prime-era Motion City Soundtrack. As for Magazine Beach, they skirt the most indie-adjacent edge of the emo genre, bringing a sound that’s equally likely to make fans of The Beths and Into It Over It happy. Locals Flight Club open things up with their bouncy take on Material Issue/Marvelous 3-style alt-rock power pop — and everyone around here knows that’s a good way to start an evening. Don’t miss a minute of this one, folks.

Saturday, March 23, 7 PM
Folterkammer, Witching, Path To Exile, Archael @ Another Round Bar & Grill – $15
I love metal every bit as much as I love emo, so a big metal show at Another Round is always gonna grab my attention. However, as someone who has never really understood the more classically-influenced symphonic end of the metal spectrum, you might think this performance by “operatic black metal” band Folterkammer would leave me cold. Nothing could be further from the truth, though — because unlike a lot of other metal bands with deep roots in the classical-symphonic-operatic worlds, Folterkammer understands a really important thing about metal: it needs to be heavy. This quintet, featuring Imperial Triumphant guitarist Zachary Ezrin and fronted by a soprano opera vocalist named Andromeda Anarchia, may get wildly over the top at times, but the foundation of their music always remains fast, heavy black metal riffage, full of double-time octave-chord riffs and blasting drums. I might be a little surprised if a band chooses to top that sound with operatic vocal trills, but it’s not like there isn’t precedent for it (e.g. King Diamond). Really, it just makes the whole thing more fun.

Folterkammer are just about to release their second LP, Weibermacht, which means “female power;” according to Anarchia, the album focuses on “themes of BDSM and femdom.” You can feel however you feel about that (I for one am stoked), but you can’t deny that this band rips. Come to Another Round this Saturday night and see for yourself — I can’t imagine you’ll regret it. Folterkammer are joined on this tour by Philadelphia’s Witching, who mix black metal elements with sludge, thrash, and gothic interludes on their latest album, Incendium. Also featuring a powerful female vocalist in the form of Jacqui Powell, Witching seem the perfect touring partners for Folterkammer, and you can expect both bands’ sets to set Another Round ablaze. As for opening acts, Fredericksburg’s Path To Exile will unleash a killer set of their heavy, thrashing death metal, while Archael’s roaring black metal epics will get things started off in fine style. This one’s gonna rule — plan accordingly.

Sunday, March 24, 8 PM
The Armed, The HIRS Collective, Black Matter Device @ The Broadberry – $25 (order tickets HERE)
I have long appreciated what Detroit band The Armed are up to. That said, I’ve never had an easy time explaining it to other people. I’m going to make a valiant effort now, though, because they’re playing at The Broadberry this Sunday, and all of you owe it to yourselves to be there. What sort of music will you get from The Armed when you arrive? The title of their 2021 LP, Ultrapop, offers one clue, and folks who appreciate the hyperpop styles of 100 gecs or Sophie (RIP) will find a lot to like about this band. At the same time, they construct their intricate, multilayered electropop melodies over a bed of hardcore, punk, metal, and grind riffage that makes them just as fun a listen for dyed-in-the-wool thrashers as they are for hyperpop heads. If you somehow belong to both groups (as I do), you’ll be in heaven. Bonus points if you appreciated how much overdriven clipping was incorporated into Sleigh Bells’ excellent early work — The Armed are certainly never afraid to increase the volume well past the level their speakers can tolerate.

But hey, we’ve all been there, right? And let me tell you, their latest album, 2023’s Perfect Saviors, sounds incredible when you crank your headphones up to the max and risk severe hearing damage. I recommend you bring earplugs to the Broadberry on Sunday night — considering the extent of my own hearing loss, it’d be irresponsible for me to do otherwise — but this is one band whose music induces euphoria even as it smashes your eardrums like cockroaches. The Armed’s touring partners The HIRS Collective will also smash your eardrums at a millisecond’s notice, but their music is far less concerned with euphoria than it is with the fury and vengeance of a million trans people scorned. Moving from their origins in hyperspeed digital grindcore into a sound more based in fast metallic hardcore over the past few years, The HIRS Collective reached new heights of raging metal noise on 2023’s We’re Still Here, a welcome shout of defiance in the face of all the anti-trans hatred circling the globe these days now that the cisgender world has figured out that we’re not just going through a phase and we’re not going away. Whether you’re trans and queer like me or as cisgender-hetero as they come, you’re sure to love what The HIRS Collective is dishing out as long as you have any appreciation for passionately delivered music that’s heavy as fuck. Richmond chaotic hardcore stalwarts Black Matter Device will get this thing started off with a strong dose of hectic noise insanity. Every minute of this one will be essential listening. You know what to do.

Monday, March 25, 7:30 PM
Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Dogwood Brothers @ Get Tight Lounge – $24 (order tickets HERE)
As Monty Python used to say: and now for something completely different. While it’s far from the only sound they bring us these days, Get Tight Lounge has become a great place to catch traditional folk, country, and Americana sounds on a regular basis, and they continue to deliver for us on that score with this Monday’s performance by the one and only Wayne “The Train” Hancock. A veteran singer-songwriter who released his debut LP nearly 30 years ago, Hancock is known as “The King Of Juke Joint Swing,” and is doing a great deal to keep the vanishing sound known as Western swing alive. Incorporating influences from classic 30s and 40s big-band leaders like Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller with sounds drawn from groundbreaking legends of early country music like Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, Hancock brings us a sound that will delight those who appreciate classic jazz just as much as it delights classic country fans.

It’s been a while since Wayne Hancock brought a collection of new material into the world; his last was 2016’s Slingin’ Rhythm. With a three-decade-deep catalog to draw from, though, Hancock’s reputation as an incredible bandleader who puts on a scorching live show has not diminished one iota. He’ll still be bringing us classic tunes like “Thunderstorms And Neon Signs,” and “Cold Lonesome Wind,” so what else could you really need? Come to Get Tight Lounge on a chilly Monday night and warm up with an evening of classic Western swing, of the sort that’s all too rare these days. You won’t be sorry.

Tuesday, March 26, 7 PM
Dumb Waiter, Titan To Tachyons, Dysphonia, Thumpr @ The Camel – $14 in advance, $16 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Feeling like having an intense Tuesday night to chase away those early-workweek doldrums? Look no further than The Camel on Tuesday night, where Richmond avant-jazz-metal quartet Dumb Waiter will team up with the single band from outside Richmond to most intensely match their own insatiable creative spirit and fearless instrumental exploration. I am, of course, talking about Titan To Tachyons, the NYC-based metallic instrumental group whose all-star lineup demonstrates its own unstinting commitment to musical exploration on the two LPs they’ve released thus far (the most recent being 2022’s Vonals). When I say all-star, I don’t say it lightly — this quartet brings together the firebrand guitar stylings of Sally Gates from Florida metal legends Orbweaver (not to be confused with the Richmond band of the same name) with the dual-bass attack of Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn and Cleric’s Matt Hollenberg. Rounding out the lineup is drummer Kenny Grohowski, who is now the second member of Imperial Triumphant to be mentioned in this week’s column. These four work together like an intricate, well-oiled jazz-metal machine, and are sure to blow the minds of every fan of guitar wizardry who makes it out to the Camel for this one.

Of course, Dumb Waiter’s set will be equally killer, if a bit different due to the addition of Tristan Brennis’s always-delightful saxophone, but then all you Richmond music heads know that by now, right? Check out their 2022 LP Gauche Gists if you don’t — because you definitely should. Then come see them at this show to really find out what Dumb Waiter are all about. They’ll blow your mind — that’s a promise. As for our openers, noisy shoegaze rockers Dysphonia are still a couple weeks away from releasing their debut EP, but the songs are done and they’ll give us all a sneak preview of them Tuesday night. And Thumpr, the new electronic project from Navi’s Jon Hawkins, will get things started off in fine avant-garde fashion. Get stoked, 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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