RVA Shows You Must See This Week: March 27 – April 2

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Day 1: Friday, March 29, 3 PM
Brat, Uniity, ROTWLCFTSCBMH, The Get Off, Merciful Zero, Double Blind, Book Of Wyrms @ Cobra Cabana – $16.50 in advance, $20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Day 2: Saturday, March 30, 3 PM
MAAFA, Diuretic, Lil Stixxx, Fit Check, Circle Breaker, Gusher, Headscratcher @ Another Round Bar & Grill – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Two-day passes also available for $29.25 in advance (order HERE)
Madi Thompson has been one of the most important people in the Richmond music scene in the post-lockdown era. I don’t think I’ve said their name in this column before, but I’ve certainly mentioned their work: helping to make Bandito’s one of the most important venues for punk, hardcore, and other genres of weird and heavy music, setting up shows through their Weird World Booking endeavors, playing guitar in Headscratcher and Dysphonia… they’ve been up to a lot over the past couple of years. BTCHFEST (the missing “I” is intentional) is the culmination of all those efforts, a two-day festival at two different venues, produced by and featuring projects led by women and femme-identified folks. As explained on the event’s original Gofundme page, this is an effort to reclaim the word “bitch” in the face of the fact that people on the femme side of the gender spectrum have to be three times as nice and work three times as hard to get anywhere near the same respect that dudes get the second they walk in the door. And yeah, I know — we’ve been talking about this kind of thing in the world of independent music for decades. But as long as it continues to be a problem, we’re going to have to keep talking about it.

That’s why it’s great that Madi has put BTCHFEST together for us all this weekend. These two loaded bills make it impossible to ignore the fact that women/femme-identified people can rock as well and rage as hard as any dude. The prime example here is Brat, a New Orleans-based grindcore quartet whose speedy, metallic sound is at its peak on their just-released debut LP, Social Grace. This band has been getting a lot of attention online lately, and there’s a damn good reason for it — their overtly angry (their first EP was called Mean Is What We Aim For) lyrical approach and ferocious riffage is enough to knock anyone on their ass. It should definitely go over big when this band takes the Cobra Cabana stage on Friday to wrap up Night One of BTCHFEST. There are 13 other amazing groups on this double-stacked lineup of awesomeness too, though. Some are excellent locals you should already be aware of if you read this column on a regular basis, including grind-metal enfants terribles ROTWLCFTSCBMH, noise-punk annihilators Headscratcher, alt-metal heroes Merciful Zero, psychedelic stoner-doom veterans Book Of Wyrms, ominous postpunk harbingers Gusher, and more!

We gotta specifically focus on a couple of the out-of-towners before I wrap up this writeup, though, because you might not know who they are, and you definitely should. Night Two headliners MAAFA are particularly noteworthy; this Brooklyn-based ensemble calls themselves “Afro-Progressive hardcore,” and mixes straight-up hardcore punk sounds with plenty of African instruments you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear in this context (including djembe, kora, congas, and a variety of percussion). All of it works really well and makes the perfect backdrop for Flora Lucini’s confrontational, politically oriented lyrics. Uniity brings fiery live performances and pounding electronic beats to a punk-based musical approach that somehow reminds me of both Soul Glo and Ghostemane. as for Philadelphia’s Diuretic, they take a punk-based approach to power-violence hyperspeed, throwing Elvis Costello riffs into thirty-second blastbeat epics. Gotta love it. There’s all of that and way more in store for you at BTCHFEST this weekend, so make sure you’re there to take it all in and to appreciate the lengths Madi and many other femme-identified people have gone to make this scene a better, cooler place to spend our time.

Wednesday, March 27, 9 PM
Wet Denim, Rubber Dagger, Mazerrati Star @ Fuzzy Cactus – $8
If there’s one thing you can always expect when you head to Fuzzy Cactus for a show, it’s down n’ dirty rock n’ roll at its finest. That’s definitely what you’ll get tonight when Wet Denim roll into town to get everyone dancing. To be clear, this is the Indiana-based Wet Denim, not any of the others, and we should all be glad about that, because Indiana Wet Denim is the best band called Wet Denim. One listen to their 2023 debut EP, Neon Nights, is all you’ll need to know that beyond the faintest shadow of a doubt. Filled with rollicking uptempo tunes that land somewhere between Bon Scott-era AC/DC, that killer first New Bomb Turks LP, and early Motorhead, it’s an incredible listen from beginning to end — one that should please fans of both catchy power-pop and Stooges-level rocknroll destruction.

Wet Denim is certainly the main reason to hit Fuzzy Cactus this Wednesday evening, but the two other bands on the bill have plenty to offer as well. Richmond’s own Rubber Dagger channels early punk via a distortion-free sound that evokes the best of rock n’ roll’s early heyday; if you want to hear angry yelling overtop Chuck Berry/Eddie Cochran-style guitar riffs, these guys are ready, willing, and able to bring it to you. As for newcomers Mazerrati Star, they appear to feature former members of bygone Richmond psychedelic ensemble Ladygod, but I can’t be entirely sure because they’re taking a coy approach to public attention. They are willing to let the music do the talking, though, as proven by the release last month of their self-titled debut LP. It’s lo-fi drum-machine psychedelia evokes late-era Jay Reatard at his catchiest, or Anton Newcombe putting together demos for the next Brian Jonestown Massacre album in his echoey shower stall. Things should be more immediate when Mazerrati Star translates their recordings into the live realm, but we won’t know until we see, will we? So go to Fuzzy Cactus tonight, and soak in the vibes of this killer rock n’ roll evening.

Thursday, March 28, 7:30 PM
Ett Eko, J. Graves, Tentative Decisions @ Get Tight Lounge – $12.12 (order tickets HERE)
This three-band lineup for a Thursday night show at Get Tight Lounge is constructed in old-school fashion, and I for one approve wholeheartedly. What we have is a touring band who doesn’t yet have all that high a profile here in Richmond, sandwiched by two local bands — one of whom gets the local music heads in the door, the other of whom gets them to stick around. We used to do stuff like this when booking punk shows in the 90s, to make sure the maximum number of kids got to hear the touring band. I’m glad to see the old ways aren’t entirely forgotten as yet.

That’s especially true in light of the fact that the touring band on this bill is J. Graves, a Portland-based trio led by singer-guitarist Jessa Graves. They’ve got a catchy alt-rock/indie sound that simultaneously reminds me of The Wipers circa Over The Edge (which I’ve been listening to lately, and is still an incredibly good record) and the UK band Sky Larkin (probably best known for the fact that their former frontwoman is now in Sleater-Kinney). On 2022’s Fortress Of Fun, they made their already catchy songs even more interesting by creating videos for each song that acted as a choose your own adventure story, sending you through the album in various different orders. That intriguing gimmick won’t have anything to do with what you hear when J. Graves play Get Tight this Thursday, but the songs are still incredibly catchy and well worth hearing, so that shouldn’t dissuade you from going. As a bonus, you’ll get sets from talented postpunk trio Ett Eko and bouncy, jangling up-and-comers Tentative Decisions, which will make the whole evening well worth being there for. So hey — show up, why don’t ya?

Friday, March 29, 9:30 PM
Caracara, SleepyGoLucky, Camp Werewolf, Kitty Corner @ Ipanema – $7
I’ve been told that PR speak has gone in the direction of refusing to call anything “cheap” or “a bargain.” Instead, we’re supposed to call competitively priced things “affordable.” Very well then: this is a decidedly affordable show happening at Ipanema this Friday night. And the flyer carries the acronym “NOTAFLOF,” which I had to google in order to learn it means “no one turned away for lack of funds.” What that should tell you is that, if you’re broke AF, you can come out to this show and they’ll work with you to find a way to get you in. Just another of the many spectacular innovations of the undground music scene. You’ve gotta love it.

Having said all that, you should definitely throw down whatever you can spare to see Philadelphia’s Caracara at Ipanema this Friday night. Their emotionally resonant melodies and driving songcraft mixes the passionate urgency of Hot Water Music at their best with the flawless melodic sense of Jimmy Eat World to create a sound that feels both urgent and heartrending, in the best possible way. Every once in a while, a band I discover while putting this column together goes straight into my regular Apple Music rotation, and this week it’s gonna be Caracara — 2022’s New Preoccupations is an excellent record, and I’m sure this late-night performance at Ipanema on Friday will be just as awesome. A trio of Richmond bands will add to the awesomeness on this bill, beginning with SleepyGoLucky, whose moody acoustic tunes carry a subtle flavor of emo mixed in with the folk vibes. Camp Werewolf shares some members with SleepyGoLucky and uses more electricity in their sound, which emphasizes the emo vibes in a highly pleasing manner. Kitty Corner named themselves after a phrase I grew up saying “Catty corner,” but I’m an old lady from Appalachia so don’t pay me no mind. This group is a successor to a lo-fi bedroom-pop group called Kat Nap, but I haven’t heard a single note of Kitty Corner’s music, so I can’t tell you how closely they hew to their previous incarnation. Regardless, this one’s gonna be a lot of fun. If you’re up for staying up late on a Friday night, head over there and see this show. It’ll keep you boppin’ right up to last call.

Saturday, March 30, 9 PM
Crush Fund, Circle The Drain, Ekko Astral @ Bandito’s – $10-$15
Here’s another band that was new to me when I started working on the column this week and quickly rose to the status of new faves: Crush Fund, a killer three-piece from NYC who describe themselves on Instagram as a “fake punk girl band” but if you ask me are selling themselves way too short. While I’ve only heard one song from their forthcoming New Fixations EP (it comes out less than a week after this show), that song and a selection of tunes from their earlier releases added up to more than enough to convince me that this band has got both real punk spirit and real chops. Crush Fund have a distinctly quirky and off-kilter approach to their rhythms, and when integrated with the band’s propulsive drive and the dueling vocals of guitarist Wendy Kya and drummer Nora Knox, the result is something that could have fit right in with the No Wave scene of early 80s NYC, alongside the Bush Tetras and DNA.

Richmonders Circle The Drain are holding down the middle spot on this three-band bill, and they’ll also do a lot to keep your attention. They’re a strange mix of multiple genres that somehow come together perfectly — emo, funk, pop, and math-rock all tangling up together into songs that never fail to please you even if they confuse you at first. In a time where it sometimes feels like no one’s got anything new to add to the musical fabric, this quartet is pushing things in an entirely new direction, and I for one look forward to seeing where they go next. The bill is rounded out by DC’s Ekko Astral, who have a similar approach to that of Crush Fund, though their approach to postpunk has a bit more synth vibes mixed in. All three of these bands should complement each other quite well, and all will make a perfect pairing with a piled-high plate of Bandito’s nachos. You know what to do.

Sunday, March 31, 8 PM
Tight Rope, Trapcry, Alfred, MRC A.H. @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
I’m not sure if the wider cisgender world knows this, but Sunday the 31st is Trans Day Of Visibility. In a coincidence that should touch the heart of anyone who likes to freak out the squares, it is also Easter Sunday. With all of that going on, it is a perfect night to head over to The Camel and catch this excellent lineup of local musicians, all of whom have some connection to the queer/trans community. Tight Rope is at the top of the bill, and while this excellent, vaguely gothic indie project has only released a couple of songs so far, they’ve got a new two-song single coming out only a few days after this show (and you didn’t hear it from me, but the premiere is scheduled to occur on this very website!), so the buzz should be at top levels. Considering how much I like the two singles they’ve released so far, I’m definitely hyped for more — and anyone who agrees with me can get your Tight Rope fix by showing up at the Camel this TDOV/Easter Sunday.

You’ll get a lot more than that, too, especially if you’re a fan of the masculine form, because Trapcry is on this show and this project is incredibly sexy. The recently released deluxe edition of their 2023 LP This Is Sex Without Touching will definitely raise the temperature within any room where it’s played, and that goes double, or triple, or maybe even quadruple for a situation in which the songs are being performed live right there in the room with you. These grooves are so irresistible, everyone’s gonna work up a sweat during this set. That’s a promise. Rapper Alfred is also on the bill, and while he’s got some heavy beats, he’s more focused on showcasing his excellent flow than he is on creating slow jams for romantic dancefloor moments. Don’t worry though, you’ll surely be moving your feet during his set as well. The evening will start with a set from MRC A.H., a name that threw me off at first (google searches returned pictures of helicopter scale models). However, after some research, I have determined that this is Isabel Moreno-Riano from True Body’s solo project. Not exactly sure what it sounds like — I’m guessing it goes in a more electronic direction than True Body — but if you dig the moody gothic sounds of True Body (and, for that matter, those of Tight Rope) I’m sure you’ll dig what she’s bringing to us. Come to this show, hit the dancefloor, and shake your booty in praise of the resurrected transgender messiah. [Doug, please don’t fire me for writing that…]

Monday, April 1, 7 PM
Scott Yoder, The Wind-Ups, Shawnis And The Shimmers @ Cobra Cabana – $10
I grew up in an era of absolute boomer nostalgia overload, a time when you couldn’t turn around without running across half a dozen more references to the universally hailed legends of the classic rock era. It was enough to make you turn into a snotty punk rocker who declared that you hated the Beatles, the Stones, and anyone else from that bloated era. A thing that too many of us young punks forgot back then, though, is that those bands were incredibly successful for reasons, some of which were very good. These days, people have a bit more distance on that whole time, and a lot of them have combed through all the musical detritus of the time in order to find the things that were worthwhile and hang onto them, while continuing to remember the lessons we all learned from the modern world of underground music.

Scott Yoder is a great example of a songwriter and musician who has done exactly that. On his brand-new album, Scooter Pie, the Seattle-based musician evokes the lush pop soundscapes of late 60s Kinks, Forever Changes-era Love, and the Odessey And Oracle-era Zombies, mixes them with bouncy power-pop hooks, and adds a dose of garage punk and sunshine pop to create a 21st century rock n’ roll classic. Depending on how big a band he’s touring with, there’s a possibility that he’ll bring a more minimal version of his amazing tunes to the stage at Cobra Cabana. Regardless, though, it’s the quality of his compositions and the talent he brings to his performances that really matter. No matter the size of Yoder’s backing band, this is going to be an unforgettable show. It’ll be augmented by a set from California fuzz-pop group The Wind-Ups, who mix shoegaze-level distortion with Ramones-ish minimal punk anthems to create noise-pop gold. And of course we’ll also have Richmond’s queer garage-punk heroes, Shawnis And The Shimmers, on hand to get everything kicked off in tip-top fashion. Get stoked for this one, folks.

Tuesday, April 2, 7 PM
Ratboys, Ducks Ltd. @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $18 (order tickets HERE)
Well, I don’t know about y’all, but I for one am stoked about this one. Ratboys have had my heart for a while — ever since I heard “Alien With A Sleep Mask On,” the killer melodic punk tune that opens their 2020 LP, Printer’s Devil. That album was one of the last records I fell in love with before the pandemic came along and shut down the world of live music for 18 months. Fortunately, Ratboys didn’t let that disruption derail them; since those dark days, they’ve released two more albums. The latest, The Window, came out last summer, and showed that this Chicago quartet hasn’t lost a single ounce of their punk-pop songcraft genius. There’s a slightly larger dose of twang integrated into the proceedings on their latest collection of tunes, making them even more likely to appeal to fans of Hop Along than they already were. That said, anyone who dug what they were up to before will still find plenty to love about Ratboys circa 2024.

They’ll have a tough act to follow, considering that the two days prior to their performance at Richmond Music Hall will include not only Easter Sunday and Trans Day of Visibility but also April Fool’s Day. If you’re compelled to sleep all day Tuesday after that gauntlet, believe me I understand, but you’re going to have to find the strength to hold on for one more day, as Wilson Phillips would say, because this show is going to be an essential part of your week. It’ll feature an opening set from jangle-pop duo Ducks Ltd, who hail from Toronto and, on their brand new LP Harm’s Way, do a lot to conjure the awkwardly lovely twee-pop era exemplified by bands like Orange Juice, Heavenly, and Boyracer (though that last crew were way more into feedback). We all know that openers at big shows can sometimes be a bit dodgy, but this is one case where you’ll want to show up on time; if you dig what Ratboys are doing (and you should), you’ll fall in love with Ducks Ltd. as well. And then you’ll get to dance the night away to Ratboys after that. What more could you want?

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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