RVA Shows You Must See This Week: March 6 – March 12

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Saturday, March 9, 6 PM
The Booby Bash, feat. Tight Rope, Sunflower’d, Niiasii, Deathcat, Tia Dalia @ Gallery 5 – $8 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Charles Dickens said that, but he was talking about the duality of France’s social climate in the years before the French Revolution. I’m talking about the social climate for LGBTQ people in America right now. On one hand, there’s a major political effort underway to roll back our civil rights and make huge swaths of our existence illegal. On the other hand, there are more people coming out than ever, and more efforts to create a robust community for LGBTQ people throughout America, even right here in little old Richmond. The Booby Bash, an event coming to Gallery 5 this Saturday night, is exactly that sort of thing, bringing together musicians, vendors, artists, and drag performers for a queer-themed multimedia extravaganza.

The music at this event will, of course, take the starring role in this writeup, since music is this column’s raison d’etre, if you will. And let me assure you, even if you only came to this event for the music, you’d still be having a great time. For starters, Tight Rope is at the top of the bill, and even if this highly buzzed-about local indie band hasn’t been the most prolific — they’ve only released two singles since taking on their new name almost two years ago — what they’ve brought out has certainly been memorable, and if anything just whets the appetite for something more. Singles “Blood From Saints” and “Crazy Eyes” evoke mysterious late-night sounds from NYC or London, with elements of postpunk and goth intertwining with an almost cabaret-ish vocal style, all built atop a solid foundation in guitar-driven indie rock. These guys are definitely going to play more than two songs during their set at the Booby Bash, so if you, like me, have only had your appetite whetted by the scant amount of material they’ve released thus far, you gotta show up to this show to hear more.

As for Sunflower’d, the young Richmond band featuring some of the folks most heavily involved in bringing The Booby Bash into the world, they are also pretty far from prolific. They recently released a single, “Mary,” which hints at mysterious psychedelic depths but also draws pretty strongly from the last couple decades of indie guitar music. It definitely makes me wonder what else this band might have up their sleeve. Of course, there’s only one way to find out. This show will also feature sets from Niisaii, whose music is an intriguing mix of hip-hop-infused neo-soul and jangly sunshine pop; Deathcat, whose snarky, catchy punk  tunes and blood-spattered prom queen aesthetics are well worth your time; and Tia Dalia, whose chaotic garage-noise sound is highly intriguing. And that’s not to mention the drag performances, queer vendors, and much more that you’ll get to see and interact with between sets. In a time when Richmond’s LGBTQ population needs all the joy, fun, and community it can get, this event will certainly offer plenty of all three.

Wednesday, March 6, 7 PM
Frida Kill, Shop Talk, Sifter, Serqet @ Cobra Cabana – $10
Tonight it’s time to dispel the midweek doldrums by heading down to Cobra Cabana for a show featuring two excellent Brooklyn-based bands, each with their own take on punk rock for you to dance to. First up is Frida Kill, a quartet who just released their debut LP, Kill Kill!, back in December. All sorts of influences are brought together within their music, from classic 60s girl-group pop sounds to garage-rock and postpunk sounds of the sort New York is famous for. The result will certainly appeal to fans of Sheer Mag and the Downtown Boys, especially those who particularly appreciate the overtly political and feminist slant of the latter’s lyrical themes. Frida Kill have a similar lyrical approach, with a particular emphasis on the struggles of marginalized folks just trying to survive in a city that’s been completely overtaken by gentrification. This gives their already-great songs an extra punch that make them a particularly memorable listen.

What’s more, they are by all accounts a great live act, and word has it that the same can be said of their fellow New Yorkers, Shop Talk. This driving dark-punk trio will definitely appeal to fans of classic spooky punk groups like TSOL and The Adolescents. Their unusually melodic vocals, which add a strong musical element you don’t necessarily expect in the world of punk, definitely make Shop Talk stand out from the crowd, and will surely win them plenty of fans when they hit the Cobra Cabana stage tonight. Both of these bands keep things upbeat and stomping — perfect for starting up a circle pit. Swinging street-punks Sifter and spooky goth-crust quartet Serqet add excellents sets of their own in support. Punk rock is a many-splendored thing, and those who appreciate it in all its many forms will get a lot out of this Wednesday night show. Make sure you are in attendance.

Thursday, March 7, 7 PM
Joyer, Wallpaper, Solace Sovay @ Imperial Lounge – $10
Sometimes you move up from the underground by choice, and sometimes you do it because you have to. The latter is definitely the case for local promoters Clayhouse Live, who had to take their shows to official venues once their original house-show spot became untenable. While that’s certainly not a positive development, it has had benefits for the rest of us, who no longer have to “ask a punk” if we want to hear about what these kids are up to. Instead, we can check out Imperial Lounge, a new venue that’s popped up downtown just a few blocks west of Capital Ale House. That’s where Clayhouse Live is staging shows at the moment, and their latest extravaganza is one I’m delighted to call attention to.

At the top of the bill for this one is Joyer, a New York-based band with a jangly indie sound that shimmers and shines on their soon-to-be-released fourth album, Night Songs. For those who appreciate the slacker bedroom sound that often made its home on the Citrus City label, Joyer will be a real, um, joy to listen to. They’re accompanied on this gig by Richmonders Wallpaper, whose sound isn’t too far from Joyer’s, though there’s definitely a bit more shoegaze-ish fuzz and ramshackle punk mixed in. Their latest single, “Walkin’,” has me highly anticipating a new record from these folks — though if you just go see them at Imperial Lounge on Thursday, you won’t have to wait. The bill is rounded out by Solace Sovay, who don’t work at the fastest pace — their debut LP came out seven years ago, their first EP seven years before that, and they’ve released nothing since. However, assuming they’re still doing roughly the same thing they were when I last saw them, you can expect subtle yet intriguing guitar-driven dream pop with a small dose of atmospheric emo mixed in. They should fit well on this bill, even if they don’t hop on the fuzz pedals quite as much as the other two bands playing this one. It’ll be a fun night at a new spot — make yourself a part of it.

Friday, March 8, 7 PM
Shagg Carpet, Rat Fight, Art School @ Black Iris Social Club – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Here’s one for all the egg punks out there. Shagg Carpet are a relatively new band on the Richmond scene, but they released their debut album, Bugged, last month, and so far it’s one of my favorite things to come out of this city in 2024. Mixing fuzzy guitar riffs and driving punk drumming with synth melodies and programmed bass drones, this band hits the sweet spot of synth punk — where the synths are doing enough to be adding something crucial to the sound, but aren’t undermining the essential raw snotty energy that makes punk a vital, compelling listen even half a century after the genre was originally codified.

In the live arena, Shagg Carpet bring the chaos and attitude you’d expect from a band like this, and the fact that they’ve got the songs to back it up just makes them more impressive. Right now, I think this band is a bit overlooked on the local scene, and that definitely needs to change. Do your part by heading out to see them at Black Iris this Friday night. And when you do, you’ll get two other Richmond rippers in the bargain. The first, Rat Fight, has a harsh, fuzzy sound that seems to base itself on punk roots, yet gets noisy enough at times to brush up against chaotic hardcore. The second, Art School, is more bouncy and poppy, with a youthful energy that just can’t be denied. Put ’em all together and what do you get? A night of excellent youthful punk at Black Iris. Don’t miss out on this one.

Saturday, March 9, 8 PM
Pyramid Mass, Doomsday Profit, High Crime, Druglord, Phantom Steel @ Bandito’s – $10
This Saturday night, it’s time to get heavy over at Bandito’s with a show that presents some of the most intense bands in the mid-Atlantic region. At the top, of course, it’s Pyramid Mass, the trio formerly known as Doubtfire, who not only changed their name but intensified their sound over the past couple of years. That resulted in last year’s Monolith, an epic slab of brutality that infuses their powerful riffs and roaring vocals with a structural complexity that takes everything this band does to the next level. Monolith has grabbed a lot of attention around the metal scene here in Richmond over the past year, but if you still haven’t heard what Pyramid Mass are bringing to the table, there’s no time like the present. Head to Bandito’s this Saturday night and immerse yourself.

But don’t spend the opening sets lingering at a table munching on tacos. As great as the food at Bandito’s is, you’d be ripping yourself off if you didn’t make sure you caught every note from all five of the bands on this bill. Doomsday Profit is the first of two bands on this bill to drive up from the Raleigh-Durham area, and these guys have one heck of a sound to lay on us all. Based on the powerfully sludgy collection of riffs that is their 2021 debut, In Idle Orbit, these guys have sufficient power to knock us all flat with sheer heaviness — and who could complain about that? High Crime are our other guests from the Carolinas, and they add a touch of power-metal triumph to their fundamentally heavy sound on their debut single, “Succumb,” mainly due to the killer vocals from WitchTit frontwoman Reign. As for Druglord, it’s all sludge all the time with this Richmond trio. They’ve been keeping a low profile in recent years, so you won’t want to miss your chance to catch them at this one. Finally, while I haven’t heard openers Phantom Steel, as they are a brand new band, I am certainly intrigued based on the talent of their lineup. Show up early to this one, get yourself some nachos, and hang out all night. You certainly won’t be sorry.

Sunday, March 10, 8 PM?
Pale Lungs, Pony, Hotspit, New Lions @ Bandito’s – $10?
Sometimes I check out shows for possible inclusion in this column based solely on the openers. This is a great example of one like that. I love Hotspit and New Lions, two local groups with proven track records who I would be reasonably likely to send you to see even if the show was just the two of them. The fact that they’re the openers on this show immediately makes me curious about the headliners: are they as good as the local openers? And if so, what have I been missing out on? A lot, it turns out, where both Pale Lungs and Pony are concerned. Pale Lungs is a quintet from Tennessee who released their debut EP in 2018 but got derailed by the pandemic, only releasing their self-titled full-length debut about a year ago. I guess all that woodshedding time paid off, because said full-length is incredible, somehow managing to combine the sound of moody alt-country groups like the Jayhawks, contemplative emo ensembles like Manchester Orchestra, and understated yet heavy post-hardcore bands like Hum. They smoothly move back and forth between quiet, melancholy melody and emotional choruses that hit hard, even as they tug at your heartstrings. Imagine Sunny Day Real Estate and My Morning Jacket making a record together, and you won’t be far off.

As for Pony, this indie duo is much more upbeat than Pale Lungs, making bouncy, catchy alt-rock tunes that will certainly appeal to the Letters To Cleo and Veruca Salt fans among us. Singer Sam Bielanski provides the voice for Jazz Hooves on the current My Little Pony cartoon; however, the band name is just a coincidence — they’ve been called Pony since before she got the MLP gig. This might offend the bronies among you (not that I care), but I have to say it anyway: Pony’s latest LP, Velveteen, is way better than anything the My Little Pony franchise has ever brought us. In fact, it’s an excellent slice of 90s-flavored power-pop, and if you haven’t heard it yet, you should definitely come out to this show and get familiar. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, March 11, 7 PM
Open Kasket, Heldtight, Molt, Death Mask, Slaat @ Bandito’s – $10
I know a lot of people have issues about the internet, and believe me, I have days sometimes where I want to burn the whole thing down and go back to photocopying zines at copy shops in order to speak to all you lovely people. But there’s no doubt that it’s done some great things for our world too, and one of those great things is that it has made it possible for everyone all around the globe to hear music made in even its most obscure corners. This show is a great example: it is headlined by two touring hardcore bands who hail from Arkansas. Arkansas! Who knew there even were hardcore bands in Arkansas? Actually, a lot of people, including illustrious local show promoter Love Tiger Connection. And let’s face it — we probably have the internet to thank for that.

Whoever we’re giving the credit to, though, we should all just be thankful at our great fortune. Especially those of us who like extremely heavy hardcore bands who sound like what would happen if Hatebreed did a collaborative album with Obituary (something I can easily imagine happening, come to think of it). Open Kasket is a great example of what a project like that would sound like at its best — incredible shredding guitars, brutal downtuned riffage, terrifying vocal roars and screams, booming drums, and ridiculously brutal mosh parts. If your Monday is drowsy and tedious, don’t worry — Open Kasket will blow all the cobwebs away from your brain the second they hit the stage. Indeed, they might just knock your block right off. In a good way, of course. Fellow Arkansans Heldtight will also be on the bill with some powerful hardcore that is crunchy and metallic, but in a less death-metal, more crossover fashion that should make fans of Power Trip very happy. For a slight change of pace, Richmond-based Molt will go for some Black Flag/Bl’ast-ish rock n’ roll-inspired hardcore, while fellow locals Slaat bring things back in a more death-thrash direction. I don’t really know what Death Mask sound like — they’re too new for me to have heard them — but with the rest of this lineup being so awesome, you can afford to take a flyer on a random opener. Get stoked for this one, y’all.

Tuesday, March 12, 7:30 PM
Shockoe Sessions Live! presents Beep Boop Bop! feat. Caroline Scruggs, Taylor Elise Colimore, Adam Harding @ In Your Ear Studios – $15 (order tickets HERE)
I’ve said it before and it remains true — no matter what else might be going on throughout the week, you always know you’ll find a good show on Tuesday nights, because Shockoe Sessions Live is happening. This week is no exception, and in fact, it’s even better, because unusually for Shockoe Sessions, this week finds them bringing us three different artists in a single session. The name these artists are grouped under is “Beep Boop Bop,” and if you haven’t already guessed, that means the theme is unconventional electronic instruments. The most intriguing of these three is Caroline Scruggs, who started out playing violin and later received a degree in classical vocal performance, but these days is most fascinated by theremin. Rather than just using this fascinating instrument to make weird analog-synth squiggle noises, as most people do, she’s taught herself how to write and perform songs on the theremin, and has an album of those songs coming out later this year. She’ll give us all a preview of what she’s up to as she and her theremin do a full set of songs on Shockoe Sessions Live Tuesday night.

We’ll also get a set from local musician Taylor Elise Colimore, who works in an equally unconventional, though completely different, medium: she writes music by writing computer programs. Using a coding language called Ruby, she creates musical loops in real time, which build and interact with one another in a manner that is never the same twice. The result somewhat reminds me of Laurie Spiegel’s work at Bell Telephone Labs in the late 70s, when she was using algorithmic logic to write songs on early analog synths (if you’re unfamiliar, go listen, you won’t regret it). Think of Taylor Elise Colimore as doing a similar thing with technology that has advanced another five decades along. The results are just as intriguing. Finally, Adam Harding will be performing. A onetime recording engineer at Shockoe Sessions host studio In Your Ear, Harding is these days the founder of electronic music company Boredbrain, which manufactures experimental modular synthesizers, among other esoteric electronic music making tools. He’ll be using some of his company’s machines to generate music unlike anything you’ve heard before. I don’t know about you, but even if I don’t make it down to In Your Ear for this one, I will definitely be tuning in.

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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