RVA Shows You Must See This Week: May 22 – May 28

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Monday, May 27, 1 PM
Daydream Fest, feat. Butcher Brown, Illiterate Light, Mekong Xpress, Palmyra, Hotspit, Deau Eyes String Quartet, Michael Millions, Mikrowaves, Cleophus James @ Main Line Brewery – $30 in advance, $40 at the door (order tickets HERE)
It was unavoidable. Inevitable. If you pay any attention to what’s happening with live music in the Richmond area (and if you’re reading this column, I would think you do), you had to know it was coming. Sure enough, the third edition of Daydream Fest is my pick for featured show this week. Realistically, it couldn’t be anything else. Baripete Productions’ Pete LeBlanc has a direct line to the beating heart of the Richmond music scene, and over the past few years, he’s been using Daydream Fest as a sort of musical state of the union for RVA, bringing us all the greatest acts making music in all sorts of different genres around this city and the Commonwealth as a whole. And of course, 2024’s edition stays true to that prior track record. Don’t tell me you expected anything less.

The lineup is topped by the kings of Richmond soul, jazz, hip hop, and funk. I am of course referring to the legendary quintet known as Butcher Brown, who’ve been on quite a tear over the past few years. After a series of hip hop/jazz landmarks, beginning with the Triple Trey LP in 2022, then following up with singles “Black Man” (featuring Michael Millions, who is perhaps not coincidentally also on this bill) and a scorching cover of the classic Run DMC track “Down With The King,” they re-established their soul jazz bona fides even as they pushed forward into new hip hop frontiers on 2023’s Solar Music. Most recently, they released “Secret House,” a collaborative single with legendary Virginia singer-songwriter Bruce Hornsby — just in case you thought you had them nailed down. Butcher Brown will explore all these musical dynamics and more during their headlining set at Daydream Fest, and rest assured, if you’re looking for a truly transcendent Memorial Day experience, this is where you’ll find it.

And of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are eight more bands on this show! Indie duo Illiterate Light are riding high on the emotional, triumphant sound of their brand new EP, Slow Down Time, and are sure to give you the feels when they hit the stage. Indie queen Deau Eyes is bringing the string quartet who back her on occasion to the Main Line Brewery stage, and giving us all a new twist on her formidable catalog of indie pop brilliance. Queer-as-folk trio Palmyra are my latest discovery on this bill, and the heartfelt indie-bluegrass sound of their Belladonna EP, which came out late last year, has won me over in a big way. I’ve loved soul-funk all-stars Mekong Xpress and shoegaze slowcore powerhouses Hotspit for a damn minute now, and I’m sure they’ll both light up the stage for this one. While I hope Michael Millions releases a new LP soon, I know his set will kill even if he’s still focusing on the classic Hard To Be King material from six years ago. The man is a true talent. What else? Mikrowaves are local mainstays, Cleophus James are on the come-up with psychedelic indie soul grooves, there are a ton of booths to see, food trucks to check out, and I guess even some alcohol to drink if that’s your thing. Make your Memorial Day truly memorable — spend your day with Baripete Productions at Main Line Brewery for Daydream Fest. And hey, come by the Auricular booth and say hey! We’d love to meet you.

Wednesday, May 22, 7 PM
Monsoon, Roughshod, Rubber Dagger @ Cobra Cabana – $10
I’ve been doing this whole show column thing for a long time, and sometimes I have to check back to figure out whether I’ve covered a band before. It sure would be embarrassing if I inadvertently wrote the same exact stuff I wrote when they played here nine months ago, wouldn’t it? I had to check back on Monsoon, and while I have indeed covered them since the column found its forever home here at The Auricular, I wrote maybe half a sentence about them when they played with Strawberry Moon last year. Frankly, upon listening to their latest LP, 2022’s Ghost Party, I don’t think I did them justice. So let’s discuss in detail how brilliant Monsoon is, shall we?

Yes we shall, because this Georgia duo is coming to town tonight, and you really owe it to yourself to see them. Made up of singer-guitarist Sienna Chandler and drummer Joey Kegel, this band has a minimal lineup, but manages to make quite a bit of noise nonetheless. Indeed, the fact that they’re frequently loud and often feature abrasive guitar sounds can cause some folks to miss just what an incredible pop sensibility this band has. Veering from quiet moments to heavy guitar crescendos in a manner far less cliche than the by-now-timeworn Pixies/Nirvana method, this group veers constantly back and forth between loud moments and quiet interludes. But it’s the pop melodies and memorable riffs that stick with you, and set this band apart from any old band with a bunch of distortion pedals in their signal chain. They’ll have you tapping your feet and singing along for sure — even if you haven’t heard them before. Richmond alt-rockers Roughshod and weirdo punks Rubber Dagger provide strong support for this bill, so liven up your midweek and head for Cobra Cabana tonight.

Thursday, May 23, 7 PM
Mike, 454, Niontay, El Cousteau @ The Broadberry – $21 (order tickets HERE)
I’ve seen a lot of SEO-unfriendly artist names over the years, but this rapper who just goes by Mike might have taken the prize. Mike Tyson? Mike Myers? Mike and the Mechanics? Nah, just Mike. But actually, NOT “just Mike,” because that might make you think this New York rapper is average, or run of the mill. It’s simply not the case. Mike’s brand new record, Pinball, was created in collaboration with producer Tony Seltzer, and carries forward a run that Mike’s been on for most of the past decade. He’s as brilliant as he is prolific, his slightly slurred stoner raps full of creative, unexpected lyrical juxtapositions and a subtle sincerity you might not expect from a guy who sounds this, well, high. There are elements of Earl Sweatshirt in what Mike does, which makes it even more appropriate that he did a song with Earl on Pinball. Local hip hop fans might also hear some resonances from Mike’s work in the music of local rising star DuctTape Jesus, who one would imagine has at least heard a few Mike tracks before.

Point is, if you like your hip hop to hit hard even as it skitters across distorted vaporwave samples, if you like it to be full of the casual brilliance of the stoner at the back of the class who gets Bs without trying, you’re gonna dig what Mike is bringing. Whether you’ve been paying attention to what he’s been doing for the past decade or just started to tune into his work now, you’re gonna want to catch this show — it’s sure to be a wild time. I can tell you a lot less about the openers, all of whom are on tour with Mike right now, but if you trust Mike’s taste, you’ll probably find something to love from all of them. 454 has a tendency to do the thing I always heard called “nite-core” — sped-up tracks that do the opposite of what DJ Screw was known for. How that translates to the live set, though, I have no clue. Niontay’s stuff is a bit lower-fi than what Mike is up to, but seems to be on the same basic level. The beats might be a little bit more traditional, but Niontay’s rapping style is every bit as obscure and brilliant as Mike’s. The bill’s rounded out by El Cousteau, who’s got the most nasally voice of anyone on this bill, but definitely not in a bad way. If you like your hip hop faded and pitched (up or down, doesn’t matter), this is a show for you. Get with it.

Friday, May 24, 7 PM
High Noon Kahuna, Blazoner, Wyrewitch, Paradiso @ Another Round Bar & Grill – $10
I did not know what to expect when I first heard about a band called High Noon Kahuna. Some weird hybrid of western twang guitar and surf music? Goofball melodic punk? Those were my first two guesses, and they were both entirely wrong. Instead, High Noon Kahuna brings together a trio of talented metal veterans from Frederick, Maryland to bang out some heavy low-end midtempo riff monsters. Monster Magnet and early Queens Of The Stone Age might be fair comparison points, but there’s at least a little bit of Dinosaur Jr and Hum mixed in there as well. Their most recent LP, This Place Is Haunted, comes to us via the long-absent, suddenly reanimated Crucial Blast Records, a quintessential label where the history of heavy music in Maryland is concerned.

High Noon Kahuna should definitely appeal to the folks who want sludgy, heavy riffage in their life as often as possible, but those who appreciate a bit of melody (though not too much, mind you) in their loud rockin’ will be down with this band as well. High Noon Kahuna will certainly liven up your Friday night over at Another Round, though they’re not the only ones intent on doing so. Fredericksburg, VA rockers Blazoner are bringing their own brand of metal-infused stoner groove to the proceedings, and will definitely rock you with a slightly less noisy and more space-faring sound. As for Wyrewitch, this is a band that’s gone through some changes lately, evolving from the all-male three-piece known as Hewolf to the female-fronted quartet Shewolf before finally switching to an entirely new name only a few weeks ago. If you’re a fan of the work Paul Burnette (Darkest Hour/Iron Reagan) and Erik Josephson (Crackhead/Human Thurma) have done around the Richmond music scene over the past few decades, you’ll definitely want to see what they’ve come up with in their latest incarnation. The evening begins with a set from relative newcomers Paradiso, who’ve got some energetic hardcore-influenced thrash carnage to lay on y’all. Get stoked for this one.

Saturday, May 25. 7 PM
Stomping Grounds, feat. Terror Cell, Circle Breaker, The Get Off @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $9 in advance (in-store at Plan 9 only), $12 in advance online (order tickets HERE)
I’m really glad this Stomping Grounds series of monthly all-local shows exists. It isn’t always in my wheelhouse, but it’s always bringing local music to a wider audience at cheap introductory prices that make it worth stopping in even if you don’t know the bands. That’s always a solid value proposition. And on nights like this, when I know and love all the bands already? It’s a goddamn steal at twice the price. This Saturday night’s extravaganza is topped off by Terror Cell, a brutal, sludgy metallic hardcore group who blew a lot of minds with their 2022 debut, Caustic Light, and have recently topped themselves with their first follow-up single, the scathingly brilliant “Constant Visions Of Suffering.” We can only hope this is just the first sign of an impending sophomore album, but if I’m right and it is, chances are you’ll hear even more new material unleashed during their Stomping Grounds set. That’s more than enough reason to show up right there.

Then there are the other two bands on this bill, each of which is incredible in their own right. Circle Breaker are the first of the two, and this raw-as-fuck power trio plays grimy, blackened hardcore crust with an intensity and determination that’s gonna have everyone taking a couple of steps back… and then immediately starting a pit. As for The Get Off, this band is closest of the groups on this bill to old-school punk, but they play their fast, angry tunes with a chunky, heavy ferocity that makes The Get Off the sort of punk band with a lot of crossover appeal for the hardcore types. Especially since they at least occasionally have downright moshy breakdowns that are perfect for spinkicks. Put all three together and you’ve got a recipe for awesomeness. Come to this one ready to dance, because when these three bands hit the stage, you won’t be able to stay still.

Sunday, May 26, 7 PM
Crystal Flowers, Coral Grief, Charm Offensive @ Garden Grove Brewing – Free!
Free Sunday night shows at Garden Grove Brewing are always excellent, and I only wish they happened more often. That said, they’ve got bills to pay over there, so you can’t blame ’em if they keep the free shows to a minimum. All the more reason, though, that we should cherish them when they do happen. Especially when they bring cool groups like Coral Grief to our town. These guys should be playing second out of third on this bill, assuming I am reading the flyer right, and that’s as it should be — bands who are coming to town for the first time traditionally get to play in the middle of the bill so show promoters don’t have to worry that all the local bands’ friends will leave before the out-of-towners hit the stage. But since Coral Grief are coming to us all the way from Seattle, it only seems fair that we discuss them first in this blurb.

Having only released two EPs thus far, Coral Grief are a relatively new band. However, they’ve defined a strong sound for themselves, one modern listeners might consider somewhere on the shoegaze spectrum but strikes me as more accurately labeled dreampop, as bands like Cocteau Twins and Beach House once were. Sure, Coral Grief is capable of unleashing the fuzz guitars on occasion, but more often they stick with restrained arpeggios drowned in reverb and overlaid with high, gorgeous vocals. There’s a pretty significant scene in Richmond these days for this exact type of thing, so I can only hope the folks enjoying local bands like Keep and Hotspit make it out for this one. If that’s you, I promise you’ll be glad you went to this one. And that’s not even to mention the excellent locals on the bill. I shouldn’t need to spill too much ink in support of Charm Offensive, considering how much I had to say about them only a few weeks ago when they released their debut EP, but in case you missed it, catch up now, and then go to this show Sunday night. Richmond lo-fi indie rockers Crystal Flowers haven’t brought us any new material in a few years now, but one can’t help but hope that changes in the very near future. Perhaps this show will give us a sneak peek? Even if it doesn’t, this one is well worth your time — especially since you won’t have to spend a dime of your money to go.

Monday, May 27, 7 PM
Sun Years, Cardinals Folly, Orenda @ Bandito’s – $10
If you’re involved in underground music of any sort, you’re sure to have noticed a particular phenomenon after a while: that of musicians who are involved in so many projects at any given time, you can’t keep up. Erik Larson has always been that sort of guy for me, going back to my earliest awareness of his work in Avail and Kilara back in the 90s. Since then he’s been involved in Alabama Thunderpussy, Parasytic, Thunderchief, Omen Stones, and done multiple solo albums. I would have said he was staying very busy even before I figured out that he’s also in Sun Years, who are headlining this particular Monday night Bandito’s gig. Dang, y’all, does this guy ever sleep?

What is perhaps most remarkable about Larson is that, no matter how many bands he’s involved with, their quality never seems to lag at all. For example, Sun Years — a desert-sludge metal quartet that brings Larson together with previous collaborators like Asechiah Bogdan (Alabama Thunderpussy) and Buddy Bryant (Larson’s 2021 EP measwe). They’ve only released a brief demo, but it blazes heavy enough to convince me that a full set by this quartet is going to be truly awesome to behold. What’s more, they’re joined on this bill by Finland doom ragers Cardinals Folly, who have a lengthy track record of brutal grooves and nonstop riff action. Roanoke-based trio Orenda will kick off this whole thing with some raw sludge power. Get ready for some serious slow-motion headbangs at this show, because with this formidable a lineup, they are a sure thing.

Tuesday, May 28, 8 PM
Farewell Friend, Jon Dell, Juniper Tree @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
We’ve talked about a whole bunch of really heavy shows this week, so let’s wrap things up with heaviness of a different kind — specifically the genre-hopping moody atmosphere of North Carolina’s Farewell Friend. This quartet was formed by singer-songwriter Tom Troyer, who initially was performing on his own in Indiana before moving to Greensboro and putting this group together. His augmented tunes definitely bring dark folk vibes, as well as the melancholy atmospheres of early albums by Iron And Wine or My Morning Jacket. You can hear all of that on Farewell Friend’s new double LP, The Silent Years, which they’ve been releasing one side at a time on streaming services over the past few months. There’s still one more side left to go, and the LPs haven’t quite made it back from the pressing plant, but you can hear exactly what Farewell Friend are up to on their new LP by coming out to The Camel on Tuesday night. Once you do, you’re sure to want a copy of the vinyl for your very own.

Farewell Friend are joined on their jaunt through Richmond by Jon Dell, who once performed under the name Bonehart Flannigan but is using his own name these days. His latest LP bears the incredibly sincere and heartfelt title I Love You And Wish You The Best, and it’s an album full of pensive country vibes and twangy rock n’ roll tunes, like a Gold-era Ryan Adams you don’t have to feel weird about listening to. Local duo Juniper Tree are kicking this one off, and their recently released self-titled LP features heartfelt acoustic tunes aplenty, delivered with a minimalist grace that should appeal to everyone who loved that mid-00s psychedelic folk moment. This show probably won’t get very loud at any point, but it’s sure to make you feel some pretty powerful emotions, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

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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