RVA Shows You Must See This Week: May 29 – June 4

 In News

Charged Up Fest
Friday, May 31, 7 PM
Kickoff Concert, feat. Shawn Gray, A. Chardae, Cakess, CMRNPRKR, Tso Ghostly, Gees, Hellyway, M I C A H, Mizz D, P2P Rixh, LBE Hunt, Krakk, Ambitious Rich, Varr Venom, Ladylike, Slim Kartel, King Amor, Flip It Quik, Trill Phil, Crazy Karl, Yri, St. Lemoor, Hosted by Lili Chanel, Music by DJ Banga & Melodic @ The Hofheimer – $15 in advance, $20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Saturday, June 1, 12 PM
Community Block Party, feat. Zhe Aqueen, Taesean, Ace Omerta, Jerel Crockett, Charged Up Vell, Kayla Joy, J Will & Trevon10K, Rich City Collective, Shuntell Diverse, Siq & JDogg, Francoise Hamilton, ZBey Tha Poet, God Goldin & Bigal Harrison, Kaay Taurus, CJ The Profit, Googsz, One, The Producers Lounge, Obi Wan, Hosted by JD Haze, Music by DJ 4DaCauz @ 300 Block of Brook Rd. – Free!
Saturday, June 1, 7:30 PM
Producer’s Cup, feat. Large Professor, Bink!, J Clyde, Daniel Son, Pri, Dusty Reynolds, Ant The Symbol, Grime Lords (Born Unique & Pete Twist), Phell Sinista, Southern Brothers (Fan Ran & Profound79), Ohbliv, SK Da King, 2HEI, Vangunz, JP The Producer, JDOnThaBeat, Soundmindz, Markeis, Vee Skii, Childz, Butta, Poe Mack, Hosted by Awol Beatz, Music by DJ B-Rice @ RVA Boombox – $25 in advance, $35 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Sunday, June 2, 7 PM
Grand Finale, feat. Trae The Truth, Noah-O, Stalley, Jae Skeese, Nickelus F, Michael Millions, Radio B, DMP, Umbrella Collective, 3WaySlim, Big Sty & Tone Redd, Big No, Joey Gallo, Belly Gang Kushington, J. Roddy Rod, T Mane, Naeedy DaDon, FNF Chop, Bub Styles, G Sambo, O-Z, Rah Scrilla, Amir Driver, Sic Mic, Yadda Man, Hosted by Curvy Body Ivy, Music By DJ LES & DJ Sleep EZ @ The Broadberry – $45 (order tickets HERE)
You’ve got to hand it to Noah-O — he knows how to throw a party. Charged Up Fest is a celebration of an enterprise that’s existed for over two decades now and has gradually taken over a significant market share of Richmond hip hop. From his 2010 viral hit “I Got It” up to today, when he’s got a track record of over a dozen excellent albums in collaboration with many of the best producers Richmond has given us over the past 15 years, Noah’s musical skills have been unquestionable. He’s expanded the Charged Up brand to include everything from a record label to a clothing line and a streetwear store, and now he’s taking all of it to the next level with the first Charged Up Fest, taking over this entire city with 12 events in the next four days. It’s way too much to talk about, but I’m gonna try to cover it all in the next few paragraphs, so strap in and hold on tight.

We’ve got to start by talking about the music. The kickoff show on Friday night at the Hofheimer is actually on the second day of Charged Up Fest, but if it’s where you get on the bus it’ll certainly deliver for you, bringing a smorgasbord of excellent local and regional hip hop talent. You won’t find as many big names as show up on some of the other bills, but you can certainly count on the Charged Up folks to bring you a lot of great new artists you haven’t discovered yet, so you’ll definitely want to get in on this action. Then there’s the Saturday double-shot. First, a noontime community block party over on Brook Rd, where you’ll find some stalwart Richmond veterans mixing it up with some newcomers and folks from outside the city, all of whom are well worth your time. (Feel free to stop by our booth and say hey!) Second, a night-time Producer’s Cup throw-down over at RVA Boombox, where legends like Large Professor and Bink! will be mixing it up with Richmond hip hop production heavyweights like Ant the Symbol, Fan Ran, and Ohbliv.

Before I get into the Sunday night Grand Finale, I should at least mention all the other amazing things happening as part of this whole Charged Up Fest weekend: a community bike ride with Broad Street Bullies on Thursday night, Noah-O throwing out the first pitch at Friday night’s Flying Squirrels game, a late-night 2000s-themed dance party at Ember on Friday night, limited edition merch drops at the Charged Up Flagship Store on Saturday morning, an educational panel Saturday evening at the Black History Museum, even a community basketball game on Sunday morning over at John Marshall High. This isn’t just a music fest, it’s a gathering for the purpose of community uplift and life enrichment. I must say, it’s pretty damn impressive.

And that’s without us having even talked about the Sunday night Grand Finale show. This is the one everyone’s waiting for, the one that finds the best rappers this city has ever produced — including Noah-O himself, as well as Nickelus F, Radio B, and Michael Millions, not to mention twerk legend J Roddy Rod, Richmond veterans like Rah Scrilla and Joey Gallo, and a whole bunch more — mixing it up with traveling hip hop legends like Houston’s Trae The Truth, independent superstar Stalley, and Buffalo-based underground sensation Jae Skeese. This whole weekend is going to be amazing, but the Grand Finale show is going to take things completely stratospheric. There’s never been a hip hop extravaganza like Charged Up Fest in this town; so many names on the bill that Google made me tell it I wasn’t a robot because I was doing too many searches at once. I wish I could tell you more about most of the names on this bill, but there just isn’t time. Regardless, though, I hope I’ve convinced you that this entire event is not to be missed under any circumstances. But you don’t have to take my word for it — show up at the many Charged Up Fest events happening around town this weekend and find out for yourself. You’ll be so glad you did.

Wednesday, May 29, 7 PM
Leaving Time, Hollow Suns, Keep, Suntitle @ Bandito’s – $15
I frequently have occasion to be very glad the booking conglomerate known as Love Tiger Connection is active in Richmond right now, and this is just another one to add to the list. These guys are forever bringing the best post-hardcore has to offer in 2024 right to our doorsteps, and as a big-time lover of post-hardcore, that’s both figuratively and literally music to my ears. Best of all, not only do they bring bands I already love to town (see that Stand Still show they did a few months ago), they sometimes introduce me to completely new artists I’ve never heard of before. And every time, said artists turn out to rule. For a case in point, there’s this Wednesday night show at Bandito’s, which pairs shoegaze-adjacent post-hardcore rockers Leaving Time with Japanese ensemble Hollow Suns.

Leaving Time are from Florida, and it’s literally illegal for me to take a piss in that state, so I’m really glad to see them making the trip up here. They recently followed the killer 2023 collection of their first two EPs, I + II, with a track called “Wish” that simultaneously evokes the Cure album of the same name and Hum’s Downward Is Heavenward with its heavy, atmospheric grooves. This band is headed toward good things — join them at Bandito’s to get on the Leaving Time bandwagon while the getting’s good. As for Hollow Suns, this Japanese trio are chunkier and less atmospheric on their new EP, Free Fall, which sounds a bit like that late-90s post-Quicksand band Handsome — who were criminally underrated at the time. Let’s not make that same mistake with Hollow Suns; go to this show and get an up-close listen to just how great they are. Talented local shoegazers Keep and emotional post-hardcore rockers Suntitle provide local support for this one, and of course there’s always the added bonus of being able to order Bandito’s food at any point during the night. Do it early so you’ve safely digested your food by the time you’re rocking out to the headliners. You’ll be glad you did — I promise.

Thursday, May 30, 7 PM
Illusion Of Fate, Frontal Assault, The Plan, Appalling @ Cobra Cabana – $10-15
It’s great that Cobra Cabana is a pretty eclectic venue, but I also think it’s pretty great that you can count on them to do a couple of really bitchin’ metal gigs every couple weeks or so. Richmond is a metal town and I’m a metal girl so I think this is a really apropos way to run a music venue. And it’s even better when it brings us up-and-coming metal talents of the sort this show is bringing us. Illusion of Fate is a pretty new band from Wisconsin who’ve just dropped their second album, Portals To Kur, in the last month. This slab of pure riffage is heavy enough to dent your steel-toed boots, but also mixes in some real melody as well as speedy riffage and blast beats that land closer to black metal than death metal, but still feature some solidly deathlike monster riffs.

Frontal Assault, who hail from the fellow northern-midwestern state of Iowa, are along on this tour as well. They’ve got a harsher sound that feels like what you’d get if you mixed Morbid Tales-era Celtic Frost with Cradle Of Filth at their absolute heaviest. It also has some seriously goofy lyrics along the lines of what you’d expect from local heroes Municipal Waste, so you can imagine that there’ll be a thrashing good time to be had by all when these folks are onstage. Fredericksburg-based death metal rageoholics The Plan and Richmond blackened grind-metal heroes Appalling get things started off with this one, and it’ll stay every bit as intense from the first note to the final feedback howl. Get stoked — this will be a banger.

Friday, May 31, 8 PM
Arms Like Roses, Fragile Like Life After, Circle the Drain, Midlife Pilot @ Bandito’s – $10
I like all the bands I write about in this column, but every few weeks or so I come across a band that goes beyond merely charming me and becomes my literal new favorite band. This time around, the band that won my heart is Arms Like Roses, a quintet from Connecticut whose approach to the emo sound they excel at so tremendously makes me think of a whole bunch of bands I loved back in the late 90s when emo was at its apex: Mineral, Jejune, Beta Minus Mechanic, etc. I know, I know, reader: you’re too young to remember all of those bands. That’s OK; what’s important is that you have a heart beating in your chest that still has the capacity to be moved by passionate music. Arms Like Roses play music that’s very passionate and intense, veering from gorgeous heart-rending melodies into heavy crescendos during which vocalist Estelle Angel can at least occasionally dissolve into full-on screams.

So yeah… basically, it’s musical catnip for my ears. Especially since there are songs on their 2022 LP, Blooming, that talk about queer attraction and at least one song on their recently released split with Sinking that soars into full-on screamo territory in a manner that makes me think of La Dispute’s early records. On top of all that, they’re an energetic, intense live act. Really, what more could you want? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that you’ll also get a set from Pennsylvania’s Fragile Like Life After, who are in a similar post-hardcore/emo vein as Arms Like Roses, but with a lot more screaming in the vocals, plus a subtle sense of humor that comes through in the title of the first song on their most recent EP, “I Don’t Care What Your Psychic Says!” Locals Circle the Drain and Midlife Pilot will provide local support. The former is a goofy alt-rock combo with pretty songs about mice and breathing helium, while the latter has a new full-length called Idle Themes that’s full of acoustic-tinged emotional pop-punk that should hit home for fans of Knuckle Puck and Real Friends. This whole evening is gonna be great, especially when my new favorite band Arms Like Roses hits the stage. Do us all a favor and come out for this one.

Saturday, June 1, 9 PM
The Mitras, IONNA, Spirit Gun @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
The era of the album really is over, isn’t it? I don’t really want to accept it, since I’m an old lady who grew up in a time when albums were pretty much all that mattered. However, when I look at what the young millennials and zoomers in the music scene are up to these days, I see artists releasing 20 or 30 singles in a row and never feeling compelled to collect them into groups of more than two or three at a time. To me it seems crazy, but I guess I’ve gotta wake up to the fact that the music world has moved on, right? Even the parts of the music world that seem like they’d fit right in with the 90s alt-rock I loved as a teenager. By which I am, of course, referring to The Mitras, who are one of two Richmond-based artists on this bill that will be celebrating the release of a brand new single at this Camel Saturday showcase.

The Mitras definitely remind me of a lot of bands I liked back in 1994 or so. Nirvana, The Toadies, Weezer, The Lemonheads… all of that DNA is in here, and these young Richmond guitar-slingers deliver their tunes with bravado and confidence that makes it hit every bit as hard as all their influences did once upon a time. I haven’t heard the new song they’ll be celebrating at this show, since it won’t be out until two days after this column publishes, but based on the last couple of singles these boys brought into the world, I fully expect to love it. As for IONNA, the other artist on this bill celebrating the release of a new single, her sound is quite a bit different from what the Mitras are bringing into the world. That said, it’s definitely got some spiritual commonality, as it evokes other 90s alternative insurgents — the ones who were messing with atmospheric electronic textures and beautifully ethereal vocals. The Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Mazzy Star… you know the type. IONNA does a great job of bringing those influences into a forward-looking 21st century milieu, and you’ll definitely enjoy seeing her bring those sounds to life from the Camel’s stage. (Editor’s Note: Tune in later today for more on IONNA!) Openers Spirit Gun are traveling the farthest for this show, as they hail from Norfolk, and they’re very much on the Mitras side of the equation, though if anything they have a bit more of a goofball punk thing going on. Fans of Rocket From The Crypt and New Bomb Turks are sure to dig these guys. This whole show is worthy of being appreciated, though, so show up and dig the latest singles from this city’s hot young talent.

Sunday, June 2, 7 PM
Strawberry Moon, Shagwuf, Girlspit @ The Camel – $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Heck yeah, it’s another one of those awesome Camel Staff Picks residencies, in which a sweet local band gets selected to headline every Sunday night for a month. There aren’t many better bands in this town for the staff of The Camel to pick for the latest edition of their Staff Picks series than Strawberry Moon, so it’s good to see them going straight for the cream of the crop. This group has been at work in various incarnations over the past seven or so years, but if you ask me, their post-pandemic lineup has been the best yet. Solidifying a few years ago into a rockin’ punky power-pop combo, they’ve brought us two great records in the past two years: the killer Habitual Creatures LP in 2022, and the excellent four-song My Offering EP, which just snuck under the wire as 2023 was coming to an end. Will there be more new music from Strawberry Moon in 2024? Well, we can hope so, but even if not, they’ve brought us plenty to enjoy in the very recent past, and it can’t hurt to continue soaking in the majesty of their latest tunes for a little bit longer.

This is especially true because we’ll get to enjoy them live on stage at The Camel on Sunday night — an excellent way to wrap up the weekend, in my humble opinion. What’s more, you get the double-scoop bonus of two other amazing groups on this bill: Shagwuf and Girlspit. Charlottesville power-pop trio Shagwuf haven’t brought us any new material since their Blondie-evoking 2020 masterpiece, Dog Days Of Disco, but they continue to put on a tremendous show as always. Plus, if they’re playing songs we’ve known for years, that’s just more opportunity to sing along! So come rock out with these sweet C-ville freaks. And make sure you show up on time, because you’ll get a set from Richmond’s own keyboard-toting freak trio: Girlspit. These folks always make a huge impression when they hit the stage, and they’ll have everyone dancing so hard that sweat’ll be dripping from the ceiling before their set is done. Or… wait, is that actually spit? Don’t be afraid — getting wet on the dance floor is good for you. Just make sure you save some energy for Strawberry Moon, because otherwise there’s a real risk that you’ll explode due to rock n’ roll overload. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing….

Monday, June 3, 7 PM
Unabomb, Blame Game, Toxitolerant @ Cobra Cabana – $10
Who knew that the noisiest, most chaotic show of this week would be happening on a Monday night? I certainly didn’t see it coming, but once it’s here, there’s no use fighting it. Just dive into the pit and let it carry you away. Here I am referring, of course, to the raging crust-core fury of Michigan quartet Unabomb, whose most recent EP, Cabin Fever, is full of politically motivated fury against warmongers, cops, and all those who attempt to crush the spirits of the young and free. I wasn’t sure anyone was still making great fast hardcore punk noise like this anymore, so this band has definitely lifted my spirits, and I’m more than ready to start a circle pit to their raging tunes when they hit the stage at Cobra Cabana Monday night.

The two Richmond bands who join Unabomb on this bill are on much the same wavelength, thankfully. Blame Game bash out raw, speedy, skull-cracking hardcore in sub-60-second blasts on their debut EP, Agony, and it’s an absolute joy. This crew will fit in well with Unabomb, for sure. As for Toxitolerant, they lower the speed a bit in exchange for upping the chaos and generating the kind of good old-fashioned punk noise that I tend to associate with groups like Hoax, Crazy Spirit, or Aerosols. The bottom line here is that all three of these bands rip, and you’ll definitely need to get over to Cobra Cabana this Monday night and check em out. Because Stone Cold said so.

Tuesday, June 4, 7 PM
Box Factory, Shagg Carpet, Tentative Decisions @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Let’s wrap this weekend up with another single release show at The Camel, shall we? This time around, the celebration is courtesy of Box Factory, a new band in town with a psychedelic indie vibe that makes me think of Tame Impala at some times, Ultra Vivid Scene at others. They’ve only got one single out thus far, so I suppose this show will mark the doubling of their released catalog — how often can a band say that? Either way, I’m expecting fun times and rad sounds from these young axe-slingers, who really seem to be enjoying what they’re doing. (Editor’s Note: Tune in later this week for more on Box Factory!)

Two other Richmond bands are opening this one up, and both of them have a tendency to straddle somewhere between the artier ends of indie circa 2010 and the outright weirdness of late 70s first-wave postpunk. Shagg Carpet make me feel like I’m listening to the Fall jamming with the Swell Maps and Vampire Weekend when I put on their recent LP, Bugged. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a ringing endorsement. Tentative Decisions, who named themselves after a Talking Heads song, land closer to some bizarre cross between Young Marble Giants, the Minutemen, and Parquet Courts. 2023 EP Sensitive Conditions uses subtle evolution amid musical repetition to create a deceptively complex work that rewards multiple listens. I’m sure it’s a lot more visceral in the live environment, where it all just washes over you at top volume and you just dance around like a Peanuts character. Sounds like a great way to spend a Tuesday evening, if you ask me.

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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