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

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Friday, November 24, 8 PM
Human Thurma, Hex Machine, Delicate Whip @ Bandito’s – $10?
Thanksgiving week is a nostalgic time, and while even at my advanced age I try my best not to get too hung up on the past, I am often a sucker for the return of unsung voices from my distant past. I bring all that up in order to introduce you to Human Thurma, a fixture on the Richmond noise-rock scene in the late 90s who never really got their due at the time. Bandleader Trevor Thomas later achieved some measure of underground renown as the frontman for Hex Machine, but everything Thomas has done with Hex Machine over the past two decades has its roots in the work of Human Thurma. However, at the time they were around, Human Thurma only managed to release two EPs, both of which have long been out of print.

Thankfully, that’s no longer the case, as Human Thurma is now preparing to release Savage, a 14-song compilation of sessions recorded in Richmond and San Francisco between 1996 and 1998. Combining all of the tracks from their two EPs as well as quite a few more that went unreleased for over 25 years, Savage will be the definitive statement on the complex math-metal sound and quirky, deranged lyrical subjects that were Human Thurma’s stock in trade. And remarkably enough, everyone in Richmond, from the lucky few who were around to catch this band the first time they laid waste to the city to the many who have yet to learn exactly what they missed, gets a chance to experience Human Thurma live and in the flesh once more, as Thomas switches back to his original instrument, bass, and is joined by guitarist Sean Harris (Butterglove, Ladyfinger) and drummer Erik Josephson (Crackhead, Hewolf) to pummel all comers once again with the brutal, angular glory that is Human Thurma.

Forget all the overhyped Black Friday deals, the best place for you to be on the day after Thanksgiving this year is at Bandito’s, where you can see Human Thurma and be reminded of a time when you could rent a house within the Richmond city limits for under $1000 a month. As a bonus, you’ll also be able to catch the latest incarnation of Thomas’s aforementioned current project, Hex Machine, which, according to an excellent interview with Thomas on Aversionline (go read that, seriously), now includes Erik Josephson on drums. The aforementioned interview let slip that Hex Machine has had an entire album, apparently entitled Violent Chrysanthemum, in the can for years now, so it’d be logical to expect a fair number of unreleased songs to be played during their set. And hey, perhaps if we all go wild enough for said unreleased songs, Trevor will finally put that album out! We can hope. This show will start with a set from local instrumental electro-math act Delicate Whip, about whom I know very little. They’re definitely worth enjoying over a plate of nachos, though — as is this entire show.

Wednesday, November 22, 7 PM
Michael Jackson vs. Prince, feat. JayWhit & On The Spot Band, Tykera Monae @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 (order tickets HERE)
You might think of Halloween as the best time of the year to see talented musicians turn their energies toward tributes to past musical legends, but I gotta tell ya, Thanksgiving weekend is also a great time for that sort of thing. Maybe it’s the nostalgic mood of the holiday season (as mentioned above), maybe it’s the fact that life can be stressful around this time of year and everyone (musician and music fan alike) just wants a chance to chill and have fun without having to work too hard, maybe it’s something else entirely! I don’t really know. But when, on the night before Thanksgiving, Richmond’s live music scene boasts not one or two but THREE different musical tribute shows, I don’t think the reality of the situation can be denied.

For my money, the most essential of the tribute shows happening around town on this night is the one taking place at Richmond Music Hall, where local R&B vocalist extraordinaire JayQuan D. Whitley, otherwise known as JayWhit, will join up with local soul-jazz collective On The Spot Band and vocalist Tykera Monae to bring the city a collection of Michael Jackson and Prince tunes that are sure to be both skillfully and passionately performed. If you haven’t caught on to the sheer talent and musical fire On The Spot Band bring to all their performances, it’s high time you get familiar. And of course, both JayWhit and Tykera Monae have incredible vocal chops that are sure to be highlights of the evening. The legendary artists who made these songs famous are no longer with us, but you can hear their music come gloriously alive once more at Richmond Music Hall tonight, with the aid of some truly talented local folks. If we’re lucky, the emotional fortification we’ll all receive from this one will be enough to get us through the inevitably fraught Thanksgiving dinner conversations we’ll all be having tomorrow night.

Friday, November 24, 9 PM
Punks For Presents Black Friday, feat. Sno Temple Pilots, Sweater, Snoasis @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
Well folks, one good tribute show deserves another, and with Punks For Presents involved in this one, we certainly can take comfort in knowing our money is going to a good cause. What’s more, this show actually continues this week’s theme in multiple ways — not only does it add even more evidence to my claim that Thanksgiving is a very fertile time for tribute shows, it also continues with the 90s nostalgia theme by bringing us an evening full of talented local musicians reinterpreting the music of several different greats from that decade. It starts with Sno Temple Pilots, and before I hear any grousing about how the band this combo pays tribute to, Stone Temple Pilots, were just warmed-over Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam ripoffs, I’m going to challenge any of you who might be inclined to make a crack like that to actually listen to one of their albums all the way through. Even the debut that established that semi-dubious comparison, Core, has its fair share of killer tracks, and by the time we get to their third album, Tiny Music From The Vatican Gift Shop, it’s undeniable that Stone Temple Pilots were one of the best hugely famous alt-rock bands of the 90s.

In light of all that, you can’t really deny that it’ll be amazing to hear excellent musicians from the Richmond indie scene get together and bring us all a set of Stone Temple Pilots classics. It’ll be even more amazing to see talented local tribute acts The Sweater Band and Are Ya Madferit? get into the giving spirit of Punks For Presents and give us Christmas-themed twists on their usual fare. The Sweater Band have already proven over the last several years that they do an outstanding job of recreating the many classic tracks from Pinkerton and the blue album, and while Are Ya Madferit? hasn’t been doing the Oasis thing around town for quite as long, they also have established themselves as experts at invoking both the pop songcraft and the gigantic egos of the Gallagher brothers at their best. Considering that these three bands feature members of local heavyweights like New Lions, Gnawing, Rough Age, Positive No, and more, we can all rest assured we’re in good hands with this one. So come out and indulge in your 90s nostalgia. It’s OK — it’s for a good cause.

Saturday, November 25, 8 PM
Modern Groove Syndicate, Ben White & His Band @ The Camel – $15 in advance, $18 day of show (order tickets HERE)
This show might appear at first glance to break the theme we’re working with this week. After all, it contains no tribute acts, and features zero nostalgia for the 1990s. However, it does involve the reunion of a Richmond band that has been mostly out of action for over a decade now, and that reunion has been inspired by the reissue of a 15-year-old recording, so I’m saying it counts. And now that that’s been established, let me tell you what we’re talking about here. Back in the mid-00s, Modern Groove Syndicate was a jazz-funk act with a strong following around the Richmond scene. Bringing together the talents of several local legends — specifically: saxophonist JC Kuhl (Agents Of Good Roots), bassist Todd Herrington (Mekong Xpress, DJ Williams Projekt), drummer Joel Denunzio (The Big Payback), and keyboardist Daniel Clarke (The War On Drugs) — this project released three albums between 2001 and 2007 before going dormant as the members split up to pursue a variety of other projects.

Now, though, they are back together, and it is in celebration of an amazing reissue. In celebration of the 2023 edition of Record Store Day’s annual Black Friday sale, Ghost Track Records is releasing a remixed and remastered version of Modern Groove Syndicate’s final album, 2007’s Ms. Popular. This will be the first time this album has ever appeared on vinyl, and it will sound better than ever — and it sounded pretty dang good the first time around! Considering how many amazing things the members of Modern Groove Syndicate have gotten up to since they originally shelved the project, it’s a perfect time to revisit the amazing stuff they were doing a decade and a half ago, and make new memories of this band’s truly hot sound when they take the stage on Saturday night at The Camel. The opening set will be just as essential, as it will find talented local keyboard whiz Ben White leading a band featuring the heavyweight rhythm section of drummer Kelli Strawbridge (Prabir Trio, The Big Payback, etc) and Modern Groove Syndicate’s very own Todd Herrington on bass. These folks have a record coming out soon, and you can get an advance listen if you show up on time to this show. Then stick around to enjoy Modern Groove Syndicate in all their mid-00s glory. And bring some extra cash, because you’re gonna want to grab one of those Ms. Popular LPs before they’re all gone.

Sunday, November 26, 6 PM
Hail The Sun, Glasslands, Kaonashi, Sweet Pill @ The Canal Club – $22 in advance, $25 day of show (order tickets HERE)
OK, I know what you’re thinking: “Hail The Sun again? Didn’t you send us to see this band the last time they came through town?” It’s true — I did. And that was only about nine months ago. But listen — even if you took my advice back then, you’re going to want to go see Hail The Sun again. Because this band’s had a very eventful 2023. For one thing, they’ve released a new album, Divine Inner Tension, which came out this past summer. For another, they’ve been touring in support of that album for the past three months now, so you can expect that by the time they get to Richmond on Sunday night, they’ll be incredibly well practiced and ready to deliver an absolutely top quality set.

And that’ll be awesome, because Hail The Sun is an outstanding band. Mingling metalcore chops with epic prog songwriting style and classic emo melodies, this band does a sound that I have always loved, and hear way too infrequently these days. Last time I wrote about them, I compared them to Chiodos and Fall Of Troy, and those comparisons still hold, but I would also say Thrice and Broadway are appropriate touchstones. What’s more, just as 2021’s New Age Filth was the best album they’d released thus far, Divine Inner Tension kicks things up yet another notch. This band is bound to hit some sort of decline at some point, but thus far it has not happened yet. So go see them while they’re at their peak — you’ll be glad you did. They’re joined on this date by heavy electro-metalcore crew Glasslands, tech-mosh maniacs Kaonashi, and chunky yet melodic post-hardcore group Sweet Pill, all of whom connect with different sides of Hail The Sun’s multi-faceted sound. If you like any of these groups, you will almost certainly like them all. God knows I do. A whole lot. Go to this show and find out why.

Monday, November 27, 6:30 PM
Beach Fossils, Turnover, MSPAINT @ The National – $30 (order tickets HERE)
Honestly, y’all, I had kind of forgotten about Beach Fossils. Until earlier this year, when they released their fourth album, Bunny, they’d been completely off my radar. It’s not surprising, really — their last album, Somersault, came out back in 2017, and god knows a lot’s happened since then. I kinda just assumed they’d broken up. Thankfully, that turns out not to be true. Even better, Bunny turns out to be perhaps their best collection of tunes yet, a delightful collection of laid-back indie-pop tunes that avoids all the slacker-dude cliches of the Mac DeMarco crowd in favor of evoking legendary bands of past eras, like 90s UK shoegazers Revolver or 80s New Zealand indie-pop mavens The Chills. As a person who struggles with pretty heavy amounts of stress at the best of times, I will admit that listening to Bunny has been very therapeutic for me lately — after only a few minutes of its laid-back semi-acoustic melodies, I can feel the knot in the center of my chest begin to loosen.

That being said, imagine how great it will feel to see these guys live at The National on Monday night. I’m not sure I’ll be off work in time to get there, but if you have the opportunity, you really should go bask in the warmth of this band’s gorgeous tunes. I assure you I’ll be there in spirit if nothing else. The opening bands are a big part of that too — Virginia’s own Turnover have been practicing their own take on post-hardcore over the past decade-plus now, and getting more and more striking and unusual in their sound the entire time. Their latest LP, 2022’s Myself In The Way, brings in everything from twangy country vibes to moody electro hums, all in Turnover’s distinct, umistakable manner. These guys are always worth catching, and their addition to this bill is a huge bonus. The same can be said of MSPAINT, a noisy post-hardcore act who hail from Hattiesburg, MS, of all places, and created what is, in my opinion, one of the best debut albums of the year in Post-American. If you haven’t checked these guys out yet, by all means show up on time. Not a minute of this show is missable.

Tuesday, November 28, 6:30 PM
A Shockoe Sessions Live Christmas, feat. Rodney Stith, Ant The Symbol, Weldon Hill, Holy River, Flight Club, Saint Samuel, Los Alcranes, Free Union, Knifing Around, Rein, Rikki Rakki, Susan Greenbaum @ The Hippodrome – $20-$35 (order tickets HERE)
Over the past couple of years, Shockoe Sessions Live have become a bit of a Tuesday night go-to for me. I’m sure y’all have noticed — when there’s nothing else happening on one of the less active nights of the week, I can always count on Shockoe Sessions to have somebody cool coming to In Your Ear who I can send all of you to see. This time around, though, it’s much more than just that, as the Giving Tuesday edition of Shockoe Sessions Live finds the In Your Ear crew taking over the Hippodrome to bring Richmond a showcase of many awesome local artists, including several currently signed to Shockoe Records.

I’m not really sure exactly what form the show will take — considering it’s only scheduled to last three hours, and yet features performances from a dozen different artists, I have to figure everyone will be playing highly abbreviated sets, perhaps only one or two songs apiece. That said, one or two songs from many of these artists will be even better than a full set from a lesser artist — of which there are quite a few in this world. Highlights will include performances from experimental folk wanderers Holy River, hip hop production mastermind Ant The Symbol, post-emo dance-rockers Flight Club, and synth-punk freaks Knifing Around, among many others. Personally, I’m most intrigued by Los Alcranes, a new project uniting singer-songwriter Paulo Franco with the rhythm section from Richmond rockabilly stalwarts Chrome Daddy Disco and Vexine lead guitarist Paul Pearce. What type of greatness will this union produce? I for one can’t wait to find out. There are quite a few other exciting names on this bill, but I’m running out of space, so for now I will simply state that this is a great way to spend your Giving Tuesday evening and get the holiday season started right and proper. Do it.

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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