RVA Shows You Must See This Week: September 13 – September 19
Saturday, September 16, 6 PM
Vinyl Conflict 15 Year Anniversary, feat. Hank Wood and The Hammerheads, Home Front, Chain Cult, Bracewar, End It, The Mall, Loud Night @ The Broadberry – $30 in advance, $40 day of show (order tickets HERE)
It’s time for all of us to celebrate the birthday of a Richmond musical institution. Vinyl Conflict, the independent record store focusing on new and used punk and hardcore records, has been a mecca for lovers of loud, fast music from all over the state, the country, and the world ever since it opened its doors back in 2008. Current owner Bobby Egger took over the already booming business in 2012, and things only went up from there, with inventory far surpassing the space available in the store’s original Oregon Hill location. The pandemic didn’t slow them down any either, with the store’s appointment-only operation remaining busy throughout that time. The culmination of all this was Vinyl Conflict’s move last summer into a bigger location on East Grace St. As anyone who’s been into the store since the big move knows, things are better than ever at Vinyl Conflict.
With all of this going on, it’s a great time for a celebration. And it’s also Vinyl Conflict’s 15th anniversary, which is a great excuse to throw a giant punk rock shindig at The Broadberry. So that’s exactly what Vinyl Conflict are doing, setting up this seven-band extravaganza that’s sure to delight all of Vinyl Conflict’s many devoted customers. At the top of the bill is wild n’ crazy New York punk rock ensemble Hank Wood And The Hammerheads, a group known for their hectic rock n’ roll tunes and out-of-control live performances. Anytime Hank Wood And The Hammerheads play a show, it’s an occasion, and as headliners for this show, they’ll be the perfect band to encapsulate everything Vinyl Conflict is about.
There are several other bands on the bill that are every bit as noteworthy, including Baltimore-based heavy hardcore rising stars End It, who incorporate the same reverence for hip hop into their hardcore sound that Vinyl Conflict shows in its decision to expand the store’s hip hop section and release an excellent album by local hero Nickelus F in recent years. There’s also veteran Richmond hardcore ragers Bracewar, who don’t play that many shows anymore and have only released one EP in the past dozen years, but retain a fervent fanbase, especially in their hometown. Canadian punk/New Wave/goth/indie hybrid Home Front will bring the sound of their excellent new LP, Games Of Power, into the mix, and Greek postpunk band Chain Cult will add an additional flavor into the mix, one that’s sure to please fans of early Iceage. St. Louis synth-punkers The Mall and Richmond’s own thrashcore powerhouse, Loud Night, will round out the bill. This is one for the ages — don’t blow it.
Wednesday, September 13, 7 PM
King Parrot, The Saturn Death Cult, Restrictor Plate @ The Camel – $20 (order tickets HERE)
It’s certainly possible to make highly polished, impeccably produced grindcore. However, where this hyperspeed hybrid of thrash metal and heavy hardcore is concerned, I’m like Ol’ Dirty Bastard: I like it raw. That’s why I really appreciate Australian grinders King Parrot, who’ve been making filthy, grotty slabs of grindcore mayhem for over a decade now. With records bearing names like Bite Your Head Off and The Stench Of Hardcore Pub Trash, you know what you’re getting with this band, and if you ask me, it’s nothing but awesome. Since pandemic EP Holed Up In The Lair, King Parrot haven’t graced us with any new material, but even if their set at The Camel tonight is nothing but past hits, it’ll still be amazing — after all, as far as I know, King Parrot have never played in Richmond before. This is the perfect opportunity to show them how awesome our scene and our city is. Show up and rock out — it’s the right thing to do.
And arrive on time, because you really don’t want to miss the opening sets. The Saturn Death Cult have been a prime mover on the Richmond scene in the post-pandemic era, and while their heavy, riff-tastic sound is only somewhat similar to that of King Parrot — Saturn Death Cult are way more focused on crushing your head with brutal midtempo mosh riffs — the spiritual energy of the two bands is totally aligned. They’re sure to complement each other perfectly. The evening will start with a set by local newcomers Restrictor Plate, who’ve named themselves after the device NASCAR uses to keep race cars from going as fast as they might otherwise be able to go. In that spirit, Restrictor Plate are also very focused on getting everyone to bang their head and mosh it up. Let all restrictions go out the window and dive into the pit for this one. You’ll be glad you did.
Thursday, September 14, 7 PM
Rotten Stitches, Call The Cops, Yes Ma’am, US Bastards, Alex Lee Ratner @ Bandito’s – $15
It’s nice to hear innovative sounds that have never been done before, and it’s cool to see a band that brings a totally new approach to a time honored genre. But that being said, there’s something truly glorious about bands that play loud, fast, old-school hardcore punk, of the sort that was popular in the early to mid 80s, especially in the UK and Europe. Atlanta band Rotten Stitches capture that exact feeling, and not just by spiking up their hair and wearing cut-up black t-shirts and patched denim vests. They also play raging old-school hardcore that’s sure to please anyone who loves prime-era GBH, early Discharge, or legendary UK band Broken Bones. The fact that the songs on their debut album, 2020’s Punching Through Mirrors, have a distinct metallic edge and an emphasis on speed only makes this band’s music hit even harder.
This makes Rotten Stitches a great band to pair with Italian old-school hardcore rippers Call the Cops, whose 2016 LP Bastards establishes them as torchbearers of a sound that’s not heard often enough in our modern age. Evoking legendary first-wave Italian hardcore band Raw Power and seminal UK hardcore band Doom, these guys play uptempo riffs with a fury that’s sure to get the mosh pit moving. I was fully prepared for our third out-of-town band, New Orleanians Yes Ma’am, to have a very similar sound — after all, they share their name with a song from the first DRI album. But no, this ensemble of punks in cut-up black t-shirts doesn’t even play electric music at all. Instead, they hearken back to old-time Appalachian folk and Delta blues sounds, which they recreate with punk mindset but traditional instrumentation like banjos, mandolins, and fiddles. They’ll be an interesting interlude on this bill, coming directly between the local openers and the raging duo of touring punk groups who’ll close this whole thing out. Where said local openers are concerned, you can expect US Bastards to stick with the old-school hardcore motif of our two headliners, though with slightly more of a classic metal influence bleeding into the proceedings. As for Alex Lee Ratner, this local singer-songwriter plays solo acoustic material with a distinct horror-punk feel, as demonstrated on his new album, I’m Tired Of Talking To The Dead. He’ll get things started on an intriguing note that should go great with your plate of happy hour tacos. But don’t eat too many — you’ve got a circle pit to start later.
Friday, September 15, 7 PM
Richmond Community Bail Fund Benefit, feat. Night Witch, VV, Gusher, Ultra Bleach, Deau Eyes @ Bandito’s – $10-$20
I heard about this show multiple times, and every time, it was billed as something different. At first, it was the tour kickoff show for local postpunk groups VV and Gusher. Then I heard of it as the penultimate show of local indie singer-songwriter Deau Eyes’ 12-date Tour De Richmond, in which she’s been playing all sorts of venues all over town. And then I saw it listed as a benefit for Richmond Community Bail Fund, featuring intense Florida-based feminist hardcore band Night Witch, who were coming through town on their farewell tour. I kept thinking “Which is it?” But according to my latest research, this Friday night gig at Bandito’s is actually all three of those things at once! And regardless of which aspect of its multi-faceted lineup you’re most stoked about, you’ll almost certainly dig the others as well.
Let’s talk first about Night Witch, who’ve been around for nearly a decade and played an outstanding set at Rag & Bones Bike Co-op several years ago. They’ve decided to disband, since some members now live multiple states away from others, but they still make incredible music when they do get together, as their brand new LP, Host Body, makes clear. Catching this band, who are breaking up at the peak of their powers, at one of their last shows ever is probably the most crucial reason to attend this show. But seeing Deau Eyes perform a set focused on her landmark debut LP, Let It Leave, will be just as awesome, and is sure to be thrilling for those of you currently following her tour around the metropolitan area. And if you’re a fan of synth-driven postpunk with plenty of energy and strong emotion, you’ll definitely want to catch local postpunk ensembles VV and Gusher for their last local set before they head out on tour, bringing their glorious sound to cities all around the South and Midwest. On top of all that, the show will benefit Richmond Community Bail Fund, a particularly important cause in the current sociopolitical climate. So there you go: you’ve got plenty of reason to attend this show even without me mentioning how good Bandito’s nachos are. Make it happen, y’all.
Saturday, September 16, 7 PM
Fires In The Distance, Bone Storm, Vacant Eyes, Site Of Suffering @ Another Round Bar And Grill – $10
Richmond has traditionally had lots of love for metal. However, when I say that, I’m really only talking about certain types of metal: doom, thrash, grind, deathcore — all the stuff that appeals to the punks and hardcore kids as well as the metalheads. But other types of metal, with less obvious connections to punk, hardcore, and thrash, have sometimes struggled to find a local audience. That’s been changing in the post-pandemic era, though, and we have Another Round Bar And Grill, and more specifically Shred Booking and the promoters known as Indoor Suns, to thank for that. If it weren’t for the folks behind those endeavors, there’s no way we’d get Fires In The Distance coming through Richmond on a Saturday night. And we’d really be missing out.
Fires In The Distance, who hail from Connecticut, play melodic death metal of the sort that was initially popularized by several groundbreaking Scandinavian bands; think In Flames, or Children Of Bodom. However, this American group have added their own spin on that sound, as demonstrated on their new album, Air Not Meant For Us. It finds Fires In The Distance simultaneously hitting us with some of the heaviest metal epics to come along in a while, and expanding the genre in a variety of melodic and emotional directions you don’t usually expect to encounter on a metal record. Their songs, which generally last anywhere from six to 12 minutes, move through many different movements, and evoke a variety of moods, all of which are sure to connect with discriminating fans of progressive, symphonically influenced death metal. Seeing them live here in Richmond will be a rare treat, albeit one that’s becoming steadily less rare thanks to the continued efforts of those at Another Round, Shred, and Indoor Suns. Keep up the good work, y’all. And everyone else: go to this show. You’ll be glad you did.
Sunday, September 17, 7 PM
Megatronix, Circuit Preacher @ Fallout – $8 in advance, $13 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Isn’t it always better to end your weekend on a high note? I sure think so! And I promise you will wrap up your Sunday night on the highest note possible if you head over to Fallout to catch the powerful electronic rock duo known as Megatronix. These guys have a totally triumphant sound that simultaneously inspires nostalgia for all of those over the top action movie soundtracks of the 80s and brings a forward-thinking, 21st century sensibility to things that keeps their music from ever feeling too self-consciously retro. On 2021 EP Limitbreaker, Megatronix make references to classic action-fantasy franchises like The Highlander while cranking out tunes that bring to mind bands like the Scorpions or Europe (the guys who did “The Final Countdown” — yeah, you know who I mean).
As cool as Megatronix sound on record, though, things will hit a higher gear once they take the stage at Fallout. Frontman Power Rob has a highly charismatic stage presence that’s perfectly augmented by guitarist/synth mastermind Dark Rob’s intense headbanging, and further underscored by the band’s amazing light show. You won’t be able to take your eyes off these two throughout their set, and you’ll undoubtedly walk out of the club humming one or more of their supremely catchy tunes. The evening will also feature a performance by Circuit Preacher, a project that takes us into the dystopian future of the year 2222, where the enigmatic Last Church Of the Final Days hold sway. Musically speaking, Circuit Preacher have a darker sound, of the sort you might expect from a gothic-industrial dance night at Fallout. However, their moody synth melodies act as a darker counterpart to Megatronix’s triumphant sound, making the evening a perfect mix of contrasting yet spiritually aligned sounds. Align your spirit with these groups at Fallout this Sunday night, and you’re sure to have a better Monday morning than you would otherwise.
Monday, September 18, 7 PM
Cardiel, Snack Truck, The Saturn Death Cult @ Gallery 5 – $15 (order tickets HERE)
Monday nights on the Richmond live music scene are often relatively mellow affairs, but this three-band bill at Gallery 5 is definitely bucking that trend by bringing us a set from Cardiel, the veteran Mexican skate punk band who originally came together to make music for skate videos. That’s a pretty excellent raison d’etre (or, I should say, razon de ser) if you ask me. What’s even cooler about Cardiel, though, is that they’ve taken their sound in a variety of directions far beyond traditional skate punk, exploring psychedelic atmospheres and crushing doom riffage on 2022’s El Armagedon Afterparty, while brand new single “Skaterock Mexico” is a straight-up brutal mosh groove of the sort that’s sure to get some serious pit action going at Gallery 5 Monday night.
Cardiel will pair up with a couple of excellent Richmond groups when they come to town. The first of those, Snack Truck, has undergone quite a few evolutionary steps over the years themselves, moving from chaotic noise-rock riffs into experimental mathcore and eventually reconstituting themselves as a dual-drummer psychedelic ensemble who made an album full of ten-minute space epics. Of course, that was nearly 10 years ago, and they’ve undergone some changes and survived some tragedy since then, so it’s hard to say exactly what form Snack Truck will take circa 2023. One thing’s for sure, though — it’ll be creative, unexpected, and challenging. The Saturn Death Cult will open this one up with another helping of their trademark heavyosity. It’s gonna rule. Indeed, this whole show is going to rule. Be there.
Tuesday, September 19, 7 PM
The Mars Volta, Teri Gender Bender @ The National – $58 (order tickets HERE)
I loved the Mars Volta back when they started out. Their first LP, 2003’s De-Loused In The Comatorium, was a masterpiece of psychedelic post-hardcore. However, their subsequent albums felt spottier to me, characterized by a drift into jamband-ish overindulgence, even as an increased emphasis on the Latin elements of the band’s music send them into territory most indie bands never get anywhere near. When the post-hardcore roots and Latin melodies and percussion won out, they were always capable of great things, but their albums never really held together as coherent works. That changed in a big way with last year’s self-titled album, the band’s first in a decade, which marked their return to activity after a long hiatus. Mellower and more melodic than a lot of their previous work, it’s also the most focused collection they’ve ever released, emphasizing songs and making Bixler-Zavala’s formidable voice and bilingual lyrics the star of the show.
It was enough to get me interested in The Mars Volta all over again, and if you’d also lost interest by the end of their initial stint, this tour is the perfect opportunity to check back in. And for fans who’ve been with them every step of the way and think I’m just being a hater (which is a fair complaint), experiencing this band’s latest new direction in a live environment is sure to be a real thrill. Regardless of which side of the line you stand on, you’re gonna want to get your tickets to this one ASAP. Teri Gender Bender, best known as the founder of Mexican-American garage rockers Le Butcherettes, is currently touring behind her debut solo album, Outsiders, on which she expands the indie-punk of her band into more melodic, introspective directions. She’ll open this show with a set that’s sure to help all of us feel a little better about paying the over-$50 per-ticket price for this show. Inflation is rough, y’all… but least we have music.
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): firstname.lastname@example.org
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