RVA Shows You Must See This Week: September 27 – October 3
Scum City Records Presents Surge Fest
Day One: Friday, September 29, 6 PM
Future Projektor, Junkhead, Asylum 213, The Electric Prophets, Polluted Tongues, Ill Doctrine @ Black Iris Social Club – $10
Day Two: Saturday, September 30, 6 PM
Hellion Child (Photo by @no.visuals_), Threnody, Lacking, Silico, Constituents, Anxietia @ Black Iris Social Club – $10
Back when we were all stuck in our houses trying to wait out the COVID pandemic, I found myself on a few occasions getting into idle conversations with fellow music lovers about what form we expected live music to take once it came back. I remember proposing the idea that things would get more regionally focused, that instead of heading out on long tours, bands would play more around their own cities and in areas they could get to within a day’s drive or so. That way, if any disease exposure did happen, you’d already be home by the time you had to worry about it. I thought this would also foster community within cities and regions, instead of having everyone just focusing on whatever big band from whatever far-flung region might come through town. It might have been a neat way for all of us to do it; it might also have avoided the past two years of postponed tours due to someone in a touring band testing positive for COVID. But my cool idea didn’t really work with capitalism very well, so it never came to pass.
Regardless, I didn’t miss the mark entirely; in the wake of the pandemic, we have seen a stronger sense of community within a variety of close-knit scenes in Richmond and Central Virginia since shows started back up in late 2021. It seems those ideas of support and mutual aid that came out of our tumultuous 2020 carried over to the music scene as well, which is certainly a good and necessary thing. One way you can see this in action is in the many regionally-focused mini-fests that happen around town these days. Surge Fest is just the latest, a metal-focused throwdown brought to us by Scum City Records, who were previously responsible for the similar Scum City Slam event back in July. It unites some of the best metal and hardcore bands from the Richmond area with a variety of regional talents and a few local up-and-comers, and the result is a weekend featuring two straight nights of headbang-worthy awesomeness at Black Iris Social Club.
The two Richmond-based bands that occupy the headlining slots on each night, while coming from similar genres, represent pretty much the opposite ends of that particular musical spectrum. Future Projektor, who will close out night one, have a dramatic instrumental sound that encompasses progressive metal, math-core, and epic doom, among quite a few other genres (by the way, they are also very very loud). Hellion Child, who end night two, are fast and intense, playing the sort of blackened metallic hardcore that Southwestern bands of the late 90s like Suicide Nation, Enewetak, and (The Infamous) Gehenna excelled at. With two headliners like these, you’ll need to make sure you hit both nights to really get the full spectrum of what Surge Fest has to offer.
You won’t want to miss the many other bands from around Virginia and the mid-Atlantic area that this fest has in store for you, either. For one, there’s the aggressive, negatively-oriented hardcore rage of NoVA’s Junkhead. There’s the difficult-to-categorize sound of Richmond’s Asylum 213, which touches on everything from atmospheric doom and goth to melodic metalcore and harsh, chaotic screamo. There’s the riff-driven classic thrash chaos of Baltimore’s Polluted Tongues, the brutal death grooves of Richmond/DC newcomers Ill Doctrine, the Black Flag-style rockin’ hardcore of The Electric Prophets — and that’s just day one! Day two brings us sets from Fredericksburg grinders Lacking, Pennsylvania horror-gore metallers Threnody, Baltimore metallic death-punk ragers Constituents, and more! Both nights of this one will be essential, both for the abundance of heavy music on offer and for the opportunity to appreciate what a great scene we have in this part of the country.
Wednesday, September 27, 7 PM
Secret Shame, Black Bouquet, Merciful Zero, Can’t Help Myself @ Another Round Bar And Grill – $10
It’s gonna be an awesome night in Lakeside tonight, as Another Round plays host to North Carolina gothic postpunk rockers Secret Shame. This band has been one of my best discoveries over the past year or so of doing this show column, and their 2022 album Autonomy, in particular its leadoff single and opening track, “Hide,” has been a big hit around the RVA Must-See Shows HQ (which is to say, the corner of my dining room where my bookshelves are). While you might get certain ideas from my use of “gothic” to describe Secret Shame, rest assured that all of you who demand a decent amount of energy from your listens in the postpunk/goth world will be delighted by Secret Shame. There’s no languid synth weepiness here; instead, this band captures the guitar-driven spirit of prime mid-80s releases by Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Cure, as well as a darker take on the emo-goth melodies of first-LP Pale Waves. All of which is music to my ears — and should be to yours as well.
Richmonders Merciful Zero are the most noteworthy support act on this bill, in my humble opinion, and while they’re closer to the heavy end of the spectrum, this band has definite resonances with Secret Shame, and will fit well on a bill with them. Merciful Zero recently followed up their self-titled first LP with a new single called “Harley Davidson,” which has an undercurrent of gothic menace to its midtempo groove. It’s an intriguing preview of where this band’ll be going next, and you can get a more extensive one by catching their set at Another Round tonight. The bill is rounded out by Raleigh gothic pop group Black Bouquet, who have a dark yet driving sound that contains the subtlest hint of heaviness; and by the intriguingly named Richmond group Can’t Help Myself, who hint at Paramore’s poppiest elements even as they delve deep into the world of synth-pop. Show up for this one; all of these musical tastes are sure to taste great together, and you just might find your new favorite band.
Thursday, September 28, 7 PM
Dose, Flash Back, Deathmask @ Bandito’s – $10
When you think of classic hardcore punk, there are certain places that spring to mind: DC, New York, SoCal, maybe Negative Approach’s hometown of Detroit. One that probably doesn’t occur to you is Des Moines, Iowa. Nonetheless, that town has now produced at least one noteworthy hardcore band, and the band in question will be coming to Richmond this Thursday night, so we’re all gonna need to be prepared. On their 2022 self-titled LP, Dose excel at the sort of menacing breakdowns that bring to mind that classic 80s move of stomping through the pit in a leather jacket and Doc Martens, fists clenched and swinging. They also crank out some classic old-school velocity, though, in a perfect manner to get the circle storm raging at gale-force speeds. In our current era, in which Bandito’s has somehow become the punkest above-ground venue in town, they’re perfect as a Thursday night headliner for everyone’s favorite burrito lounge (I actually like the nachos better, but if you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you already know that).
Don’t let the big ol’ TBA marked on the above flyer worry you, either, because even if there only end up being three bands on this bill, all of them are absolute ragers and will keep things moving throughout the night. Flash Back, a Canadian metallic hardcore band who is foregrounding their nu-metal influence in a manner that proves to me in visceral fashion just how long it’s been since Down With The Sickness, will bring some slightly twizzy but always heavy sounds that should please fans of Bleeding Through as well as those who love the first Mudvayne LP (which is a fucking classic, don’t @ me). Local newcomers Deathmask will kick this one off with some vicious beatdown stylings, so be prepared, because they’ll be unleashing some serious mosh within minutes of doors opening. And from there, it’ll only get heavier.
Friday, September 29, 7 PM
Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performing live score for Dario Argento‘s Demons @ Ashland Theatre – $35-$55 (order tickets HERE)
Not everyone likes horror movies, but everyone has at least some familiarity with them. However, if you ask the average person about horror movies, they’re either going to talk to you about the classic Universal monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman) or about the slasher villains of the 80s (Friday The 13th’s Jason Voorhees, Nightmare On Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger). You have to get really lucky to find anyone who knows about the classic Italian horror cinema of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. But if you find anyone who knows anything about the horror films of that era, chances are they are rabid fans. The era brought us quite a few terrifying classics from directors like Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, and Sergio Martino, but the unquestioned king of the genre was Dario Argento. Many of his films, including Suspiria, Deep Red, Tenebrae, and others, are still held in the highest esteem by horror aficionados today. And one of the things people love the most about those films are their unique and fascinating soundtracks, many of which were created by the Italian instrumental progressive rock band Goblin.
Today, original Goblin keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, whose analog synthesizers were perhaps the most important ingredient in those seminal Italian horror soundtracks, continues to lead a version of Goblin. After Simonetti left Goblin in the early 80s, he created a variety of soundtracks for Italian horror films as a solo artist. One of those films was the Argento-produced, Lamberto Bava-directed Demons (1985). On their current tour, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin is performing the soundtrack to Demons live, playing along with the film as it is shown on the big screen. This is a rare treat for fans of Simonetti and Goblin, and for fans of classic Italian horror. Personally, I am a fan of both, and I must urge you to make your way out to Ashland to catch this rare and fascinating performance, which harks back to the times before synchronized sound, when orchestras played along with silent films, live in the theatre as you watched. It’s going to be an amazing viewing experience. What’s more, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin will follow the Demons screening with another set of classic Goblin material — so if what you’re really excited for is the theme song to Suspiria, you’ll just have to stick around after the film ends. Awesome multimedia experiences like this one don’t come along very often. Make sure you’re there for this one.
Saturday, September 30, 6:30 PM
Zulu, Soul Glo, Playytime @ The Canal Club – $20 in advance, $25 day of show (order tickets HERE)
For a musical genre that claims to care a great deal about progressive politics, hardcore can sometimes be weirdly conservative. It’s something I noticed as a young hardcore kid in the 90s, where I heard tons of preaching about how homophobia was bad, but also got called anti-gay slurs all the time (sometimes people would claim it was “in jest,” which didn’t necessarily excuse it, but all too often people didn’t even pretend to be kidding). I heard similar complaints from people of color I knew, who felt alienated from the way-too-white hardcore scene, which, despite its constant anti-racist preaching, didn’t handle the reality of non-white hardcore kids very well. 30 years later, I will admit that hardcore has come a long way; there are way more women, queer people, and people of color involved than there used to be, and they are often celebrated for their contributions to the scene. Still, hardcore has a long way to go, and nothing proves that as much as the fiercely negative reaction the California-based hardcore band Zulu, whose members are all Black, got two years ago when they released a t-shirt that read “Abolish White Hardcore.” I don’t have the time to get into the whole discourse around the shirt (Zulu themselves commented on it in a New Noise interview), but I will say that if it offends you, you probably deserve to be offended.
On the other hand, if you respect bands willing to go out on a limb, take a provocative stance, and back it up with equally provocative — and outstanding — music, you’re definitely going to dig Zulu. On their latest album, A New Tomorrow, they alternate between heavy breakdowns, furious chaotic speed, and interludes that hark back to influences like Nina Simone and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and Max Roach. It’s unpredictable, riveting, and an outstanding listen that holds up to repeated plays — and will certainly light up The Canal Club when they hit the stage Saturday night. The fact that Zulu are sharing the stage with Soul Glo, another hardcore band with a mostly Black lineup who’ve made their identity and political viewpoint a core part of their message while creating some of the most excellent and innovative hardcore music this decade has seen thus far, is extremely apropos. Here on the East Coast, we know the Philadelphia-based Soul Glo (who’ve played Richmond many times, always to enthusiastic crowds) pretty well, but since they released their most recent album, Diaspora Problems, founding guitarist Ruben Polo has left the band, and they’ve continued on as a trio. While their latest single, “If I Speak (Shut The Fuck Up),” shows that the programmed aspects of the band’s sound are slightly more apparent in the mix, it also shows that, as a stripped-down three-piece, they’re still a furious wall of chaotic hardcore noise with a powerful message that’s impossible to ignore. Atlanta-based chaotic hardcore band Playytime will open this evening of powerful POC hardcore. Don’t miss it.
(P.S. — I recognize that, as a middle-aged white lady, it’s tough for me to write about the sorts of race-related issues Zulu, Soul Glo, and Playytime are confronting without making an ass out of myself. However, I think those issues are very important, and deserve to be discussed honestly instead of tiptoeing around them. I am trying my best to be an ally. That said, I know I can always learn more, so if you think I fucked up in how I wrote this blurb, my email’s at the bottom of the column — drop me a line. I want to do better.)
Sunday, October 1, 7 PM
Jericho D, Aka$ha, Lucose The Godfather, LOFILEONE, Corey Jah, Minutemaid Meechy, Music by DJ Trapreem @ The Camel – $10 (order tickets HERE)
And now for one of the most abrupt tonal shifts this column has ever seen — and that’s really saying something. Sunday night can be a pretty slow night for live music in town, but The Camel’s always got you covered, and this Sunday night is no exception. This Sunday, The Camel’s bringing you a bill of local hip hop that’s topped by Richmond rapper Jericho D, who’s celebrating the release of his new single, “Shake That Ass,” which comes from his latest EP, Dpizza! The EP starts with a remix version featuring a verse from Minutemaid Meechy, and if you ask me, this is the version you need to hear — it’s cartoonish in its lechery, and the flows are sometimes a little goofy, but what do you expect from a guy who posed for his EP cover shirtless, sitting in a bathtub with pieces of pizza on his belly? It’s ridiculous, but I can’t be mad at it. And the goofy lyrics work well with the over-the-top dance beats on Dpizza!, making the whole thing a really fun listen. I’m sure it’ll be just as much fun live, too.
A variety of other local up-and-comers are on this bill as well, including Lucose The Godfather, whose recent EP, The Swerve, reminds me at some points of The-Dream and at others of Miguel. Where you can expect Jericho D to get wild and crazy, Lucose The Godfather is much more likely to make you swoon. Then there’s Corey Jah, whose latest LP, Belmont Motel, is named after a real-life motel that’s about a mile from my house. What’s up, fellow Northsider? Jah’s smooth yet intense flow fits well with the understated boom-bap beats on Belmont Motel, and will surely make a strong impression on the crowd at The Camel Sunday night. Where Minutemaid Meechy is concerned, I’ve only heard his verse on the aforementioned “Shake That Ass” remix, but that verse alone is enough to make me curious about his solo set. And of course, if he doesn’t join Jericho D for that song at the end of the night, I’ll be shocked. That’s really what this night is all about, so go out to the Camel this Sunday night and shake your ass. It’ll be fun, I promise.
Monday, October 2, 7 PM
Tennis Courts, Cry Baby, Virginia Man @ The Camel – $12 (order tickets HERE)
Mondays can be tough, but this one will be much nicer if you end it by heading over to The Camel and catching Tennis Courts when they come through town. This band is originally from Charleston, South Carolina, but I certainly don’t blame them for moving to New York before the recent release of their debut album, You Won’t Find It On Your Own. Seems like anyone cool ends up having to flee the South sooner or later. Anyway, regardless of what state Tennis Courts are calling home now, their new record is a breath of indie-power-pop fresh air, recalling My Morning Jacket circa Z or Wilco circa Summerteeth. It’s a great listen, and the band is sure to be a blast live. You’ll undoubtedly be smiling by the end of their set, even if you walked into The Camel under a cloud.
Tennis Courts will be joined on their trip through Richmond by Cry Baby, another Brooklyn band, though with a decidedly different sound. Their latest single, “Pretend,” mixes acoustic guitars and drum machines in a manner that makes me think of Jose Gonzalez, but also features glowing choruses that are closer to something like Haim or Richmond’s own Heartracer. The overall sound is pretty damn cool, and should sound lovely in a live environment. The bill will be rounded out by Virginia Man, who you could probably tell by context clues are from around these parts. Their pleasant indie-folk sound always goes down smooth. Make it part of your Monday night.
Tuesday, October 3, 7 PM
Inferior Brain Power, Catscan!, Megasoma @ Bandito’s – $10
I always enjoy Inferior Brain Power, and I’m really glad to see them coming back through Richmond. They won me over back in 2021 with their album Inferior Brain Power Today!, which sorta reminded me of Captain Beefheart at his most coherent moments, maybe with a bit of the Hampton Grease Band and the Minutemen mixed in there. I don’t know if they’ve got any new material to thrill us with, but considering it’s been two years since that album came out, I wouldn’t be surprised if they broke out some new tunes during this set. That should be a lot of fun.
Also on the bill at Bandito’s this Tuesday night will be Catscan!, who will head down to Richmond from their hometown of Washington DC with a sound that’s a bit hard to define. Since the release of 2019’s Yucca Mountain LP, which sorta sounded like They Might Be Giants doing their best impression of The Sonics, they’ve been working on their “Songo” project, in which they release new singles every month, all of which sound a fair bit different from one another. So what’s their performance going at Bandito’s going to sound like? It’s tough to say — but that’s part of what makes it so intriguing. Newly formed Richmond trio Megasoma, who just released their debut 3-song EP, More With Less, round out this bill with some fun 90s-style indie rock that should please fans of The Dismemberment Plan, among others. Show up to this one, grab some tacos, and have a fun indie evening. You won’t be sorry.
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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