There’s way too much amazing music to handle this month. Plan your calendars now.
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Celebrating its 30th season, Richmond’s biggest summer outdoor concert series, Friday Cheers, starts this month, and I’m lumping all these shows together because they’re all amazing. Enjoy the sounds of blues rock band Vintage Trouble and country soul act Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers on May 2nd. Indie-folk band Lord Huron will serenade the night on May 9th. The next week, on May 23rd, celebrate RVA Music Night with Richmond supergroup Avers, Todd Herrington’s Things, and The Green Boys. And end the month on a high note with local superstarts J. Roddy Walston and the Business along with the amazing Kopecky Family Band on May 30th.
If anybody is having a good month for shows, it’s The National. This venue is the place to be in May, and while many of the big name shows have already sold out, you can still probably find some tickets on Craigslist or you may know a guy who knows a guy. However, there are a few great shows that still have tickets available.
Some of the early shows this month include crazy metal from Rob Zombie (May 4th), indie-funk entertainment from Alabama Shakes (May 9th), and electrofunk duo Chromeo (May 13th). Indie-rock darlings Modest Mouse always put on a great show, and word is they might play some new material at their show on May 19th. The next night sees Neon Trees take the stage with songs from its latest album “Pop Psychology.” And who can forget “Pompeii” by British rockers Bastille? They’ll be there on May 21st.
Sorry, but most of your money’s going to the National this month.
Balliceaux • May 3rd
Richmond’s new wave power pop group Dead Fame will release its new album Vicious Design this month after what feels like forever. If you haven’t seen a Dead Fame show, it involves dancing, strobe lights, and sometimes glow sticks. Read my interview with them on their new album here.
Strange Matter • May 8th
If you’re in the mood for a show that will leave you saying “I have no clue what’s going on but this is awesome,” then Peelander-Z is the band to see. The Brooklyn-by-way-of-Japan-by-way-of-planet-Peelander action comic band has been kicking their anime infused party punk for everyone to enjoy. Their latest album, Metalander-Z, takes the 80s metal scene and infuses it into its already insanely crazy show that features props and Japanese animation style costumes (the band refers to them as their alien skin) along with fun, upbeat music.
Coalition Theater • May 16th
The most interesting show you’ll see all month: Grandma Sparrow, the comical music performance alter ego of musician and composer Joe Westerlund. There will be strings, horns, and a lot of unconventional music items to produce a “psychedelic children’s song-cycle for adults that doesn’t defy description so much as dance around it and pull at its nose.” There’s nothing to prepare you for this show, but it’ll be entertaining.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery • May 17th
Local film collective Good Day RVA creates amazing music videos for a variety of Richmond bands, and now they’re celebrating the great music of the city with a free all-day festival with 14 bands on two stages along with various local arts and nonprofit groups to spread awareness of all the great things RVA has to offer. Music will be provided by the Trillions, Navi, Heavy Midgets, Houdan the Mystic, the Snowy Owls, Dumb Waiter, Hot Dolphin, Night Idea, Clair Morgan, Josh Small and Andrew Alli, Dave Watkins, Sleepwalkers, Lightfields and the Green Boys.
Strange Matter • May 18th
Borrowing its name from one of Shakespeare’s epic tragedies, indie-punk band Titus Andronicus makes music that’s anything but tragic. The group effortlessly mixes old-fashioned rock with the anger of punk–its energetic sound influenced by bands like the Pixies. The band announced that its fourth, yet-to-be-titled album will take the form of a 30-song rock opera. It’s due out this fall.
Miss Tess and the Talkbacks
Ashland Coffee and Tea • May 21st
Elements of honky-tonk, Western swing, and golden-era pop are prevalent throughout Miss Tess’ songs. The group recently released The Love I Have For You, and they take all the genres they love and mix them together in a unique style. But one thing is for certain: you will not sit still at a Miss Tess show. Expect to be up dancing all night.
The Camel • May 28th
I’m not saying you should go to this show because I’m putting on the celebration. Not at all. You should go to this show because it features three of Richmond’s best bands: blues rockers Vexine, indie rock band My Darling Fury, and RVA’s favorite power-pop band the Trillions. Fine, this is shameless self-promotion. But it’ll be a good time. And it’s free. And there will be cake.
Richmond International Raceway • May 31st
R&B music takes over the raceway with a variety of Grammy winners and legends for the Stone Soul Music and Food Festival. Appearing throughout the day are rapper/actor/hip-hop icon 50 Cent and R&B superstar Keyshia Cole. Also performing are Ty Dollar $ign, Rico Love, Mila J, George Tandy Jr, Sebastian Mikael, and 112–the group responsible for the early 2000s hit “Peaches and Cream.” Tickets are selling out fast for the event.
Photo by: Mikhail Teguh Pribadi