RVA Music Fest Saturday Showcases

League of Space Pirates' headdressed bellydancer in performance at Balliceaux. Photo by Kyle Laferriere.

BALLICEAUX

Danielle Elliott
Contributing Writer

The intimate setting behind Balliceaux’s deceiving façade was ideal for Saturday night’s local three-band show, one of many showcases held by RVA Music Fest.

The front of the building has a very upscale feel, while the back room has a trendier, low-key vibe with Christmas lights tangled in fake tree branches above the small stage.

League of Space Pirates' headdressed bellydancer in performance at Balliceaux. Photo by Kyle Laferriere.

The first band, League of Space Pirates, had an almost gothic new wave sound, with a cloaked man playing a barrel-shaped bass drum stationed by the speakers. The surprisingly average-looking frontman delivered most of the sharp, staccato vocals.

The most intriguing part of League of Space Pirates’ four-song set was the bellydancer. Wearing a feathered headdress and covered in glitter, she moved about the crowd dancing with anyone that seemed interested in the music.To be fair, they seem to be a fairly new act and keeping a unified image seems to be a large part of their appeal.

Less flash and more instrumentation was the main idea for Canary Oh Canary, who took the stage next.

With dual guitars and no bass, the drums were heavy, but overall they still maintained a sort of experimental rock sound with drawn out instrumentals composed mostly of soothing guitar riffs mid-song. Despite only playing together for a little more than a year, the band is surprisingly good. Their live sound was clean and the vocals were impressive.

Before the much anticipated Dead Fame took the stage there was much rearranging of tall blue and red lights and testing of green laser lights, bringing a big-stage feel to a small, crammed venue. The talkative crowd fell silent as Dead Fame started into their first song. A new wave indie feel finally managed to eliminate the impression of background music at a nice bar.

While the sound wasn’t as clean as Canary Oh Canary’s, their hint of glam rock was an almost perfect ending to the night, pulling small nuances of both openers and bringing them smoothly together.

 

 

STRANGE MATTER

Michael Todd
Contributing Writer

Saturday night’s RVA Music Fest Showcase at Strange Matter featured a slew of local acts that included Fire Bison, Baby Help Me Forget, Miniature Tigers and Marionette.

Despite Fire Bison’s obvious enthusiasm and effort, a common complaint of the crowd was the inability to discern actual words in the lyrics. The band seemed to follow a bell curve in their quality, reaching their peak in the middle of the set before quickly declining.

While Jamie Lay, enthusiastic lead singer of Baby Help Me Forget, took a theatrical command of the audience, his dramatic performance, instead of the actual music, was definitely the highlight of their set. As he thrashed around, swinging the mic stand like a weapon, the crowd reacted with amused laughs and prompted applause.

Before Miniature Tigers could even finish setting up, a dense wall of listeners had congregated at the edge of the stage. To the relief of the crowd, the band took meticulous care to triple check their sound for optimum effect; the patience of the audience was well rewarded with a set of such excellent quality that it sounded recorded.

The first show of a short two-week pre-tour of the band’s newest, soon-to-be-recorded album, their set featured never before heard songs “Female Doctor” and “Sex on the Regular.”

“You guys are the first to hear this s— so, ya know, be nice please,” lead vocalist Charlie Brand jested between songs. To older favorites such as “Cannibal Queen,” “Like or Like Like” and “Goldskull,” crowd members belted the lyrics from heart at the top of their lungs in a makeshift audience sing-along, and throughout the set not a person stopped dancing.

Though the crowd quickly dispersed after Miniature Tigers broke set, the remaining audience responded well to Marionette’s smooth and organic sound.

The Richmond natives wound the night down right by swaying listeners on hypnotic waves of sound that corresponded well with the black and white images and clips projected on the wall behind them.

Though the energy of the crowd reverberated the tightly packed Grace Street venue from the time Fire Bison took the stage, it didn’t find an outlet until Miniature Tigers performed much later in the night.

 

 

THE REPUBLIC

Samantha Foster
Contributing Writer

Saturday night at The Republic, local bands No Dice, Lorem Ipsum and Long Arms played in a showcase for the first RVA Music Festival.

No Dice opened, though many in the crowd seemed less than interested. The trio’s classic rock style blended has a hint of country influence. The members switched instruments halfway through the set, much to the chagrin of the audience.

Second to play was Lorem Ipsum. Their 1970s bluesy rock sound was intriguing and a nice contrast to No Dice’s style. The lead singer screeched like Iggy Pop, mesmerizing the crowd with his erratic movements and stage antics.

The twenty somethings in the crowd appreciated their performance.

“There’s pink hair. This is going to be intense!” said VCU graduate Hailey Hollifield right as Richmond outfit Long Arms took the stage.

Their indie sound was incredibly upbeat and energized the previous sedate audience. Long Arms’ vocalist James Menefee moved surprisingly well on The Republic’s cramped stage.

The group’s instrumentation, which featured a violinist, was an extreme change from the previous bands’ traditional instrumentation, but oddly fit in with Long Arms’ musical aesthetic.

All in all, Saturday night at The Republic belonged to Lorem Ipsum and Long Arms again. Sadly, in a twist of irony, No Dice’s name was an accurate prediction of the audience’s response.

 

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This article is a part of The CT’s full coverage of RVA Music Fest

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