Review: the RVA All Day Block Party

Photo by Quentin Rice.
Photo by Quentin Rice.

The Broadberry hosted the RVA All Day Block Party on April 28, an all-day music festival featuring performances from local acts such as Dharma Bombs, Night Idea, Angelica Garcia and NO BS! Brass Band.

Dharma Bombs opened up the night of music with their first performance in Richmond since December. They played the hits from their debut album, as well as a new song from their planned sophomore record.

Armed with banjos, mandolins, a double bass and a new drummer, the band kicked off the night with upbeat Appalachian Dixieland, borrowing sounds from the Appalachian mountains and the streets of New Orleans. It was an appropriately quaint start for the show. New drummer Austin Tekamp gave the band a sound that more closely identified them with jazz. The crowd danced away and sang along to tunes like “Abigail” and “Sunny Always.” The group closed with their driving and explosive “Apocalypse Now,” priming the audience for Night Idea’s dizzying rhythms.

Night Idea took the stage, featuring auxiliary percussion from Reggie Pace of NO BS! Brass Band. The band treated the crowd to some dizzying math rock grooves and epic musical climaxes. Their odd time signatures created some very interesting grooves, and their solos were impressive, if a bit lengthy. They closed with their single “Canopy” and its disorienting guitar solos over a steady and true six-string bass made for a fantastic performance.

People in the crowd ranged from ages 5 to 65 and were quintessentially Richmond: dyed hair, tattoos, colorful floral clothes and, more often than not, a PBR in hand.

Angelica Garcia soon took the stage, adorned in a flowing black and orange kimono. Draped over her mic were a floral bandana and a string of artificial orange flowers, similar to the ones on her dress and emblematic of her song “Orange Flower.” Hers was far and away the most visually impressive act of the night.

Garcia entranced the crowd with her haunting wails and bluesy fingerpicking. Backed by a guitarist, drummer and synth player, Garcia established herself as one of the most eclectic acts of the night. Even her soundcheck, for which she created a vocal loop in a vaguely arabian scale, captivated me. She closed with a solo performance composed completely on the spot with vocal loops as blue fractals of light danced behind her, creating the most beautiful and artful image of the night.

The crowd filled up quickly as stagehands and band members set up for NO BS! Brass Band to take the stage. Everyone stood shoulder to shoulder, anxiously anticipating the moment that Richmond’s premiere brass band would bring it home.

The lights came alive as the band delivered the tight brass riffs and the driving tempos they’re known and loved for. The crowd was electric. People were singing along with the lyrics or scatting the horn licks. Tunes like “Run Around” and the band’s bombastic take on “Take On Me” had bodies jumping and voices shouting. These guys are more than musicians; they’re entertainers.

Their performance of “RVA All Day,” the festival’s namesake, was rightfully an absolute banger. The call and response section of the song was symbolic of the whole night, which had been a rambunctious and intimate celebration of some of Richmond’s finest musical talent.

Between songs trombonist Reggie Pace said “we should make this an annual thing.” Hopefully that is the consensus, and Richmond has another great music festival to look forward to every year.

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