Students, meet the RVA music scene

Photo by Gessler Santos-Lopez

This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.

Quentin Rice, Staff Music Writer

Richmond is very obviously a beautiful city to look at. With its constantly growing collection of murals and tattoo artists, Richmond is easy on the eyes. But RVA’s music scene is no slouch either. It’s almost like a game of whack-a-mole; new artists are constantly popping up everywhere, and it can be difficult to keep up with all the new talent. But to be sure, it is an exciting time to be a music nerd in RVA. Here are a few notable acts to get an idea of what Richmond music has to offer. 

Musicians

Shy Lennox is a VCU opera major who experiments with alternative rhythm and blues and frequently collaborates with Richmond producer captain pizza. His deep voice provides a refreshing new sound to the genre and blends beautifully with the lo-fi production and sleepy synthesizers. A few tracks worth checking out are “Afterblunts,” “Hennything” and “Aa.”

Instagram and Twitter: @shylennox 

Shy Lennox. CT file photo

People’s Blues of Richmond hearkens back to the southern rock style of Led Zeppelin and the storytelling focus of Bob Dylan. Their records play almost like demented circuses with “manic-depressive” song structures and bombastic blues guitar riffs.  Keep an eye out for a new album at some point in 2019. “Bad Railroad” and “Richmond City Hangover Blues” are some of the group’s best pieces.

Instagram and Twitter: @peoplesblues 

Flight Club might be Richmond’s most recognizable punk band. Orange stickers promoting their 2015 single “Bad Days” are inescapable. They’re a punk band through and through, but they incorporate elements of emo and alternative rock to keep things fresh and accessible. “Fifty Shades of Fine” and “Mountain Tops” are instant classics. 

Instagram and Twitter: @flightclubva

Sleepwalkers provide an unexpected but addictive collision between the sounds of Thin Lizzy and Foster the People. Throw in some tropical sounds and blues balladry, and Sleepwalkers is definitely a band with big things in their future. Earlier this year they released a new single, “Fault is Me,” with the announcement of a new album, so stay tuned. “Cocaine” and “Thinking About the Road” are two highlights from their debut record, “Greenwood Shade.”

Instagram: @sleepwalkersband Twitter: @sleepwalkersrva

Weekend Plans is a jazz band that features many VCU alumni, including Kayen Wilborn, who used to be an assistant director for The Peppas. The nine-piece dropped their debut record “State of Nine” this year, featuring nine tracks of quintessentially Richmond bops. “Last Call” is a song based entirely on “the lick,” a meme many music nerds will get a kick out of. “Biggin’” and “Get With You” are sure to convince listeners to find tickets for the group’s next gig.

Instagram and Twitter: @wkndplans

Dharma Bombs provides a more relaxing Americana atmosphere, fusing the worlds of Appalachian bluegrass and Southern dixie for a sound they’ve aptly dubbed “Appalachian Dixie.” Fronted by VCU writing aide Trey Hall, Dharma Bombs opens up tunes subtly with an easy-going groove and vocal line before turning up the speed and energy to 11 with big, shouty choruses and offbeat mandolin and banjo accents. After some time away from the stage, they recently returned with a new drummer and a revised, jazzy sound. Don’t miss out on “Apocalypse Now” and “Abigail.” 

Instagram: @dharmabombs Twitter: @dharma_bombs

Venues 

The Broadberry is a legendary venue that regularly hosts Richmond’s finest acts and other established performers. A recent tradition, hosted near the end of April since 2017, is the RVA All Day Block Party, a celebration of Richmond talent like Angelica Garcia and No BS! Brass Band. Other past performances include Mudhoney, Remo Drive, Mt. Joy and Soccer Mommy.

Thebroadberry.com // 2729 W. Broad St.

The Camel. Photo by Gessler Santos-Lopez

The Camel is an unassuming dive on Broad Street that regularly hosts hard-to-miss bands. It’s high on the list of Richmond locals when they’re booking tours, so artists like Weekend Plans and VCU grad Nickelus F are regulars there. Other high key acts include Mom Jeans, John Paul White and Moon Hooch. Be sure to check out their frequent open mic nights as well.

thecamel.org // 1621 W. Broad St.

The National is definitely a venue to keep an eye on when large acts announce U.S. tours. Since its reopening in 2008, it has hosted such acts as The 1975, The Neighborhood, Melanie Martinez, A Day to Remember and Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Perhaps due to the rapport the venue has built with the upper echelons of popular bands, smaller acts seldom perform at The National, so be prepared to spend some money on these shows.

thenationalva.com // 708 E. Broad St.

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