Best Local Live Shows of 2012

With all the amazing shows we had in RVA this year, it’s incredibly hard to narrow it down to just 10. Most local shows I saw such as Black Girls or Goldrush, who I saw multiple times this year go without saying as being incredible. But there a good number that stand out this year as being my favorite.

The Head and the Heart at the National – March 21
I had been listening to The Head and the Heart for a while and was eagerly waiting to catch them live since I heard their shows are amazing. Never before have I seen the National full of so much excitement, but still respectful of the band and fans at the same time. Best part of the evening was during “Lost in My Mind,” when all the bands jammed together on stage. It’s obvious that all three groups on tour got along well and just like to have fun. Hands down, the best show I’ve seen at the National this year.

Video by littlesp00n

The Protomen at Kingdom – March 27
I had been listening to the Protomen for years and was always missing them whenever they came through Richmond. I finally got the chance this year when the Mega Man-inspired rock outfit played at Kingdom. It was like watching a video game come to life . It was a spectacle with costumes, scarred battle helmets and laser light shows as they performed songs based on the video games, including stories of Dr. Wily’s robots taking over the world, Dr. Light’s creation and final battles.

This one’s actually from their show at Plaza Bowl last year, but you get the idea. Video by b0xxmann

RVA Playlist Birthday Party at the Camel – May 30
Like this show wouldn’t be on the list. To celebrate my blog’s two-year anniversary, I decided to throw a big birthday party at the Camel, one of my favorite music venues and got some of my favorite local bands to play. Against Grace started off the night with a bang, Dead Fame made everyone dance and Marionette kept the party going to the late hours. I had so much fun putting this together and I cannot even begin to thank everyone who made the birthday party such a success. I couldn’t have been prepared by the sheer amount of people who showed up. The place was packed with people enjoying music and I couldn’t have asked for a better crowd.

Video by Kontra

Tom Tom Fest – May 11-12
All right, so this one’s not technically a local show, but there was plenty of local bands participating. The Tom Tom Founders Festival in Charlottesville had a ton of bands playing a bunch of different venues around the Downtown Mall and while there was a lot of back and forth that night, it was absolutely worth it to see some great musicians. Some of the acts I checked out included The Walkmen, Erin McKeown, Birdie Busch (a regular at the Listening Room) and Richmond’s favorites NO BS! Brass Band. Other artists playing the festival included the Great Unknown, Dead Fame, Birdlips, Hospitality and Josh Ritter. Definitely worth a trip out of town.

Video by me, rvaplaylist

Dean Fields final show at Capital Ale House – June 29
When singer/songwriter Dean Fields announced he was moving to Nashville, I was happy and bummed at the same time. While I was excited to see him grow in his music career, I was upset that he won’t be around Richmond as often. He is seriously one of the best musicians this city has had in the past few years. He put on one hell of a farewell show at Cap Ale for all his fans that proved why he’s headed for greater things.


Alabama Shakes at Friday Cheers – June 22
When I heard Alabama Shakes was going to play Friday Cheers this summer, my jaw dropped. Here was an up and coming group that was getting a lot of attention and playing in my own backyard for cheap… and I wasn’t able to go. Unfortunately, I was stupid enough to have to work when the excitement on Brown’s Island was heating up. Luckily I was close enough to the venue to hear everything going and the band sounded great and the crowd was eating it up. I’m counting this as attending.

Video by walken16

WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents: Volume II at Gallery5 – July 14
Musician, journalist and WRIR DJ Shannon Cleary put together “WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents: Volume II,” a night of amazing local music benefiting WRIR and Gallery 5, two groups that are instrumental in helping the local music scene. The night featured ten bands playing throughout the venue including the main stage, a floor set up on the first floor and the upstairs. The evening included performances by Bermuda Triangles, Canary Oh Canary, Dogs on Main Street, Swordplay, the Blue Rajas, the Colloquial Orchestra, the Low Branches, the Milkstains, the Snowy Owls and White Laces. Not only was this a great collection of local bands playing in one space, the show went like clockwork. Bands set up and played in a timely manner and there was no waiting forever for the next band to play. This made the show so much more enjoyable.


Andrew Bird at Lewis Ginter – July 11
I don’t think there was a better way for Andrew Bird to celebrate his birthday than with an incredible night at Lewis Ginter. The weather was beautiful and the crowd was the perfect size. Once Andrew Bird took the stage, the crowd was silent. Everyone wanted to hear the music. I was not that familiar with his work but found his songs to be very enjoyable. And the man can whistle! Holy crap, can he whistle! I seriously loved everything he was playing and found myself in a musical trance on a cool summer night in the garden.

Video by emmadoesnerdstuff

The Ataris at the Camel – Oct. 3
Seeing The Ataris, one of my favorite pop punk bands from the early 2000s perform a kickass show at the Camel brought me back to my college days with a collection of fun songs and a very eager crowd. Once the Ataris took the stage, the stage was ready to lose it. They kicked off with “In This Diary” and the place went apeshit. The hardcore old school Ataris fans lost it even more. A fight even broke out during the middle of one song and Roe stopped playing and threw them out, telling them to “take that shit to a hardcore show and let everyone else have fun.” They left and we did.

Video by me, rvaplaylist

Delta Rae at the National – Oct. 17
Thanks again to JessiRVA for constantly reminding me about this group. When I saw them perform at the National, I saw what incredible musicians they were. I was blown away at the amount of energy they had on stage and the multitude of talent they each possessed.

Video by munkyrox


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