It’s never good news to hear a local favorite band is breaking up. Hiatus… taking some time away… whatever you want to call it, it means you won’t be able to see them perform or hear new music for some time.
So it’s pretty sad for me to hear that one of my favorite Richmond bands Vexine has decided to pack it up.
Lead vocalist Sarah Frances Gleason and drummer Jorge Santamaria have decided to move back to Jorge’s hometown of New Orleans. And while I’m ecstatic for them to be starting a new chapter in their lives, I’m also bummed they won’t be around to continue sharing their incredible music.
I first became aware of Vexine back in 2013 when the group released its self-titled debut. I was fully immersed in Richmond’s music scene by this point and Sarah was doing her due diligence of promoting the new record by sending me a copy and invited me out to see them perform at the band’s next show. What followed was at least a half-dozen attempts to see a show and failing for one reason or another, whether it was illness, car troubles, or travel. This led to Sarah jokingly asking me if I actually existed in real life. The term she used was “Cothern-icorn,” which I still treasure.
It wasn’t until mid-2014 that I was finally able to get to see Vexine perform live at an afternoon gig at Capital Ale House. It was there that I discovered not only how much I enjoyed their music, but also how much I loved their on stage presence. The guys in the band were dressed to the nines in their suits and Sarah in a stunning black dress. And from the first note, the seductive sounds filled the venue and the band held nothing back in terms of energy. Songs like “Rotten and No Good” and “Graceland” easily got stuck in my head and I quickly found myself singing along.
Ever since that show, I made it a point to catch the band live whenever I could. Over the years, I’ve seen them bring the house down at places like Poe’s Pub, Canal Club, Center of the Universe Brewing and even taking the stage at the RVA Playlist 4th Anniversary Show. Along with their clever original songs, Vexine also manages to pull out a few tricks including covers of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,” the Nina Simone hit “Feelin’ Good,” and, my favorite, a mashup of Adele’s “Skyfall” and Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box.”
And out of those shows, I developed a friendship with Sarah, Jorge and the rest of the group including lead guitarist Paul Pearce and bassist Michael Skiffington, which turned into getting to know this group of people on a personal level through movie nights, vinyl listening get-togethers, ski resort concerts, limited edition beer releases, birthday parties, and Mardi Gras celebrations, among others.
It’s going to be sad not having these wonderful people around, and Richmond’s music scene will not be the same without them. But I wish them nothing but the best and will be first in line for tickets to a reunion concert.
Vexine will perform its final show (for now anyways) in Richmond at Poe’s Pub on Friday, Oct. 18 and I hope you all go out and give this band the sendoff it deserves.