“What’s that smell? Onions… chili powder… cumin… juicy ground chuck? It’s chili! Oh my God, I’m missing the chili cook-off! I’m missing the cook-off! It’s going on right now and I’m missing it.” – Homer Simpson
One of Richmond’s biggest outdoor music and food festivals, 102.1 the X’s Chili Cook Off, is quickly approaching this weekend. While many go for the copious amounts of chili to be consumed, hundreds more go for the lineup of rock music. While previous Chili Cook Offs have featured mainly hard rock and metal groups (not usually my thing), this year’s lineup grabbed my interest and made me take notice.
Interested in going but don’t know much about the music? Don’t worry, I’m here to help. Here’s a quick crash course in the bands playing.
John McCrea and his band Cake were responsible for songs like “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” and “The Distance,” which were pretty much songs that defined the mid-90s. You know you’ve heard them and sung along. The group’s latest album “Showroom of Compassion” debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. And they always put on a good live show.
Song to check out: Anything off of the albums “Prolonging the Magic” and “Fashion Nugget.” These albums are true 90s gems.
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
If you’ve listened to 102.1 the X for even a few minutes, you’ve heard Cage the Elephant’s “Shake Me Down,” from their phenomenal album “Thank You, Happy Birthday,” which debuted at Number 2 on the Billboard 200 (just behind Cake’s “Showroom of Compassion.”). Cage the Elephant has gained critical acclaim from Rolling Stone to the New York Times, among many others.
Song to check out: “Shake Me Down,” which you can probably hear if you turn to 102.1 the X right now.
Neon Trees exploded onto the scene with its 2010 hit “Animal,” which has been featured everywhere from car commercials to being covered on the show “Glee.” The group’s debut album “Habits” is full of fun rock energy and one of the most enjoyable albums I heard that year.
Song to check out: “Animal,” if you haven’t heard it yet, but “1983″ and “Everybody Talks,” the new single from their second studio album “Picture Show” are also great ones to listen to.
MIDDLE CLASS RUT
Alternative rock band Middle Class Rut is still riding the success of its 2010 debut album “No Name No Color” and have opened for numerous rock icons including Alice in Chains and Social Distortion. They’re also in heavy rotation on numerous rock stations throughout the country.
Song to check out: “New Low.” It’s catchy and entertaining. Just listen.
South Africa’s Civil Twilight is very new to the music scene, but that hasn’t kept them from pulling out all the stops in their songs, which are full of energetic insanity. Last year, they played three shows at the ever popular Bonnaroo Festival and their highly anticipated new album “Holy Weather” came out at the end of March.
Song to check out: “Fire Escape.” This one’s pretty much on repeat for me.
All caught up? Good. Go out and enjoy the music. Just remember to drink plenty of water, be respectful of other concert goers and try not to eat too many Guatemalan insanity peppers that end up taking you on a spiritual journey led by a space coyote.
Andrew Cothern is a self-proclaimed music freak, although he prefers the term “connoisseur” and writes about music daily in his blog RVAPlaylist. He loves discovering new music and will gladly make you a mixtape if you ask him. He may even make you two.