Do “best of” lists really tell you what the best out there?
A good friend of mine recently went on a tirade regarding best of lists. She says they’re over saturating publications and blogs and starting to lose real meaning. I agree with her, but also understand that people love reading best of lists. So, with her help, I’ve come up with a (hopefully) more creative music-related Best of Richmond list.
Best place to lose your hearing: Canal Club
It’s most metal and punk bands that play here, so it’ll be loud. Plus, between sets the venue bares hard rock music. Remember the earplugs.
Best place to feel old: Kingdom
The former Alley Katz usually books punk bands with members who aren’t old enough to drive. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve had a good 10 years on the rest of the crowd.
Best place to feel young: Strange Matter
The age of people at any given Strange Matter show always runs the gamut. It doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone’s there to have a good time.
Best small venue to bring big name bands: The Camel / Strange Matter
All of Richmond’s venues bring in great music, but these two have been knocking them out of the park recently with acts like Real Estate and Kurt Vile (Strange Matter) and Hotel Lights and Future Islands (The Camel).
Best sound: Tobacco Company
Anytime I see a band perform here, the sound is pristine and clear. Not many venues can claim that.
Best place to check out undiscovered talent: The Listening Room at the Firehouse Theater
Every month, the Listening Room features some of the best local (and some out of town) acts. You’ll always hear something new here and go home with a new favorite artist.
Best venue to see artwork: The Camel
Every month, the walls of the Camel feature great works from talented local artists. While you’re waiting for some great local music to start playing, check out great local artwork without having to leave the venue.
Best record shop: Steady Sounds
No contest. There’s always some great find in the bins or a fun in-store performance at Richmond’s newest record store.
Best place to people watch: The Republic
I’ve seen couples break up, a girl try to get behind the bar, frat boy dancing and people sleeping – all while checking out great music.
Best place to find a mixed crowd: Balliceaux
Whether you’re drinking a martini or a PBR, the fancy dressed people and the hipsters fit right together here.
Best bar food: The Camel
The sweet potato cheese fries are to die for. Plus, they just redid their entire kitchen and debuted a new menu. Eating and music go hand in hand here.
Best kept secret venue: GlobeHopper Coffee
This tiny coffee shop in Shockoe Bottom is getting on the music bandwagon and hosting some really amazing nights of music. Past shows have included Jonathan Vassar and the Speckled Bird, the Whispering Tree, the Low Branches, the Richmanian Ramblers and many others. Grab a cup, find a seat and enjoy some music.
Best venue to have a drink unapologetically dumped on you: The National
It depends on the crowd, but I’ve always had drinks spilled on me at the National – even when there’s not a big crowd. People at the smaller venues respect their drinks too much to spill them.
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.