Ask Ian MacKaye, he’ll tell you: There was a time in the mid-‘90s when Richmond was known primarily for instrumental "math rock" bands.
Always a silly term, math rock simply meant musicians who could play their instruments well and move with honed precision through various time signatures, often within the space of one song. Somewhere along the way, it took on a negative connotation akin to heavy metal guitar wankery -- which I suppose is only negative depending on your taste.
Yet some of Richmond’s so-called math rock bands were true originals, capable of drawing from a palette of textural moods, often dark and violent. One of the best back then was a power trio in the truest sense, King Sour, who will be reuniting for the first time in 20 years on April 12 at Hardywood to perform with Dumb Waiter (RVA), Brain Tentacles (Chicago,RVA) and Paint Store (RVA).
The trio features local artist Austin Fitch on guitar, who used to resemble a young Bobby DeNiro sweating hate in “Taxi Driver," musical wunderkind Tom Peloso on bass, who found success as a member of Modest Mouse, and drummer Matt Boyle, who leads the charge by beating the hell out of a small kit.
King Sour delivered an explosive live show, from regional bars and house parties to tours of the U.S. and Canada, that always seemed to build steadily from smoking embers to a three-alarm blaze. They released a 7-inch (“Jonie Loves Choochie”) in 1992 and two albums, “Nipple” (1994) and “Instrumentally Retarded” (1997), before going their separate ways.
“We have worked on trying to put a reunion together for years,” says Fitch, before heading to a bartending gig at McCormark's Irish Pub. “Between Tom on the road with Modest Mouse and kids and jobs it never manifested. Now it looks like Glacial Pace is going to re-release both the King Sour records. We also may be doing some shows with Modest Mouse this spring and summer to help promote it. That lit a fire under us to make it happen.”
Dumb Waiter, Brain Tentacles, King Sour and Paint Store perform at Hardywood: Middle Earth, next to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery at 2410 Ownby Lane on Wednesday, April 12 from 7 to 10 p.m. Cost is $8.