Monday, May 21, 2012

Damn Near Red

Moving from Williamsburg VA to Richmond VA in the late summer of 1992 was a real culture shock.  Homeless people!  Gunshots!  Left-wing politics!  For me, the biggest difference was in the bands.  In Williamsburg, you'd get a couple of your friends together and play in your parents' garage.  In Richmond, you had to actually be GOOD.  Like, for example, Damn Near Red.
One of the first big shows at the Metro that fall was (I think) Shudder to Think, First 5 Thru, and Damn Near Red.  For some reason I feel like Askance was going to play, but they refused to play a show that cost more than $5.  Maybe it was First 5 Thru that refused.  This completely boggled my young mind.  Why would a band refuse to play a show because it was over $5?  Phrases like "veganism" and "privilege" and "feminism" were completely alien to me then.  Anyway, this guy Brian Moeller (sp) was a blonde art student that wore trenchcoats and went on about the band Damn Near Red.  They typified something called "the Richmond sound" - whatever that was.  I made sure to catch them the next time they played, and was blown away.
I was unaware that bands could have dynamics and contrast and... melodies.  The singer looked like she was born on stage and was singing Latin opera over shoegazery feedback swirls. They had a ridiculously tight yet jarring rhythm section that was just as important as the rest of the band - again, a new concept for me.  I saw them whenever I could and was amazed when I eventually became friends with the bassist and the singer, as I always figured they would be way too cool to consort with the likes of me.  One of my favorite live music experiences was watching them cover Pat Benetar's "Heartbreaker" in someone's basement in front of maybe 30 other people.  Great band.
Some time in the mid 1990's, they recorded with the legendary Mark Smoot:
01 Crusted with Angels
02 Bread of Heav'n or Cutting
03 The Ardent One
04 Full-Throttle Chelsea
05 River Blindness
06 Hey Fabulous
07 The New Onion Persona
08 Regilding the Dome is Brilliant
They also recorded a few songs with David Lowery, but for legal purposes I can not post them.


  1. I can't believe Buttons was right.

  2. Loved this band. Had a total crush on their singer...

  3. Thanks for posting these tracks to YT. I lived in Richmond from '91 until about 2000, and in a fit of nostalgia I decided to google some of the bands I enjoyed then - DNR was one of them, and I agree with everything you say above about them. Very talented and also friendly folks.

  4. Wow. I decided to Google a few bands I used to remember. Thus I found your blog! I remember enjoying this band, but back then I was working two jobs and still broke so I didn't get to see them play but a few times and I never could afford any of their tapes.

    What got me to look for this band was that I had a dream about one of their songs, one that I really loved back then. Can't remember the name of it, and apparently it wasn't on the CD. But I'm glad that you shared the music. I always felt that it was a shame that so many amazing local bands from the 90's just seemed to fade away.

    1. I know there's more than this, and am in regular contact with one of the members of the band. Should I get more?

    2. I had a third generation cassette copy of their demo back in the 90s. Would love to hear it again.

  5. After high school my ex-girfriend attended VCU and started dating a band member of this band. I saw them play in Norfolk at Friar Tucks I believe.I never forgot the band name for some reason.This was in the very early nineties!.