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Headless Death, Essex Muro, Mellow Harsher, The Central (free)

  • Mickey's Tavern 1524 Williamson Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Seeing Mellow Harsher live is one of the most unique and hilarious show-going experiences any Madisonian can have. On record, the Stoughton grindcore trio are seasoned practitioners of the form: lightning-fast songs that often end in half a minute or less, untrammeled aggression, deliberately indecipherable and intense roars and howls from Steve "Steve-O" Halvorson. There is also well-concealed musical craft and accomplishment; guitarist/backing vocalist Graem Menzer and drummer Scott "Goatlord" Roark are easily capable of switching from warp-speed chops-flashing to plodding mono-riff sludgery in the space of a beat. Onstage, however, Mellow Harsher has practically developed into performance art. Most grindcore sets don't tend to last very long, due to the nature of the form. But the band deliberately stretches out between songs, often delving into what can only be called scabrous, improvised standup routines with no fixed end in sight. It's not unheard of for the band to keep playing chicken with the crowd for at least four minutes until one of the members finally decides to start off a song… that lasts for 30 seconds. Then, the comedy resumes where it left off. This would be absolutely insufferable if the band members weren't very funny people, and didn't have a natural sense of just how long they could push their luck. But the group's comic timing and genuinely amusing antipathy for their audience and other bands they've played with means they get away with it most of the time, with deeply funny results. Mellow Harsher doesn't play live very often anymore—Halvorson recently became a father, and Menzer moved to Chicago a few years ago—so every local appearance tends to be a notable occasion. They appear here with the Australian grindcore band Headless Death, the North Carolina hardcore band Essex Muro, and the local, hyper-technical and fascinatingly experimental duo The Central. —Mike Noto

Earlier Event: November 6
Bully, Big Ups
Later Event: November 7
Foo Fighters