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The Mercury Tree, The Central, Poney

  • Communication 2645 Milwaukee Street Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

Two genre-indifferent heavy bands from Madison share the bill with a Portland experimental outfit. Info

The Central.

The Central.

Madison duo The Central has often touched on elements of grindcore—rapid-fire drum patterns that aim for overload, riffs that slither through blown-out low-end—but rarely bothers with the strictures of 30-second, what-just-hit-me song structures. Instead, drummer Alex Roberts and guitarist/vocalist Frankie Furillo are all about flexibility, and seem determined to make curveballs the norm. The Central's 2016 album Discovery Of A Rat incorporated elements of avant-jazz, punchy guitar-pop, and screwball sound collage into the duo's maniacal post-hardcore whirl. The duo went much farther afield on 2018's Sick And Dying, placing cheerful "ooh-ooh" vocal harmonies alongside bracing screams, and building songs around often restrained guitar figures. "Peace At Home" finds The Central experimenting with gospel and R&B influences, crafting hooks that fall right in that space between familiar and just a bit… off. "Quiet Mouse In Muscatine" builds bells, wordless vocals, and creaky percussion noises into an at once tender and unnerving arrangement. And on tracks like "Whatever Happens," Roberts and Furillo still deliver plenty of gnarled, pulverizing heaviness. It all feels impulsive in the extreme, but more often than not The Central deftly pulls of its bizarro-world mix of ideas. Look for some new material in the band's set at this show.

Poney started out in 2005 as a Wausau-based hardcore band, but has embraced elements of prog and metal for years. Over time, Poney's lineups have changed several times and its current members have converged upon Madison (most of them play in other local bands too, including No Hoax, Black Cat, and Cave Curse). Drummer/vocalist Ben Brooks' rugged bellow and furiously churning rhythms have always been pretty central elements, even as the band's songwriting became more complex and melodic. Some of Poney's biggest musical shifts occurred on the 2010 concept album Seamyth (loosely based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner") and on 2018's Pagan Nouveau, an album that uses the sheer heft of Tyler Spatz and Scott Miller's guitars to accentuate soaring hooks. The overall approach of songs like "TV Teeth" and "Cube" is just as dense and aggressive as ever, but there's an overtly melodic approach at work here. A lot has changed since I first heard Poney more than a decade ago, but it still strikes me as one of the most creatively fertile heavy bands around. Poney and The Central play here with Portland, Oregon experimental-rock outfit The Mercury Tree. —Scott Gordon

Earlier Event: May 8