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The cutting but empathetic post-punk of Fiddlehead

Friday, February 7, Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9 p.m., free

Friday, February 7, Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9 p.m., free. Info

Fiddlehead are something of an anomaly. The Boston band’s just a touch too soft for post-hardcore purists but far too cutting and cynical for large swaths of the overly-polite-indie-rock crowd. Following a bruising debut EP in 2014, the band leaned further into their more melodic tendencies for 2018’s Springtime And Blind, their first effort for renowned emo label Run For Cover. Both PunkNews and exclaim! greeted Springtime And Blind with astonishing reviews, validating what many in Massachusetts already knew: Fiddlehead were onto something. 

In the years following the band’s initial 2014 EP, the band got something of an odd assist as the members’ other projects rose in stature. Have Heart, Intent, Big Contest, and Basement all saw expanded interest, despite some of those acts being defunct. As a result, their reputation became ascendant, first regionally, and then nationally. During that time, the band habitually sharpened their live show into a deadly force, adding to their growing notoriety.  

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All of that effort has culminated with the band’s latest release, the Get My Mind Right 7-inch, which plays like a career summation across its two tracks. Were it not for the swelling feedback that cuts into the opening riffs of the title track, “Get My Mind Right” could have easily turned into a power-pop song, instead veering left into harsher terrain. Over the time that follows that intro, Fiddlehead indulge in fleeting moments that tip their collective hat towards every genre in their genetic makeup: the traded-off backing vocal shouts in the chorus recalling classic punk, the strained vocals embracing their post-hardcore roots, the song’s structure owing a debt to post-punk, and the casually pleading, life-or-death stakes of the outro drawing a direct line to the Midwestern emo and pop-punk bands that served as the foundation for their current label.

Stay In The Room,” the B-side of Get My Mind Right, finds Fiddlehead embracing their post-punk sensibilities to the furthest extent, falling somewhere between Shellac and Sunny Day Real Estate. Two minutes’ worth of dynamic tension and an abundance of conviction, “Stay In The Room” paints a short but familiar story of a protagonist choosing to succumb to a depressive state when faced with the option of total isolation or burdening others. Fiddlehead find cathartic release in the frustration, proving their worth beyond musicality. Misery loves company, and this about as knowingly empathetic as company gets.

Fiddlehead will be bringing their anxiety-ridden discography and punishing live set to the Memorial Union Rathskeller on Friday, February 7 to headline a perfectly curated show. Oshkosh’s Cricket and Madison’s own Parsing will open, both acts serving as perfect complements to the headliner, rounding out what should be one of the season’s more memorable shows.

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