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The Wind In The Trees, Thin, Wanderer, The Central at BarleyPop Live
February 26 @ 6:00 pm - 11:59 pm$12
The Central performing live. Photo by Jacob Artillery.
Four-band bills aren’t as common as they used to be, for various reasons. When one does manage to crop up, it usually warrants an eyebrow arch and some exploratory questioning. Namely: will this be worth the time commitment? And in the case of the quartet of acts slated to play BarleyPop Live on February 26, the answer is a thunderous, resounding yes. It helps, of course, that all four bands are vicious heavyweights who excel when subverting the barriers of grindcore to embrace a wider array of influences. And whose songs mostly clock in under the two-minute mark.
Notably, only one of these bands—Madison’s The Central—is actually from Wisconsin, opening up an opportunity for a local audience to glimpse an inroad to the metal music communities in Minneapolis (Wanderer), New York City (Thin), and Baltimore (The Wind In The Trees). Each act is united in a willingness to defy convention, resulting in tracks that are frequently exhilarating thanks to their moment-to-moment unpredictability. One of the most exemplary instances of this across the bands’ collective discographies is Thin’s “Promenade,” an out-of-nowhere old-timey saloon folk instrumental that’s sandwiched between a host of grimy, brutal tracks of searing grindcore.
Wanderer have a few of their own tricks up their sleeve, incorporating math-y elements into their barrage of heaviness to balance their sound out with the slightest touch of musical levity. “Pure Human Despair,” the band’s latest single, is a crunchy blast of controlled aggression, full of spit, rancor, pinched harmonics, and strategic, high-impact palm-muting. Similarly, The Wind In The Trees pack a brimstone punch that’s delivered through a lightly blown-out production aesthetic that’s at least somewhat reminiscent of Loma Prieta. Architects Of Light, The Wind In The Trees’ latest album, is an end-to-end gauntlet run of unapologetic pulverization replete with guitar shredding, blast beats, and a surprising amount of bounce. Engaging throughout, Architects Of Light is an enormous record that hits with enough blunt force to leave most listeners reeling.
The Central should be the most familiar act to Madisonians, as the band’s been operating here from the jump, The band’s debut album, 2012’s The Ancients Bestow Fire, was a memorably chaotic introduction, and everything the band—a duo made up of Frankie Furillo and Alex Roberts (with Jacob Bedroske on bass for their live shows)—has done or released since then has only upped the proverbial ante. 2020’s Dentist, a blistering full-length of frenetic impulse and highly experimental grindcore, evidenced the band tightening an understanding of what makes their irreverence so vital. “The Most Dangerous Road,” the duo’s most recent single, took that understanding to an even higher level, resulting in their most jaw-droppingly wild work to date. One of the most potent bands in Madison’s punk, hardcore, and metal worlds, The Central will undoubtedly continue to turn heads when they take the stage at BarleyPop Live.
All four of these acts sharing a bill represents a welcome, invigorating jolt for the heavier, more punishing side of Madison’s slate of live music offerings. We rarely see bills that are this stacked for a subgenre this specific. Even if coarse, guttural yelling and piercingly loud grindcore isn’t typically your thing, the bands here are talented enough to warrant making an exception.
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