Asheville-based band Wednesday played to a sold-out Mississippi Studios on Monday in Portland, supported by Cryogeyser, just weeks after the release of their newest album Rat Saw God. The rainy weather did nothing to scare away the crowd nor the bands, and the small venue was nearly full when Cryogeyser arrived on stage. Fronted by lead-singer and guitarist Shawn Marom, with Hunter Martinez on bass and McCoy Kirgo on drums, the band simultaneously put the crowd at ease and set the ambiance for the night. Cryogeyser played their first few grunge-meets-dream-pop tracks with the skill and stage presence of seasoned musicians. The friendship between the two groups–Cryogeyser and Wednesday–was evident from the moment that the show started, and both bands happily traded members at different points during their respective sets.
The excitement in the room was palpable when Wednesday took the stage, and they did not disappoint the eager crowd. The quintet is made up of Karly Hartzman (vocalist/guitarist), MJ Lenderman (guitarist), Alan Miller (drummer), Margo Shultz (bassist) and Xandy Chelmis (steel player). Opening with the ingeniously-titled scorcher “Hot Rotten Grass Smell,” they quickly showcased the niche they’ve managed to carve in the all-encompassing “indie music” genre. Masters of an addicting combination of country, shoegaze, and rock, as evidenced by the excellent track “Quarry,” another highlight of the new album, Wednesday is certainly a group to watch. A shining moment of the night was hearing “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin Double),” a cover of the classic Gary Stewart song, from Wednesday’s cover album Mowing Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up. A well-done cover is an art in itself, and Wednesday pulled it off live with style. Their signature addition of heavy guitar and strong vocals add a rollicking edge to the melancholy tune.
Country music is clearly having a resurgence, and by combining smooth steel guitar licks and whiny southern twang with angsty lyrics and intense instrumentals, Wednesday’s unique country flair is enough to make anyone say “yee-haw.”
After taking shots of whiskey generously sent from the audience, Wednesday wrapped up the show with the appropriately climactic “Bull Believer.” The crowd’s energy grew with the band’s, while lead singer Karly Hartzman’s voice reached the peak of its power. The song ended with nearly a minute of yelling, screaming, and singing all wrapped into one cathartic package. The entire show, and particularly this song, felt like a release and a triumph for the band and the crowd combined. The members of Wednesday put everything they had into that final song, and then, just as promised when Hartzman stated: “We don’t do encores,” they thanked the audience and promptly left the stage, leaving the intensity of their performance hanging heavy in the air.
You can listen to Wednesday and Cryogeyser on a streaming platform near you.