Wednesday Was Chosen To Deserve

As an expat of the great state of North Carolina, I’ve never felt more at home in Dallas than during Wednesday’s concert this Sunday at Deep Ellum’s Club Dada. This is the band’s fourth stop on their North American tour promoting their latest album Rat Saw God, and it is their first time in Dallas since a performance at Cheapsteaks last year. Wednesday’s uniquely North Carolinian mix of shoegaze, country, and alt-rock transported me back to my home state.

I was initially a little nervous when I noticed that there were only two people waiting beside me for doors to open at 7pm. I knew it was going to be an intimate show, but I didn’t expect it to be that intimate. But by the time opener Cryogeyser took the stage at 8, Dada was packed with indie kids, middle-aged rock fans, and a lot of girls with Angel Olsen bangs.

Cryogeyser’s set began very casually. The pre-show music was still playing and audience members were still moving in from the venue’s outdoor patio when the three-piece band climbed on stage. Lead singer Shawn Marom quickly beckoned for the audience to close the two-foot gap between the stage and the audience, potential hearing damage be damned. Cryogeyser fans live fast and die young. A few songs in, I was already feeling that familiar fuzziness of future tinnitus in my ears (Radio UTD does not endorse not wearing ear protection at concerts).

Cryogeyser filled their 45-minute set with a solid mix of fan favorites from their 2019 album Glitch and their 2020 EP Love Is Land, as well as newer tracks. While their recorded songs sound like a cross between indie pop and shoegaze, the live performance really brought out the rock elements. With a ton of reverb and guitar fuzz, Cryogeyser had the whole Dada audience doing the subtle indie rock head nod. A highlight of the night was when Wednesday’s bassist Ethan Baechtold joined the band on stage to perform an unreleased track, adding a little depth to their sound.

If Cryogeyser brought out the head nods, Wednesday had the crowd properly headbanging. The tone for the night was set with their first song, “Hot Rotten Grass Smell,” which starts with an almost lo-fi opening before breaking out into chaos with shrieking electric guitars and lead singer Karly Hartzman recounting memories of nail salon neon signs and police tape. The band then performed two songs from their 2021 album Twin Plagues: “Cody’s Only,” a quasi-love song full of regret, and “Toothache,” a song that compares a leaky gutter to the dripping nose of a child with swine flu.

Wednesday then performed a selection of songs from Rat Saw God, much to the annoyance of an audience member that yelled at them to “play the old stuff.” Karly was very apologetic each time she introduced one of the slower songs such as “Formula One” or “What’s So Funny,” very aware that the attention spans of the hardcore alt-rock fans in the crowd are on the shorter side. However, I personally appreciated the opportunity to calm down and sway to her twang-inflected vocals and Xandy Chelmis’s steel guitar. It was like being taken to the most depressing honky-tonk in town. And luckily for the rock fans, the band also brought out songs like “Bath County,” “Quarry,” and “Chosen to Deserve,” which sounds like arena country rock if the genre was made by cool people.

Even the annoying guy that requested older music saw his wish granted when Wednesday performed songs from their first two albums. I was particularly excited to hear the song following the Fall Out Boy naming conventions, “How Can You Live If You Can’t Love How Can You If You Do.” The song, understandably shortened to “HCUL” on the handwritten setlist, is probably the closest Wednesday has ever come to making a normal song. Unlike the rest of their discography, which is dominated by collections of fragmented memories and metaphors (frequently without anything resembling a standard verse-chorus structure), “HCUL” is a shockingly traditional song of love and heartbreak. I have listened to the song countless times and even played it a couple of times on my radio show, but hearing it live was something else. I don’t even have a crush on anyone right now and I was still moved.

Wednesday then cycled through fan favorites, including “Handsome Man,” “Maura,” “TV in the Gas Pump,” and “November.” The whole time, I was in awe of just how well they performed. Each member of the band, Karly, Xandy, Ethan, guitarist Jake Lenderman, and drummer Alan Miller worked perfectly together. Even though it might be strange to imagine steel guitar in a shoegaze song, nothing about Wednesday’s performance felt out of place or unnecessary. This sense of collaboration extended beyond just the technical performance, permeating the whole concert. Wednesday just seems like a band of people that really like each other and really like performing music together. In fact, the whole tour group had this very supportive and encouraging energy, as Cryogeyser cheered on Wednesday from the side of the stage during their set. At one point, Shawn from Cryogeyser, beer bottle in hand, even came on stage to perform background vocals on a song, followed by Karly telling the audience “That’s my friend!”

Unfortunately, though, the show had to come to an end at some point. After performing “The Burned Down Dairy Queen” and confirming from the audience that Texas does indeed have Dairy Queens, the band moved on to a perfect final three song run. Once Jake got back from using the bathroom, the band performed “Got Shocked,” a song so quintessentially North Carolinian that the lyrics even mention the death of Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt. They then played “Fate Is…” a crowd and personal favorite off of their first album I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone. The night came to a conclusion with “Bull Believer,” the lead single off of Rat Saw God. The whole eight-minute song was amazing, with each of the members working in complete harmony, climaxing with Karly repeatedly screaming “finish him.”

Although Wednesday did not play an encore song—Karly’s voice is too ruined each night after “Bull Believer”—I’m sure nobody in the audience left the venue unsatisfied. I honestly went into the concert as a more casual listener of Wednesday and left completely converted. I would die for this band. I can’t recommend seeing them live enough; in fact, I’m already planning on seeing them again at their upcoming Charlotte, NC show. And if you weren’t familiar with Wednesday before, make sure to look them up. Just don’t forget to type the keyword “band” after their name.