“Philadelphia has always showed up for us, which is crazy, because we’re not from here, but this is our biggest show ever, I think. It’s like our home away from home,” says Wednesday guitarist, vocalist, frontwoman, and founder Karly Hartzman after opening their June 17th headlining set at Union Transfer with “Hot Rotten Grass Smell,” the opening track of the band’s fifth LP (and first for Dead Oceans), which dropped this April. The alt-country-tinged, Asheville-based indie rock act followed this up with “Cody’s Only,” a grungy, shoegazey track off of their third LP, Twin Plagues, which dropped in August of 2021 on Orindal Records.
Although this past Saturday night Wednesday just about sold-out the 1,300-capacity Eraserhood ballroom, just last September they played the far more modest Ukie Club, and in 2021 they played the now-closed Original 13 Ciderworks. However, guitarist Jake Lendermann’s solo project, MJ Lenderman, opened Union Transfer last year for Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson’s Plains, before going on to play sold-out headlining shows at PhilaMOCA and Johnny Brenda’s earlier this year.
Wednesday’s 18-song, 80-minute, encore-less headlining set at Union Transfer featured 8 of Rat Saw God’s 10 tracks, including most recent single “Bath County,” which Rolling Stone said, “… epitomizes Hartzman’s strengths as a storyteller and songwriter, as well as Wednesday’s charged, southern-fried indie rock,” in addition to previous single, “TV in the Gas Pump,” a twangy indie pop number about life on the road. The highlight of the evening was, in fact, recent single, “Chosen to Deserve,” which sounds more than a bit like Lollapalooza 92’s take on heartland rock.
The set also featured tracks from Wednesday’s previous three LPs, including a cover of Gary Stewart’s country classic “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin Double),” off of their 2022 covers LP, Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up. And while Wednesday’s cover of the charmingly boozy heartache anthem maintains the sentimental tone of the original, it infuses the 1975 country chart topper with more than a healthy dose of 120 Minutes alt-rock, proving to be one of the evening’s most memorable performances.