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Wednesday at Hare & Hounds review: American band showcase raw energy
We sent Jessica Goodman to check out Wednesday's blistering show in Birmingham.
Date published: 7th Nov 2023
It might have been Bonfire Night outside but in Birmingham, Wednesday brought the heat to the Hare & Hounds. With the release of their fifth album 'Rat Saw God' earlier this year, they cemented themselves as one of the best guitar bands of their generation.
Weaving diaristic tales of stagnant days in the small-town south into rich and raw tapestries of sound, their songs are a synthesis of the mundane, the moving and the outright cataclysmic. What makes them stand out from the crowd is their ability to be the most human of things: a deep mixture of contrasting and eclectic ideas.
Whether powering through walls of sound that'd make My Bloody Valentine proud or lingering in soft melodies, the North Carolina based outfit make music that's simultaneously intimate and all-encompassing. Opening their sold-out show at Birmingham's Hare & Hounds with a tender cover of 'Ghost of a Dog' (featured on their third album 'Twin Plagues'), Wednesday were masters of their own domain.
Performing a set that leaned heavily on their latest record, the band were gleefully present in the moment. "Gonna play some country music for you now", they said a few songs into their show, "pretend like we're in Birmingham, Alabama."
Sometimes drowned in reverb, Karly Hartzman's voice echoed through the dark with dreamlike dexterity. Twisting turns of phrase with a dark sense of humour, she's both world-weary and a spirit on fire. Headlining this sold-out show, the band did exactly what they do best: told stories and had a good time.
Pausing after 'Chosen To Deserve', Hartzman described to the crowd how there's a story in that song about her friends in middle school doing Benadryl, and how the girl who told them to do that dropped off the face of the Earth, leaving her long-wondering what happened to her and if she was still even alive. In a strange twist of fate, she received a text from her just a couple of hours before the show. "She's a paralegal!" Hartzman grinned. "Everyone ended up okay. It happens."
Laughing and joking between songs (Are you more hare or hounds? The band asked the crowd, before a scattering of answering barks prompted the recollection that, "we all saw a Weimaraner dog today!"), Wednesday's richly layered performance was an entirely immersive form of escape.
But escapes are only temporary. Wednesday know this. Before their final song, they paused to address the ongoing conflict in Gaza. "There are two Jewish people in this band, myself included", Hartzman said, as she explained having spent this tour trying to hone down what she wanted to use this opportunity on stage to say. "It's not ant-semitic to be pro-Palestine", she asserted, directing everyone to the merch stand where the group had set up a donation point for the Palestine Children's Relief Fund.
As the band started up the blistering 'Bull Believer', Hartzman took a moment to give tribute to the lives senselessly lost. "Tonight, I will scream for all of them".
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.