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Studio Milwaukee Session: Wednesday

Jen Ellis

Dozens of bands and artists release albums every week. Generally, a couple break away from the pack because of their quality or inventiveness or any number of different factors.

Wednesday was one of those bands who built up some heat, with new LP Rat Saw God hailed as one of the year’s best LPs and the band positioned as an act taking the much-discussed “leap.”

Mind you, this was all before the album’s release.

I wondered what kind of impact — if any — all the press and hype and chatter would have on a band whose lyrical content and overall sound are so grounded. If their time at our Walker’s Point studios Tuesday afternoon was any indication, Wednesday don’t seem terribly bothered by the conversation happening around them and just want to play great music.

Talking about their Tuesday night gig opening for Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit at the Riverside Theater, singer and guitarist Karly Hartzman called it “the fanciest, schmanciest tour we’ve ever done. So you roll up to the venue, and it might as well be the Sydney Opera House or something.”

“Even if we get bigger,” she added, “we’ll always be similar to a bar … a bigger and bigger bar-type band.”

That mindset always works just fine for our decidedly non-big space, which makes performances like this one an unforgettable experience for the very big Wednesday fans (and Radio Milwaukee members) on hand.

Leading off the set with “Quarry” eased everyone in, trading relatively muted verses with raucous choruses that upped the energy in the room. Two more tracks from Rat Saw God rounded things out: the quieter “Formula One” (worth a listen just for Xandy Chelmis on lap steel) and “Bath County,” which Hartzman intro’d with a brief explainer about the song’s genesis.

Her conversation with 88Nine music director Erin Wolf delivered even more insight to the fuel that brought the band’s music into being — from brilliant authors to the not-so-brilliant things kids do to fill time in a “bored, suburban town.”

As Wolf signed off, Wednesday lingered on stage with their instruments, raising the hopes of the Radio Milwaukee members (and staff members) in the room that we might get one more song. The band obliged, launching into “Chosen to Deserve” and sending everyone back out into the world with a mood to match the picture-perfect afternoon.

You can hear most of the session using the player at the top of the page, but if you want to experience every single moment when a band rolls through our space, the only way to do that is as a Radio Milwaukee member. Our fall session calendar has filled up fast, so become a member and guarantee your invite today.

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Set list

  1. “Quarry”
  2. “Formula One”
  3. “Bath County”
  4. “Chosen to Deserve” (non-broadcast performance)