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LIVE: WEDNESDAY with MJ LENDERMAN, Perth – 27 February 2024

| 1 March 2024 | Reply

LIVE: WEDNESDAY with MJ LENDERMAN, Perth – 27 February 2024
Reviewed by Harvey Rae

There’s no encores at a Wednesday show. The North Carolina alt-grunge outfit purged like no other in 2023 on monster eight-minute epic Bull Believer, and predictably it closed the night. What could possibly follow it?

Singer Karly Hartzman warned it would be the last song simply because she can’t sing anything afterwards. Its difficult listening finale may alienate some on record, but live it was a cathartic revelation par excellence.

Dedicating “the screaming in this song to the soldier who self-immolated over missiles into Gaza” the day prior was dark but somehow fitting for a band who’ve seen their fair share of darkness growing up in America’s south, and shaking undoubtedly the night’s emotional and sonic peak, Hartzman’s deafening shriek shook the Rechabite’s foundations. Incredible.

This was probably the most memorable double bill of this year’s Perth Festival. Joining forces (and band members) with MJ Lenderman for two very different styles of indie rock, the similar personnel ranging pedal steel guitar to Lenderman and Hartzman themselves (each appeared in both sets) didn’t mean to the two sets had much in common.

MJ “Jake” Lenderman is youthful looking considering he already sounds like an old soul. His alt-country stylings were a revelation, riffing on Bob Dylan early with Knockin’, and delivering yearning pedal steel on TLC Cage Match. “It’s not the same as when we were boys,” went the heartfelt lyrics, surmising, “I know why we get so fucked up.”

Toontown with its Disney references was also memorable when the night’s headliner (and Lenderman’s real life partner) Hartzman joined the stage for some sublime harmonies. Catholic Priest lamented that if he was one, he “would never have to worry about the girls tryin’ to break my heart.” He rocked out on You Have Bought Yourself a Boat, and joked he liked singing about Rip Torn because both names mean the same thing.

A beautiful, soulful set of indie Americana, Lenderman admitted he didn’t know when the follow up to 2022’s acclaimed Boat Songs will arrive, but watch for it when it does.

Wednesday, on the other hand, are relatively fresh in the public’s mind, coming off their phenomenal 2023 album Rat Saw God.

Opening with their ethereal cover of Edie Brickell & New Bohemians’ Ghost of a Dog was surprisingly beautiful, before Hot Rotten Grass Smell was the first taste of the Rat’s material. Making up most of the set with Formula One and Chosen to Deserve also coming early, it somehow sounds even better live.

Whilst Turkey Vultures was a notable omission from their regular setlist, Bath County offered the first taste of Hartzman’s visceral scream. Along with Quarry (up next) these three songs form the backbone of Rat Saw God’s second half.

Leaning into the Wednesday’s southern gothic heart, memorable lyrics like, “Every daughter of God/ Has a little bad luck sometimes” and “Somebody called the cops on Mandy and her boyfriend/ When they busted in they found that her house was a front for a mob thing,” evoked storytelling and people in pain.

We got new songs (Elder Berry), old songs (2021 record Twin Plagues is underrated, and the title track was a highlight), but no encore. That was okay though, because by the time Bull Believer had left collective jaws on the still-shuddering floor, there was really nothing left to say, and nothing that could’ve come next.

Wednesday Setlist:

Ghost of a Dog
Hot Rotten Grass Smell
Wound Up Here
Cody’s Only
Twin Plagues
Formula One
Chosen to Deserve
Bath County
Reality TV
Got Shocked
Fate Is…
Bull Believer



Category: Live Reviews

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