House shows get rowdy. Things get broken. The cops get called. The liquor cabinet gets raided. Sketchy guys named Trevor show up and seem not to know anyone, yet proceed to grab an armful of beers and stash them in his van out front before coming back in and attempting to sell acid to all your friends claiming that it’s ‘really cool stuff’. House shows exhibit all the recklessness of a standard house party in addition to an elevated sense of enthusiasm influenced by the primal impetus of organic rhythm. Blood runs hot as a living room turned auditorium pulses with every drum kick and guitar wail, shaking the neighborhood with waves of vibration.
House shows are also iconic. People dance. Drunken friendships are discovered. New fans are planted. They’re the historical birthplaces of some of the world’s greatest musical careers, and Utah-based psych rock outfit The Wednesday People are no strangers to this phenomenon. In fact, they’re often the catalyst on such an occasion. On their third tour through the Pacific Northwest in the last 8 months, the Ogden locals stopped by a modest bungalow in the heart of SE Portland to shake things up on St. Patrick’s Day.
With couches and other miscellaneous furniture stashed in various corners of the house, the open living room was far from the smallest stage they’d ever cozied into. Projected graphics of splashing colors were cast onto a white sheet strewn over the large window at the front of the house, treating passers by to a glowing light show as the silhouetted players swayed across the illuminated glass. The vibrant scene cultivated an atmosphere of personified rhythm and collective flow among a captivated audience.
It’s been a busy year for the Wednesday people. Since last summer they’ve been on three tours, exchanged band members, played countless shows in the Salt Lake and PNW areas and beyond (a fair share of houses, of course), and recorded a new album. Despite some considerable setbacks over that time, they still demonstrate a strong buoyancy in regards to their current position as a band. The present lineup only includes one of its original members since their inception a few years ago, but you’d never guess it when they take the stage. Looking at them individually, they’re all such expressive players – both in their visage as well as the cadence and inflection of their notes. Woven together, they play like a seasoned touring act, reverberating off each others’ motions in continuously intricate waves. As it was laughingly mentioned after the show, “If a band is just playing their parts and not actually jamming with each other, I’m somehow oddly offended by it.”
Close to the nucleus of their ethos as a band lies this essential camaraderie, a peculiar magnetism that seems to constantly attract a harmonious crowd. As drummer Josh Arena put it, “[When we first started playing with this lineup], the way everyone came together, our musical talent just meshed so well. It felt like we were all growing at the same time.” Though they definitely have their differences, each member exhibits the same persona of casual spontaneity, and they interpret ‘going with the flow’ in an almost literal connotation. They’re the type that is up for anything from picking up and heading to the bar on a Wednesday, (yes, pun intended) to dropping everything and hitting the road for a tour on two day’s notice. That’s exactly how they found a fill-in bassist for this trip, utilizing a mutual connection through another band. They also secured a part-time live sound engineer after he invited them to a party, having only met a couple hours earlier while playing a show in Logan, UT. These powers of symbiotic flexibility reflect heavily in their style on stage. Song after song, The Wednesday People guide their audience through odysseys of stylistic improvisation, harvesting a contagious energy that encourages even the stiffest bodies to gyrate.
This organic musical chemistry has undoubtedly proven to be an integral element to their momentum in recent months, and it’s revealing new lights on the horizon. I met up with the group last Fall when they played at The Waypost in NE Portland, and they expressed feelings of content with living in the Salt Lake area. When asked about the same subject on this recent tour, they had a slightly different answer. “It’s crossed our minds [to move out of Utah]. We really love Portland and the Northwest. It’s hard to say what will happen, but we think more about it all the time.” They’re faced with a conflicting dilemma; it’s no small decision to leave an already-established network in their home state and start fresh in a new city, but a larger market might offer more opportunity for growth. Although, considering the frequency and recurring success of their tours through Cascadia, their neighborhood seems to have already begun to widen.
They’ll soon be satisfying this network with an arsenal of new material, with their first full-length LP set to release late this Spring. They wouldn’t divulge much, but I was able to squeeze out a few details about the album. In a conversation with the frontman and lead guitarist Kaden Ward and Elijah White, respectively, they hinted that it will likely portay an expansive and sometimes experimental take on their already diverse style. The album will also feature a healthy dose of bluesy saxophone, adding a bolstering heartiness to their sound (which I was particularly excited to hear – I’m a sucker for a good horn section). You can rest assured that you’ll hear about it from yours truly when the LP is finally released.
The St. Patty’s show offered a taste of what to expect from the album, and needless to say, The Wednesday People left no shortage of desperate anticipation. Vibes at the house ran high until late into the night, so much so that even when the cops did finally show up, they stood at the curb bobbing their heads for a few minutes before finally venturing onto the porch and asking to speak with a resident. “Honestly, we wish we could be in there celebrating with you guys. But rules are rules, and it’s way passed the noise ordinance.” Thus, there was no choice but to pull the plugs. Interestingly enough, the PPB wasn’t called because of the noise, but rather because they received complaints of a thunderous vibration, shaking walls and rattling the dishes in cabinets of nearby houses. This was of course thanks to 3 inches of foam padding that was no match for the 3.5ft, 60lb sub woofer that rested on top of it. That, and apparently the bass amp went up to 11.
Despite being begrudginly cut short, they left with a slew of new fans and friendships after a truly hypnotizing performance. Be it a network, an audience, new fans, or a living room to play in, The Wednesday People will always have a home in Portland.
Peeled straight from the new LP, check out S.O.T. below.