Bittersweet Wednesday Recollections

By David DiazMay 23, 2024

Bittersweet Wednesday Recollections
WEDNESDAY with DRAAG, The Bellwether, Los Angeles, May 17, 2024.

My mid-twenties were a strange time. I was perpetually poor, carless (and soon, following a theft from the side of my house in Lakewood, bikeless); I subsisted on a diet of canned beans, chicken sandwiches from Dollar Tree, and Kessler whiskey, a combination that kept me in the best shape I would ever know. I had been unable to find a decent job after college and felt endlessly, impossibly stuck—still, I had a feeling even then that I’d look back on this era as a special time. Maybe not longingly (and possibly, though the thought terrified me, from an even worse place) but definitely from a distance, with perspective and yarn to spin.

Wednesday, a five-piece band from Asheville, North Carolina, is masterful at capturing these kinds of memories, that prickly yet intoxicating nostalgia so essential to a person’s story; bittersweet recollections seem baked into every riff and lyric they write. It’s probably unsurprising, then, that when I was lucky enough to finally see them live at the Bellwether Friday night—accompanied by one of my best friends, the person who introduced me to their music—the sensation produced was cozy, like I was reading a high school yearbook or watching old videos on my Razr.

Los Angeles–based post-punk/shoegaze band Draag opened the show. I’ve listened to their songs on playlists, and have seen their name on bills over the years (as part of events put on by KXLU’s The Witching Hours, for instance, or at Echo Park Rising). I’d never seen them in the flesh, though, and as they played songs from their 2023 record Dark Fire Heresy like “Demonbird,” as well as cuts from their most recent EP, Actually, the quiet is nice, I was taken with the mosaic of sound they unveiled. The front woman’s microphone could have used a bit of turning up; otherwise, their brand of electrogaze, sometimes punk (channeling bands like Lush, Turnover, and Slowdive), was moving, at once reminiscent and fresh.

Then, without further ado, Wednesday came on to completely, irrevocably steal the audience’s collective Friday night. Their hyper-acute mix of genres like folk rock, country, shoegaze, grunge, and noise—even doom—blew me away the first time I listened to their 2021 album Twin Plagues. It was a gift to hear tracks from that record live, as well as some from their most recent release, Rat Saw God (2023), and their forthcoming album. Crooning the lyrics to songs like “Quarry” and “Bull Believer” over the drawling cry of a lap steel guitar, the band offered snapshots of seemingly mundane yet often (in retrospect) magnificent moments in our day-to-day lives. Like old 8mm reels boxed away in our attics, these experiences don’t always matter at the instant of their capture—yet they mean everything when we watch them years later and are brought back to that birthday, that backyard barbecue, that Christmas morning before the fallout.

Even with my view partially blocked by the annoyingly tall man in front of me (who crept backwards until I could nearly smell his head), Wednesday’s set was untouchable. Sometimes, the chance that a favorite band will play like shit live brings on plutonium-grade anxiety. But Wednesday was impeccable, sounding equally as sharp in person as their music does belting from my car speakers. As I do with memories from my mid-twenties (or any other sordid or enchanting chapter of my past), I can’t wait to look back and cherish moments like these that prove I’m alive.


Photo by contributor.

LARB Short Takes live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

David Diaz is a writer and educator living in Los Angeles, who holds an MFA from CSU Long Beach. His poetry has been published by Tia Chucha Press, San Pedro River Review, Querencia Press, and Tiny Splendor, and his freelance journalism can be found in Locale Magazine and L.A. Taco


Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Help us continue this work with your tax-deductible donation today!