Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA— I think I can count on zero hands how many people I know who can even name an Unwound song, let alone call themselves fans, so after I got over my excitement when the reunion tour was announced last summer, I was a little surprised to learn they were playing Union Transfer (capacity: 1,200), and still more surprised when that show sold out and a second one was added. I’ve long had an objective understanding of the band’s extensive underground cachet; I mean, Numero Group wouldn’t have produced multiple reissue box sets and a pricey coffee table book if there weren’t a market for them. But Unwound’s last Philly show, in 2001, was in a church basement one sixth the size of Union Transfer, and in the intervening time, I haven’t exactly seen legions of Unwound fans loudly pining for their return, unlike the very vocal fans of, say, Fugazi, who went dormant around the same time.
Anyway, apparently, as is my wont, I’ve just been out of the loop, because the place was packed and everyone was stoked, including me. In their heyday, Unwound escaped my notice until just before they broke up, and finally seeing them 20+ years later (though sadly without their original bass player, Vern Rumsey, who passed away in 2020) felt like righting a wrong. I tend to prefer their later material, and the set list skewed earlier, but I didn’t mind. And I wished I had a better view of Sara Lund, one of my favorite drummers, but again, I didn’t mind. I was just happy to be there.
The band said goodbye by tossing flowers out to the audience. Why doesn’t every show end that way?