There’s something inherently cool about seeing a musician perform before they hit the big time. I remember my mom telling me about the time her and my dad saw George Strait at a hole-in-the-wall honky-tonk before Strait “blew up”.
I instantly awarded them ‘cool’ points. I don’t know what it is that makes it ‘cool’, but there’s something to it. It could be that it provides a memory that grows more valuable over time, like an investment. Maybe it’s the stories you get to tell…bragging rights. Or maybe it validates what you already knew about yourself: you have great taste in music. I’ve seen a couple of bands before their time, and they’re shows that I’ll never forget. In any event, on the 30th of August, I had another one of these experiences at the Aztec Theatre when I went and saw the band, Wet Leg.
I have a buddy that I met in college who lives in Massachusetts. We don’t talk as much as we used to, but we try and keep in touch as much as possible, and when we do, we trade music. He sent me a text in December of last year. It was just the words “you’re welcome” with a YouTube link for the Wet Leg video for the song “Chaise Longue”. I loved the song. It’s an earworm. Super catchy. The video was great. The band had personality. I remember saying to one of my buddies at the time, “this band is going to be huge.” I went to Spotify and looked for an album. No album. Just a couple of singles. Checked their Bandcamp page. No album.
Some time passed, and, finally, a preorder for the eponymous Wet Leg debut album became available from my distributors, so I bought about 15 copies for my shop, Southtown Vinyl. The record released in April. Sales were slow at first, but they started to pick up, and by the time I heard they were coming to San Antonio it was already time to order more.
A buddy of mine who I’d turned on to Wet Leg texted me in July and told me he’d gotten us a couple of tickets to their show. I was stoked, but I didn’t really have any idea what to expect in terms of a performance. New bands with only one album under their belt can be kind of hit or miss when it comes to live performances.
The face of Wet Leg is comprised of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, both from the Isle of Wight. Teasdale and Chambers met in college, played in other bands, then got together to form Wet Leg after doing some recon on the music festival scene. The rest of the band was brought in almost certainly by the producer extraordinaire, Dan Carey (Carey has produced for Fontaines D.C., Squid, The Lounge Society, La Roux, Grimes, Black Midi, Bloc Party, Yeasayer, Tame Impala, Hot Chip, Franz Ferdinand, Brazilian Girls, Sia, Kylie Minogue, and Fatboy Slim, among many, many, many others). Presumably, members Henry Holmes (drums), Ellis Durand (bass), and Josh Mobaraki (synths/guitars) are session and touring musicians with Teasdale and Chambers being the core members of Wet Leg. The first album is what you would expect of Dan Carey’s production. It’s clean. It’s tight. It’s well produced.
Although there was no opening act listed, the audience was treated to the sounds and theatrics of the band Faux Real. Faux Real are brothers Virgile and Elliot Arndt. There was no backing band, so the brothers sang to backing tracks of their tunes. There was some flute and sax and lots of dancing. The audience seemed to be really engaged, especially when the brothers made their way singing and dancing into the crowd. For me, their act seemed to embody something of Erasure but was so over the top as to border on parody. I could see the appeal, but I was ready for the headliner.
I would venture to say that I’ve never seen a band with only one album under their belt perform as tight as Wet Leg did that evening. The songs were spot on. They played all their tunes from the album, and I believe I heard one that wasn’t on the album at some point. They were flawless. They could’ve recorded their set and sold it as a live album.
The only time one would get a sense that this is a band who isn’t made up of seasoned touring veterans was during the interstitial parts of the performance. There were some silences in which a certain bashfulness shone through, but these pauses were less awkward than charming. Chambers appeared the shyer out of the two with Teasdale doing most of the talking. While they’ve certainly been touring a lot, I got the sense that for the most part, Teasdale didn’t know what to say and was just enjoying the experience of having a couple thousand people psyched to see her. This, I believe, endeared the performance and the band to the audience.
It was a great show, and I’d go see them again, but if I do, it will be on a much bigger stage with a much bigger audience. Wet Leg is currently slated to open for Harry Styles on his upcoming tour, which will no doubt propel them into superstardom. But I’ll have the bragging rights and the memory of watching them perform for a couple thousand people at the Aztec Theatre. And that’s pretty cool.
What I’m listening to:
Wombo – Fairy Rust
Built to Spill – Spiderweb
Trudy and the Romance – Junkyard Jazz
Forthcoming vinyl releases of note:
The Mars Volta – The Mars Volta 9-16-22
Pink Floyd – Animals (2018 Remix) 9-16-22
Aaliyah – Ultimate Aaliyah 9-16-22
Tommy Newman is the owner and operator of Southtown Vinyl.