The viral capabilities of music today have allowed the pandemic-plagued industry to continue pushing onward in a time when live shows were not an option. Throughout lockdown, some musicians found inspiration and others took time off, while the internet enabled listeners to discover the next smash hit. Fairly new to the industry, Wetleg thrived during the pandemic, taking the opportunity to grow as artists. Before their live performance March 26 at the Crocodile in Seattle, WA, I only knew Wetleg from their viral track “Wet Dream,” but was pleasantly surprised by the band’s broad capabilities in their sound and stage presence.
It is safe to say that I didn’t know what art rock was until I experienced Wetleg’s live performance. The genre became more clear after the band’s eclectic and fun set resonated with the crowd. Their opener, Momma, set expectations high as they primed the crowd for an upbeat set with their own unique take on classic rock.
Technology is also to thank for the manipulation of sounds and melodies that make our favorite songs identifiable. These electronic additions to Wetleg’s classic guitar and bass arrangements added an additional dimension to their style of straightforward story telling. Aesthetically, Wetleg was hard for me to comprehend at first, but some of the best art comes from abandoning apprehension.
With a 16 song set, the band balanced their hits throughout the night, keeping anticipation high for their closing track “Chaise Longue” which seemed to be known and adored by everyone in the room.
“Wet Dream” was the band’s third track, which brought energy into the set early on. Overall, the band’s sense of poetry comes from their arrangements and musicality rather than the lyrics within the songs themselves. The literal method of songwriting and, at times cliché word choice work well in tandem, nearly canceling out what I would consider fairly basic lyrics because of the performance they are delivered within.
Lead singer Rhian Teasdale has such a strong, beautiful voice that if I heard her alone, I probably wouldn’t assume she was an indie/art rock band’s lead vocalist, but perhaps a solo performer of ballads and slow jams. Her vocal power mixed with her unique song writing style makes it clear why tracks like “Wet Dream” and “Chaise Longue” have done so well as of late— they sound really good, and they’re very catchy. And as Mommas member Etta Friedman said of Wetleg at the beginning of their set, “They make hits, man.”
There is also something to be said about the diversity of their fan base, as I noticed a few families around me seemed to equally enjoy the set. When a parent and their 17 year old daughter can agree on the likability of any band, I think that’s a win all in itself.
If you’ve yet to experience Wetleg’s musical prowess, there is plenty to discover. The band’s self titled, debut album will drop April 8 and can be streamed on Apple Music and Spotify.