(Wet Leg on stage in 2021)
Oxford Art Factory, July 25 2022
THERE WAS A REAL END OF TERM/end of tour feel to this gig which closed the short, occasionally mud-encrusted, but joyous first visit of the Isle of Wight’s second most famous (but easily cooler than Level 42) band.
It wasn’t sloppy, but it was certainly relaxed and peppered with in-jokes and on-stage amusement, often directed at drummer Henry Holmes. He, incidentally, along with fellow longhairs, bass player Ellis Durand and guitarist/synth player Josh Mobaraki, looked like they had been picked up locally by main Leggers, Rhiann Teasdale and Hester Chambers, sourced from a mix of Perth’s psych scene and Sydney’s northern beaches stoners.
Outwardly, between-song conversation with the audience was rare and brief, but when it happened you would have been excused for thinking there’d been something, ahem, herbal pre-show. In the second half of the set, principal vocalist Teasdale announced, enunciating very carefully, “I’m just going to take a moment to tie my shoelace”. Which she did. Even funnier, a friend leaned over to me and predicted “that will be the first line to their next single”, and not only do I reckon he is not wrong, I’d buy it.
And when the originals ran out – with only one album behind them and short songs aplenty, the show only just made it to the one-hour mark – but the crowd were chanting for one more, Wet Leg launched into a hectic cover of Smoko from piss-taking/piss-sinking Sunshine Coast pop/punkers The Chats, leading a universal chanting of the chorus “I’m on smoko, so leave me alone”.
There was something sweet about it all, which only emphasised how the dryly-delivered, attitude-plus manner of the record was, in the flesh, more like a gas than sass. Thanks to Holmes and Durand’s knock-kneed swing there was some genuine sultriness in the busy Wet Dream, Teasdale’s and Chambers’ guitars played Oh No like it was fuzzy Japanese pop, Angelica was properly snake-hipped, and the glowing hum of Ur Mum had its spikiness delivered with a rounded point (even the mass scream was one long giggle) so the almost insolent tenor we already knew was blurrier, almost honeyed.
On the other hand, some songs which on the album which felt thick-waisted and regulation, such as Supermarket and Loving You, came across as building up from a solid base rather than being a premature stab at “maturity”. While not as sparky as the effervescent singles they at least felt more native-to-the-band on stage.
As the financial commentators like to say, it’s still early days with this offshore stock and while there’s a fair bit of growth potential built into Wet Leg, you’d be wise not to expect consistent return on investment, even across one hour. But when the bouncing/grinning/kick-up-your-footsie index of set-closer, Chaise Longue, pays dividends like it did once again here, you’d want to keep this band in your portfolio.