Wet Leg made a joyous splash at their first U.S. show (pics, setlist, review)
Wet Leg have had quite a year. Make that six months. The Isle of Wight duo released their quotable earworm of a debut single, "Chaise Longue," and its equally memorable, high-kicking video in June, and let that ride for the rest of the summer. After releasing a second single in September, "Wet Dream," they sold out three NYC shows, not to mention shows in L.A. and San Francisco. All on the basis of two songs. It wasn't until just a week ago that they announced their debut album and shared a couple more equally catchy songs, just in time for their Stateside debut.
There is a real sense of fun to Wet Leg's songs, not to mention an emphasis on big hooks and considered style, that hearkens back to the mid-'00s when there were what seemed like a new UK buzz band hitting NYC every week, usually all making their debut at Mercury Lounge. So it seemed fitting for the band, led by Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, to have their first show there, as well, and my mind drifted back to seeing another Domino Records band who didn't have an album out yet, Arctic Monkeys, play their first show there 16 years ago. In much the same way, I wasn't sure what to expect going in, despite liking the only four songs anyone has heard, but I was won over pretty quick, as was most of the industry-heavy crowd.
While at least one person in the crowd seemed to be echoing the band's prairie dress style from their videos, Teasdale and Chambers looked very modern and sharp in a black suit and a cocktail dress, respectively. They did, however, nod to their pastoral Isle of Wight home by walking out to Howard Shore's "Bag End" theme from The Lord of the Rings. A funny start a very enjoyable show.
The band were clearly a little zonked from jetlag -- they only got in last night -- and Teasdale started "Don't Want to Go Out" again after just playing it, and broke down laughing when she forgot the intro to rarely played "Piece of Shit," but they were also clearly buzzing off the excitement of these first U.S. shows, and had smiles on their faces the whole time. The whole band, including guitarist/keyboardist Josh Mobaraki, drummer Henry Holmes and bassist Ellis Durand, seemed to be having a blast. Perhaps overcome with the New York Groove, Wet Leg also busted out a spirited cover of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer."
I'm happy to report that there's lots more where "Chaise Longue," "Wet Dream" and "Too Late Now" came from. There were at least four other songs they played during their 14-song, 50-minute set that were as hooky as the singles they've released so far, and I liked the whole set, which found a middle ground between Pavement and Tegan and Sara. "Supermarket" and "Loving You," with its big guitar riff and "doo wee ooh" chorus, seem like contenders for future singles. There was also the jazzy, swoony "Obvious," the skronky, noisy "Oh No" and "Being in Love," and another potential single, "Angelica," which they played right before finishing up with a joyous, singalong "Chaise Longue." Wet Leg are good.
Opening the show was JW Francis who made the most of his captive audience with a gregarious, goofy onstage presence and sound that was not a million miles from Mac DeMarco. He also clearly understood his position, saying "we're gonna keep it short and sweet as Wet Leg’s who we're here to see," while being as memorable as possible. He introduced his band members twice, and made sure everyone there knew he was playing a second show later that night at TV Eye.
Check out photos from Mercury Lounge by Amanda Hatfield, along with a few fan-shot videos and the setlist, below.
Wet Leg play Union Pool on Wednesday and Baby's All Right on Thursday, and both shows are sold out. They'll also be on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Wednesday night, and will be back this spring for a full North American tour around SXSW, including a much, much bigger NYC show at Brooklyn Steel on March 10 which was moved from Music Hall of Williamsburg (tickets). Their self-titled debut is out April 8 via Domino.
SETLIST: Wet Leg @ Mercury Lounge 12/7/2022
Too Late Now
It's Not Fun
I Don't Wanna Go Out
Piece of Shit
Being in Love