Ron Backus

Live Review: Wet @ Scala 23/3/16

Ron Backus

I’ve had my eye on Wet since I found their debut EP late at night a couple of years ago while putting off working on an essay. Their The XX crossed with Purity Ring synth driven indie pop was comforting during that 2am panic, but I also felt disappointed that I was never going to see them perform live. What was the chance of an American band which was self-releasing their material on Bandcamp coming across the Atlantic any time soon? Fortunately, Wet were picked up by Columbia last year and I got to see them at the Scala in support of their excellent first full length album Don’t You.

Wet have the luxury of bringing a great set of songs on tour, but they also clearly worked hard on their live show. They were reserved, but calm and confident onstage. Vocalist Kelly Zutrau’s open expressions of gratitude to the crowd between songs contributed further to the intimate, chilled out atmosphere.

The hazy feel of Wet’s set was helped by their side lighting set up which meant Kelly shifted between being lit up brightly and being caught in the shadows of her bandmates when they came to the front of the stage. Marty Sulkow took this spotlight when he brought his guitar to the front of the stage, away from his pedalboard full of reverb. Meanwhile, on the other side of the stage, Joe Valle showed his versatility by swapping between managing a stack of synths and drum pads and stepping forwards to play bass guitar instead.

Kelly has spoken about the importance of loss to her writing and this really shows in her post-romantic lyrics. Breakups are a pretty common theme for songs, but Kelly’s lyrics stand out because they have the sincerity and insight of songs like Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Emotion‘ and Deafheaven’s ‘Unrequited‘. Despite Wet’s chilled out instrumentation, there’s an emotional intensity comes from this which elevates their material. Delicate but never fragile, her voice is every bit as effective live as it is on record.

Like other headline acts I’ve seen with only one album to their name, Wet’s set was shorter and more homogeneous than I would have preferred. I still really enjoyed myself though! Wet will come back with more songs and, if you’re at all into synthesisers and melancholy, you should be in the crowd with me when they do.

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