The casual observer might have thought that Kalush Orchestra’s Eurovision win had set off a full-on Ukrainian rock invasion. For Isle Of Wight alt-rock sensation Wet Leg’s biggest London show to date, singer Rhian Teasdale skipped onstage beaming broadly in traditional Eastern European dress. That she was soon singing songs about alcoholism (Being In Love), masturbation (Wet Dream) and being too high to shop properly (Supermarket), though, suggested she’d already fully acclimatised to local Kentish Town culture.
Here was a prime – and somewhat prim – example of the clash of the wholesome and salacious that has made Wet Leg the indie rock breakout band of the decade so far. Teasdale, alongside her demure blonde sidekick Hester Chambers, has concocted a seductive cocktail of Gen Z’s insouciant, Tinder-deadened anguish, the early PJ Harvey’s forthright sexuality, South London’s angular attitude and The Cardigans’ butter-wouldn’t-melt melodies.
It’s a formula that – with an added dash of wit in the form of Mean Girls muffin gags and deadpan invitations for the hotties in the front row to come backstage for beer – sent their effervescent debut single Chaise Longue viral and their superb self-titled debut album to number one, rammed the field at Glastonbury and garnered them four Grammy nominations. And for fifty fabulous, flab-free minutes they sprayed it over the Forum like a post-punk foam party.
Crossing guitar necks and spewing riffs reminiscent of Beetlebum-era Blur over tracks like Oh No and Ur Mum – for which the entire crowd joined in Teasdale’s “longest and loudest scream” section, set to become their version of My Bloody Valentine’s white noise barrage – Wet Leg spent much of the set rewiring the Nineties like a hardcore Beabadoobee.
But their range and potential proved far wider. Convincing and I Don’t Wanna Go Out were indie pop songs turned oceanic. Obvious built from a mirrorball torch song into an operatic aria laced with Mercury Rev bowed-saw atmospherics. The thunderous Angelica was firmly in step with the modern grunge of Wolf Alice. And Too Late Now, cut through with crystalline guitar lines, saw Teasdale morph from Cocteau Twins chanteuse to monotone speed-rapper despairing at judgemental dating apps and the pressures of intimate grooming.
The charismatic charm of the pair – “People in the top bunk, hello,” Teasdale said, waving to the balcony – and the sheer excitement in the room suggested that, in more tribal times, an entire scene of imitators would have been swiftly mustered around Wet Leg. For now, though, they’re a stand-alone phenomenon.
Come the inevitable Chaise Longue finale, pandemonium broke out onstage and off; an invasion of milkmaids and yetis swamped the band while the crowd danced like they’d finally found the pivotal party band of their generation. Like the song says, what are you doing sitting down?