Chicago’s Empty Bottle is the quintessential venue that you catch a band in before they break out. It’s hot, dim and a little cramped, boasting a roughly 50-50 split between bar area and stage.
It’s also the kind of venue where a band can’t hide behind gimmicks. There’s no room for an elaborate light show or props. Either your music is up to par or the audience is in for a long night. Luckily, from the opening notes of their set it was clear Wet was up to the challenge.
The Brooklyn trio opened with “Deadwater,” the lead single off their long-awaited major label debut Don’t You, due out early next year.
“Deadwater” is one of Wet’s sweetest, warmest records, and it glistened in such an intimate setting. Joe Valle’s electronic drums boomed, serving as the exoskeleton for Marty Sulkow’s gooey, understated guitar.
Wet hasn’t released much music of late, but even the tracks off their 2013 eponymous EP sounded fresh and vibrant. While some synth pop and indie R&B groups get exposed in a live setting, the sheer talent of each of the band’s members was on full display.
Singer Kelly Zutrau shined particularly bright. Her soaring vocals are the band’s keystone, and she proved that she has the gravitas to lead a scintillating performance.
“Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” was a particular highlight. The song hinges on a sense of vulnerability and honesty that isn’t easy to convey, but Zutrau had the few hundred in attendance swaying in stunned silence.
Fan favorites “You’re the Best” and “No Lie” were equally impressive in their own right.
There wasn’t much in the way of stage banter from Zutrau and co., but that may’ve simply been in keeping with their aesthetic. A band like Wet can afford to let their music speak for itself. The set was crisp and efficient, but you got the undeniable sense the crowd would’ve just as happy to watch them run it back.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of bands out there vying for “next up” status, but Wet’s mesmerizing live show is another reason to consider them a cut above the rest of the SoundCloud darlings you see on your newsfeed.