WETFEST III promised to be wetter than ever, and even though this was my first WETFEST, it was hard to argue with this statement.
Due to a combination of searing heat, downing multiple beers and the epic bands on offer, WETFEST certainly was wet.
I have heard many friends tell me how good WETFEST is, and with this in mind I headed along to The Tote with high hopes. The first band I caught was RVG, a band that I have been following closely since they dropped the 7” A Quality Of Mercy last year. Their sound lies somewhere between The Cure and the Go-Betweens and drew me in as soon as I first heard them. But live they blew me away. I can’t wait for the upcoming album also named ‘A Quality Of Mercy’, and would recommend that everyone becomes familiar with the name RVG. The searing guitar is easy to become lost in, but their lyrics are what set them apart.
After the great set by RVG it was time to replenish the liquid lost from sweat by getting in a quick pint from the front bar. A stop by the merch table on the way and then it was straight upstairs to see Shrimpwitch. If I thought it was hot downstairs, upstairs was like a sauna. But it hardly mattered, as Shrimpwitch quickly pushed the heat out of my mind with their great mix of surf/garage rock. I was thinking how hot it would have to be for me to not watch Shrimpwitch, and quickly realised no heat would keep me away. I was sweaty but there was cold beer, so all was good.
It was now time to watch the hosts, Wet Lips play. The band room was packed and anticipation was high as soon as the band took the stage. It is obvious that Wet Lips are a much loved band, and with good reason. Their live show is full of energy, they have great hooks and brilliant tunes and always seem to be having a great time. Not only this, but they represent all that is good about the Melbourne music scene. It is evident through their choice of bands that they picked to perform at WETFEST that they are big on inclusivity and diversity as well as flying the flag for women in the music scene. There was literally a flag during their set that said ‘Women’ on it that was flying proudly down the front of the stage. It was a brilliant set, and has put me straight on their bandwagon; I can’t wait to see them again.
After Wet Lips my friends and I debunked to the front bar to drink some pints and discuss how great Wet Lips were. One pint turned into 3 and we were all in the mood to dance, and luckily this coincided with Bahdoesa taking the stage.
I had never heard of the duo before, but I am thankful that now I have. Their mixture of dancehall and hip hop was exactly what I, and from the reception of the crowd, everyone else in attendance wanted to hear. Their bass heavy sound with duelling rap/singing over the top was brilliant, as was their energy and crowd interaction. They seemed to be lapping up the energy from the audience and transforming it into some high intensity hip hop and in the process transforming the band room of the Tote into a massive dance floor.
This only fuelled my desire for trying to dance, and it was back to the front bar for a few more pints before rounding WETFEST III out with some electronic/techno courtesy of Simona Castricum.
Simona Castricum finished off the night with her electro stylings and once more had the crowd in a frenzy of dance. Her layers of noise with an emphasis on the beat was the perfect finish to a perfect WETFEST.
My night didn’t end there, after Simona Castricum it was back to the front bar to dance along to some of the classics that were blasting out of the speakers. With my head happy due to the amazing and diverse range of music I had heard over the previous hours, as well as the inclusive nature of the event, I was once again reminded how great the Tote is. It may seem intimidating to first timers, but much like the Old Bar, it is an institution that continues to fight the good fight on inclusion and diversity. And thanks to Wet Lips for curating a great festival, I will certainly be back next year.
As you may have gathered, myself and my companions decided that we were having too much fun to finish at this point, so we danced the night away at the Rochey, before stumbling home with a falafel kebab. It was a day like no other, and a day you would be hard presses to find in any other suburb, or even any other city.