While he may hail from the southeast Texas town of Port Arthur, Wes Leavins is now quite at home in Chicago. The Brigitte Calls Me Baby frontman put down stakes on the North Side in 2023 after years of traveling back and forth to perform here. “I feel like an honorary native,” says Leavins, 28, who’s joined in Brigitte by four local musicians:  bassist Devin Wessels, drummer Jeremy Benshish, and guitarists Trevor Lynch and Jack Fluegel.

The band is riding a wave of momentum since releasing its debut EP, This House Is Made of Corners, last year on the New York City–based label ATO Records. They played their first nationally televised performance in March on CBS Saturday Morning, and their breakout hit, “Impressively Average,” has cracked 500,000 streams on Spotify and is in constant rotation locally on Q101 and WXRT. Last August, the band played its first international show, at the London festival All Points East, alongside such bands as the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The hype has led to many sold-out shows on their current tour, including back-to-back appearances here June 21 and 22 at Lincoln Hall. And in August, they’ll play Lollapalooza for the first time. That same month, they plan to release their full-length debut, The Future Is Our Way Out. Like the EP, the new work was produced by in-demand Nashville-based Dave Cobb.

Brigitte Calls Me Baby

The band’s mix of Leavins’s old-school crooner vocals and a modern rock sound seems to have struck a chord. Their diverse influences have helped “elevate the sound,” Leavins says. “It’s all about drama and power, both in the instrumentation and the vocal approach. I like explosive choruses and using the verses as opportunities to get deeper and the choruses as an opportunity to sort of sum it all up.” It’s no coincidence that the band has opened for the Last Dinner Party, Muse, and other acts that share their flair for the dramatic.

Like his bandmates, Leavins was inspired by a range of music growing up. He discovered Roy Orbison through records at his grandparents’ house, new wave bands like the Cars through his parents, and groups like Radiohead, New Order, and the Strokes through friends. He took up guitar when he was 13 and began writing his own songs.

“I found my voice at an early age,” Leavins says. Though there was a period when he tried to emulate the sound of others, like the deadpan singing of MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden, he soon embraced his natural voice. It’s a big instrument that would have been equally suited to a genre like opera, but Leavins had other plans: “I knew this is the way I sounded, and I knew what I wanted to accomplish as far as bringing a voice like mine into the alternative [rock] format.”

Still, Leavins can thank the ghost of another crooner, Elvis Presley, for the biggest break of his young career. When Leavins was a senior in high school, he was cast in a touring production of Million Dollar Quartet, the musical about a famed recording session at the Sun Records studio. He played a young Elvis. Director Baz Luhrmann, who saw the show, was so impressed that he later cold-called Leavins to ask his help in re-creating Presley songs for Luhrmann’s 2022 film Elvis.

Wes Leavins
Wes Leavins’s old-school crooner voice is key to the band’s sound.

It was on the set of Elvis that Leavins met Cobb, who has produced records for the likes of Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, and Sturgill Simpson. Cobb inspired Leavins to take more risks musically and push his boundaries. The outgrowth of that can be heard on “Impressively Average.”

“The big vocal ending was a spontaneous decision,” Leavins says of the song’s anthemic, bellowing climax. “A lot of [the process] was self-discovery and accessing parts of yourself that you didn’t know you had. You’re like, Man, I didn’t know I could do that.”

At the rate that Leavins’s band is blasting through milestones, it seems there’s not much this Baby can’t do.