Review by Chazz Cheron
With only a handful of singles and one EP to their name, Noisy indie-rockers VANT have been carving, for themselves, an extremely loyal fan base – including BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac. Current single, PEACE & LOVE, is the fifth in a row that she has named her ‘Hottest Record in the World’ and to receive repeated commercial airplay. Embarking on a solo tour of the UK, after a support slot on You Me At Six’s academy tour last month, Mattie Vant and his eponymously-named band of indie-hippies are out to astonish.
Opening support act, and local lads, Part Time Miserables impress with a solid set of schizophrenic-sounding noise rock songs, but fail to convey any charisma in their performance – even through a cover of The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog. That’s okay though, because Californian exports PARTYBABY have got charisma in spades. Their mission is clear. So clear in fact that is literally in their name – to party. Frontman Jamie Schefman showboats his way through an often-cringey set of pop rock tracks. Holding his guitar aloft and theatrically falling to his knees, he delivers each nasal chorus with an enthusiasm that cannot be matched by many – and the audience absolutely lap it up.
If the crowd are in any way disheartened by the near-torrential rain they’ve faced to be there, they do not show it a bit, whooping and hollering as VANT take to the stage. Any fears that the headliners may struggle to contend with the showmanship of their support are immediately swayed as they rip through their first song. What the audience lack in numbers, they more than make up for in spirit, singing VANT’s lyrics back to them amidst wall to wall moshing and crowdsurfing. They are given no room to breathe at all between songs, with VANT opting instead to riff their way through their five opening tracks with no breaks. The normal catchy indie-rock tracks conclude now in 30 second feedback-laced freak-out sessions. Frontman Mattie Vant preaches love and acceptance between songs, insisting that the audience stand together as a collective against the injustices of our time (namely the EU referendum results and recent presidential election).
The highlights of the show, however, come far too late in the set – the majority of the performance soon becoming forgettable. Not boring, but nothing entirely memorable. It is not until eleven songs in that they begin to play their big hits. And this is where the set begins to really shine. Parasite and Parking Lot both drive the crowd into a frenzy – individuals sit on their friends’ shoulders and gatherings of friendly strangers with their arms around each other jump around manically as if all their worries had been taken away.
The opening chords of fan favourite Fly-By Alien ring out briefly. An eruption of excitement from the fans is followed by a disappointing silence as they realised Mattie has snapped a string. The discontent is soon swayed as the guitar tech brings on a replacement guitar and now the crowd are expecting it. As Vant repeats the same hook, through a fresh guitar, the crowd scream the lyrics at him as if they are part of the performance now.
After a very transparent false ending and encore, the band departs with a punchy cover of M.I.A’s Paper Planes. The crowd are left to endure the rains outside once more, but most feel that this has definitely been worth it.