With torrential rain beating against the beach-side venue of The Watering Hole, I had a prediction in mind. No one will turn up tonight, I thought. Everyone will forgo their tickets and stay inside, with the heating blaring and some trashy boxset poised for binging upon.
I was however, wrong, for a vast audience deemed Vant worthy of braving the British elements for, and when I saw them myself I could understand just why.
Opening the event were The Rezner, a local band who’ve caused quite the stir amongst our scene recently after being heralded as “the next Oasis”. Lazy journalistic comparisons aside however, this four-piece did live up to their hype, despite sounding nothing like said Mancunian band. Vibrant, dynamic, and faultlessly capable of crafting unique indie tunes, the group were a sharp and animated breath of fresh air. I look forward to witnessing them again and watching them mature like a fine wine.
Next up, and in their typically well-groomed fashion, were The Velvet Hands – and this garage-rock foursome were certainly on fine form if the audience’s reaction was anything to go by. With flare and swagger they commandeered the venue and upped the ante, delivering a well-balanced amalgamation of seasoned professionalism and boisterous spirit. There was adrenaline; there were nostalgic nods to The Rolling Stones’ sound; and there was certainly a fear that they’d show up the headliners. The Velvet Hands are hot right now, and I urge you to catch them if you can.
Finally, and after two more-than-worthy support acts, Vant emerged upon the stage and began their set. Remaining stuck in second gear for at least the first few songs however, the evening initially lost its momentum and I was worried for what would follow. Would one of their final shows be met with disappointment? Would they leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth and feelings of approval at their impending hiatus? Would I regret leaving the warm confinements of my home for them?
No was the answer to all of the above, as this lull in proceedings was a temporary feature, with the group delivering the remainder of their set with excessive amounts of passion and enthusiasm. Jump and Peace & Love in particular were received well by the young audience, who went wild for the blaring and meaningful delivery of the performance.
Similarly, a special commendation has to be awarded to frontman Mattie Vant who wasn’t afraid to interact with the ravenous audience, or to get down and dirty with the venue’s floor. Here writhed a frontman with all the charisma and commitment that you could ask for – despite being considerably rude to the cameramen eager to snap a piece of his star quality.
Things even became political when he hinted at the group releasing an EP soon, crafted about significant subjects such as immigration – a clear sign in my head as to why they’re parting ways.
Vant, in my opinion, are stuck; wedged between longing to script meaningful songs about topics that matter, and having to cater for a teenage mainstream audience at the same time. This quandary has been evident from the start, and became crystal clear as this particular night wore on. As such, the announcement of their ‘indefinite hiatus‘ is something that can be understood. To me, I see a group longing to branch out, to seek more substance, and that’s almost impossible to do when you’re dubbed as a mainstream band in this day and age.
The end may be nigh for Vant as we know them, but I predict future projects on the horizon. No one quits all together when they have an innate talent and hunger for live performances, least of all the four individuals that stood before me on this night.
Words by Keira Trethowan
Photography by Craig Taylor-Broad