VANT – The Louisiana, Bristol (20th April 2016) – LIVE REVIEW

In the world of music, hype is everything. It can turn your solo project into a corporate project, your soundcloud page into a mecca for bellends and your gigs into events. And in the world of guitar music, hype is worth double, with middle aged A&R men continuing the time honoured tradition of projecting their own musical dreams onto four skinny white guys with guitars no matter their musical quality. The musical landscape is scattered with these groups – nobody remembers Brother, Birdland or Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong now.

With VANT, all the signs of a band built on air are there. From being signed to a major record label off of the back of one 80 second long song, to wildly diverse and highly improbable comparisons being made to other bands (‘The Pixies… Rage Against The Machine…  The Clash… Queens Of The Stone Age’) and a string of radio and television appearances just two years into the band’s lifetime, it looks like VANT could be well on their way to being the next Strypes.

And yet. This is 2016, the world of streaming and tightening record label strings. It’s possible that the music industry won’t sign bands for nothing anymore. On the other hand, it’s the music industry.

A sell out audience at Bristol’s own shoebox The Louisiana – capacity: 120, but feeling like 12 – wanted to know which.

In the flesh, without the PR and glossy videos, VANT initially shiver. The Answer and then Put Down Your Gun lack in nuance and originality, the chords crashing into each other in that half-a-glance-and- they-could –be-anyone way. Those comparisons seem to have been guitar speak for sounding like any given guitar band, that one song hovers on the horizon as the only song worth being here for.

More fool me. The band quickly find their feet, and storm through Birth Certificate. The melody is stronger here, with less noise to pad it, and the same goes for several other of the songs heard tonight, all treating the audience’s ears to an easy four chord ride. There appears to be something more at play, though. Mattie Vant, songwriter from Sunderland, appears to be highly talented and that talent is tangible tonight.

That’s because these aren’t just good guitar based songs, bound to rise and fall above the waves, never to be seen again. They are something else. Songs like Parasite, Do You Know Me, Parking Lot and Fly By Alien are not only great songs, they are songs which display a real, rare understanding of songwriting. Their song’s cores are appealing whilst retaining subtlety, controlled whilst remaining authentic, genuinely enjoyable but always serious. We can see that – in the naked light of the small venue everything is clear to see – and so tonight what we see is a band holding their songs in the palm of their hand. It is rare to see such a power away from a big name, undiluted by expectation.

That power and control over the appeal of their own songs makes for a great show, tonight, but more importantly it makes the mind wonder. VANT have some way to go, but if they can transfer the effect of their skill of songwriting onto their records they may well go far. Whatever happens next, you can be sure that they are not built on air.

This VANT article was written by Ben Duncan-Duggal, a GIGsoup contributor