VANT at Magnet: A Review
It was a slow night at Magnet, and the crowd wasn’t the best – too big to feel personal, but small enough that it would have felt weird to be too enthusiastic. Not the kind of night for stage invasions. These types of nights can’t be the most satisfying for bands to play but, to their credit, this didn’t stop VANT ripping into their set.
The first thing you notice about their songs is how short they are – several can’t have been longer than two minutes. When a sub-two minute song comes on shuffle, I assume the band’s either taking the piss or is Napalm Death, but with VANT this brevity comes from an understanding of when to stop. A song like ‘Parasite’, clocking in at about one and a half minutes, can drive its way into your head before you realise what’s going on and stay there for the rest of the day, but if it stuck about for much longer it would become something of an endurance test.
You could see this sense of control throughout their time on stage. It meant that even at their most frenzied, they could keep their performance grounded and stop it descending into thrashing. That’s not to say there was no thrash whatsoever – they could, and did, go to town on their instruments when they wanted to – but they knew when they needed to hold back to achieve the maximum effect. A lot of the most memorable points of the night came from this precision, most notably at the end of the second song, which they let collapse into a wave of feedback, held for a couple of seconds before snapping right into the next song. It was at about that point that I saw the crowd begin to move. VANT burned through the first part of the show like this, each song coming straight off the last, the whole thing slowly grabbing the crowd’s attention and building into one of the strongest sets I’ve seen during my time in Liverpool. Then their guitar went out.
Having so far prided themselves on an immaculate stream of gigs, this was the first time they had to deal with something going wrong for them mid-show. You could kind of tell – they didn’t crash and burn, but they did seem thrown by the whole matter. They tried filling the gap by talking to the audience, which came off as quite stilted – pauses that lasted a little too long and jokes that half-made it to a punchline. Their stage patter in general was probably the weakest part of the show, but a band with such a good sense of timing in their music won’t take too long to discover the same thing in conversation. I asked frontman Mattie if they expected anything to go wrong before the night’s show. He’d laughed it off before searching for wood to knock on. Watching the band struggle to deal with this minor technical glitch, I couldn’t help but feel I’d jinxed them.
It was evident even before the end of the night that the band are in the process of developing their onstage presence. The second time one of their instruments bust (I wasn’t kidding about jinxing them) Mattie took advantage of the disruption to drag his microphone stand out in front of the stage, and he and guitar Henry played the last couple of songs out on the floor. If the audience wouldn’t invade the stage, they would invade the audience.
Thoguh VANT are still figuring out the finer points of performing live, both their interview and performance made it equally obvious that they have a clear idea of where they’re heading, and an understanding of their strengths which is impressive for a band at this point in their career.
VANT are touring until the end of November, and releasing their debut album in 2016.