Back in July 2015 I heard my first VANT track; The Answer immediately stood out from a lot of the guitar music around at the time. With it’s extended intro, swagger and politically-charged lyrics I was immediately intrigued by this band I hadn’t previously heard off.
Based purely on the strength of that single I went to see them a couple of weeks later. There was a lot to be impressed by. They had several other cracking tunes in their locker, they were great fun live and – perhaps most strikingly – they connected with the very young fans there in a very special way (including a stage invasion).
I’ve followed them very closely from then on and have seen them twice since; the first was the night after the Bataclan terrorist attack. It was a strange night to go to a gig; the first time I’ve ever checked where the emergency exits are… just in case. Yet all three bands that played that night – FIDLAR, Bully and VANT – paid tribute in their own way, and I was so incredibly pleased I went. It felt like a collective show of defiance; that life will go on.
The last time I saw them was late last year at Scala, at the gig where they filmed the – re-released single – Do You Know Me? video. I was struck that night by how much they’d improved; how they really owned the stage and controlled the pace; a difficult skill for new(er) bands to learn and master.
On Friday they release their debut album – Dumb Blonde – and there’s a tour to go with it in the next few months. Alas they’re playing London on the same night I’m going to see The XX so I thought I’d have to miss out on seeing them again. However I’ve won some tickets to a BBC Introducing gig tonight at the Roundhouse, headlined by VANT, so I’m really looking forward to hearing the new material.
VANT have received a lot of Radio 1 support in the past eighteen months and it’s a reminder of what Radio 1 can do when it is at its best. They had the double whammy of Zane Lowe’s departure – along with a number of producers – and an enforced shift towards their target audience, which really left them floundering, and they have more often than not responded in the worst possible ways on how to move forward.
Patronising young people and trying to make everything ‘cool’ is not a successful strategy; Radio 1 should remember that generations of young people kept coming back to Radio 1 because it played and supported the best music and employed people who were passionate about music. A quick glance at the daytime ‘DJ’s’ might point to why Radio 1 is struggling.
VANT are a politically charged band that are connecting with young people and Radio 1 has played a massive part in that. So – ahead of Friday’s album release – tonight should be a celebration of their relationship together and hopefully the first of many album release celebrations for the lads ‘from Planet Earth’.