Claiming that his band are “from Planet Earth” VANT frontman, Mattie Vant, attempts to sell his act as one without borders, without race, as a universal affair, but, as noble as that thought is, his Sunderland accent betrays him. Having already scored two Radio One “Hottest Records in the World” in their limited lifetime the kids are truly psyched to witness VANT first-hand. Opening with the gradual building ‘The Answer’ by song two the band have frothed the crowd into a furious lather, the band’s pop-grunge riffing and Subways level-heaviness appealing to the assembled rabble. While it is fun watching “the kids” getting caught out by the start-stop ‘Parking Lot’, jumping along at the wrong points like a alt-rock version of musical statues, the real highlight is the half-venue wide mosh-pit that greets their closing song ‘Do You Know Me?’ Kurt Cobain would be disgusted by these boyband-looking munchkins re-appropriating his band’s sound into such a inoffensive and safe package but the kids seem to like it, so oh well whatever nevermind.
The only band on the bill to not spell their name with CAPS LOCK firmly on, Bully are unsurprisingly the least hyper of the three. Opening with a jumbled sounding ‘I Remember’, unfortunately frontwoman Alicia Bognanno’s voice is mostly lost in the mix. From the occasional microphone shriek to way too prominent bass, sound issues mar Bully’s set until the half-way point, robbing them of initial impact. With this year’s Feels Like album Bully have shown that they have quality material, it is a shame that it is not getting the proper showcase tonight. That said, during ‘Trying’ some ripples of interest shiver through the crowd. Interspersed between songs Bognanno’s banter is shy, often confused with the high-point being her quizzing the teenaged audience about the architectural structure of the venue. By penultimate song ‘Trash’, with Bognanno’s raging repeated yell of “Feels Like” ripping through the venue the crowd are finally appreciative, bouncing their socks off, their appetite thoroughly whetted for the main act.
The seemingly disproportionate reactions to the support bands are quickly put out of mind by the opening distorted guitar strains of FIDLAR’s set. Feedback squealing, disconnected riffs are enough to cause massive crowd upheaval, a rush forward with anyone half-arsing their devotion to the almighty FIDLAR quickly pushed aside. This is before actual music has even started yet, but once ‘Stoked and Baked’ begins the whole venue is moving, pulsing, shoving, fighting, leaping in the air, gasping for breath. The floor quakes from the overwhelming amount of energy being unleashed. A guy resembling Jesus Christ can be seen being tossed about like rag doll in the middle of the blitzkrieg. Absolute chaos.
The teased out Jaws-like introduction to ‘Cheap Beer’ brings supplementary waves crashing into the onslaught. FIDLAR with their The-Hives-on-amphetamines tune-age seem unphased by the carnage they are creating, singer Zac Carper singing out the side of his mouth in a dead-eyed, almost bored manner. It is like he is too cool to care, though admittedly, he is pretty cool. The band further impress with the slacker-harmonies of ‘West Coast’, an incendiary playthrough of ‘No Waves’ and a remarkably distressed rendition of ‘Star-Spangled Banner’. Not to say that the band are all mindless energy and slacker-posturing. Though mid-set banter is kept to a minimum, there are some great singalong moments, particularly singles ‘Awkward’ and ’40oz on Repeat’, his whiny chorus recitation of “Because everybody’s got somebody/Everybody but me” passionately hollerred back by the empathic crowd. After Carper’s question “Do you wanna try something weird?” during finale ‘Cocaine’ the audience surprisingly mostly go along with the ever-popular “sit down, wait, then jump up” manoeuvre. More often than not, the aforementioned manoeuvre ends in tears, but as the band’s acronym states: “Fuck It Dog, Life’s a Risk”.