Indie rock group VANT moves Gov Ball crowd with their politically charged music
New York — Kicking off Day Two of Governors Ball, VANT took the to the main stage with full force. Armed with lyrics dressed in political rhetoric, the London-based band’s music isn’t just for listening. It’s a call to action.
This was the four-piece rock group’s first show in the U.S., but VANT are more than comfortable with working outside of their British bubble, as you can tell with their musical activism’s global perspective.
“We are VANT from planet earth,” Mattie Vant said to early bird crowd surrounding the Gov Ball stage, where Chance The Rapper had performed less than 12 hours before.
“I find it hard for me to see myself as being from a certain place,” Vant said. “Because it’s just a matter of luck that I was born into a society, especially as a man —and as a white man as well — Why should I have privilege over anyone else? It’s bullshit. So I think it’s important for us to state that with our music to try and be as inclusive as we can with everyone.”
And every track on VANT’s debut full-length album DUMB BLOOD embodies that goal of inclusivity with a sense of feminist intersectionality and an acute awareness of global politics.
Vant said he felt that political engagement in rock music has been lacking in the contemporary scene compared to the hip hop, R&B and U.K. grime scenes.
“Because we don’t play that type of music, it was important for us to still have that (political) mind frame and (connection) with the importance of challenging worldviews,” Vant said of why he brings political themes into his lyrics. “I think it was just always important to me to make that (awareness) the forefront of the music and do something for a reason.”
Their song “BIRTH CERTIFICATE” is just one example of how VANT is fearlessly engaging with one of the most important political problems in the world right now: immigration. Borders, movement of labor and all of the many other components of immigration law have been central to Brexit battles in VANT’s home country, as well as in Trump’s America — a fact that VANT’s musicians are keenly tuned into.
When, Vant introduced the song in today’s set he warned the crowd that he didn’t want to “divide the audience, but fuck Donald Trump.” A fair prefix to the vibes of the song to come.
The lyrics call out the harsh nature of immigration laws from the opening line and are juxtaposed with the soft strums of Vant’s guitar with each line and Vant’s smoothly husky voice.
Though the third strum of a minor chord signals a change in tone and the lyrics immediately flow into a gut-wrenching reminder of the laws’ possible deportation consequences with a twist in the “Go Home” rhetoric: usually used as a negative chant, Vant conveys how upset he is by it, making it uncharacteristically sentimental.
“I think we have to see ourselves as global civilization now, regardless of what people like Donald Trump or Theresa May say.” Vant said on the subject. “I think we are more and more connected now, especially with the internet.”
BIRTH CERTIFICATE then swings into the chorus with the full-impact of drummer David “Greenie” Green, bassist Billy Morris and guitarist Henry Eastham, working in synthesis to create the head-banging, dance-worthy track with a message.
Although VANT’s music is deliberate with its message, it is also meant to bring people together in a more purposeful existence.
“We really need to start seeing each other as a (unified) society and connect with everyone else. And I think that’s why I particularly choose to write about global politics,” Vant said. “You can’t just focus on what’s going on in your title world because it’s much bigger than that now.”
VANT’s call to action is woven in and out of tracks on DUMB BLOOD with commentary on the egocentric quality of our generation (in LAMPOON), a request for harmony and understanding (in PEACE & LOVE) and a critique on war (in PUT DOWN YOUR GUNS).
Along with voting Labour in this month’s generalelections, the next goal for VANT is to continue spreading their awareness and music with live shows at the many summer festivals that they have lined up, Eastham said.
“It’s really nice to play the record to as many people as possible. I think having been working on it for so long, and Mattie had some of the songs for a few years,” Eastham said. “It’s finally nice to see them out to an audience and enjoy the reaction of that.”