The sun is beating down on me as I enter the Governors Ball festival grounds on Randall’s Island, situated between Manhattan and Queens.
Vant are starting off the second day of the music festival, and I head to side stage to capture their set from a different perspective. As it gets closer to set time, the crowd in front of the Gov Ball NYC stage grows. After some technical difficulties with guitarist, Henry Eastham’s guitar pedals, the band is ready for show time five minutes before their set is due to begin. The band looks all business when they walk to take the stage. For a large portion of the crowd, this is their introduction to Vant, and the guys do not disappoint.
As I look out at the crowd from side stage, I see that most of them are moving along to the beat of the music, and not just in a polite way, in the way you know they’re going to go home and give their tunes a spin on Spotify. Vant sing songs about how fucked the establishment, and these kind of songs are something the youth of America needs to not feel alone right now.
When the set finishes, I meet the band backstage to discuss our game plan for the day. We plan to meet back up at 4pm to experience the second half of the day together. Once we reunite the rest of our day is spent mainly in the artist area of the festival. They’re enjoying the free booze and food, having completed all of their duties for the day. Between the drinking and food, we all go and catch Wu Tang Clan’s set. After this we go our separate ways for the evening. But we’re meeting up first thing tomorrow to catch America’s past-time, baseball.
Fast forward to Sunday, the clock reads 12:30pm when three quarters of Vant meet me at Grand Central to head to Queens for a Mets game. Mattie and one of their crew members had headed to the game a bit earlier then we were. After a half hour subway journey, mainly spent explaining baseball to the guys, we arrive at Citi Field. I explain to the guys that hot dogs are the quintessential food of baseball. The guys are all vegetarians, so they have to get veggie dogs, but it’s the idea of the game day hot dog that matters most.
It lightly rains throughout the whole game, the Mets are losing horribly, and I’m slightly embarrassed for my team, who wind up losing 1-11. Baseball can be boring, especially when they are losing because they’re playing poorly, which is exactly what was happening. Their tour manager Mike and bassist Billy leave the game pretty early to get back to the festival. But the rest of the guys decide to stay and soak in the culture. When it gets the the 7th inning, there’s a longer than normal game break in which the star spangled banner is sung.
At the beginning of the game we’d had the national anthem, and a bit later on we honoured a war veteran. The amount of patriotism towards America and our troops during game breaks is an uncomfortable culture shock for the band’s frontman, Mattie. He explains that singing patriotic anthems and honouring veterans isn’t something you would ever see at a sports event in England. With only an inning left we decide to call it a day. Henry, drummer, Greenie, and their engineer, Matt, all enjoyed the baseball game, so overall it was a relatively successful taste of America and New Yorkers spirits to give them. We part ways after a long subway ride back to the city, the guys head to china town and I head back home for the evening.
Fast forward 48 hours, it’s a Tuesday and it’s also Vant’s last day in Manhattan. They last minute got added to the Communion Music event at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. The crowd is a mixture of people they met over the weekend at Gov Ball, a few long term fans, and some people who have arrived early for the night’s event. The juxtaposition between seeing Vant play at a festival and in a small venue isn’t as large as I thought it would be. They commanded the large stage just as well as they’re commanding the small venue. Their energy on a small stage radiates between the band members though, playing in closer proximity to one another seems to work better for the band. While the crowd isn’t very large, the band still put their best foot forward, which just proves how much their music does mean to them.
Post show we explore the area for a bit to get some NYC themed photos, think taxis and street graffiti. After we take some photos we head back to the venue and discuss how this show’s turn out was even smaller than their first ever show in England was. I muse that it could be because of who they were opening for, and how tonight is more of a music showcase than a gig fans come out to. They agree this could definitely be the case, and explain that breaking America is always hard to do. We finish our time together with some Brooklyn lager and talking about how they’ve all fallen in love with NYC, especially the pizza. As our night comes to a close, we head to the subway station to say our goodbyes.
After hugs and see you laters are exchanged, the band heads back to their airbnb in Harlem, and tomorrow it’s off to Switzerland for a festival on a beach before heading home to England for the lads of Vant.
Words by Sara Feigin