28th April - The Relentless Garage, Islington.
This was a big headline gig for Van Susans; a fairly large venue with three support acts before them and a 14 plus age limit meant that the venue was full of young teens with their parents (I seem to end up at a lot of these..). However, despite the fairly un-rock and roll circumstances, the crowd were buzzing, every so often egged on by The Garage's compare for the night, Ali. Nearing 10pm, the venue had really filled up and Van Susans walked on to high pitched screams and cheers.
The six-piece band, now featuring newly joined member violinist, Holly McLatchie, seemed confident as they launched into their extensive set featuring tracks from their We Could Be Scenery EP, as well as the new material from their forthcoming album, Paused In The Moment. As a band, they were energetic and enthusiastic, and with three brothers and old friends making up the band, they're a close knit outfit for sure.
With the addition of balloons being thrown around the room and a very happy-clappy atmosphere, I couldn't help but feel that they were catering to their audience of young teens, which is fair enough, but it somewhat alienated their older audience. The band are clearly very talented at what they do, particularly the bassist who seems to be the dark horse of the group. The violinist, who is classically trained, was technically very skilled, however, I wanted to see the boundaries pushed a little more, I wanted her to take the limelight for a minute and show the crowd what she could do. Hopefully that's what we'll see on their new album. Olly, the lead singer, was confident and made a great front-man and focus for the band, engaging easily with the crowd.
Their most popular songs, Plans, Glow and Bones, as well as their current single, Bricks Not Sticks Or Straw were lapped up by the crowd, as well as a welcome preview of their forthcoming single, Fireworks.
As the set came to an end, rapturous applause and a booming chant of 'Van Susans! Van Susans!' brought the band back for a (pre-planned) encore. One by one, each band member walked onto the stage as they picked up their instrument to join in with the song. They played one of their most well-loved tracks, Cha Cha Bang; an upbeat, guitar driven indie/pop number, with the crowd correctly clapping and singing in the right parts. It was great to see such a loyal following for the band. Good luck with the new album, guys!