The Vaccines @ Victoria Bathhouse (credit: Amelia Simm)


The term ‘bevs and boogies’ is possibly the most impeccable way to summarise the event that unfolded at Victoria Bathhouse on Thursday, a venue that couldn’t have been more fitting to Jack Daniel’s relationship with music dating back to 1892, wherein Mr. Jack himself created The Silver Cornet Band. The Bathhouse was an especially intriguing venue, with various rooms showcasing elements of history – and of course, easy access points for fans to enjoy both music and whiskey – bevs and boogies were undoubtedly had throughout the night.

Opening, we see a female-fronted Two Door Cinema Club/Shame collision, LUCIA, who, if they were any item you can find in your bathroom, they’d be a razor blade for sure. The edge cuts through the crowd as lead vocalist Lucia nonchalantly blares out the first track of their set, radiating an aesthetic of grunge-y darkness while looking luminescent in contrast. Throughout the recently released ‘Summertime’, there is a larger sense of an easier listening, Circa Waves-y, and as the title states, summery vibe. What is especially compelling is the part of ‘Blue Heart’ wherein all band members freeze in position for thirty seconds before slashing right back into the tune. Both guitar from Hamish and bass from Chris mesh tightly together energetically, matching the fast drumming tempo from Ally and powerful vocals carried by Lucia. Their overall performance is interesting in the way that they give out an atmosphere of angsty, gothic grittiness, yet being very slick-back.

The Vaccines @ Victoria Bathhouse (credit: Amelia Simm)

And finally, there’s a buzz that echoes from the crowd. The lights dim and the classic Dracula theme tune blares through the speakers as goosebumps appear on my skin, which almost seamlessly fades into ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA. And that’s when you know. You know that the Prime Ministers of indie music are approaching the stage. It’s the sure-fire way of knowing that The Vaccines are somewhere lurking around the corner. Just to confirm this, you hear the crowd erupt into uproar before you even see the West London five-piece walk on stage as though it’s no biggie, as though they do this every day right after they’ve had their bowl of cereal: ‘Get up, eat breakfast, perform live in Manchester, shower, brush teeth’ etc. As soon as the entire venue goes off to the opening track, ‘Nightclub’, he immediately takes ownership of the entire room, he has everyone in the crowd wrapped around his little finger in the space of 0.02 seconds.

Giving themselves nor the crowd no time to rest, The Vaccines breeze through their first three tracks: From ‘Nightclub’ straight into ‘Wrecking Bar’, which of course speeds right into ‘Teenage Icon’ – I know what you’re thinking, yes, the crowd were losing their minds. Every so often Justin leans into the crowd as if he’s trying to get a taste of the vaporised sweat that radiates from the audience; as though he can’t get enough, you can tell he’s longing to launch himself into it. I’m sure the feeling is mutual from the fans. Everyone in this room is in utter awe of him, as if their parents have finally allowed the cool uncle and his friends round the house.

It would be outrageous not to mention the sheer consistency that Freddie Cowan holds throughout, creating outer-worldly riffs streaming from his T-Style Shuker. In fact, both he and bassist Árni Àrnason lose themselves in the groove, being soul-mates with their instruments, while still focusing on the upkeep of the endless feel good sensations. If you thought that the crowd wasn’t already wild enough, you thought wrong. ’20/20′ is the one that really riles up the pits.

Justin Hayward is a charismatic Casanova: “I hope we’re all drinking responsibly…”, he jokes as they sensually lead us into ‘Dream Lover’, during which the low lighting fits the same aesthetic as the title, the bass and guitar riffs lingering like an expensive perfume. Despite the slow tempo, ‘Dream Lover’ radiates passion through powerful keys and drums from Timothy Lanham and Yoann Intoni.

The Vaccines @ Victoria Bathhouse (credit: Amelia Simm)

Similarly to this, ‘Wetsuit’, paired with lighting of blue, white and gold, puts us on the coast side in the evening, painting us a picture with synaesthesia-like aesthetic. Despite ‘Wetsuit’ being a very tranquil track, The Vaccines still manage to energetically define modern alternative-indie music, a trait that they have carried all the way through What Did You Expect from the Vaccines up to Combat Sports. The same dynamic spirit continues through their unfortunately short set, but then, they say time flies when you’re having fun. To say it was fun is to say the bare minimum in this case, the whole night felt like a blur; as though you’d just been punched in the face by The Flash.

The crowd chants “You’re sick! You’re sick! You’re sick!” to which Justin responds, “Stop appealing to my narcissistic nature,” confirming that he is indeed lapping all of this up quite nicely. Him and his goddamn hands that just won’t stop jazzing, through tracks including ‘Handsome’, ‘I Always Knew’, of course ‘If You Wanna’, ‘I Can’t Quit’ and then finishing (to everyone’s dismay) with ‘All In White’. An ironically calm ending to a chaotic evening (even more ironic due to the fact that this was an ‘intimate’ gig), from a band who were seemingly glistening while causing absolutely beautiful disruption.

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