Bottles of lambrini, out of time dancing, swing-dance mosh pits; Vukovi’s headliner at Flat 0/1 on May 17th was not what would you would call a conventional gig.
Opened by Seams, fresh from the announcement earlier that day that they will be playing the T Break stage at T in the Park, this was the first time I (and many other members of the audience) had heard the five-piece. I was blown away by their catchy riffs, tight performance and outstanding vocals. My only niggle with this excellent support act was the lack of confidence from vocalist Katie Lynch. Her stunning voice was undermined by her apparent shyness – it seemed that she doesn’t know how good she truly is, and so her connection with the audience was hindered – utterly unecessary with such a supportive crowd behind her and such a huge talent.
In contrast, the stage presence of Vukovi singer Janine Shilstone was phenomenal. As the band came barrelling onto the stage, her immediate rapport with the audience – making everyone chuckle explaining their challenge to down a bottle of cherry lambirini before the set was up – broke the ice and got everyone to loosen up enough to dance about from the start. This was also aided by the lack of traditional raised platform stage; the band being on the same level as the crowd gave the performance a stripped-back, down to earth feel, making it feel like a party laughing with your pals, not a performance- no easy feat for a band, but one they pulled off easily through their impressive stage presence. This was lead by Janine’s ability to strut confidently out into the crowd, mesmerizing enough to ensure that not one eye left her during the entire set.
From start to finish the audience were captivated; the moody harmonies in the opening ‘Shattered Chances’ showed the expert musicianship of the whole group. A couple more songs in and it was clear this was not just another show – Vukovi appeared to be loving performing to us just as much as we were enjoying watching them. The enthusiastic revellers were even treated to new material, which was a mix of lighter, bouncier songs and a song so new it hasn’t been named yet being possibly the darkest heaviest material we’ve heard from Vukovi yet. The new tunes even included an amusing dance routine, with guitarist Hamish Reilly’s concentration face being a very entertaining sight and bassist Jason Trotter out of sync with everyone else, causing much chuckling throughout the crowd.
Despite there being a somewhat eclectic mix of styles in the new songs, it went down a storm, with it being obvious that come the launch of the new mini album in the autumn, crowds will soon be as word perfect with Vukovi’s new material as they are with the best loved songs. Such fan dedication was shown by how intensely the audience belted out their (arguably) most popular songs – the huge sing-along reaction to ‘Target Practise’, ‘Schwagger’ and ‘Thick Skinned’ motivated the band to keep playing at an exceptionally high standard, despite being a little worse for wear due to their incessant lambirini chugging.
The entertaining breakdown of another new song (the working title of ‘Trashy Song’ gives you the right idea) into some contrasting gentle swing music as Janine encouraged some 1920’s style dancing was a welcome surprise, especially when it suddenly morphed into a mosh pit as the band switched into a heavy cover of Labrinth’s ‘Earthquake’. After many shouts for an encore, a rocked-up cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Part of Me’ finished the evening.
With such a fun filled, party-esque set, Vukovi stripped themselves down to their core values, showing that they can truly deliver the only two things a band really needs; excellent musicianship and a true ability to perform like proffessionals, even in a more intimate gig.