After 18 long months Aberdeen alt rockers Vansleep will finally be reunited with their fans when they play a long-awaited live show this weekend.
The popular four-piece will headline the Bridge Street Social Club on Saturday night and singer/guitarist Kyle MacRitchie admits they are “buzzing” to be back.
Music venues across the country closed when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March last year and the considerable momentum Vansleep had built ground to a halt as a host of headline shows were cancelled.
In the darkest days of the lockdown, Kyle even began to doubt if the band would ever play live to an audience again.
Thankfully, his fears were never realised, live shows – and Vansleep – are back. Now the band aim to deliver a memorable performance, and a new direction in sound, to make the long wait worth it for their fans.
Kyle said: “It is going to be pretty weird playing in front of people again as it has been so long but we are all really buzzing for the show.
“During the lockdown it felt pretty hopeless at one point because it seemed like no one would be back playing live again.
“I felt quite low about it all because the band has been the main thing in life then all of a sudden that was taken away.
“As a band, we were not seeing each other or playing together in the lockdown.
“I was just writing songs. That was it, because you couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t meet anyone or do anything.
“After so long we are excited to finally be back playing live and to have that sense of normality again.
“We don’t know what to expect at the gig but as long as people can jump about as they normally do, even if they have to wear masks, I’ll be happy.”
Life during lockdown for Vansleep
Comprising Kyle, Bryn McLernon (bass), Keir Smith (guitar) and Bilal Benzahia (drums) the four-piece have forged a formidable and loyal following in Aberdeen.
They played a memorable headline show at Tunnels on February 15 last year and had a big year lined up with gigs outwith the Granite City – then it all stopped.
During Lockdown Vansleep released stunning tracks Stargazer, Acid Weather and Chambers which would later come together as the You Should Have Said Something EP.
Kyle said “We felt we had built up a lot of momentum then the wind was taken out of our sails by the lockdown as we couldn’t play all the gigs we had coming up.
“Gigs in Glasgow were arranged and we also had a headline show.
“At that point we had the singles from EP set to come out and they then had to be released during lockdown.
“We couldn’t play those songs live – it was a case of releasing them and that was it.
“Before lockdown we were playing those songs live but this time when we play on Saturday people will know the words to them a bit more.”
A new direction and sound for Vansleep
Vansleep are set to release a single next month and will unveil new material at the Bridge Street Social Club gig.
The recent You Should Have Said Something EP indicated a band maturing, exploring new sounds with a self-belief and purpose.
Kyle insists the new direction has a darker edge.
Such is their belief in the fresh material forged during lockdown they are ready to ditch some of their older songs for the live return.
Kyle said: “We will definitely play the EP but are not planning on playing the older stuff.
“It has been so long now the direction of the band is shifting in what we want our sound to be.
“If we were to play some of the older songs it would be an injustice to ourselves.
“Our new songs have a darker, punkier element and we are very confident in the writing.
“I have noticed there is a maturing sound and it is good to feel we are improving all the time.
“The gig will be cool as we will play quite a few of the new songs and people will get an idea of what we are about now.”
‘You can only do things that are true to yourself and come from your own soul’
The roots of Vansleep began at Kemnay Academy in September 2016 with the band releasing an EP on Soundcloud six months later.
Their debut single release Get Up in 2018 was an infectious, raucous slice of indie pop and has hit close to 100,000 listens on download platform Spotify.
Further releases Streetlights and The Way That You Move strengthened the band’s growing reputation.
Months of isolation in lockdown allowed that development to take another leap forward – despite the band being unable to practice in a room together due to lockdown restrictions.
Kyle explained: “In the first lockdown I feel I was maybe trying to copy some of my favourite bands with what I was writing.
“Now I have matured and had the realisation that you can only do things that are true to yourself and come from your own soul.
“The songs that are the strongest are the ones written most recently.
“It feels like an enlightening stage we have hit.”
Streamed show from Glasgow’s SWG3
Vansleep are wasting no time now that live shows in front of crowds are possible and will play on a bill with Gallus and Cherry Bleach at Cafe Drummond on September 3.
Although Saturday’s show will be Vansleep’s first performance in front of an audience in more than a year they have played live recently – in an empty venue for a steamed show.
Tonight we play for you for the first time in a long time. But this time it will not be in a sweaty mess filled room, it will be from the comfort of your own home.
We hope you enjoy the show, we will be with you all the way x
— Vansleep (@vansleepuk) June 25, 2021
In June the band filmed a closed-door performance at Glasgow’s SWG3 venue that was available to stream live for a week.
It offered an insight into their exciting new direction.
Kyle explained: “It came about through our manager (Chloe Coll) who has the contacts through her industry experience.
“She was able to get it all sorted and secured funding from Creative Scotland for it.
“We got in contact with Rory Barnes, a well know videographer and photographer, and our management have experience in sound engineering.
“They asked do you want to go for this – and we went for it.”
Support for Saturday’s show at the Bridge Street Social Club comes from Mark Buchan, Dave Angus and duo Shay Currie & Chris Van Der Wal.
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