Photo: Bklyn. Photo Credit: @BBCIntroDevon
I went into Exeter’s Phoenix with a pretty neutral outlook towards the event – BBC Radio Devon was going to be introducing allegedly four of the best bands in the South-West. Not knowing much about each band besides their genre of music, I wasn’t sure whether I should expect to be completely blown away by their talent, or anticipate a few hours of disappointment ahead of me. Fortunately, for me, and the rest of the crowd, it was the former.
The night began with an introduction by James Santer, RJ on BBC Radio Devon, and host of the evening. He did an incredible job, not only making the audience laugh, but also hyping us up before each performance with anecdotes about the band and convincing us about why they deserved to be performing at the event. Wildwood Kin was the first of the four bands, starting the night off very strong and setting the mood for the rest of the evening. The three girls had a folksy, acoustic style which was fun to listen to, but what was most impressive about their performance was the pitch-perfect harmonies. Wildwood Kin performed for about twenty minutes or so, and each song had three-part harmony in nearly every line: In spite of all the pressures of performing live, not once did they go off-tune. The melodies were original and catchy. A keyboard and guitars were used for their performance, but the truly standout instrument was the drums, which created a great contrast while adding more energy to every track and had the audience semi-headbanging.
HER, the second band, could not have been more different. Their hard rock tracks were a far cry from soft harmonies of Wildwood Kin, and yet, they were just as entertaining. They performed their set with a lot of passion, and seemed very well-rehearsed and in sync with one another. In contrast, Bklyn, who followed them, used a similar genre of music, but didn’t seem as polished. With the lead singer messing up his guitar solo completely in one of the tracks, and what I thought were slightly more forgettable songs, the trio didn’t show up as well as the other bands. However, given the lead singer’s striking vocals, and the others’ skills with the drums and guitar, they do show promise.
The truly standout set of the evening, was provided by XY&O. Santer introduced them with a slightly apologetic, “No offense to anyone else who has performed tonight, but XY&O are the best band I have come across in the last 12 months or so”, and the performance which followed proved why. XY&O’s electronic dance numbers were original, and so incredibly enjoyable that each and every member of the audience was dancing and even singing along to the choruses by the end of their set. What really set them apart though, was their interactions with the audience. While the other bands didn’t say much besides what was required of them, XY&O took full advantage of their time on-stage, singling out dancing audience members, declaring they would love to go to Timepiece following their set, and even asking us to help them improvise and create a completely new song on the spot. I personally am not a fan of audience interaction, but I must say, it made them very likeable and took their act to a different level. Another huge plus point for them was simply how much they seemed to love being on-stage. All the bands seemed to have a good time performing, but XY&O really seemed to relish every second of it with an infectious positive energy, which also took over the audience.
Overall, BBC Radio Devon really did what they promised and introduced us to four of the most impressive bands in the area. My only complaint would be regarding certain technical matters, such as the unanticipated twenty minute wait between each set. However, these bands were definitely worth it, and the evening gave me some new talent to follow!