Photo credit: Liz Greenberg.
Three of Exeter University’s finest student bands put on a showcase of talent on Thursday 6th December that had all the energy and polish of a professional gig.
The Allergens kicked things off, frontman Oliver Rose wearing his trademark sunglasses (until they fell off later in the set). Unsurprisingly, the band that has put out five E.P.s so far this year – with yet more planned into the foreseeable future – has a wealth of songs to choose from. I saw them play at The Old Firehouse the Sunday prior, and the set-list this evening was refreshingly different, while still containing some staples. New songs such as Pitfalls of Romance on the Government Graduate Workscheme (Just Pitfalls for those who value their time) feel right at home amongst older favourites like The Stars. Every time I see these guys, they seem to take it up a notch; these days they play with all the confidence of an established rock band, flying through their sets with panache.
Next up were Cantaloupe Island. Though reduced in numbers, missing both their saxophonist/vocalist and their drummer, the three remaining members of the band put on a great show. Using a laptop backing track to replicate their fuller sound, Ciaran Austin and co played their trademark chilled, R&B inspired songs to a growing and appreciative audience. Having had airtime on BBC Introducing, and played many venues across the country already in their short time as a band, Cantaloupe Island are ones to watch.
Psychopomp closed out the evening. Since winning Battle of the Bands in March last year, these guys have come on leaps and bounds. While I missed the fun of old covers ranging from Father John Misty to Radiohead, it was fascinating and exciting to hear a set populated entirely by original material. This band has such a unique sound, and one so effortlessly and skilfully delivered that their more experimental side finds praise from music nerds and casual pop-listeners alike.
Perhaps the one downside of the evening has nothing to do with the bands themselves – came about in spite of the artists, in fact. While The Cavern was by no means empty, it was saddening to see such a small crowd for three bands of such high quality. Every song by every artist here is superb, and the lack of engagement from the university population at large with our student bands needs to change. Of course, if you’re reading this you are far from the problem; I’d only wish you to be as evangelical about our little scene as possible – these guys deserve all the attention they can get.