The city of Exeter missed out on a night of quality music last Tuesday at the Cavern. What the Mahatma Music Christmas Party lacked in audience participants, it made up for in merriment and catchy tunes when Native People and Kahai took to the stage.
There were a few nervous-looking Mahatma people about, and a couple of confused-looking others when I arrived at a near-empty Cavern 15 minutes before the first act was meant to go on. But despite a rather minimal turnout, opener Kahai eventually hit the stage with a thundering set. The Bristol 5-piece, fronted by lead singers, Naomi and Alexander, sound like something out of Alabama in 1974. Aptly describing themselves as “Mumford & Sons on steroids”, the band combine screaming guitar solos, funky bass lines, and raunchy vocals with rhythmic refrains and folk rock sensibilities. Kahai performed with a lot of energy and passion. The balance between Alexander’s smooth baritone and Naomi’s bluesy powerhouse vocals was sublime (reminiscent of Kill It Kid - if anyone knows of them). What’s more, there was a bass solo! (A bass solo!) I really don’t see how this band could get any cooler.
In the mean time, the Cavern had thankfully filled up some more so that there was a decent audience by the time Native People took over. Occupying the aural terrain somewhere between Foals, San Cisco, and The Temper Trap, these Kent boys dazzled us with the texture and fullness of their sound. Front man Reuben’s dulcet tones floated easily over scintillating synth and staccato guitar riffs. The band’s chill vibe conjured visions of driving down a sunny California coast, a perfect contrast to the dark, rainy Exeter evening outside. The set got progressively more up-tempo, culminating in the whole crowd dancing in (dare I say) Christmas cheer. Highlights included the band’s summery new single, Calm Forever, and the catchy, One (“You’re the one, you’re the one I’d follow” – you’ll be singing it for days).
I’ve been to all the Mahatma Music nights this term and despite the comparatively small audience at The Christmas Party, last Tuesday was a fun night featuring two of my favourite bands of the Mahatma line-up so far. Next term, Mahatma will be returning with more gig nights for your listening pleasure. Make sure you don’t miss out!