Having bought tickets for this night over a month ago (along with most of the student population, apparently), the hype seemed almost overwhelming. Judging by the ticket frenzy on the Facebook event page in the days leading up, everyone seemed desperate to get involved. It was even described on the page as ‘the post-fresher’s place to be’. A bold statement, yet there was certainly a pretty good turnout in Phoenix last Friday.
Eton Messy are a collective that describe themselves as ‘a place to find new exciting electronic music’, and they’ve been doing that (successfully it seems) since 2011. Their YouTube page has landscape and portrait photography adorning a multitude of mixes from their members. They have a dedicated following, and with Hold It Down hosting and EXIT taking over the terrace, there was some serious pull to this night out.
I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of the Phoenix as a venue for this sort of event. I really love the terrace space, where the small but always excited crowd are free to dance to their heart’s content amidst the chatter of the smokers. However, in the multitude of corridors everyone seems a bit displaced, and the main room can feel quite high-school-disco-esque when there’s a clubbing crowd rattling around in it. It really makes me miss venues such as Cavern and Cellar Door (may it rest in peace) with their smaller underground settings. Really, there’s just a bit too much empty space at the Phoenix, and even through the drunken haze, it shows.
During Eton Messy’s set the main auditorium really filled out, and there was quite a good energy, especially down at the front where I saw some mighty fine two-stepping going on (which I heavily endorse at all times). But to me, I also felt like I was in a dance tent at a festival, with girls on shoulders and a relatively still crowd. However, Eton Messy gave us a good set, sampling such classics as Rhythm Of The Night and dropping a few familiar tracks. My highlight was the short but sweet sample of Superstylin’, as Groove Armada have become firm staples of my house’s post-night out wind down.
I also really enjoyed popping out onto the terrace for a fix of EXIT. They always seem to pull a crowd that really appreciate their sound - my friend was particularly blown away by their colour-changing logo light box. Another honourable mention is well deserved by Duplex Sound. They are a new discovery for me; I totally loved their set, especially the bass, which was so loud that I could feel it blending my internal organs to pulp. I will certainly be on the lookout for them when they next head down to the South West.
All in all, it was a fun group of sets, and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves. Sadly, the amount of sweaty confused students in the room took away from the experience for me. I got the impression that the heavy hype for the event had let it down somewhat, as a large portion of the crowd seemed to have been convinced to buy a ticket by friends only to arrive to acts that they didn’t really know or appreciate fully.
However, it seems that this event is a staple of the over-saturated Exeter house music calendar, and if the crowd seemed to have a good time then who can really complain? Apart from me, of course.