Admittedly, I approached this event with some degree of scepticism. 2014’s breakthrough DnB powerhouse act, Sigma, was due to hit the Lemmy on the same night that Hold It Down, Our House, Beats & Bass, and Thick As Thieves were due to return to the Phoenix. Could Exeter really sustain two large-capacity dance music events on the same night? The answer appears to have been an emphatic yes, a vindication for fans of the genre. Despite the all-too-frequent dismissals of the genre’s staying power in the wake of the closure of the famed Cellar Door, students appear to have remained loyal to the city’s established promoters.
Certainly, collaboration seems to be the way forward for the night’s organisers - a great, dynamic way for the collective to make full use of the huge potential offered by the multi-roomed Exeter Phoenix. With Wintery weather meaning the Terrace space wasn’t as viable an option as on previous nights, there was still no shortage of spaces both large and intimate on offer. Punters embarked on an electronic voyage from the familiar shores of 4x4 party house in the vast main room, to the more breaks/DnB vibes in the bar space, hosted by Hold It Down. Highlights included a b2b set from residents Harry Parsons and Kian Rayment, who will no doubt be looking forward to the collective’s upcoming night with Dusky at the Lemmy on February 20th.
One of the night’s stand-out features was certainly the addition of the Red Bull Studio, which saw the set-up of a soundsystem in the spacious upstairs ballet room. This added yet another area to showcase the talent on offer, hosted on the evening by Theon Bower (of Mahatma Music, UpAndComing, Hold It Down) playing UK/grime. However, the spectacular main room was definitely the crowd favourite; by 1am it was packed to the rafters, with the crowd filling the sometimes overly-large space well.
All in all, this was a highly successful night with fantastic vibes all round, particularly late on. This is certainly an achievement in the absence of a big-name headliner, and a demonstration of the depth and variety of DJ expertise from the city’s biggest underground club names. With Thick As Thieves returning for the Hijacked Festival Launch in early January with Jonas Rathsman, Exeter won’t have long to wait for another.