How many Exeter students have complained of this town’s hardly inspiring nightlife? The answer (I suspect): nearly all. Thankfully, Mahatma Music is here with a new series of club nights to save us from spending another night fist pumping soullessly in Arena (as fun as that can be).
This is an idea that begs the question: “Why has nobody done this sooner?” The brainchild of a group of friends and music-lovers, Mahatma is both a gig and a club night, set in the Cavern, featuring upcoming bands alongside local DJs.
The Cavern is probably my favourite venue in Exeter for it’s slightly dingy subterranean intimacy. The atmosphere is buzzing among Mahatma founders as the place fills and we await the festivities, the product of six months of planning.
The gig opened with local Devonian band, BKLYN. Their tight rhythms and catchy guitar riffs confirmed instantly the assertion I heard uttered behind me that, “These guys are way too cool to be from Devon”. If, like me, you’ve exhausted The 1975’s album and are looking for a new fix of sparkly synths and danceable bass lines, you should definitely give these guys a listen. Although the crowd was a tad lacklustre, BKLYN. held their own as openers. This was quite extraordinary considering that, as I later learned, the band have only been together for eight months (and they’ve already played Bestival).
After a short pause and a refill of drinks, the headliners took to the stage.
“We’re called Heyrocco. This song’s about premature ejaculation,” called front man and guitarist, Nathan, as the band launched into its energetic rock and roll set. These South Carolina natives and five-year band mates are currently on their first European tour. I’d say their sound is something like Blink-182 crashing into The Cure, but these guys range through a variety of influences. The guitar work varied from frenetic pop punk strumming to clever riffs and ripping guitar solos. The music had a lot of momentum, fueled by a strong sense of rhythm and driving bass lines. If you like grungy indie rock and knowing about cool new bands before your friends, I say unto you: get listening!
The band also had a really entertaining stage presence. Nathan, sporting a platinum mop top and two differently coloured converse, head-banged wildly to guitar solos, while bassist and Jimmy Page lookalike, Chris, slapped away like nobody’s business and drummer, Taco, (who somehow covertly removed his shirt mid-set) kept control the band’s exciting and not infrequent changes in tempo. Two highlights included the catchy Elsewhere, introduced as “requiring a lot of dancing” (which it received) and also Santa Fe, “a love song about breaking girls’ hearts,” which significantly changed the pace.
One of the great strengths of the concept of Mahatma is that it evades that post-gig I-have-to-go-home-now melancholia. Much mirth was to be found between the walls of the Cavern as the bands circulated and Theon Bower and then Doodles cranked out house music into the early hours. As I am not much of a fan of house I found this part a bit less interesting, particularly as quite a few of the audience members seemed to have shuffled off after the live acts. All the same, there were good vibes to be enjoyed.
The Mahatma Music Launch was, in my books, a total success and future events promise to shake up Exeter nightlife considerably. So whether you missed the first one or it wasn’t exactly your vibe, I highly recommend coming along to the next Mahatma Music night on Tuesday 28th October.