Mahatma Music: The South West Edition

by Matt Hacke

When I was sitting in The Loft on Wednesday morning, I’d completely forgotten about the fact that I was down to review the Mahatma event I’d gone to the night before. My memory was triggered when I looked across the room to see a Mahatma sticker cunningly plastered on one of the desks (3rd row, 4th from left if you want to see it yourself). This audacious act of guerrilla publicity jogged my memory, and I resolved to write it up whilst these recollections were still fresh.

I suppose the point that preamble tried and probably failed to make, is that I don’t go to Mahatma in a journalistic capacity, I don’t even go to it solely because I’m friends with the administrative team. I go because it’s the night in Exeter that best caters to what I want when I go out, as without fail, Mahatma have booked exciting bands, solid DJs, and have created an extremely welcoming, non-cliquey atmosphere – which couldn’t be said for Kink last year. Whilst it’s still early in the night’s life-cycle, its vital signs are strong, and I suspect it will go from strength to strength in the New Year.

Up first, Drive In Saturday delivered an extremely strong opening volley. Video launched their set; a mélange of Jarvis Cocker and The Talking Heads, underpinned by versatile percussion and bass, which allowed the brooding lyrics to soar over the accompaniment. Following this prelude, the five-piece settled into their trademark, anthemic sound, dominated by Jack Rennie’s punchy guitar lines and Henry Adams’ clean vocals. Calling, introduced to their repertoire this term, proved to be a catchy highlight, whilst Crossroads, which won Best Song at Battle of the Bands last year, still serves as a solid centerpiece. Overall, Drive In Saturday were, as usual, well drilled, musically sound, and extremely entertaining.

Bloom were an effective foil to Drive In Saturday in that their more raw sound was an engaging antithesis to the slickness of their predecessor. Since seeing them for the first time last year, I’ve always found the interplay of the two vocalists to be a highlight of their performances and thankfully, this has been carried into the new term, displayed in full force throughout their set. Their recently written tracks were also rather exciting, with the heavier Pain Never Felt So Good juxtaposing nicely with the more introspective, Plans, which reminds me a lot of the more reflective end of Pulled Apart By Horses. Bar an ill-advised pick-throw by the lead singer, the climax to their set was triumphant, with both the band and the crowd reaching fever pitch by the end of their encore. As second years, Bloom seem poised to dominate the student band circuit next year, and their headline set at Mahatma only served to exhibit this.

A vibesy b2b DJ set from Theon Bower and Harry Parsons closed out what constituted another successful night for Mahatma. With another night in two weeks headlined by Native People, the collective should close out the term with a bang, and I highly recommend getting tickets. After all, if live music is your thing, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better regular night in Exeter.