Friday night saw a free gig at Exeter Phoenix to promote the new EP of Exeter-based band, The Raptors. With support from fellow local acts, The New Lights and Foot-Joy, it promised to be a night of up-and-coming music from the heart of Devon. You know you’re getting old when the first thing you think when walking into a room is “half of these people are too young to be served”, but that’s what happened when New Lights kicked off the night.
The New Lights, based outside Exeter, were rocking (in their words) an ‘indie-rocky-punk’ vibe. Paying homage to Travolta in their rolled-up black skinnies and pulled-up white socks, it was an energetic start to the night as they kept diving into the ever-growing crowd. Their own tunes sounded promising, but it was a unique cover of the Arctic Monkeys classic I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor that was the set highlight. The New Lights showed a lot of promise but at times, their stage presence gave over to some extreme indie posturing that was a bit much, even for a Friday night. At times the bassist looked like a new born gazelle, twitching about on stage with a distinct lack of coordination. However that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and we’re sure their enthusiasm will take them far.
The next band, Foot-Joy, should formerly be known as the band with the song called Donkey Dick. We don’t really know what it was about or sounded like, but we can remember the song title. And we enjoyed it. There was a distinct nod to pop-punk throughout, and the influence of bands such as Blink-182 was more than obvious. There’s definitely space in the music industry today for the sound of Foot-Joy. These guys had nearly all the ingredients for a great band; a clean sound, with a good stage presence and a nice splash of self-deprecating humour. It’s just a shame that the vocals weren’t quite up to scratch. Yet despite this hiccup, the crowd was buzzing and Sammy Kettell’s stage presence stole the show. He presents himself as an interesting guy who knows how to get the crowd excited, involved and enjoying the set; we think he has a lot of potential as a serious frontman.
After a break long enough to hit the bar and laugh at the underage drunk girls throwing up in the loo, it was time for the main event: The Raptors set. After listening to their new EP we were excited to hear what they sounded like live. Describing themselves as ‘proper rock ’n’ roll’, we would say their overall sound leaned more towards indie rock. Some of their stuff reminded us of talk-singing (what Wikipedia refers to as ‘Sprechgesang’); a bit like The Kooks. They have a distinct 60s edge echoed by Mitch Steane’s nod to Rhys Ifans character in ‘The Boat that Rocked’, teamed with a pair of John Lennon glasses - a nod to his idol. We really enjoyed the set; it was fast paced, bouncy and we definitely look forward to hearing more from this promising Exeter born-and-bred band. Overall, The Raptors were the highlight, but at times they took themselves a tad too seriously. They may have enjoyed the experience more if they’d let themselves go a little.
The night at Exeter Phoenix provided a great overview of up-and-coming talent and it’s heartening to know that there are so many bands about to break through in the South West. Besides, any night that ends up with us dancing on stage like mad-men alongside a group of guys in matching 80s tracksuits gets our vote. For a student population that’s a little too obsessed with Arena, live bands in a great venue are a welcome change. It’s just a shame that half the student community has yet to discover this great local scene.