I was thinking to myself recently, being in a band in 2019 must really suck!
I don’t mean this in a negative way at all but think for a moment, the sheer amount of competition out there, coming up with original material, so many social media platforms to pick and choose from, which one will get the band noticed the most?, which ones are dead in the water? Then there’s having to go out and play gigs…..will people come? Will they like us? Will they spend their hard earned money on our merchandise?
Seems an awful lot of trouble to me, wouldn’t you rather just throw in the towel, find a bit of Ed Sheehan on Spotify and put your feet up? For some, this may seem like the preferred option, for others, it isn’t! It’s the ‘others’ I want to focus on in this piece.
I recently attended a show at Exeter Phoenix called Pattern Pusher Presents, I know the guys from Pattern Pusher very well and was also familiar with the other acts on the bill so it came as no surprise to me that they had personally selected some acts that covered a multitude of musical genres in an attempt to not only showcase some of the finest local talent but also to appeal to as many people as possible under one roof at the same time.
There was certainly a buzz of excitement in the bar area of the Phoenix half an hour before the doors opened, people from all walks of life had congregated to see the acts on offer and socialise in what is fast becoming THE place to be seen in the heart of Exeter.
Being a man nearing 50 (I’ve been told that I don’t look a day over 29), I opted to take a seat on the balcony to enjoy the show, it wasn’t long before I was joined by others who had the same idea!. Yes folks, I’m not ashamed to say that my days of standing by the stage, being pushed and shoved around as bands ‘kick out their jams’ are well and truly over, at a push, you might find me stood to the side of the stage with a drink and a notepad but since a capacity IDLES gig in Shoreditch a couple of years back, I swore that I would never endure the feeling of wanting to pass out or having my ribs broken again as a swarm of 20-somethings all thought it would be great fun to smash the hell out of each other behind me!
Anyway, on with the show.
Leading the charge was a Tavistock hard rock duo called METHODS, made up of Owen Kelly on Guitars and Vocals and Nathan Dudley on Percussion, they weren’t afraid to turn things up to 11 and rock the hell out of the place. It was hard not to compare them to the likes of other guitar/drum duos such as Royal Blood and even The White Stripes but these guys were no one trick ponies and wowed the room with tracks such as ‘Light On’ and a fabulous offering called ‘Fight or Flight’ (at least I think that’s what it was called…) The audience loved them and were soon banging their heads and shaking their hips to the bluesy rock tracks that were filling the room. Keep an eye on their social media as they said that their debut album would be dropping very soon!
MILO GORE, a Falmouth based indie-pop quintet apologised for being late and having to conduct a quick line check with the audience in the room, they had some issues with their van and arrived at the venue courtesy of an AA tow truck and had to ‘load in’ in record time in order to make their slot!
I was suitably impressed with the lineup, 5 people, 1 vocalist, 3 guitars, 1 bass and drums….3 guitars? I expected a mass wall of noise to hit me but was pleasantly surprised as how you could actually hear what each person was playing. With their tight vocal harmonies accentuated with some killer jagged riffs, I was away, lifted from my balcony seat to another place, the sound washing over me and only came down to earth when their set came to an end.
CLUB BROTHERS were up next, Adam ‘in the Hat’ Moran, Richard James and Leigh Coleman combined their powers to transform into something I can only describe as a vocal harmony supergroup. individually, they’re incredible performers, combine their powers and they become a force to be reckoned with, a bit like Power Rangers, each having their own unique skill and merging together to build the big bad-ass robot thing that steams through any opponent!
Having recently released their debut EP Drifting (which is superb BTW), they had no shortage of material to fill their slot and won a few new fans in the process, I mean, who could refuse the chance to sing along to their songs when Adam in the Hat asks you so nicely!
They finished up with a cover of Jessie J’s ‘Domino’ which sounded ten times better than the original (no surprises there then!)
This comical and super talented trio effortlessly knocked out a blend of soul, pop, reggae & R&B with voices that would melt even the hardest of hearts. Sublime harmonies, tight guitar playing, audience participation and a tremendous stage presence made for an incredible set and the audience instantly fell in love with them, I mean, just look at them!
The room was fit to burst when headline act Pattern Pusher took to the stage, I’ve not seen it this full for a long long time, proof that this band are making big waves on the local scene. After a rather ‘sci-fi’ intro, the cube started to glow……and then it happened, the band launched into their opening track, the bass shook you, the keyboard cut into you like a knife whilst the drums were delivered like a savage kick to the guts.
What followed was a brilliant blend of pop, electronica, funk and disco, all lovingly gift wrapped and presented with minimal effort from a trio of super talented musicians.
Alex’s vocals and keyboard skills were on top form (when have they never been?) Ben G’s guitar and bass skills were as ever off the scale whilst Ben C’s drumming was tighter than a mouse’s ear
Having had the pleasure of the first ever radio play of ‘Take Your Own Way Home’ on my radio show recently (shameless plug…) I was keen to hear it live, it didn’t disappoint, in fact, I will go all out and say that it was superb! ‘Shaky’ saw Adam ‘in the hat’ Moran and Becky Grinham join the band on stage (they sang backing vocals on the track). Ben’s bass playing laid down the groove that the rest of the band locked into for the rest of the track.
Some songs were immediate, ‘in your face’ pop bangers where others took their time, swirling around the room, coming at you from all angles with an almost ethereal, haunting fashion.
An oldie called ‘Layla and Madman’ took things up a notch or two and Ben teased the crowd with a promise of some “bass-surfing“ but only if the crowd were crazy enough!, it appears that they weren’t crazy enough during this track so he refrained from taking a trip…..for now!
‘Peace of mind’ was a track that they recently performed at a live session for BBC Introducing (check it out on YouTube), and the vocal skills from Methods, Milo Gore & Club Brothers were enlisted to lead the audience participation!
As they left the stage, the chants started, it wasn’t going to be long until they were back! After all, Ben G had some unfinished business to attend to!
The last song kicked off and he wasted no time in taking up position at the edge of the stage prior to falling backwards (luckily, he was caught) and proceeded to take a journey around the room, held aloft by their fans until he gave the signal to get him back to the band in one piece.
As the final song (yet to be named) came to a close, Alex left the stage leaving Ben G and Ben C to play a bass/drum piece, Ben G left soon after leaving Ben C to showcase his drumming prowess in front of the capacity crowd, leaving to rapturous applause a couple of minutes later.
I’ve seen these guys a ton of times before at various different events and venues but tonight, it was different, with a roomful of people singing back at them, it was as if they had accepted the fact that they have finally achieved what they had set out to do on the local circuit, next step, world domination!
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Rhodri Cooper
To see ALL of the photos from the show, please click HERE