No Seatbelt DIY have been promoting shows in Exeter since 2014 and their show on March 8th at the Phoenix may have been the best one yet. An eclectic bill of independent musicians descended upon the Phoenix floor; the DIY promoters had removed the usual raised stage leaving performers and audience on the same level. To accompany the bands there were stalls selling everything from vegan pizza and cruelty free Venus Wigs to handmade badges and plastic dinosaurs.
First up was Me Rex a solo singer songwriter whose incredible use of pedals easily makes up for his lack of backing band. Insightful lyrics and indie hooks complemented by brilliant guitar tone made for a spectacular opening to the show. His EP’s are available in the form of a download code attached to a plastic dinosaur or a temporary tattoo, and they say people don’t buy physical music any more.
Exeter’s own Young Adventurers were up next. This 3 piece indie punk band continues to get better and their simplistic riffs work perfectly in tandem with the heavy impactful drumming and tuneful harmonies. Taking on the big issues such as missing your pets when on holiday, Young Adventurers are fun, upbeat and charmingly comfortable on stage as their between song banter entertained all in attendance.
Drawstring are an indie due from Kent who have an explosive use of soft/loud dynamics as crashing drums underlay catchy riffs. Their set is an unstoppable onslaught of two minute hook riddled autobiographical indie rock tunes. Their minimalist sound highlights the relatable lyrics and the pace at which they churn through the material is an enjoyable familiarity to someone such as myself more accustomed to punk rock shows.
Kermes were the band of the night for me, the quartet from Leicester’s aggressive pop music scene is a bizarre blend of Abba, Placebo and The Pixies. Singer Emily Rose Teece is the star of the show here, her magnetic performance captivated the audience as vocals switched regularly between melody and ferocity. Her guitar work was just as impressive and she owned the floor in a way very few can. In songs such as “Boyfriend” the chaotic rock gives way for haunting ambience. I’ll certainly be keeping both eyes on this band moving forward and I highly recommend that you do the same.
Chiyoda Ku formed in Exeter in 2013 and I’ve been fortunate enough to witness much of their evolution. Having performed across Europe they made their triumphant return. The 3 piece instrumental math rock band have impressed me each time I’ve seen them and never more than tonight. Without doubt they are three of the most talented musicians to come out of the Exeter scene in my 7 years here. I utterly lack the musical knowledge and vocabulary to explain the brilliance of Chiyoda Ku. Effortless movements between complex rhythms are something to behold and the attitude with which they play has an ability to uniquely convey emotion despite the lack of vocals.
Chiyoda Ku are a well oiled machine, in my years watching the band I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them play a note out of time though they’re slick enough that if they had I’m sure they’d play it off without me noticing. The set runs together magnificently as if all intended as one piece of music, and it’s not just me who’s impressed as the grateful crowd demands an encore. This band always makes me feel inadequate as a musician and I love them for it.
The Exeter scene has been quiet of late; the Cavern fire left a gaping hole in the creative community. But on this night No Seatbelt DIY put on one of the best shows in recent memory, a bill wonderfully varied and yet completely complimentary. The enthusiastic audience was the final piece in a perfect puzzle. No Seatbelt DIY’s next show will be on April 14th at a smaller room in the phoenix and if you’re in the Exeter area you’d be a fool to miss it.
Words: Hena Larkin
Pictures: Alex Hall