How often do you go out for the evening and see 3 amazing bands on the same bill? unless it’s a weekend festival or a showcase event, the answer would probably be “not very often”, we were invited to attend The Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre on Saturday 13th June where a local Exeter band called The Sherpas were hosting their E.P. launch party, read on to see how the night unfolded….
We arrived slightly earlier than planned as we were meeting up with the band to do an interview before the show, having rounded up 3 Sherpas, the other 2 were M.I.A. until a text message was received to say that they had just ordered food and would be about half an hour, we decided to press on with the 3 members that were available and had a good chat in some very glamorous surroundings (car park), you can see what we chatted about by checking out the interview HERE
After we had concluded the interview, we went inside the venue to check out the stage times;
Auction for the Promise Club – 8:30 to 9:00
Instant Karma – 9:15 to 9:45
The Sherpas – 10:00 to 11:00
We headed into the auditorium to take our places and get sorted prior to the night unfolding.
Up first were a 3 piece Indie Rock outfit from St. Agnes in Cornwall going by the name ‘Auction for the Promise Club’, consisting of Zoe White-Chambers on vocals and guitar, Perran Tremewan on guitar and keys and Toby White-Chambers on drums. Opening with a sublime track called ‘Liquid’, Zoe’s gentle vocals were soon engulfed in a powerful maelstrom, full of crunching guitar and fat beats. I love female fronted acts and Zoe had it all going on, the ability to tempt you in with her soothing voice and great looks, mesmerising you with her spell prior to launching a 150 decibel tirade on you from out of nowhere, we were more than impressed!
As with any band, you always seek to find a comparison, I guess being a female fronted act, you are forced down the route of other acts that have adopted a similar approach, I would say that they are a cross between the brash, ballsy attitude of 90’s Brit Pop darlings ‘Elastica’ and the hard edged approach to their music that bands like Therapy and Sonic Youth injected into the mainstream. I was going to say ‘Skunk Anansie’ but their singer is just downright scary, Zoe on the other hand, is not!
They had great stage presence and from the start of their set through to the closing track ‘See-Through’, they had the room jumping. It was apparent that the band were giving it 100% up there on stage, the sweat pouring off the drummer and the guitarist (who I couldn’t help thinking had a bit of a Derren Brown look going on…)
‘Auction for the Promise Club’ is definitely a band you need to be keeping an eye on for the future, based in the furthest depths of Cornwall may limit your chances of seeing them play, check their website for details of live dates as they are playing in Bristol in July and will also be gracing the stage of the Looe Music Festival in September. They released a new single on June 12th, it’s called ‘This May Hurt’ and being the kind soul I am, you can watch the video right now….
This May Hurt
Isn’t it Enough
The second act to perform were a local Exeter 4 piece called ‘Instant Karma’, consisting of guitar, bass, drums and vocals/keys, this bunch looked like they knew what they were doing and from the off, had the audience bobbing along nicely to their ‘synthesised indie with guile and aggression’. I was impressed by the ability of their guitarist who was very animated on stage, knocking out some killer licks and reminding me of a young Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead when I saw them way back in 1993 at The Lemon Grove in Exeter, with his hair and limbs flying around all over the stage!
One of their later tracks sounded very much like early Joy Division, very heavy on the keys and bass prior to it all coming together, exploding into life once the remainder of the band joined the party. They finished off their set with a quality slice of funk with some amazing guitar riffs and bass action, leaving the audience wanting much much more!
I was chatting to the bass player afterwards and he said that this was only their 3rd gig….I had to ask him to say it again as I was utterly speechless, a band this good? after only 3 gigs? IMPOSSIBLE, it may seem impossible folks, but it was true! Expect BIG things from this bunch in the future. We’ll be featuring the guys in an ‘Introducing’ feature very soon, keep your eyes on musicmuso.com for more information.
You can listen to their track 'Tangled Web' below, go do it and tell me this isn't band that have been together for years!
Who Are You
7/8 (not yet named but is in 7/8 timing)
After a short break, The Sherpas were ready to take to the stage, greet their home crowd and kick things off with their highly infectious blend of summery funk rock. The place was filling nicely by the time they were due on which was great to see for their homecoming show.
The 10 legged funksters took to the stage but wait…. there were 12 legs, another ‘Sherpa’ seemed to have been added to the lineup for the live show. I asked Pierre who this was after the show and he said that it was a very talented bongo player/percussionist called Steve Crossen who just happened to be his uncle! They launched into their set with ‘Golden Handguffs’, which immediately set the scene and the room alight with their excellent stage presence and superb musicianship.
To see a bunch of young lads (sorry to call them that but they’re half my age so they youngsters!) break away from the ‘norm’ is refreshing, I usually rock up to a gig, see a bunch of kids (who I later establish are the band), sitting about texting and picking their spots, dripping in tattoos and piercings and when they start to play, it just sounds the same, the music is a particular brand of angsty/shouty rock that the ‘kids’ these days all lap up like puppy dogs and there’s me rolling my eyes and wishing that someone new would come along, someone to blow away the cobwebs of tradition and inject a bit of FUN back into music, ladies and gentlemen, this IS exactly what The Sherpas are all about! They put the FUN in FUNK! (you can use that one if you want to guys!)
From their 13 strong setlist, they played an awesome track called ‘Wilderness’ which is available on Soundcloud as a FREE download, yes folks, FREE, form an orderly queue now, no pushing at the back!
Other stand out moments for me included the complete funk-fest which was EFEGD (Everybody Freeze Everybody Get Down) and towards the end of the set where the drummer and bongo player blasted out some immense solo performances, these guys know how to knock out a tune and you can tell by their body language and interaction on stage that they are loving what they’re doing.
All of the members gave it 100% up on that stage and I could not fault any of them, the back line is immense, the drummer and bass player working so well together to carve out a groove for Ben and Jake to overlay their guitar parts, Ben by the way was immense, some of his solos and riffs were literally off the scale, such a talented player, I will say now that I think these guys are currently winning the competition for ‘Hardest Working Band’ in the Southwest at the moment, the energy that they were putting into their performance was exhausting to watch, okay, I’m getting on a bit! I must also mention that Pierre reminded me of a young Bernard Sumner from New Order....
Their ‘last’ track was called ‘Zero’, it was 10:50pm, would they manage to squeeze in another before the 11pm curfew, did they have any more weaponry in their arsenal to bring out for the fans on this, their homecoming E.P. launch night? well, they did and it was a barn-stormer of a number called ‘Spanish Go-Karts', dripping in funk, tight basslines and driving beats, the room by this stage was jumping and bouncing along to their sound, I hope that the guys got as much out of the show as I did….
All in all, it was the perfect gig for a summer evening in the heart of Exeter, if you like your music a little lighter, laced with funky beats, super tight bass and jangly rhythmic guitar, then you MUST make it to one of The Sherpas’ future gigs. They’re only playing a couple of festivals this year but be warned, they’re gonna be ALL OVER the circuit in 2016!
Check their website and social media channels for more information on new releases, live dates and any other performances that they’re planning this year, this is a MUST SEE band, catch them before they disappear into the cosmos!
Kind of Life
E F E G D
Spanish Go-Karts (encore)
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird