You might have heard that Radio 1’s Big Weekend is in Exeter this year, you might even have got tickets. For those of us who aren’t as lucky then last week was the chance to reap the benefits of Radio 1 taking over Exeter this May. Amongst the free events held at Exeter Phoenix as part of the Radio 1 Academy was the BBC Introducing gig held on Wednesday evening. Hosted by Huw Stephens, a Radio 1 DJ famed for his knowledge of the up and comers in music and James Santer, head of BBC Introducing for Devon. For those of you who aren’t up on the corporate lingo, BBC Introducing was created to support “unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar musicians”. It is a great way to get your finger firmly in the pie of music success. But that’s enough of the promo, despite knowing little about the three bands playing the gig, Muncie Girls, Tourists and Witterquick I had trust in what Devon and the BBC had to offer.
a great way to get your finger firmly in the pie of music success
With BBC Radio 1 signs, stickers and posters everywhere plus lots of important looking people with headsets and clipboards the Phoenix felt unusually official. But there was also an exciting feel to the event, the people there were less likely to be fans of the bands and that meant you knew you were amongst fellow music lovers equally eager about the sounds coming from Devon at the moment.
Huw and James started by doing what BBC Introducing does best, introducing the band. First up was Witterquick, a 5 piece poppy alt-rock band of guys. As an example of the speed good things can happen they put their music up on the BBC Introducing Online Uploader last August, were signed in April and have an EP Beneath the Spinning Lights out next month. After seeing them live I can see definitely see why. Think up-tempo pop with grungey guitar and punchy vocals. With only a few songs to show their stuff, the passion of the band came through in every track. They also added in a sneaky cover of Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball that was unexpected but surprisingly worked with their sound, as well as working up the crowd. They are definitely a band to watch and if you have caught interest and you also want to see them live at the Phoenix then they are having an EP launch gig on the 19th of June.
Next up was the ethereal vocals and synths of Tourists, not to be confused with 70’s rock band The Tourists. It was another five piece band of guys – but with a very different sound. Funky drums in the background to beautiful slow builds of layered guitar and synth meant I was very much surprised I hadn’t heard of this band before. Despite the shortness of the set, I was already amazed at how quickly I picked up on their unique postrock-y character and sound. I thoroughly recommend giving these guys a listen, and if you get the chance seeing them live.
Headlining the night were Muncie Girls, whose name you might have seen around Exeter as they recently had their debut album release show From Caplan to Belsize at The Cavern. Very much a punk rock band they certainly deserved to headline the night. It was refreshing to have a female vocalist accompanied by the grungy guitar. If this sounds up your alley, then they are playing the Great Escape Festival this year in Brighton along with some other great bands from Devon so be sure to check them out.
An unexpected opportunity of a quick interview with the hosts Huw Stephens and James Santer added a sparkle to an already great night. After some general chit chat about the night and Exeter’s music scene we asked them why they thought the BBC Introducing gig was so important.
“this kind of thing won’t happen again ’til you’re 70”
Huw Stephens was quick to say that it, “Reminds people that live music and venues like the Phoenix are brilliant” also that “With Big Weekend coming to Exeter, Radio 1 Academy is important in the run up in order to celebrate whole event”. It just shows how lucky we are to have Big Weekend come to Exeter. As James Santer put very well, “This kind of thing wont happen again ’til you’re 70”. Both hosts were truly passionate about the emerging music scene in Devon and you should be to. The gig was a brilliant example of the variety of music that can come from somewhere other than Bristol or London. Hopefully this will inspire you to go to that gig for that band you haven’t heard of before – you never know where they could be heading.