Print editor Bryony Gooch reviews Unit 1’s new Monday club night
A few weeks into term, once you get into the rhythm of Exeter’s nightlife, you will come to find that the student nights take a repetitive turn. After all, Monday has always been Fever; Wednesday is Timepiece, and Thursday is, of course, Quid’s In at Unit 1. Perhaps on a Tuesday you might alternate between TP’s Salsa and Unit 1’s Cheesies’ to keep things interesting. But you will come to find that, like clockwork, Fatman Scoop’s ‘Be Faithful’ will play around one o clock during Quid’s In, usually in transition from some rocky jungle beat.
The point is, a lot of Exeter’s most popular club nights make their success off predictability. Well, that and cheap drinks of course. We know the club circuit as well as we know our own timetables, and we probably know the club playlists just as well.
But with the introduction of Mad About Bars taking Unit 1’s Monday night slot, it seems that there are people fighting the staleness. On 16 September, I went to their launch night to see whether this might take the crown from the undeserving Fever as Monday’s new favourite student night.
they have clearly spotted a gap in Exeter’s nightlife
If you were a student last year, you might remember seeing events advertised by Mad About Bars all over Facebook. Indeed, for something that seems so young, Mad About Bars already has 5 resident DJs, as I was told by co-founders Conrad Lewis and Ollie Mantovani (resident DJ Yung Manto). Yet with its loyal following, they have managed to gain enough recognition to take a regular student night.
“Mad About Bars sparked the change in Exeter,” they announced. And there might be some credibility to this claim. After all, their launch night sold out of tickets and had queues round the block during the evening. But perhaps what is most interesting about the student run Mad About Bars is that they have clearly spotted a gap in Exeter’s nightlife.
With the promise of an evening that would showcase both US mainstream hip-hop, UK grime, and drill, anticipation was high
“I’d been to another hip-hop event a couple of times before and every time I went, the music was just poor to be honest and it just wasn’t what students wanted to hear,” Yung Manto recounted. And that was how Mad About Bars started. The idea of a night dedicated purely to hip-hop, something that has become the mainstream genre of our decade, is arguably ingenious, and other clubs in the area have tried to capitalise on this; some have dedicated floors to hip-hop, while other clubs like Move have made more of an effort with nights dedicated to certain artists like Childish Gambino. But the event would have to differentiate itself as something other than that already provided by Move, or “that guy who always plays ‘SICKO MODE’ at pres who had enough money to book out Unit 1”.
Yung Manto noted the difficulty in running a successful hip-hop night: “…it changes so quickly. And I just feel like the other events in Exeter weren’t on top of it. They were playing a lot of songs that were big a couple of years ago.” Yung Manto clearly took pride in the fact that “the music is different every week”, and Conrad noted that “that’s the case with all our DJs”. Arguably this would be where Mad About Bars differentiates itself from most other nights at Unit 1 – a club that has meticulously stuck to its playlists unless playing a themed night. With the promise of an evening that would showcase both US mainstream hip-hop, UK grime, and drill, anticipation was high.
It went without saying that the event lived up to expectations. The DJs managed to capture a decent balance between sub-genres within hip-hop, as well as showcasing a well-judged mix of new music, current favourites, and the odd old classic. They played everything from the likes of Blueface and NSG to crowd-pleasing Drake bangers and Stormzy. At one point, when ‘ZEZE Beat’ by Kodak Black came on, you could hear a roar of approval. The transitions were smooth, although a couple of people I knew complained that they didn’t get to hear enough of the songs when they played. What was especially unusual was to see some people using Shazam on the dancefloor to work out what song was playing, an uncommon sight for Unit 1, where I have always assumed there was an unspoken rule that if you were drunk enough the music didn’t really matter.
Mad About Bars on Mondays at Unit 1 might renew your hope
So what is next for Mad About Bars?
On 7 October, they will present Lewisham Drill Rapper DigDat to Unit 1, although there was talk from Lewis and Yung Manto of more appearances from big UK artists and some coy comments regarding some secretive plans over the summer.
If you are tired of Exeter’s stale, predictable nightlife, then Mad About Bars on Mondays at Unit 1 might renew your hope. With its vibrant, ever-changing playlists, it’s worth booking your ticket now.