Print editor Bryony Gooch reviews Phoenix’s Pattern Pusher Presents
On the gloomy Friday evening Storm Ciara made her debut, I found myself huddled in Exeter Phoenix with a sunny occasion in store. Pattern Pusher Presents promised an evening of upbeat local music, and in their fourth year of running the event I was expecting big things.
You could hear the lilting vocals of the first support act, Exeter College’s Shake The Geek, from the queue. Singer Ella Crossland’s vocals soulfully led the group’s groove-tinged rock. Think a cross between No Doubt and Paramore and you’re along the right lines for their soundscape. Arguably, the band’s strengths lay in their strong guitar leads. Singles like ‘Jenga’ and ‘Breathe On My Own’ finished up with virtuosic, indulgent solos. Refreshingly, they all seemed to be having fun on stage. Which, as they had the pressurised role of starting, and the audience was slowly filling, really resonated with those entering and certainly set the tone for the night. Members of the audience were quick to move to the front and who could blame them? Shake The Geek shook up the house and the night had only just begun.
Last year’s Battle of the Bands winners, Foniee, were back again with their funk-fuelled instrumental set. This time with added audience interaction. Suited and booted like The Blues Brothers, you could clearly see they were all enjoying
themselves. Still, their set primarily depends on cover songs, but my God do they pick some bangers. ‘Locked out of Heaven’? ‘Waiting For Love’? It’s hard to remember your self-preservation as you and everyone else are crouched waiting for the chorus to ‘Waiting For Love’. Like a slick school disco.
Bristolian band Cousin Kula stepped in to replace anticipated Manchester imports, VELVET SHAKES, and they got off to a tricky start. Their falsetto vocals squeaked, almost as if they were aiming for Kevin Parker and missing. Sonically, their psychedelic, synthy bedroom pop was nod-worthy easy listening that appealed to the audience, despite clear technical difficulties as they communicated with the sound deck for most of the set. However, at their best, their synths were flourishing and fun, their grooves were infectious, and ‘Jelly Love’ was incredibly catchy.
Soon, the main event – the presenters of the night – Pattern Pusher came to the stage. Commanding attention with charm and a sense of mischief, everyone drew into the front in excitement. Songs like the perennially funky ‘Tonight’ and ‘Shakey’ were crowd-pleasers. The atmosphere remained zealous throughout, as lead-guitarist Benjamin Green crowd-surfed. The crowning moment came in the encore as Foniee joined the trio on stage for collaborative renditions of their songs.
So did Pattern Pusher fulfil its brief of upbeat local music. Undoubtedly. If you have ever found yourself questioning Exeter’s music scene, Pattern Pusher Presents does an admirable job at setting itself apart and finding local bands to work with, presenting a vibrant homegrown scene.