Live Review: Mahatma Music presents: As Elephants Are/Pixel Fix/Tom Ellott @ Exeter Cavern 28/10/14

Sport Editor James Beeson heads down to Exeter’s Cavern to check out what was on offer at Mahatma Music’s second event of 2014…

Mahatma Music returned to Exeter on Tuesday night, as Tom Elliot, Pixel Fix and As Elephants are took over the Cavern club in what was an excellent display of what Exeter’s live music scene has to offer.

Kicking off Mahatma’s second event of the term was University student Tom Elliot, who wooed the, admittedly rather small, crowd with his brand of quirky guitar and soothing vocals.

Playing songs such as ‘Harbour’ and ‘Brand New’ from his debut EP ‘Out There’, as well as some new tracks, it’s clear that Elliot is an extremely talented young man. What is also clear, however, is that he is at times a little isolated on the stage, and one cannot help but feel that his talents would be better utilized fronting a band rather than performing as a solo artist.

Nevertheless, the short set is well received and an enjoyable start to the evening’s bands.

Up next on the fabled Cavern stage is Oxford based four-piece Pixel Fix. Having already played in Exeter earlier in the year as part of the (sadly now defunct) KINK Wednesday’s circuit, the band were in good spirits as they took to the stage. Their sound is a form of glitchy synth-pop with elements of R&B thrown in for good measure, and despite some technical issues, their set is a resounding success.

Constantly thanking the audience for their patience and appreciation, lead singer Marcus leads the band at a frenetic pace, yet the overall sound the band manages to produce is soothing and almost trance like, with ethereal tracks such as the captivating ‘Rosa’ intertwined with more lively numbers such as ‘Lungs’ and ‘Fall.’

On the whole, Pixel fix remain somewhat an enigma. They are clearly a talented bunch, but I cannot help but feel their success will remain limited all the while their music remains so diverse. A more coherent direction in terms of style may be required, even if this means sacrificing some of what makes the band so intriguing in the first place.

After a brief delay, presumably to sort out some of the technical issues that plagued Pixel Fix’s set, headliners As Elephants Are take to the stage.

Formed in 2011 whilst the members were in college, As Elephants Are are a more complete and polished outfit than either of the two previous artists, and it shows. Powerful guitar rifts and subtly atmospheric vocals evoke similarities to London indie rockers The Maccabees, a band whom they were reportedly inspired by.

By this point in the evening, the venue had significantly filled up, and the band clearly responded to this, putting everything into a set packed with hits, from debut single ‘War Cry’ to the newly released but equally impressive ‘Crown.’

The band cap off their set with the fantastically catchy and upbeat ‘Hand Prints’ but the audience bay for more. ”We literally have no more songs” implores lead singer Ben, before offering (presumably as a joke) to play their last number again. To my astonishment, however, this actually happens, and the audience bizarrely goes wild.

I must confess that never in almost eight years of going to gigs, I have never ever seen a band play the same song twice, let alone twice in a row. Fair play to As Elephants Are though, giving the audience what they wanted… But maybe just do a cover song next time lads?

The band depart the stage, and are replaced by talented DJ’s playing an exciting mix of electronic and deep house late into the night.

All in all, Mahatma’s second event of the year appears to have been a success. It is both admirable and commendable to see Exeter’s students coming together to improve the live music scene in the City, and I sincerely hope it continues.

If Mahatma is to survive, however, then events such as this must be better publicized. A quite frankly pitiful number of people were in attendance for the start of Tom Elliott’s set, and the venue was probably still only at ¾ capacity for headliners As Elephants Are. This is a shame, and unless more tickets can be sold in the future, I fear Mahatma could go the same way as KINK unfortunately did earlier in the year.

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