As a general rule, rooms in which the boundaries of personal space are so often trespassed can often be a nightmare (particularly Timepiece on a Wednesday night). For music venues, I personally find it’s an entirely different kettle of fish. Far from being a nightmare, there’s a comforting sense of intimacy that you share with the rest of the crowd and the performer themselves, regardless of whether it’s a fresh-faced young guitarist singing about their feelings, or the latest band that the NME tells you to listen to (probably also singing about their feelings). It was this intimacy that drew me, a bewildered fresher, to the Exeter Cavern to see my first gig here, Allison Weiss and the Front Bottoms.
Allison Weiss, a chirpy girl from New York, interacted with the crowd with such fluidity and ease, that it felt like we were all her close friends after 5 minutes. There’s the impression today that acoustic singer-songwriters telling everyone about their innermost emotions are two-a-penny in the music world right now, but Weiss’s strong voice and guitar playing drew people in, making them want to listen to these emotions. Weiss herself asked the crowd “Has anyone ever missed someone?” before playing a song about such a situation. Being in such a small venue, it felt as though secrets, having been bottled up, were being shared on stage, as if talking face to face to someone you trusted, which in itself, is a benefit of the Cavern. Weiss’s songs herself had a few hints of a Frank Turner bitterness, a sense that she is pained at the memories yet has moved on, using her songs as catharsis.
However, though small venues help one dwell on the poignancy of shared memories, they are also good places in which to go nuts. The Front Bottoms commanded one of the most energetic front rows I’ve ever seen, jumping in a frenzy to each of the songs, all of which were catchy enough to sing along to without being same-y. The songs themselves, about growing up and getting bored with what you enjoyed when you were young, may also have a slight bitterness to them, like Weiss, but it was the location of the Cavern that still struck a chord with much of the audience. After having danced vigorously to said songs, I left the Cavern feeling like I’d just left a house party with some of the best people in the world. As this is so often the norm with small venues, this young fresher will definitely be making a return.
by Alice Woods