Capdown, Howards Alias, Desperate Cycle, The Cut Ups

Charlie Southwell 04/02/2007

The Cut Ups opened this intense evening, to a packed cavern. They sent a message of warmth with their anger, utilising the power and emotion for the better good of Exeter's punk scene. Encouraging a greener city and teaching everyone to be more thoughtful; a nice message, and the music was good too. The band launched themselves about the stage with performed certainty, the vocalist and guitarist showboating during the big chords, swinging the guitar around wildly, a sense of a skater punk here with catchy choruses. A band worth watching and a cause for the greater good: writing good songs and they have a message to bring. True punk, give them a go.

Milton Keynes lads, Desperate Cycle, are handpicked by Capdown as tour supports, and they are an energetic young 5 piece. Four of the members sing, including their drummer, although only Robbie exclusively sang. The live mix held the guitars and bass a little low for my liking, but they blasted through the set. The youngsters did a fantastic job of warming up the Exeter crowd for their hometown friends and peers Capdown. A screamo punk band that is as tight as a virgin badger yet as choppy, edgy and raw as the sea during the perfect storm. Surprisingly harmonic vocals considering their shouting nature, their well written songs washed over the crowd, accentuated by a precise rhythmic proficiency. Cheekily asking at the end of the set for a place to stay the night, they had great personality and this tour should see them mature into a fantastic touring band as long as they don't get lost in Swindon again.

Howards Alias are a positive uplifting rock band accompanied by a strong two-piece brass section. They were the first band of the night to really get the crowd moving. Jumping freely and somewhat frantically the crowd created their own heat on this cold night. Ecstatically, the vocalist holding the mic out to the crowd was complimented with vivid participation during their captivating sing-a-long moments. The trombone and sax players gave it their all and bring to the band what is the perky, playful and altogether more pleasing ska vibe that is this band's music. A band that knows what they are about and try to be nothing more or less than themselves. It was in fact the saxist's birthday and the 250+ crowd sung that beloved song back to him, an awesome spectacle, he looked embarrassed. A great band live, one that avoids the punk rock clich├ęs, tipped for great things.

Capdown, though, are the real deal and this was the most packed the Cavern has been for a truly long time. The show sold out, and with their album released tomorrow, this can only mean good things. The show was the busiest yet greatest atmosphere I have witnessed in Exeter, ever. Launching the set with top new album tracks "Wind Up Toys" and "Blood, Sweat & Fears" they proceeded to emphatically woo the crowd through a few older ska songs. Singer Jake reminded me several time of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) because of his energy and the way he played the crowd, in only the way his charisma could dictate. In between blistering sax licks: his voice was crystally clear cut. The band has clearly adapted their old image, sub-American ska lads, from when they supported Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and Bad Religion, to a rockier attitude now that ska has died over here in the UK. Everything was spot on, nothing less than you'd expect from such a proficient live band.

With intense crowd participation they became divided in competition, Capdown getting half the crowd to scream "action", whilst the other half belted out "nation". The two halves became enthralled in this game, before the band launched back into the song.

This must be the only club in the country that seems to actively promote crowd surfing. The band also encouraged crowd members on stage to jump back into the sweaty masses carrying bodies further back, despite their mic stands and monitors going flying at times. Come the end of the set front man Jake did a forward tumble onto the crowd who held him aloft, somewhat like a trophy.

Almost dragged back on stage for a rousing encore they played both the b-side and their new single, before leaving the crowd understandably wowed. This gig left me wanting more, which is strange: after all their best songs I should have been content, but I think there is a lot of life left in this group. I already want to hear where this band will go next.