Gig Review: Tax The Heat, The Dust Coda, As It Stands. Exeter Cavern: 15 December 2018

Guest post by Bevis Robins – follow him on Twitter!

The Dust Coda are the band that changed my musical life. I was merrily listening to mainstream rock when, at the tail end of 2017,  my brother suggested that I give The Dust Coda a listen. I was completely blown away by their self-titled debut album. It was classic rock with a very modern twist. It quickly became my album of the year and zoomed into my all time top ten. But probably more importantly, it showed me that there was a whole new rock scene out there just waiting for me to discover it. And I drank it up!


I had seen The Dust Coda once before – at a rehearsal studio gig, back in January, in front of about 15 people. It was an unforgettable experience.

One of the bands that The Dust Coda led me to discover was the unpigeonholeable Tax The Heat. So, when Tax The Heat announced a December tour, which included a venue down my way (well Exeter is sort of down my way, a mere 80 miles away!) I was thinking, ‘yep, I’ll have some of that!’. Imagine how I felt when The Dust Coda were announced as main support! Couldn’t believe it, so tickets were duly snaffled and a hotel booked!!

The venue was a little beauty! The Cavern: all red brick and archways. I don’t know how many it holds, but I would guess around 200 when packed. What it does do is create a superb atmosphere – an almost perfect venue for watching music.

As It Stands

First up were local band As It Stands. 3 young lads delivering a powerful, energetic set. The lead singer and guitarist had a great range of vocals, and the bass player never stopped moving and jumping around the stage. Their sound was quite punky, tinged with rock, the songs catchy and enjoyable, and I found myself tapping away to the beat. For the first band on, they got a really good reception from the growing audience. A great warm up for what was to come.

The Dust Coda


The Dust Coda came on stage to a terrific welcome and launched into new track ‘Demon’ which sounded absolutely incredible. It was the first time the band had aired this song and the crowd lapped it up! The next couple of tracks, ‘All I Got’ and ‘Rock N Roll’ really got the crowd going! The band were on fire and the crowd were totally up for it. So much so, that the band decided mid-set to switch the planned ‘Will I ever See You Again’ with the much more upbeat and rockier ‘Save Me’. It was a great decision.

The place was bouncing and, when live favourite ‘When The Tide Comes In’ kicked in, the audience started chanting back the opening line of ‘WHOA WHOA’ with so much gusto that lead singer John Drake just paused to take stock. It was quite special to witness. This carried on throughout the whole song, and even afterwards. You could just see how much this crowd interaction meant to the band.


The final track was the high octane ‘Best Believe’, which kept the energy up and had the crowd jumping up and down, screaming for more.

And then the set finished to rapturous applause. It was only 30 minutes long, but what a 30 minutes it was. It fairly flew by – we really could have done with another 15 minutes or so. It was a testament to how good their set was, and how well it was received when you actually forgot, until afterwards, that they had left out some of their more well known songs, such as ‘Weakness’ and ‘Sweet Love’.

This band are so good. John Drake’s vocals are incredible. Adam Mackie’s playing is superb and Tony Ho’s bass has taken the band to a different level. They’re all backed up by fantastic drummer Scott Miller, who my brother says plays like the late, great John Bonham. My brother knows his stuff. If there is any justice in the world, this band will be massive.

After their set the band were delighted to chat to fans and pose for photos. It was great talking to them about their set, and also their plans for the 2nd album, which they hope to release towards the middle of next year. I got so completely caught up chatting to the lads that I hadn’t realised Tax The Heat had taken to the stage until I heard them belting out ‘All That Medicine’. Oops!

Tax The Heat

We quickly re-joined the crowd and spent the next hour or so, singing, clapping and bouncing along to one of the best new bands out there.

They ripped their way through 14 tracks taken from their 2 albums. There were no fillers here, every track sounded superb – performed by a band on the absolute top of their game. Front man Alex Veale was energetic throughout, often coming right to the front of the stage, literally within touching distance of the crowd. His vocals were bang on, and wow, can he play too. He was ably backed up by JP Jacyshyn on guitar, Antonio Angotti on bass and the whirling dervish that is Jack Taylor on drums.

I’ve tried to describe to friends who Tax The Heat sound like, but it’s impossible; they don’t sound like anyone else. Yes, it’s rock based, but there is something so unique about them.

Like The Dust Codas’, their set was over all too quickly. But the quality of what I had just witnessed left me on a massive high. This was a stunning night of rock and roll. That’s right up there as one of the gigs of the year, and quite possibly, one of the best I’ve ever been to.


Forget your mainstream rock folks, this is where you’ll find the treasure – up close and personal. The way these bands interact and engage with fans just connects you so much more to the music. Get out and support these bands, they deserve it. And so do you.

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