6th July | Exchange

Approaching The Exchange in the sweltering heat we were met with a huge crowd embracing the sun. The night’s line-up of five acts was eclectic. For three of them, they were about to bid their final farewell to Bristol with the departure of Nathaniel Stevens as he jets off to Australia.

After all were summoned indoors, away from their basking, NathFest began with the instrumental outfit The Earth and Me. Often leaving no room for applause, their set was a submersive experience of hardcore progression, illustrated with the occasional verse. Next up was Dogeyed. The indie three-piece have been touring with the likes of AJJ; their recent EP Throw Your Bones was a solid debut laced with elements of shoegaze. Their delivery was playful and light-hearted, with joyful tracks paired with witty lyricism. That said, lead singer, Harriet Elder prevailed in exuding passion throughout that represented the love that has gone into each piece.

Moving into more anarchic territory, we were treated to Neitzsche Trigger Finger, the second instalment of Nath at NathFest. Playing material from their unreleased Sequels EP, the duo were charged with snarling riffs in a post-punk frenzy. As a pair, they are dynamic and wild, especially with tracks such as ‘Reinventing Kanye West’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet 2’, where their hyperactive energy peaked.

So far the night was diverse in genre and celebratory, but when Erica Freas (RVIVR) took to the stage for a solo acoustic set, the tone of the evening took an overpowering, emotional turn. Her unaccompanied material of metaphorical narratives were absorbing and relevant to all. All pieces (most notably ‘Moon’) demonstrated exquisite musicianship. The addition of Erica was awe-inspiring, which made the next instalment of the final farewell that much harder to fathom. After the sheer heartfelt intensity of Erica, a quick moment of re-composure was needed ahead of Austeros.

The Exchange was packed with friends, long-standing fans and some who ventured from as far as Paris and Canada for the concluding moment. “Thank you so much for coming; this is really fucking overwhelming,” said lead Jeremy as applause ceased to falter. Playing favourites from their back-catalogue, matched with the poignancy of their latest EP, made for a celebration of Austeros’ pop-punk delights with nostalgic warmth. The choral chants of “now we know exactly who we are,” through ‘Raindrops’ was a solidifying moment in understanding the community that Austeros have created. .

When ‘By Now’ and ‘We Seem Okay’ rang through, a real sense of achievement was exuded with the members all beaming. Finishing with a climatic stage invasion as the crowd pleaded for one more song, Austeros shut down The Exchange with the fans in complete adoration.

The tone of the evening ranged from raucous riffs to impassioned goodbyes. The night itself marked a hat-trick of losses to the Bristol music scene, but I’m sure the community is ready to embrace all their future projects to come.