Ok, say you don't like all that r'n'b crap and like to tune into something most likely involving a guitar at some point, well Exeter has something for you too. It may not be London, which features the Electric Ballroom and Slime, but neither is it a desert for those with an inner goth/indie kid.
A small underground bar/gig venue/day-time cafe between Queen Street and Gandy Street, the Cavern offers a pretty cool atmosphere to have a few drinks and enjoy live bands. Bar prices are average, but unlike many places, they sell snakebite - the essential get drunk quick drink (though of course, I don't recommend this...). The decor is an interesting mix of the modern and grungy, with pipes lining the ceiling near the stage yet poster art on the walls. You can buy band CDs at the bar.
The Bunker is in the backwater of Exeter, near St Thomas station. You probably won't know how to get there, but freshers week trips run by RocSoc will soon familiarise you with the directions. Its a kind of rock club that operates on Friday and Saturday nights in a biker pub called The Roadhouse; you might be thinking 'un-oh bikers!' but Satan's Slaves (as they are known) are pretty decent guys who will deal with any misbehaviour quite promptly. As such, its no more dangerous than any bar or club.
Music is mainly metal, heavy and classic rock, at least on saturday nights, but it provides more of a background for conversation and is generally a great way to meet fellow Roc-Soc members, if you belong. Drinks unfortunately are quite expensive and there's not a fantastic range, so lager and beer tend to rule the night.
Dress code is almost definitely black and goths are a prominent feature. £2 entry
EDIT: Now closed :(
The University of Exeter Rock music society have a regular night at the Thirsty Camel (EDIT: Now closed) on Saturdays and will inform members of all the gigs going on in the Exeter area, as well as running trips to Bristol and even London to see bands. http://www.societies.ex.ac.uk/~rocsoc
Catfish is the rather oddly named University Indie society. They run regular events, including Collision (on friday nights at Timepiece, Castle Street). Collision happens in the club part above the bar, but though the music is good, I find myself preferring the main bar downstairs (better drinks range, cool vintage signs). They do nights at the Cavern too, like their end of term xmas party and promote indie bands there such as The Subways - up and coming band hailing from my native herts!
Rare nights this year have been good, held in the Lemon Grove on main campus. Fortunately, the university has some very talented musicians, as the open mic night demonstrates (open mic is tuesdays at the lemon grove - a chilled evening, where you can cheer your musically-gifted friends).
The university hosts lots of gigs during the year: smaller ones in the Lemon Grove and larger ones in the Great Hall. Bands that have played in the last few years include Franz Ferdinand, Keane, Motorhead, Bloc Party, Hard -Fi, Supergrass, The Zutons, The Futureheads, Athlete, The Thrills, Doves, Ocean Colour Scene, James Blunt and The Subways amongst others. Tickets can be bought from the Guild Box office and many discounted with an Ents card.
Check out http://www.exeterboxoffice.com gig listings and online tickets.
There are lots of alternative shops in Exeter, particularly in Fore Street and Gandy Street. These include your typical greebo shops, like Blue Banana, and even interesting shops that sell digeridoos, crystals, jewellery, good quality vintage clothing and new age ephemera. All in all, a good place to be!