HIGHASAKITE: LIVE at LANEWAY Sydney 2015
(Album: SILENT TREATMENT April 7, 2014)
I didn’t know what to expect live from this five piece Norwegian Indie Pop, Indie Rock band led by front woman, Ingrid Havik, who is responsible for most of the song writing – and then interpreting these strikingly quality creations in such an ethereal manner.
Their second album Silent Treatment appears to gravitate toward the exploration of those words unspoken. The kind that lie just beneath the surface and remain safely concealed - locked within one’s own private home. It concentrates on the ongoing challenge to endure such personal silent clashes and conflicts, and the desire to escape them entirely. Now you understand why I really didn’t know what to expect live, given the dark lyrical undertones found evenly dispersed throughout this simply ravishing body of work.
Listening to the tasteful creativeness that is Highasakite, you would most likely note subtle hints of Iceland’s ‘Of Monsters And Men’ and at other times perhaps even Sweden’s ‘First Aid Kit’. With these thoughts floating around in my head, I found myself waiting with a great deal of anticipation and curiosity right at the edge of Park Stage, along with so many others just as eager.
At long last the elegant Nordic five appeared and the crowd roared with approval. A stunningly interesting, purple haired, slight of build and slightly tattooed Ingrid took her position at the microphone. I thought her visually captivating and remarkably attractive, but not in a traditional sense. Upon studying this young woman intently though, I found myself concerned for her as I sensed she might have been more than a little nervous. I wanted desperately to tell her she was safe among genuine loving fans. I did feel like jumping the stage and giving her a bit of a “don’t fear, I’m here” hug. She did appear just that delicate and fragile. However, I was fairly certain you would not have been permitted to storm the stage offering random indiscriminate (support) hugs to the talent. Then pondering long and hard yet again, I decided that I was in fact positive one hundred million percent that such an action would be pretty much completely forbidden AND probably punishable. So I exhaled a sigh of knowing defeat, eyed the massive security guy a few feet away from me just one last time, and stayed safely put.
The band started to play to everyone’s delight and they sounded polished and pure, simply beautiful. It didn’t take all that much time for Ingrid to slowly relax, engage in eye contact with her audience and converse a little here and there to help ease the transition.
A very original band to watch live, you’ve got drums, synths, guitar and an (alien to me) instrument called a flugabone (anyone please?). All of which worked magically in synchronicity, accompanied by sophisticated and stylish music and Ingrid’s gentle, though intense vocals.
There really is something quite theatrical and cinematic about their music. I would struggle to define it other than, loosely, as an expanse of airy spaciousness. Observing them perform live solidified this notion. Ingrid’s movements as she performed were just so concentrated and expressive. She believed in each and every one of the words she sang and it showed. She presented as extremely invested, and it beckoned others to value and respect as much.
The familiarity of Leaving No Traces off their current album propelled the crowd into singing along loudly and appreciatively. Ingrid was really warmed up by this early stage, and was note and pitch perfect. The only issue of concern that bothered me during the set was quite possibly a technical bass problem. At times, it actually obscured and drowned out Ingrid’s vocals somewhat, which saddened me a great deal as her precious voice, somehow dramatic and tender all the same time, was not deserving of this interference. These sorts of glitches are commonplace particularly at festivals where time restraints don’t allow for extensive sound checks. However, when the band stripped back heavily, you didn’t want the sound of Ingrid’s vocals to ever end.
It remained obvious throughout that the band members enjoyed playing together and increasingly fed off the audience’s optimistic energy. In turn, members of the band would further encourage the fans from where they stood on stage. These friendly reciprocal gestures between band and fans ensured the mood overall remained lively, heartfelt and participative. Just the way I like it.
Another crowd pleaser was clearly confirmed when the band threw themselves into Darth Vader, a popular track off the album. Everybody had fun with this, including Ingrid. They had drawn quite a large crowd made up of honest fans, having happily echoed lyrics throughout the set, and this moment proved no exception.
Since Last Wednesday was the second last song of the set, which had been their breakout single. This was the perfect example to showcase Ingrid’s stirring vocals. She was supported throughout the song’s journey by sublime synth and percussion, culminating in an inspiring sound quite enthralling. You were literally thrust into a vortex of an exquisite multi layered musical dimension - So surprisingly unexpected and refreshing. Looking back at the crowd, sure signs of validation were etched across the countless nameless faces, all sincere fans, all suitably satisfied.
At first I didn’t know what to expect from a Highasakite live show, all I knew beyond doubt was that it would be heavenly. I was not mistaken and their humble disposition on stage as an ensemble had suddenly made them all the more appealing.
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon was also terribly impressed with their live performance, so much so that he invited Highasakite to tour alongside him. That alone should speak for it self.
Mary ‘Mazza’ Di Matteo
Editor In Chief see photos here