Norwegian five-piece Highasakite are one of my favourite discoveries of 2014. Their hit single Since Last Wednesday hit the radio waves pretty hard for a while, but they’ve stayed under the radar enough that when they came to Australia, they only played two shows, and they were at relatively intimate venues. The Oxford Art Factory is the perfect venue for their gorgeous sound, and it filled every single atom in that dark room.
Melbourne’s Hoodlem started the show. A recent discovery of mine, I was really disappointed to have arrived late, but alas, the circumstances were as such.
The band began within moments of my arrival, and the crowd was already heaving with an excited buzz. Ingrid Helene Havik has as much stage presence and vocal power as the recording indicates. Dressed more like a rapper than an electro-pop crooner, the Norwegian frontwoman donned a low baseball cap, gold bangles and a badass demeanour. As the band went straight into first track Lover, Where do you Live? We knew we were in for something special. Waxing angelic, her voice has a uniquely rich quality to it. It’s unlike anything else.
Known for their thrilling live performances, it was clear that the band thought carefully about more than just the music. These round, gold, luminescent lights adorned the back curtain, giving the group an eerie yet warm appearance. An interesting array of instrumentation on stage, I was so pleased that the drummer was towards the front of the stage. I love when bands do this, especially when percussion plays such a dominant role in the musical landscape.
As the band ran through most of their breakthrough album Silent Treatment, the audience were drawn in for every beat, every note. Hiroshima and Darth Vader were powerful, demanding tunes that rang out throughout the venue with such an epic, crystalline beauty. It was nothing short of breathtaking. My personal favourite tune of theirs is Iran, and that was a definitely highlight. The satirical lyrics packed a punch, and Havik’s electric melody glistened.
It was phenomenal to see how much noise a five piece could make – there easily could’ve been ten people on stage. The sound was close to orchestral at points, especially when additional drums were brought out, when guitarist Kristoffer Lo put down his axe and picked up (what I’m pretty sure was) a flugelhorn, and when the guitar was played with a violin bow (if you’ve never heard that before, go and look it up now – wow). Live brass always does something special to me; and this was no exception.
The thunderous drums boomed and crashed, adding so much intensity, so much depth to the already strong tunes. After a one-song encore, I only wish they’d gone on for a little longer.
A breathless, ethereal and incredibly powerful set through and though. Considering the gig was presented by Laneway, I can only assume that they’ll be heading back here pretty soon – and I highly recommend attending when they do.