Live: Highasakite and Japanese Wallpaper stun in Sydney

Put them in their natural habitat and Highasakite cannot put a foot wrong – given an empty space, they will fill it with light, energy and a tension they like to twist and pull like a cord around front woman Ingrid Håvik’s finger. Their Like a Version (absolute must watch numero uno priority) speaks to their passion and performativity – who brings their own lighting to a radio performance? On a wild and wet night in Sydney, the Norwegian five-piece drew us into a warm place, closed our eyes and tucked us into each other with a beautiful show that was tragically underfilled, but nevertheless superb.

2014 Unearthed High winner Japanese Wallpaper has rightly gone on to great success following his high school graduation, playing Falls Festival over New Years, sneaking onto #97 on the Hottest 100, and now supporting Highasakite on their Laneway sideshows. On stage I was surprised by his luxe vocal abilities, knowing of his collaboration with the velvet-voiced Jesse Davidson on Between Friends and with other vocalists, including Pepa Knight of Jinja Safari and Wafia. On stage last night, seventeen year old Gab Strum showed he has pipes of his own as he took us through simple songlines laden with rich xylophone jewel tones. There is a hopeful innocence to his music in the simplicity of each song and his dreamy synth work. While a lot of his tracks follow the same structure and instrumentation, he does what he knows well and puts together a pretty sexy lullaby.

Highasakite started their set with an intro of ambient sounds so soft and subtle it was only when they took the stage, appearing as golden-gilded angels, that the audience erupted and was swiftly reduced to silence by Ingrid’s voice, ringing out acapella across the crowd. The beautiful Edison-style orange lighting that travels with them (see: Like A Version) added a powerful atmosphere to the performance, at times casting a candle-like glow and others bursting into full silhouettes. Ingrid Håvik is undoubtedly the star – her charisma is in her violet hair, her evocative gestures, her absolute confidence to stand alone in front of a microphone and not have to do anything but sing to have the audience in her palm. The mix of live instruments and electronic made for an engaging performance, with the flugelhorn making many an appearance and a light-emitting drumkit ensuring that while Ingrid commands the crowd she is backed by similar energy and commitment.

The setlist was a mix of their debut album and last year’s “Silent Treatment”, with Hottest 100 #77 Since Last Wednesday and the infectiously joyous Darth Vader rousing the crowd and providing gig highlights. The contrast between big powerful unisons and sliding, sweet interludes keeps the audience riding the crests of each wave of sound, with something primal in the calls and crash of their Scandi- sound. The mix of Ingrid’s Lykke-Li-sounding throatiness, an insistent cowbell and clanging keys of I, The Hand Grenade create a slight dissonance that grabs you, then gives way suddenly to a wall of harmonized perfection. Ending with an encore of Bon Iver’s Heavenly Father, the resonance and shadowy power of Highasakite as an ensemble is glorious indeed, and not to be missed if you have the chance.


HIGHASAKITE are performing at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.