As if by magic, a row of soft circular lighting appears on stage to reveal the beautiful, Ingrid Helene Håvik along with the rest of the quintet which make up Norwegian indie rock force, Highasakite. They opened for successful Icelanders, Of Monsters And Men on the UK leg of their world tour, at the O2 Academy Birmingham last week.
Their short but eerie warm up slot contains a brief introduction by lead vocalist, Håvikafter, whilst many an audience member look on awaiting the main attraction but also with a curiosity; to listen to this mysterious act that have taken an effort to gift them with grave emotion and beauty. It is always easy to assume, that like a number of warm up acts that play both intimate and large venues, an audience would not really give much thought to this slot. However, perhaps an exception was made this time.
Opening the show is the haunting, Lover Where Do You Live. Here begins the bands theme of instruments and technology colliding to create sounds that either could not achieve alone. Håvikafter majestically moves hands over the mic whilst lights rise revealing the rest of this Scandinavian force. These humble musicians confidently appear on stage, oozing strong and dark tones from lead vocals which are synthesised of course and yet, there are no remnants of falsity. The sound produced is alien yet stunning. As the climax of the track approaches, ‘shivers down that spine of yours’ will no doubt be felt when seeing this act live.
Vocally, it is refreshing to hear an alto: thin folds, blended tones with the ability to flip in and out of head voice representing something quite different for the genre, with so little effort. Sounding even better live, Highasakite is able to evoke in an audience member, just as powerful emotion from soft but powerful sounds, simple staging and an intimate venue, as
much as mainstream artists belting and roaring their presence: the likes of Gaga or One Direction do come to mind.
Not leaving the audience too pensive however is the bizarre Hiroshima, lyrics which are both confusing but work cooperatively of melody, leaving onlookers with an eased state of mind. Since Last Wednesday and Leaving No Traces as well as a few others from the album less known, continue to flatter an ever attentive audience.
Formed in 2011 from meeting whilst studying at the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory, Håvikafteras and Bersu then recruited Thomas Dahl and company for completion of the band working on drums and synths to name a few of their many tools. Working the latter part of 2011 on their debut album Silent Treatment, the five have been successful in Scandinavia, Iceland, North America, and now the UK. Fresh success is no doubt imminent and as they continue to tour with Of Monsters And Men, they are in good company. Highasakite will inevitably have to choose though, whether or not they send their music high as a kite into the skies of commercialism or, as I hope, stay themselves, distant from the mainstream and safe in the realms of artistic freedom. A freedom it would appear they already possess.
Highasakite support Of Monsters And Men on their world tour before returning to the UK in February to play a headline show at Hoxton Hall in London, February 09, 2016.
Photo courtesy of “Highasakite” PR team.