Village Underground, London
24 May 2016
There will be a blue plaque mounted on the exterior of the Village Underground one day. It will read, “The site of Britain’s first mass shushing of men blocking the bar and talking over the music to their mates through an entire show.” If there is space, it could mention that this sitting room rebellion took place during a performance of “God Don’t Leave Me” by Highasakite.
You couldn’t hear the less considerate part of the audience during “Deep Sea Diver” or “Golden Ticket,” because the Norwegian band capably filled the venue with danceable rhythms, carrying the vocals of Ingrid Helene Håvi into every corner. The capacity crowd reveled in these and other songs from Camp Echo, their politically-charged third album. A reference to part of the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Camp Echo also touches on themes of PTSD and nuclear accidents, but the audience was happy to bounce to beats as heavy as the lyrics.
Håvi’s vocal style bears some comparison to Karin Dreijer’s, but she’s not afraid to explore the ethereal spaces previously inhabited by Elizabeth Fraser. Highasakite’s instrumentation and compositions also cross genres, and there are even touches of folk music evident in the mix. Those long winter nights in Trondheim must provide plenty of opportunity to explore new combinations.
Highasakite remained tethered throughout the show, but they soared with deft melodies and high-impact rhythms that kept people moving through a well-paced programme.
Hands and mobile phones rose in recognition of “Since Last Wednesday,” a single lifted from Silent Treatment, their previous album and a chart-topping smash in native Norway. It would be nice to think that the men at the bar stopped sharing the minutiae of their lives long enough to enjoy it together with the happy punters who made it to the front of the stage, but, you know, this is London.