The dust of the new year is finally settling, though many are still weary and worn from festival stints or Field Day binges, the brave managed to get out of the house and fill out Oxford Arts Factory for Highasakite.
As the Norwegian five-piece took to the stage, excitable cheers and screams filled the space which began to feel smaller and smaller. After previously witnessing Highasakite during the festival circuit, the stage felt restricting, the band sharing the space with these large hexagonal props containing LED lighting. This paired with plenty of smoke and heavy strobing made it clear that Highasakite are used to a grander stage environment.
Singer Ingrid Helene Håvik holds the audience in the palm of her hand from the beginning to end. This isn’t your regular indie pop band, there is a weight to each song and when Håvik sings it’s both primal and ethereal. ‘My Mind Is a Bad Neighbourhood’ jittered and pulsated, awakening the crowd and soon there wasn’t a stationary body in the venue. The band glided through favourites like ‘Someone Who’ll Get It’, ‘Golden Ticket’ and ‘My Soldier’ with absolute musical precision. The only flaw to be found (and even then, it’s a stretch) was how unfairly low in the mix the horn was. Obviously acoustic instruments like these are incredibly difficult to mix in a way that cuts through its digital neighbours, still, a better balance would have just lifted the entire sonic experience.
‘Lover, Where do you Live’ hits like an avalanche. It’s beautiful but terrifying in all its power and sadness. At this point, Håvik had created a ceremonial experience and we, the audience, are her cult-like devotees. There was one (idiot) punter however who felt now was a good time to complain that she, “missed the singer’s black hair” as if a hair colour has any effect whatsoever on Håvik’s musical prowess.
Luckily, the sour taste of such a superficial comment was quickly washed away by the band consistently outdoing themselves as the set progressed. We gleefully sung along to ‘Since Last Wednesday’ and felt a sadness that our time with Highasakite was already over.
Highasakite finish up their Australian visit with a show at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel tonight.