Friday, April 8, 2016

High Highs -- Black Cat - Apr 7 2016

by John Miller

High Highs - Sometimes these shows don't always go as planned; little detours that necessitate exacting navigation. Tonight was no exception as it was quite difficult to make it past the gatekeeper. After some back and forth, and an appropriate sacrifice, entry was granted to the High Highs show.

Tonight's set is the second to last for High Highs current tour. Considering they are from Australia, one might assume that the anticipation to finally return home might lead to an uneven show, however they played like pros and any anticipation I have unfairly labeled them with isn't heard tonight. They are on the quiet side, a four piece.  They remind me of fellow Australians, The Church; the moderate to slow tempo, leaning on the keys, fleeting vocals that are just soft enough. The heavy use of pads and sustain evoke this feeling of distance. It's not as if they are physically distance from the audience tonight, actually it's quite the opposite; it is quite intimate. The Backroom is about half full; those that braved the shitty weather tap their feet along and nod their heads in unison. So the distance felt is more emotional, in that High Highs seem to be consistently chasing. Though I wouldn't characterize it as necessarily chasing the past, steeped in nostalgia; the two aren't mutually exclusive. They aren’t looking to relive the past, just remember it.

The bass; it is a constant tonight. Usually with the quieter bands, it's mixed down, barely noticeable but there is definitely a consistent groove throughout the set. I'm scared the woman next to me is going to topple over with all the movement on top of this bench. The set continues as it started; occasionally though the more upbeat finds its way through the clouds but not before the fog slows them down again. It's a perfect soundtrack for the evening; cloudy.

2 comments:

John Noble said...

Glad to see someone covering these guys, so thank you. Considering the buzz they generated with Open Season and some of their commercial success, literally with Amazon etc. I expected more coverage and reviews of Cascades. But, nothing on Pitchfork or even Metacritic. Too bad as I think they are unique in their understated sound. In a selfish way I am glad they're not getting big but they are far more deserving of press and success. I was really pleasantly surprised they sounded so good live and I loved the more intimate moments, specifically the opening of In a Dream though I didn't get the twilight zone reference. It was beautiful, like most of their music. Cascades really adds a bolder sound yet keeps fidelity to their light touch and the previous album, quite impressive and each song from both albums can stand on it's own. One glaring omission from this concert was Fastnet. It's such a evocative closer on Cascades, I really wish they would have encored with it. It would have been stunning, in a good way.

John Miller said...

/an excellent complimentary review. Thanks for the feedback!