|Photo: Andrea Wrobel|
Midway through their self-titled debut EP release tour HIGHS arrived at The Rivoli for a show they were admittedly nervous to play. With a packed crowd that included family and friends on a Saturday night and both musically complex bands James and Blackburn and Most People as openers, HIGHS nerves and eagerness to please were definitely justified.
Right from the get-go they hid their anxiety well and settled into a set equally balanced between songs off their EP and ones yet to be recorded. Opening with the more subdued “Fleshy Bones” and ending with “Summer Dress” and “Nomads”, the band captivated the crowd with dance moves and on-stage looks to one another more typical of a group of close friends playing at a house party than many bands you see on-stage. Interestingly, as the band worked through their set, glimpses from vocalist/guitarist Doug Haynes and keyboardist/vocalist Kerri Douglas to the crowd told of a band just as interested in watching others reactions as the crowd theirs.
Musically, the intensity and cohesiveness only grew as the band worked through songs not on the EP. With enough to fill a new album, these songs showed off the dedicated work-ethic and talent of HIGHS, proving to any doubters that this band is in it for the long-haul. Lyrics like,
“I am a son. I am a daughter. I am a sea burying deep within the water”
displayed depth in HIGHS already profound writing and additional signs of growth. Doug, Kerri, and guitarist Joel Harrower took lead on the vocals for different songs, beautifully working two, three and four-part harmonies typical of their sound. Kevin Ledlow’s drumming was louder and more rock influenced on the new songs, yet his intensity was through the roof for the entire show.
The night reached its peak when Joel stopped everything and told the crowd he was about to lead the band through something they never do – play a cover. Joel explained that the song was from a band they truly respect and then went right into an incredible, honed down and simple cover of Talking Heads “This Must be The Place”; layered with simple, looping keys and sung beautifully by Joel himself.
Written by Brian Cauley.