A Live Experience with High Highs and LANKS at Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, 12th February 2016

jameslondon1_blue_blurWhen High High’s released their gentle debut Open Season in early 2013, they were quick to earn the respect from Triple J from their first major single of the same name. The duo Jack Milas and Oli Chang now reside in New York and haven’t been back to their homeland for a few years, so with support from Perth’s Teischa and Melbourne’s LANKS, we experience one of the quietest and intimate gigs for as long as we can remember.

With a late start of 9pm there really shouldn’t be any excuse for missing the support, but weary bones from DIIV’S compelling gig, The Wandering Lamb’s ears worn and body fatigued. We were reminded what we missed when LANKS took to the stage and mentioned how amazingly talented Teischa is. A singer and songwriter from Perth, who won 2014’s Telstra Road to Discovery and proved her talents as a warm, soulful vocalist that was way beyond her, then, 17 years. Least we could do is post a track of hers.

LANKS doesn’t really need much of introduction to those in the know of great Australian artists and although we have watched Wil Cuming, tonight with a considerably sparse crowd, a few new songs ready to share and a very good sound mix, LANKS sounded exquisite. LANKS blends his excellent falsetto and soothing vocal, with intricate beats, effect-laden guitar chords and synth samples to create a luscious wall of soulful sound.

Beyond his charismatic demeanor, Cuming, humored the crowd with relaxed banter before deciding to deliver a heart-wrenching version of Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees and although not too far removed from the original song, his delicate cover was intense and riveting, hitting the falsetto pitch-perfect.

Tonight we were treated to a few new songs, each of them hit the mark. For those not familiar with LANKS musical sound, we can confidentially draw a few comparisons with Chet Faker, James Blake and Houses, perhaps obvious but hopefully fair comparisons to this talented Melbourne artist. New single Golden Age as LANKS injecting a few up-beats to his defined equation of layered electronic-pop, it is hit single material, with a thumping chorus of, what sounds like, a sampled Kazoo.

e911c340b8f211e5971a231b6c11c601_wide_600By 10pm the crowd would have pushed no more than 80 or so people, a huge surprise to us, considering the praise the duo had recently received from their new album Cascades and the backing of a chart making debut album. It was of absolute no concern to High Highs as they ventured on to the stage, four in total, 2 fellow musicians that they brought with them from the states to play rhythm, and yep, they certainly played rhythm exceptionally. Lead singer, Jack Milas requested that we move in closer and make it more intimate, before drifting into a relatively short set of laid-back but sometimes unexpected transfixing crescendos.

The stage, garlanded with a simple line of fairy lights set against muted red stage lights, was the perfect stage for a relaxing night that really felt like you were at a private party, delivered by the ease and comfort of the band, perhaps because there were a few good friends in the audience.

Tonight it was the new songs that really stood out, unlike Open Season, an album of laid-back and harmonious tracks, the recently delivered Cascades, is full, offers more “punch” with an 80s twist. Title track single Cascades steps back to the 80s and when played on Milas’s borrowed guitar Gretsch guitar called “The Country Gentlemen”, sounds even better live. How Could You Know and Ocean To City provide a bigger sound to their trademark summer vibe and have the band sounding more like a “band” and confirm the duo as exceptional songwriters, just a shame they had to go to New York to get their deserved merits.

Opening track to their new album,  Boxing, will be their closing song tonight and probably their best. The band complete a 50 minute set full of warmth and honesty, they politely thank us for being there and remind us that music is all about quality, not quantity as they leave the stage and head upstairs for a well-deserved glass of red wine. Safe travels chaps and we hope next time we get more punters filling their ears with your great music.