RADSOUND // LIVE: HAPPYNESS, NAI HARVEST, FAKE LAUGH – BIRTHDAYS, DALSTON – 04/02/15
Originally published on Radsound
Off the back of Independent Venue Week, this week plunged straight into the NME Awards realms, with a high concentration of even more stellar live music hitting the capital. Kicking it off in a basement in Dalston came Happyness, fresh from their recent signing to Moshi Moshi and more than ready to put on a show.
In support firstly came Fake Laugh. As the brain child of Kamran Khan that has since evolved into a band, put out several brilliant singles via Art Is Hard and released an EP with Khan’s own Violent Tapes label, the outfit have already earnt themselves somewhat of a solid reputation, but when they hit the stage the goodness was elevated to a whole new level. Gliding through a sweetly indie pop style fueled by Khan’s delicate falsetto and dreamy guitars with tracks such as ‘Freely’ and latest single ‘Kind Of Girl’, whilst at times creating a more upbeat raucous affair with those such as ‘Wouldn’t Bother‘ the outfit seemed discreetly assured in their sound and rightly so, winning the affections of most of the room in no time at all.
Next came a more raging assault on the ears in the form of Sheffield’s current acclaimed duo noisemakers Nai Harvest, largely juxtaposing the aura of calm left before, and intent on proving two people armed with drums and guitar can still be louder than any heavy metal act they want. With a set largely comprised of their forthcoming album, the duo’s sound lies somewhere between punk-edged indie rock -conjuring up hints of stadium ready Oasis and Smashing Pumpkins – and the grungier heavy style of the likes of hometown counterparts Drenge and Bloody Knees. With tracks like ‘Hold Open My Head’ and ‘Pastel’ conjuring up somewhat of an onstage storm, the outfit left the crowd suitably warmed up.
Finally came Happyness, taking to the stage with their air of chaotic awkwardness bursting into life with tracks from last year’s debut LP, ‘Weird Little Birthday’, and upon swiftly crashing into EP title track ‘It’s On You’ set the audience alight with their namesake. Darting between darker desolate album cuts such as the lyrically perplexing but intensely charming ‘Baby Jesus (Jelly Boy)’ and the upbeat types of ‘Leave The Party’ and ‘Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same’ with only brief interruptions of the band’s gratitude, the trio captured their uniquely 90s slacker rock sound akin to the likes of Sparklehorse and Yuck without a hint of trepidation live. Further lo-fi melancholia was produced by their debut live forays of piano based ‘Regan’s Lost Weekend’ and ‘Pumpkin Noir‘, completed by the sweet harmonies of guitarist Benji Compton and bassist Jonny Allan, alongside the sheer darkness of the sparse ‘Lofts’ – boasting a tale of the mentally ill, all still pulled off in effortless musical beauty. One last burst of energy came from the trio’s thunderous new single ‘A Whole New Shape’ channelling the harder edge of those like Pavement and Wilco before closing the set on the best and possibly only track out there detailing ideas of a scalped Win Butler, ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’ and fleeing offstage.
Since the release of their EP, Happyness have been sought after for their intriguing style and sheer brilliance, and upon headlining shows a year later it’s more than clear to see why, and it only looks set to continue.