Live + Photos: High Highs + The Last Bison At The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

This past Friday (December 7th), The Last Bison and High Highs co-headlined Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory: a venue so intimate that made each set feel like it was being played in my living room, which was pretty awesome. How many people get two awesome bands to play in their living rooms? Anyway.

First up was The Last Bison who can only be described as a folk rock family band: the seven-piece is made up of guitarist and singer/songwriter Ben Hardesty along with father Dan and sister Annah, as well as brothers Jay and Andrew Benfante, and Teresa Totheroh and Amos Housworth. If only my family was cool enough to have a band together…

Anyway, the band took the folk revival to a whole new level with their plethora of instruments (countless percussion, mandolin, banjo, violin, etc.) and a togetherness that further emphasizes the fact that they really are indeed a family. Their energy was off the charts, and Ben connected with his lyrics so , as they established themselves as a more folk and less commercial Mumford & Sons. I really believe these guys will do well with folk purists as well as the ever-expanding Mumford/Avett/Lumineers enthusiasts, especially with songs like “Switzerland” off their debut album Quill and newest EP, Inheritance, which is available for free download below.

Next up was New York-via-Sydney’s High Highs who have been making waves with gorgeous tracks like “Open Season” and “Flowers Bloom”, both of which combine singer/guitarist Jack Milas’ folk tendencies with keyboardist Oli Chang’s electronica, creating a beautiful and unique fusion that is uniquely High Highs.

The band played tracks off their 2011 EP along with some newer tracks that will be released on the band’s debut album due for release next month and although their presence didn’t match to that of The Last Bison, they put on a beautiful show chock full of their gorgeous harmonies, atmospheric synthesizer soundscapes, and simplistic approach to arranging – definitely contrasting that of the previous band. It’s notable that this was also drummer Sean’s first show with the band, meaning that they’ll only improve their already spot-on live show.

Both The Last Bison and High Highs put on great – and polar opposite – shows at The Knitting Factory and are definitely two acts to watch out for in the new year!

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