LIVE: Between The Buried And Me / Haken @ Camden Electric Ballroom

By Dave Bull

Haken kicked things off to rapturous applause; the Electric Ballroom bursting at the seams with people eager to catch this energetic Mars Volta meets Boy Hits Car sensation that are causing a stir both in the UK and around the globe. Vocalist Ross Jennings is a refreshing sight on stage, his tightly bound and veracious curls adding an extra spring to his step, as he sings his heart out for the crowd. There was in places, quite a Mike Patton feel to his vocals, often semi-barked or parts of spoken word over particular guitar sequences sounding very King For A Day.

Haken are loud and produce a lot of it as well, and in parts the sounds are pretty mad, conjuring up images of mirror houses at the circus, the crowd swinging their arms side to side in a rhythmic monotony. They even had a keytar, which provided some gorgeous, funky overlays. Jennings was quite the frontman, but refreshingly disposed of any requirement to adhere to any status quo, he simply looked like he was having the time of his life, merrily acting out not just shotgun style air drumming, but air guitar and air piano. Get this man an instrument God damn it!

Haken closed with a very long instrumental offering complete with a five man round, which sounded impressive and even a barman could be seen dancing along, the quality evident from the tap guitar displays and the huge cinematic, rock mash-ups which were incredibly well received and set the tone for the night.

And to the headliner, Between The Buried And Me. Quite possibly one of the most wonderfully strange and genre defying acts of recent times. With an acronym (BTBAM) that sounds like a new WiFi service from British Telecom, it only adds to the overall aura of dizzying strangeness and beauty. They annihilate age and genre boundaries, evidence in point being the sheer number of people over 50 present, and refreshing especially due to the heavier end of Between The Buried And Me which sounds akin to Eva Spence’s guttural roar. But they are techy, they are space-rocky and they are tight and boy do they know how to put on a show. As the stage lights go down, a wall of violin and cello bellows out from the pa’s, a ferocious yet warming drum beat settling the ambience and mood which would dictate the whole evening, not too dissimilar to how AFI entered the stage on their Sing The Sorrow tour, the hairs on the back of the neck refusing to lie down.

From here on in it is an example of how not to be kept in a box, how mixing genre styles can work to good effect, as this gig showed, with t-shirts and records flying off the merch table. Frontman Tommy Rogers’ vocals are shiny like polished steel and the more mental vocals added to the uniqueness of this band, setting them apart from others, truly mesmerising but also very strange, his high notes blistering, the softer parts as soft as a fairy’s socks.

The jazzy, blues breakdowns are wonderful and are the perfect accompaniment to the more Prog Rock parts. What BTBAM showed tonight was that different is good, bringing together similarities with bands like Vex Red and Rolo Tomassi overlaid with the sounds possibly requested for the pope’s bath time CD, orchestral chamber music style warmth that gives them that quality both live and on record.

Songs from the new album Coma Ecliptic sounded haunting and huge, the band opting for a mellower release than previous albums, with ‘Famine Wolf’ sounding like a funky, mathy medley whilst ‘The Coma Machine’ highlighted the cleaner, more outwardly Rock moments, Rogers’ vocals floating over all and sundry with a professional swagger. There was even a large Brocolli down the front of the audience, enhancing the oddity of the night and did nothing to dampen the feeling of strangeness. But beauty can often be found in the bizzare, and tonight was no exception. They are worth checking out and they deserve their critical acclaim.