LIVE: Nai Harvest @ Kamio, London

By Ashwin Bhandari

Despite having played South By Southwest and releasing another set of singles this year, seminal emo two piece Nai Harvest announced in July that they were breaking up. This came as somewhat of a surprise to fans considering the busy touring schedule up until that month but as they said themselves, putting everything into your band doesn’t mean things will last forever. While it seems unusual to have the final show in London rather than Sheffield, their influence on the UK DIY scene as a whole has been undeniably radiant.

As soon as they grace the tiny Kamio stage at 15 minutes past 11, a rather unusual time for a headliner to come on, there’s stage divers and crowd surfers galore during the opening of ‘Hold Open My Head’. Any fears that playing newer material over old would have a weak reaction are soon put to bed due to the crowd’s caustic sing-alongs, with Ben Thompson practically screaming the words back to the audience. The signature combination of fuzz-laden riffs along with Lew’s simplistic but hard hitting drum fills has even the less enthusiastic punters at the back dancing along.

At first, it seems like a regular non-barrier show, except after two songs security guards stand on the stage, and the crowd almost immediately turns against the venue staff. Ben and Lew refuse to play another note until they move out of the way. This goes on for a good twenty minutes or so, pushing the finishing time of this already fairly late show even further back.

“I’m literally not going to play another note until you stand to each side of the stage and fucking stay there. And if someone’s crying, then you be the fucking hero and help them. But until then, they don’t need help — look at these fucking punk kids! They’re all punk as fuck! They’re fucking hard as fuck, they’re fine! Dock it off our fucking pay check, I don’t care.”

It’s a shame that something like this had to happen at their final show but thankfully the crowd participation is as high-octane as ever, with the lyrics from ‘Sick Of My Heart’; “I Want To Be Free” resonating powerfully with the events of tonight. When ‘Hairball’ came out last year it had a mixed reception from critics. Some fans had talked about not coming tonight because they were doubtful that any pre ‘Hold Open My Head’ material would be played. In their defence, Thompson has openly said that he prefers playing newer material over tracks from ‘Whatever.’  However this is their final show, and so naysayers have really screwed up their chances of hearing classics such as ‘The Bikes and The Basement’ and ‘Distance etc’ for one last time. The older material does have a slight key change in order to minimise tuning time in between songs, but if anything these tracks sound unique when played this way.

With all the fun and chaos ensued at this gig including kids now jumping off the side speakers for that extra sense of danger, the scuzz pop masters final song of the evening, ‘Buttercups’, arrives all too quickly.  That isn’t to say the set was too short though, considering they’ve played material from everything apart from their 2011 EP.

Ben describes the final show as a funeral, and this is probably the most fun you could ever have at one. There’s no encore, but there doesn’t need to be. Nai Harvest have accomplished more than what they set out to do 5 years ago and while there will be a big hole in our emo hearts due to their absence, their legacy will hopefully live on through their influence on their fans and bands they toured with.