LIVE: Seahaven / Nai Harvest @ Birthdays, London [18/04/14]

By Ben Tipple

Released last month, Seahaven’s ‘Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only’ more than lives up to its title. Moving in another direction entirely to their previous offerings, ‘Reverie…’ sees the band’s gentle quirks layered with a heap of echoing landscapes that could just as easily soundtrack a relaxing day on the beach as a melancholic night drive. Softening the harsher sounds from 2011’s ‘Winter Forever’, Seahaven are now all about atmosphere.

Acting as main support, Nai Harvest follow suit. With the vocals all but vanishing under a sea of scuzzy reverb, their live performance is more about creating a wall of enthralling sounds than it is about power. Their newer tracks are considerably more concise, with both ‘Pastel’ and ‘I Don’t Even Know’ proving the highlights of their set as well as of the recent ‘Hold Open Your Head’ EP. The set, as the rest of tonight, is not about bringing walls down or about whipping the crowd into a frenzy – it’s more subtle than that.

Seahaven have seemingly been becoming the masters of subtlety, both in their songwriting and their performance. Although dominating the stage has never been the band’s forte, their introverted demeanour now mirrors their music. Frontman Kyle Soto stands at centre stage hidden in the shadows of his black hoodie while projecting his distinctively cracked vocals into the microphone, blending into the haunting atmosphere enveloping the intimate venue.

As with the previous band, the aim here isn’t to incite moshing, mass sing-alongs or crowd surfers. The minimal movement in the crowd isn’t an indicator of a lacklustre performance. Instead Seahaven are doing exactly what they set out to do with their new record. If escapism is the aim, the ominous soundscapes of ‘On The Floor’ or ‘Silhouette’, complete with the understated yet dominating vocals, are mesemerisingly easy to get lost into. The older material acts as a buffer between these moments – and undoubtedly pleasing those looking for something with a bit more bite.

Yet Seahaven have had their teeth removed, and are all the better for it. Their haunting compositions and Soto’s emotionally charged and sometimes incomprehensible cracks prove to be their calling. Seahaven are offering something different in East London tonight – something that you can really lose yourself in.