High Vis are kicking off 2023 with a fire in their belly and a string of sold out UK and European dates this month, which commence at London’s MOTH Club on 10th February. What’s more, they have excitedly announced their first ever tour of North America! It’s been a long time coming, but stateside friends will be able to check out the band’s brand of hardcore punk meets British northern swagger live and in the flesh for the first time when they land in Brooklyn on 1st April. Tickets for their US/Canadian dates went on sale on 20th January and shows in Brooklyn, Boston and Philadelphia have already sold out. So don’t procrastinate – snap up those tickets and join those Dice waiting lists!
The band will be hitting up a slew of festival bills straddling across the summer too. Slots already confirmed include May’s Dot To Dot (headlined by Yard Act) in Bristol and Nottingham on the 27th and 28th respectively, and Outbreak in Manchester. Festival fiends will also be able to get their fix of High Vis at 2000 Trees and End Of The Road later in the year.
To celebrate what looks to be an extremely busy year for the band, High Vis have released a new video for “Trauma Bonds”. The song is lifted from the band’s second album, Blending, released last autumn via Dais Records. The album picked up support from some unlikely allies, such as The Guardian and The Face magazine, and received a barrage of glowing reviews from the likes of Pitchfork, Loud and Quiet and Stereogum – it also happens to have been one of my favourites of 2022 (check out my gushing words here).
“Trauma Bonds” is a powerful embrace of a song: opening with a tingling guitar line that wouldn’t be out of place on a really good indie single, which gives way to punchy drums as the opening lyrics set the scene, “Bury too many too young / It’s a short life, tears on my Gore-Tex / We’re defective and numb”. The track is a reflection on losing friends before their time and the numbness that grief can instil. Discussing the track, singer and lyricist, Graham Sayle, reflects, “When you’ve been through so much shit together, you’re essentially tied by the trauma that bonds you, by burying your mates”.
Sayle dug deep for the album, having been enlightened by therapy sessions which enabled him to better understand himself and those around him, and it makes for a far more interesting and enduring record as a result. I love a good shout-along rager of a tune but sometimes I need more depth than just angry people shouting at the world. The five members of High Vis have grown up cutting their teeth in hardcore punk bands but with Blending they far transcend the confines of the genre and confidently stride far beyond their comfort zone.
“Trauma Bonds” is one of many highlights on Blending and the song always presents a poignant moment in the band’s live set. Musically, there’s a searing and hopeful quality as the pre-chorus guitars crash to the forefront before weaving back down in the mix. They rise up again as Sayle questions, “Are we still lucky to be here?”, before finally kicking the door wide open at the chorus. The song swaggers along with the briefest of guitar breaks that echoes a less showy James Dean Bradfield from the early visceral days of Manic Street Preachers.
The video was filmed over the course of a year by director Jonah West and follows two individuals – one of whom we see being released from prison and reunited with friends. Sayle explains, “The video is an emotionally-charged portrait of Jamz and Sean. Two people negotiating the world whilst living in the shadow of trauma. The video is dedicated to everyone carrying the weight of grief for those taken too soon, and those struggling with their own existence. When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
10th Feb: London, UK – The MOTH Club [sold out]
11th Feb: Manchester, UK – YES The Pink Room [sold out]
12th Feb: Sheffield, UK – Yellow Arch Studios [sold out]
13th Feb: Bristol, UK – Strange Brew [sold out]
14th Feb: Bruges, BE – Cactus Club
15th Feb: Rotterdam, NL – V11 [sold out]
16th Feb: Hamburg, DE – headCRASH [sold out]
17th Feb: Berlin, DE – Berghain Kantine [sold out]
19th Feb: Paris, FR – Le Point Éphémère [sold out]
1st Apr: Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus [sold out]
2nd Apr: Boston, MA – Hardcore Stadium [sold out]
3rd Apr: Montreal, QC – L’esco
4th Apr: Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground
6th Apr: Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge
7th Apr: Pittsburgh, PA – Funhouse
8th Apr: Richmond, VA – Canal Club
9th Apr: Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
10th Apr: Atlanta, GA – Earl
11th Apr: Nashville, TN – DRKMTTR
13th Apr: Washington, DC – DC9
15th Apr: Philadelphia, PA – Foto Club [sold out]
27th May: Bristol, UK – Dot To Dot Festival
28th May: Nottingham, UK – Dot To Dot Festival
23rd-25th Jun: Manchester, UK – Outbreak Festival
5th-8th Jul: Gloucestershire, UK – 2000 Trees Festival
8th-12th Aug: Oslo, NO – Oya Festival
31st Aug-3rd Sep: Dorset, UK – End Of The Road Festival
Review by Mandy Bang @mandybang
Photo credit: James Edson