Coming straight out of the heart of Toronto, Highs are an indie rock group that will be making some serious noise in the music scene in the years to come. The band is a five-piece rock group consisted of Doug Haynes, Karrie Douglas, Joel Harrower, Paul Vroom and Liam Cole.
To date, Highs have only one full-length studio album, Dazzle Camouflage, but it’s an extremely impressive alt-pop album which I’d rank as one of my favorites of 2015. Right off the bat, the opening track I Do, Do You? sets the pace for the remainder of the record; A slow start accompanied by a steady bass line, the song builds into so much more. To me, the sound that differentiates Highs from other bands of their ilk is the subtle way they incorporate unique guitar licks that flow through many of their tunes (check out the playlist below for some of my favourite songs from this collection). Vocalist Doug Haynes takes the lead on the majority of the album, but Karrie Douglas provides soothing and powerful vocals throughout the record that offsets the pace of the album, and I mean that in the best way (check out Acting Strange).
My first taste of Highs came via Dazzle Camouflage, however, I found it was well worth my time to backtrack and check out their six-song self-titled debut EP. The hit single from this EP was Summer Dress, a song that begins with – you guessed it – that iconic guitar that leaves you wanting more, not to mention an insanely catchy bridge that’ll have you singing to yourself for days to come.
I was lucky enough to see Highs perform live in the summer of 2016 at Riverfest – an underrated music festival that takes place in Elora, Ontario. I really liked the band before they went on, but it’s safe to say that I’d fallen in love with the band after their very first song. Their live performance was off the charts. Sometimes it’s kind of scary seeing a band you very much enjoy for the first time play live because not every group is able to bring it on stage. Well, let me tell you, Highs brought it. They’re one of those bands that may very well be even better live than on record. Some friends and I chatted with the band members after the show and they’re as kind as they are talented.
More recently, I saw Highs play at The Baby G on April 1st (no fools). I had never been to The Baby G, located on Dundas near Dufferin, about a ten-minute walk from Landsdown on the Bloor subway line. This was one of the best venues to see Highs. An intimate experience, The Baby G is a hidden gem in Toronto. Once again Highs did not fall short of my lofty expectations. In fact, they outdid themselves, having bested their performance at Riverfest last year. If there was one negative to take away from the night it would be lead singer Doug Hayne’s bold choice to wear a San Francisco Giants jersey on stage (Barry Bonds in case you were wondering). I mean, I would have preferred a Josh Donaldson Blue Jays jersey, but it was by no means a deal breaker. Regardless of the attire, the show was brilliant. It’s one thing to hit those high(s) notes on stage, but for Doug to do it live is another thing altogether. Bravo.
Highs currently have no upcoming shows scheduled, so I’m hoping that means new music will be coming soon. Can’t wait to hear what Highs have in store.