At this time last year, I had no idea who Haim were. They barely a blip on my radar, as they were simply an LA band, and there are dozens of those. It wasn’t until Summer when I finally “Falling,” and was blown away. And, like the rest of the world, when I heard Days Are Gone for the first time, I thought to myself, “Wow. This is amazing!” I never thought a record of soft rock could be so impressive. Of course, they weren’t going to be kept secret. They managed to sell out two nights at The Fillmore in less time than it took me to learn the proper pronunciation of their name. (Rhymes with time)
Shy Girls opened the show. A band that I had never heard of until two weeks prior to the show. Since they managed to score such a high profile slot, they had to be good. I, however, had no idea they would be so different from Haim. This was some incredibly sexy and sparse electro soul music. Beats were intense and minimal, with synth flourishes, stunning falsetto vocals from Dan Vidmar, and the occasional soprano sax solo from tUnE-yArDs’ sax master Noah Bernstein. It was an choice for the opener to Haim, and, sadly, they were greeted to a bit of indifference from the crowd. Really, this is the music that you play when you get home and want to “relax” with your date after the show.
Haim’s fanbase is very, very passionate. And much younger than I would’ve expected. For a band whose primary influences seem to be AM Radio Rock from the 70’s, there were a lot of people whose parents were born in the 70’s in the crowd. I think we might still be a year or two away from these kids bringing their parents to see them. They opened with the aforementioned “Falling.” The audience’s singing along practically overpowered the band! I could imagine it being slightly intimidating, especially since this was the band’s first real headlining tour of the US. Instead, it only caused the band to work harder to be louder than the crowd.
The three ladies of Haim, all sisters, are rather small in stature, but are huge on stage. They each seem to have their own identity on stage that seems to relate to where they fall in age. The youngest, Alana, is the perkiest member. She bounced between percussion, keyboard, guitar, and simply flailing about the stage. She didn’t stay still for more than a few milliseconds at any point. Este, the bassist, is the oldest member. She seemed to be “in charge” the whole time, doing almost all of the talking to the crowd. Danielle is the middle child. She stands in the middle of the stage and seems to be the quiet one. She also is an amazing guitar player! One of the best I’ve seen in ages. She also writes most of the songs and handles a huge chunk of the lead vocals. It’s an interesting dynamic, and works really well for the stage show.
As expected with a band touring their first full length record, they pretty much played the album in it’s entirety, in a slightly different order. Early in the set, they opted for the first of the two obligatory covers you need to play in order to pad the set. This cover was a Fleetwood Mac cover. However, instead of doing a Buckingham/Mac composition, they did the Peter Greene-era hard blues jam “Oh Well.” Alana took lead vocals on this one, well Danielle and Este took to improvising on the main riff, and the performance sounded more like Led Zeppelin at their heaviest.
Even many of the Days Are Gone tracks were re-arranged a bit for this performance. Not in that way where bands decide they are bored with a song and totally redo it. In that, we are going to do something subtle that will make this song impact even harder than it normally does. The dubstep-ish “My Song 5” became a fierce blues stomp. “Running If You Call My Name” was done mostly with Danielle solo, and the rest of the band simply adding harmonies and drummer Dash Hutton doing some subtle cymbal flourishes. “Forever” became a huge arena rock anthem.
The set was mighty impressive. The setlist had an encore of “XO” by Beyonce written out. We didn’t get a Beyonce cover. We got one better: Haim’s mother and father were pulled out from backstage to perform “Mustang Sally.” Their mother, Donna, handled lead vocals with fierce, blusey gusto, while father Mordechai tackled drums. Nobody was missing the Beyonce song at this point. After two more epic sing alongs of “The Wire” and “Let Me Go,” we were released into the cold with a poster and that wonderful warm feeling that comes from experiencing greatness.
If I Could Change Your Mind
Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac Cover)
Honey & I
Days Are Gone
My Song 5
Running If You Call My Name
Don’t Save Me
Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett Cover)
Let me Go