HAIM is forever an example of virtuosic musicianship and melody
And the sister-band’s sold-out #30DaysInLA show proved it.
LOS ANGELES—Before even leaving the Fonda Theatre last night (November 15), like, while the crowd was still being herded and funneled like cattle from the general admission floor to the exit doors, I was already walking blindly, head down in my phone, googling “best beginner guitars.” I read two options before getting confused but still, this is the kind of effect that HAIM can have on you. What I’m basically saying is that I am now the proud frontwoman of my very own band. But back to HAIM.
A “sister band”—with, mind you, each member seemingly dedicated to boasting headbanging-length hair—has all the trappings of being dubbed a gimmick. But that, HAIM is not. And, I’ll admit, that it’s no fun to, as a woman, watch women thrash and shred and whale like bosses and react in more awe simply because they’re women than one would while witnessing the same from a male musician—because, no shit, your little lady brain can obviously recognize that a woman can do anything a man can do—but, folks, it’s fucking hard not to. Because peep any ‘Best Guitarists #OfAllTime’ list and see if the percentage of women named doesn’t mimic your success rate of hitting the gym all the times you say you will.
If unfamiliar, HAIM are queens at delivering catchy rock blends—soft and pop, classic and Californian, 70s- and 80s-inspired—paired with bright synthesizing and some contemporary R&B melodic stylings. And so, returning to their home of Los Angeles for their #30DaysInLA show, the trio wasted no time granting us what we came for on opener “If I Could Change Your Mind”: an instructed double-time clap on the hook, some ripping electric guitar from lead vocalist Danielle, and Este’s unparalleled #bassface on 100—which I would liken to when you’re trying to pop your ears during a flight or when a child tastes something sour for the first time.
Despite distinctively different performance styles—the energy of eldest Este’s maniacal eyes and spell-casting hands and youngest Alana’s charming smirks and eyebrow raises is found less so on middle child Danielle’s face but entirely within the tips of her fingers on every. impressive. squealing solo—their harmony (both vocally and mentally) is impenetrable. While Alana shoulder-shimmied on “Don’t Save Me,” Este shouted “WE FUCKING LOVE YOU, L.A.!!!” before its crescendo; while Este took the lead on a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” and a perfectly synchronized step-and-swing between the three that would have made Morris Day and the Time proud, Danielle got folksy on the lyrics of “Honey & I,” briefly forgoing rhythm and tempo to simply speak them; and with Alana on drums, all three women were in their element for a jam session during the intimidating and cautionary tale that is slow-burn “My Song 5.”
New tracks “Gimme Just a Little of Your Love” utilized quick and peppy keys from their touring bandmate while “Nothing’s Wrong” saw Danielle repeatedly demand, from soft to severe, “It’s obvious / be honest” to a delusional (or lying) lover as Este convulsed showing off her six-string chops. They alternated verses on “The Wire” (with Alana’s resulting in having possible unmentionables thrown on stage at her) and staggered the titular phrase on encore “Falling” to result in choral ear-candy before granting Danielle yet another insatiable solo (which reminded us all why she was a touring guitarist for Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas long before this). And then they closed with, well, a drum circle of sorts, rotating in unison around the three kits, stopping at each to flawlessly try their hand at it like a Musical Chairs for the Absurdly Talented.
So, so be it if you hoot and holler more when it’s a glitter-nailed hand holding a drumstick; it just means that you’re supporting the unicorn act of it all, not that you’re flabbergasted it was even possible. And you’ll feel less guilty once you realize that you’re not giving credit because it’s conditionally dependent on a comparison, but because they’ve proven worthy of deserving it.