Weird-ass Haim sisters kill it at the Commodore
At the Commodore Ballroom on Thursday (October 24)
Since the Shaggs never quite made it to Vancouver, it took Haim to show us what happens when you put three weird-ass sisters on stage together at the Commodore Ballroom. Known to their parents as Alana, Danielle, and Este—and to the rest of us, based on their outfits, as surfer-bait, Joan Jett, and "unhinged nanny"—the three young ladies of Haim radiated the kind of stepped-up sibling energy that can utterly dominate a room, making for a lot of amusing between-song patter. (For further reference, please see Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love.) But Haim can also play the shit out of their instruments, something that the Wiggins sisters never quite mastered.
This, hopefully, is what most impressed everybody (including Grimes, in sandals) at the band’s sold-out debut in Vancouver—which also happened to be the last night of the North American tour. “So are we gonna fuckin’ rage or not?” demanded Alana. And they did. All of those tight and clean arrangements on Days Are Gone were matched largely note-for-note, but with little of the album’s politeness. Danielle was slashing at her guitar and making herself hoarse within seconds of opener “Falling”. On her left, Este dropped the bass for a few bars to unleash a wild attack on some rototoms—I’d recommend never making her mad—while Alana pounded the daylights out of a keyboard and jumped up and down on the spot like a fifth-grader on pixie dust.
In general, and with notably tough support from drummer Dash Hutton (real name, apparently), Haim brought power and muscle to a satisfying (if short) set, all of it drawn from the hit record. The one exception—an unexpected cover of Fleetwood Mac's “Oh Well”—was the evening’s least convincing four minutes, with sinew being sacrificed for clunky bombast. The results were much happier for “Don’t Save Me", with Danielle coming over all deep and husky, and “Honey & I”, wherein the sisters cross-hatched their vocals and created the impression of bullet time converted into sound.
Equally, when the satisfyingly wet snap of Hutton’s snare finally broke the spell on a spacey, tense, deliberate “Go Slow”, while all three sisters seethed in unison over “the heat, heat, heat,” matters were brought significantly closer to orgy conditions. Este was obviously feeling it. Scanning the audience before set-closer “Forever”, she proclaimed, “I’d be Este Slutty Magoo Haim if I lived here.”
By and large, Este would seem to be the most mental of the Haim sisters, falling on her ass when she tried to slide across the stage prior to the encore, “Let Me Go”, improvising a few lines from Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” in Cookie Monster voice—it never sounded so good—and delivering contorted, Derek Smalls-quality bass face for basically the whole set. While the others filed off stage, Este elected to throw herself into the crowd for a quick surf, while Alana looked on with visible shock and delight. I assume they’re attacking each other with pillows and giggling about it as you read this.