HAIM Live in Las Vegas
On Friday night, HAIM wowed Las Vegas with a thrilling set of pop-rock goodness.
The pre-Chella fun started Wednesday night in Las Vegas when the The War On Drugs took us on a beautiful, strange trip that proved beyond a doubt that there are a few chapters in the classic rock canon that are yet to be written. Tonight, HAIM proved the same for pop music and will certainly force Beyonce to bring her A-game tomorrow night when they take the stage right before her headlining slot (editor’s note: she did). Relying on very little production, HAIM kept the focus on the songs throughout the night and used their talents as musicians to keep the crowd on their feet and smiling.
Before they even took the stage, HAIM set the night up to be a rousing success with their choice of a support act. Backed by a DJ and two dancers, hip hop artist Lizzo tore through a set of club bangers that were heavy on positivity and female empowerment. Her attitude proved infectious and even the most hardened rock nerd, who came to hear Danielle Haim’s guitar tone, was shaking his butt and hoping nobody noticed. Liz’s soulful voice soared and the energy kept rising all the way until the short break before HAIM.
Emerging in shadows, the sisters HAIM opened the night behind stacks of clear drums and belted out a tribal rhythm that pulled their legion of fans closer and closer to the stage. No fireworks. No dancers. Just three musicians playing a rhythm together to get the blood flowing. Stepping up on a mirror plated riser, a sweet move to ensure their younger fans had a better sightline, HAIM tore into in a far-too-short set of their most beloved singles and some deeper album tracks which sounded as fresh and memorable as the songs that have become staples of shopping malls across the universe.
The Fleetwood Mac-vibe of “The Wire” and, dare we say, the Wilson Phillips harmonies of “Little of Your Love” reflect why HAIM are lightyears ahead of their peers at this point in their career. Their well of influence ignores contemporary trends and never puts being cool before writing the “right” song. Having honed their talents playing in a family covers band, they grew up playing the music that made audiences happy which isn’t always the music that seems cool years later. The knowing smile of their parents, standing at the soundboard tonight, reflected a lot of pride in seeing their daughters performing the type of songs that will endure long after people have moved on from streaming music on their phones.
Complementing each other musically, bassist Este’s technical excellence allowed Danielle to stretch out on guitar with solos that were as essential to the songs as the lyrics. The energy of youngest sister Alana offered a counterbalance to the serious musical moments, like the fierce “My Song 5”, and raised the fun-factor exponentially. Totally in-sync with each other, even the stage banter between songs felt spontaneous and genuine. If the band was experiencing any nerves on the eve of their massive Coachella slot before Beyonce, it wasn’t evident in Las Vegas.
One of several musical highlights, the gentle flow of “You Never Knew” could have been a yacht-rock staple in a previous decade. The perfect acoustics of The Pearl, undoubtedly the best sounding room in Las Vegas, only added to the song’s effect on the audience. Nestled amongst the brightest stars at Coachella, HAIM represent the path less taken. There’s something subversive about finding success as songwriters and musicians in an age when social media driven branding creates larger than life personalities. One of the lessons HAIM learned early on has clearly stayed with them through two albums: the brightest stars eventually burn out but the best songs can live forever.