Which California-based pop/rock band with three sisters showed up at One Eyed Jacks Sunday night?
There's something great about seeing a band that sounds better live than on record. It's reassuring to know that there's more to an act than what could be contained on a disc or vinyl record. But after California sister trio Haim's sold-out set at One Eyed Jacks Sunday night, I sat on that fine line between being impressed and harboring some resentment.
I now sit on the side of admiration, but there's still a feeling of disconnect between the Haim that worked up so much energy that the crowd was louder than the music at times, and the Haim who just released its debut album, Days Are Gone. It's by no means a bad record. In fact, it's very good. The record is a collection of endlessly fun, sugar-coated tunes that wiggle their way into your brain. But Days Are Gone isn't exactly what was promised. Since making a splash more than a year ago with the debut of the Forever EP, Haim has since rode one of the biggest hype waves in 2013. The charming sisters - guitarist Danielle, bassist Este, keyboardist and guitarist Alana - were introduced to the world as some insane offspring of Fleetwood Mac and Destiny's Child. It's an undoubtedly lofty comparison that's been made to the point of monotony, only to become unbearable since Days Are Gone revealed itself a little less rock and a lot more Wilson Phillips. Haim shows off rock chops while confidently asserting pop sensibility, but the band that ended Sunday's show with a rollicking drum-circle jam shows so much more promise than that.
There were times when the sisters and drummer Dash Hutton did channel Fleetwood Mac - even aside from the sizzling cover of "Oh Well" that's become a constant in their live set. The sisters shared a swagger that called back to the '90s days of girl groups with actual attitude.They exuded abundant confidence and charm as they trailed off into minutes-long banter, only to curse themselves once they realized the motormouths kicked in. But the crowd barely minded. Haim had complete control over its fans, who have become extremely familiar with the band's never-changing setlist.
That's one of the biggest indicators of the extreme contrast between Haim the live band and Haim the studio band: new songs have yet to appear on stage. The eight song setlist features tracks that were all floating around online prior to Days Are Gone's drop last week. The poppier highs of the album - the title track along with "My Song 5" - aren't even mentioned live. That may be a good thing, since those tracks would probably pale live in comparison to the revitalized versions of "Falling" and "Forever." Those two songs in particular showed just how adept the Haim sisters can be when it comes to merging pop and rock. The melodies remained bouncy, the harmonies intact, but accompanied by balls-to-the-wall guitar solos from middle sister Danielle? Killer. Especially when those same solos come across as half-assed filler on record.
Haim wants to be huge, and most signs point to a love for raw, energetic rock. The desire to tidy and polish up for an album may come from external pressure (record labels, radio), or it may be the slightly misguided work of a young act who's still trying to find its way. Thankfully, Haim's live show reminds you of the group's obnoxiously burning talent, backed by a large dose of hope in the moments when the crowd couldn't contain themselves. The sisters Haim have a long road ahead of them, but if they trust their rock instincts, that road may stretch even further.