Haim at First Avenue, 5/19/14
|Photo by Tony Nelson|
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Monday, May 19, 2014
At long last, Minneapolis got Haim, live and direct. The three sisters' blend of synthesizer pop, '80s smooth grooves, funk, and R&B had already brought critical praise, festival notoriety, late-night TV glory, and a sub-cult following that's overly fixated on bassist Este Haim's exuberant and malleable stage face. Still, with all their plaudits and rapper pals, Danielle, Este, and Alana asserted multiple times that their eventual stop at First Avenue couldn't escape their minds.
Blowing off a full head of steam was equally important to the overly prepared Haim -- they've been playing variations of basically the same set for years now -- and an impatient, sold-out audience. Denver dream-pop act Tennis proved a temporary satiation in the opening slot. Frontwoman Alaina Moore shimmied her shoulders behind her keyboard and charmed through her group's doo-wop-inflected Young and Old material. When they were finished, and the A$AP Rocky and Kanye West came back on, the disgruntled hubbub of a crowd baited by a year of heavy radio reminders of Haim's hooky gifts quickly resumed. After all, it was a Monday night, and a rainy one at that.
|Photos by Tony Nelson|
|Top: Tennis's Alaina Moore; Bottom: Este Haim|
"I'm a slave to the sound," Danielle aptly sang as they unpacked a tight "Falling" to open the set. Center stage between Este and Alana, the group's middle sister and lead guitarist asserted herself immediately. She didn't smile much, but threw hair, hot licks, and attitude every which way to show she was ready to put on the show. Este proved she was equally game as she intricately slapped her bass -- Larry Graham would be proud -- for "If I Could Change Your Mind." With Alana adding mostly percussion and backing vocals on the other side of the stage, she often took a backseat to the duel of over-committed artistry coming from her older sisters. She also frequently looked like she was enjoying herself.
The fuzzy freakout cover of Fleetwood Mac's swampy "Oh Well" -- a tune created before the group's pop innovations that are often attributed to influence Haim -- took a lot out of the band, and the next few songs felt uneven. A few road-weary cracks appeared in "Honey & I" and "Days Are Gone" as tempos felt less sure-footed, and the lead-up to each song's dramatic moments felt like "Will they make it?" moments. Of course, these glitches were always eventually ratcheted up, especially by Danielle's ferocious guitar, which reached Bryan Adams', Joan Jett's, and Journey's climactic elevation on multiple occasions. Whatever compensation would've been enough, they did triple.
|Photos by Tony Nelson|
"My Song 5" brought out the rhythm in everyone's waistbands, and "Running If You Call My Name" was catnip for the couples who just wanted to sway. At every turn, the marching orders, instructions to clap, and general orchestration came from three sisters who have played to audiences 50 times as large as the packed Mainroom. The "C'mon!" they've mastered borders upon Pavlovian.