It’s been a big summer for Haim. First they made a splash at SXSW, then landed major opening slots for the xx and Mumford & Sons, and followed that up with the launch of their new EP. The timing seemed perfect for this all sister LA trio to really take off. Much like The Alabama Shakes, Haim has been able to translate a big SXSW presence with continued success. Reviews for the EP have been stellar, with major publications like the UK’s NME Magazine showing major love for the band’s release, they seem ready to be the next indie sensation.
Playing a Neon Gold showcase last Thursday to an incredibly packed crowd at NYC’s Santos Party House, they left little doubt that their current unsigned and relatively unknown status in America won’t last very long. Fronted by sisters Danielle, Alana, and Este Haim (plus Dash Hutton on drums), they possess a rather unique sound that seems to cross over a number of genres. At times sounding like modern blues/alt rock like The Black Keys, other times more reminiscent of female fronted classic rock like Fleetwood Mac, and even a bit of old Motown R&B; it’s very hard to limit Haim to just one musical style. Lead singing duties switch between Danielle, Alana, and Este from song to song, with the genres constantly changing from each sister’s unique voice. It’s always a good mark of a live band where they can go beyond replicating their sound on record, and that’s certainly the case with Haim. While a bit restrained on studio recordings, the live atmosphere really sees this band at the loosest possible as they improvise with spur-of-the-moment jams and are able to produce a much fuller sound. Many times multitasking on instruments during songs, it was pretty obvious right off the bat that they can make a lot of noise for just four people. This was no more evident than during their last song, which devolved into an outro and all four o them on stage slamming their drumsticks down upon standalone floor toms. Sounding more like a breakdown during The Lion King on Broadway than a closing song at an indie rock showcase, it just further proved how diverse Haim can truly be.
Far from their hometown of Los Angeles, the band seemed quite happy to be in New York. Stating the trouble they’d no doubt get in if staying longer in NYC, bassist Este predicted, “I’d probably be pregnant,” the band seemed incredibly well received. Relying on their strengths in vocals and percussion, they were able to generate a lot of noise while staying somewhat stripped down at the same time. Sounding like an amalgamation of genres and musical time periods, it’s more than fair to say that Haim don’t sound like anything else you’ve heard before. Whereas most new bands tend to use genre molds and structures as a crutch, especially early in their career, Haim do the opposite. Crafting and sticking with their unique sound, and being such stellar live performers, there isn’t any end to the band’s building reputation in sight. The top floor of Santos Party House was packed unbelievably tightly all the way as far back as the floor entrance, definitely delivering on all the buzz the band has garnered these past few months. In an industry where “buzz bands” come and go almost every season, it’s usually pretty clear which ones intend on sticking around. Haim are definitely one of those bands.