Haim – The Phenomenon Is Here: Rocking Chicks, Who Fucking Rock


Leather jackets. Long hair. Headbanging. Prancing around the stage. Insane guitar. Yes, it’s everything a great, good old fashioned rock show should be. Would you believe that at least one of the rockers was wearing heels and three of them had XX chromosomes? Yes, there is a phenomenon happening here on the West coast. And it goes by the name of Haim. (That’s Hi-eem, or to put it simply “rhymes with time”, they are not related to the late Canadian actor Cory)

This time last year I had no idea who these sisters three were, and now they have exploded onto the scene. The Malkin Bowl was the perfect place for them to make their debut in Vancouver (and a stage on which I hope perform one day). It was an outdoor show – at the beautiful Stanley Park no less – yet it had the feel of the venue like the Commodore, both with the style of music and the comfortable and cramped viewing party.

Each of the sisters has their own distinct personality. Bass player Este, who at 27 is the eldest of the three, is a blunt and foul-mouthed blonde with a model-like frame who makes has a penchant for making facial gestures that rival Angus Young. Apparently, there’s a name for it: Bass face. “It looks like she’s possessed” one fan told me after the show. I’ll let you be the judge of that –https://i0.wp.com/25.media.tumblr.com/c5c08d4fe83c9055de9bff411332e0fa/tumblr_mrupps9OvY1sxxap0o1_400.gif

Middle sister Danielle, 25, is the rock of the group, being both lead guitarist and lead singer. She is the perfect middle ground to her sisters’ often zany antics, though she has been known to get in on the fun herself, engaging and playing with the audience. The youngest is Alana, just 22. She plays rhythm guitar and keyboards, along with occasional percussive noises. She sings backup and gets the occasional solo, but often times plays third fiddle to her two eldest siblings. This is a shame, as I feel she has a great voice. Hers is the most musical out of three; much less raw then Este’s and Danielle’s. Alana is arguably also the least tamed of the group. Early on in the show, a fan threw her a giant Canadian flag, which she proceeded to drape around her shoulders and prance back and forth on the stage as if she were on the runway. She lasted a good couple of minutes. She is definitely the most playful of the group.

Even though Haim has really taken off within the last six or seven months or so, like most “overnight” sensations, they have been at it for a very, very long time. It all started with their family band Rockinghaim. Their Israeli footaballer father Moti played drums, and mum Donna was on guitar. But Este, Danielle and Alana were destined for bigger things. The elder two girls were part of “Valli Girls” all girl-group in the vain of Pat Benatar, Blondie, and the Pretenders. They took a break for about half a decade or so to get smart. Este has a degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA with a specialization in Bulgarian and Brazilian music. Completed in two years instead of the normal five. I guess she really wanted to start her career. Unlike me: A theatre major, who just completed his sixth year of post-secondary education and is about a year or two away from his BFA (or BPA).

Since reforming, the accolades have piled on. While drumming as part of an opening act for one my musical girlfriends – Jenny Lewis – Danielle was subsequently asked to go on tour with Jenny as a guitarist. That was followed by a stint playing guitar and drums for Julian Casablancas on his solo tour. In addition, she has also played with Scarlet Fever, which is the all-female backing band for Cee Lo Green. Then Este graduated and they decided to form their own group. Alana decided college wasn’t for her and joined the fray.

https://i2.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/11/29/1354198583585/Haim-008.jpgphoto: The Guardian

Since becoming a trio, they have toured with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Henry Clay People, Ke$ha (or Kesha as she is now known), Mumford & Sons, and Florence and the Machine. They have had tracks remixed by Dan Lissvik and Duke Dumont. At Glastonbury 2013, they appeared on one track with the iconic Primal Scream. As well, they were featured on Kid Cudi’s third album Danielle also appeared on “You’re No Good” the first track off Major Lazer’s second album “Free The Universe” along with Santigold, Yasmin, and reggae dancehall artist-turned convicted murderer Vybz Kartel. On November 23, they had a rite of passage as a music group, performing on Saturday Night Live. The host for the evening was Hollywood’s newest heartthrob Josh Hutcherson. Clearly, these chicks aren’t to be messed with.

The show was one my favourites this year (I still can’t decide between this one and Against Me!). The camaraderie between the sisters, the playful banter with the crowd, the serious silliness of the whole thing. Plus the music. This is rock music the way it should be played. Loud, rude, brash, and unapologetic. Danielle is a wicked guitar player, while the spirit of John Entwistle lives inside Este. Alana is the unsung hero, deftly moving between guitar, keys and percussion – sometimes all in one song. Also, the fourth member of the group is drummer Danny Hutton, song of Three Dog Night vocalist Dash Hutton, and previously a member of Wires on Fire and Slang Chicken.

Fan Ashley Scigliano concurs. “One of the best concerts I’ve seen this year for sure.” she states. “The show was full of great music and great people”. The greatest of all were Haim.

Haim’s debut album Days Are Gone was released September 30, 2013 on Polydor Records

RIYL: Blondie, Joan Jett, ACDC, Queen, Pretty Reckless.

https://i2.wp.com/www.coupdemainmagazine.com/sites/default/files/7/haim-babyphoto-1.jpg
photo courtesy of Coup De Main Magazine

Trivia:

1) What was the band name the sisters had in mind before settling on Haim?
2) The sisters’ father Mordechai played for what professional/semi-pro soccer (football) teams?
3) Their management group Roc Nation is run by what artist?

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