It's been exactly a week since I saw the three sisters of rock band HAIM live at Terminal 5. Apols for the delay but without further ado, here's the recap.
This was my first trip to Terminal 5 -- much to seemingly all of my friends amazement. It's a venue on the larger side in Hell's Kitchen (basically West Midtown) that's three levels tall (yup). I'm not about the scrum life of pushing and fighting toward the stage -- I'm far too teacup size for that -- so we opted for the second level, which came complete with tables for drinks so I'm not complaining.
As we settled in to our places, we passed a large photo opportunity provided by HAIM themselves -- a large poster set up on a dais with three empty chairs, allowing fans to re-create their album cover (see photo). 90's style wayfarer sunglasses with a variety of neon side pieces (all of which included a 'HAIM' stamp) were offered in a box on the side for free. So of course, we took a ton of them.
The show opened with Shy Girls, an ethereal pastiche project group I was expecting a lot from only to be a little underwhelmed. The Terminal 5 stop was their final one with HAIM (Tennis opened the following night and will continue on with HAIM's live tour). They closed their set with a dreamy cover of Brandy's "Sittin' Up In My Room" which was both unexpected and well done.
After what felt like forever (REFERENCE!), with random crew members taping down and then re-taping down wires (REFERENCE!) and tuning and re-tuning guitars, finally Danielle, Alana and Este Haim walked out on stage to massive cheers and played through the vast majority of their practically flawfree debut album, Days Are Gone, and a few covers. Mostly, I was struck by their sheer musicality. Each of the sisters dabbled on a variety of instruments and wavered back and forth between guitars and drums (and in Alana's case, keys) quite freely. Danielle was downright searing on her guitar shredding solos! I had no idea she could play that way. For their encore, she opted instead for the drumkit while their drummer supplied vocals during a surprise rendition of Beyonce's "XO". They also covered the act they are most often compared to by bloggers -- Fleetwood Mac -- rather early on in their set, after Este invited the entire crowd to pretend Terminal 5 was instead the Haim household back in California and they were all having a jam session party in their living room to the tune of "Oh Well".
Danielle, who is the group's go-to lead singer as well as guitarist, was dressed in head to toe black with skinny jeans and a t-shirt. Alana, on stage right, was the most active in terms of walking around the stage, dressed in a breezy white tunic with bare legs.
Eldest sister Este was easily a crowd favorite and radiated cool in a black leather miniskirt and crop top, flinging her hair around as she rocked out on bass. She told a story to the crowd about the last time she was in Terminal 5 -- during CMJ week many years ago with her "best friend" Kesha (did you know? I didn't know). The two had gone to the venue together long before "Tik Tok" to go see M.I.A. perform live. They got separated in the crowd by the stage (exactly why I don't like to be there, ladies) and ended up by the stage grate on opposite sides of the venue. During one song, M.I.A. motioned to pull members of the audience up on stage and -- because fate and destiny are two very real things -- both pre-fab Kesha and Este were brought up on stage and danced with M.I.A. Este gleefully told the crowd when the security guard grabbed her to pull her over the grate, he also inadvertently pulled up her dress/skirt so the entire crowd saw her "boo-tay". Both of her sisters teased her throughout the telling of the story, stating they were anxious to begin the next song.
The biggest surprise undoubtedly came via "My Song 5", the one song I usually skip when listening to the full record. Seeing the group live was proof positive that this song works so much better as a live cut than it does a recorded one. Word to the wise.
The promotional singles were an obviously highlight as were crowd faves "Honey & I" and the closer track "Let Me Go". My favorite of the night was "If I Could Change Your Mind", simply for no other reason that it's my (current) favorite HAIM jam and by far my favorite video. Danielle divulged "Running If You Call My Name" was the last song recorded for Days Are Gone and "once the emotional sh*t was out of the way", they broke right into their sole Billboard charter (criminal) "Forever" before leaving the stage for an encore.
I was impressed by the crowd that turned out to this sold out show (they even added a second date at Terminal 5 simply because the first show sold out so quickly). It was a pretty varied mix of twentysomething hipsters (male and female -- there were a lot of straight guys there), chicks hanging out in a pack and adjusting their lipgloss in between songs, couples on dates and even -- right next to us -- an older couple, the wife knowing legit every word.
Such is the way it is with buzz bands playing New York City. If you were at Terminal 5 that night, you would have never guessed that HAIM wasn't already on superstar status. Guess we'll just have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up with us.