Here's why Haim will outlive the hype

Categories: Concert Reviews

Ken Hamblin

The way you find a band is important. I discovered Haim in a park in small town Illinois with five story oak trees towering over strings of warm lights. I was camping nearby and drinking wine straight from the gallon-sized jug. The three sisters from LA drew me around the corner to the front of the stage with pure feral will. They whacked drums with abandon. They sang choruses seemingly designed with the use of pop music cheat codes.

At the time the only documents of the band were one obscure seven-inch and a Fleetwood Mac cover that didn't even make the CD version of the compilation it was recorded for. The Haim sisters' credentials were impressive even then, though. That's particularly true of middle child Danielle, who spent time as a guitarist and drummer for Jenny Lewis, Julian Casablancas and Cee-Lo Green.

It matters less to the understanding of the band that she also spent time dating the brilliant songwriter Blake Mills. But it matters a great deal to the way my relationship with Haim developed, because Mills is capable of a turn of phrase that simply ends me. Which is relevant because Mills has written more than one song about Danielle Haim.

So my evening in the Illinois park met the stories I'd heard about Danielle in Blake Mills songs, and in a matter of weeks, I was the kind of person who knew every word to every Haim song. In the interim they have released a debut album and gotten pretty preposterously famous and I still know every word.

Ken Hamblin

My experience is mostly irrelevant to your relationship with Haim. I only explain it because some people who hold big, powerful puppet strings bit as hard as I did. And in the space of one year, a family band from California was suddenly being crammed into the throats of America's music fans by NPR, Twitter and every other tailing indicator of cool shit.

Haim appeared on SNL and people made slack-jawed observations about bassist Este's facial expressions, and a mighty band wound up in the same sentence as the likes of Lana Del Rey. That particular company is funny because there are many ways that Haim is the opposite of LDR. One artist changed her name and look to match an aesthetic she was pursuing; the other chose to give itself an actual family name. Lana is demure, deferential, doomed. Haim made a single out of a song about not giving a shit for the feelings of dudes who fell too hard. Ahem.

Ken Hamblin

I don't know if "The Wire" is a product of real-world experience or not. But I bet it is, because the three sisters have been effortlessly transparent about so many details of their lives. Their vision of LA, as featured directly on the fucking album cover, is busted plastic lawn chairs and patchy dull grass. They maintain their sibling dynamic on stage with unflinching conviction. Este spent several minutes in Denver encouraging the audience to join her in the Haim family living room, jamming, as a way to preface a general ripping that involved the only quoted Led Zeppelin riff I have ever appreciated.

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They reminded me of School Of Rock. Eyes closed, mouth open, on guitar solos...check. Synchronized fists in the air...check. Circle drummer during rhythm section grooves...check. Haim would be better if they spent time figuring out who they are and  less time memorizing Eagles and Fleetwood Mac concert films.

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