It was my second time seeing Haim live, and, on Thursday night, the three sisters seemed amazed to be in front of so many people gathered on the Santa Monica Pier, playing one of the concerts of the annual Twilight Concert Series. Not that they were intimidated,… on the contrary they were quite talkative and perfectly at ease right in the spot where they had seen many bands play when they were younger. The eldest and blondest Este seemed to be the boldest one and also the most talkative, starting the show with a ‘Santa Monica, I can't believe this is happening!’
With their long manes of hair floating in the strong wind and their three voices doing harmonies over harmonies, Este on bass, Danielle on guitar and Alana on guitar and synth played a strong set of their original compositions inspired from 90s R&B, 80s funky synth music and classic rock and folk. Their music is difficult to describe and not specially attached to one genre, as it can go from tempestuous rock jams to songs inspired from hip-hop and danceable numbers.
You could tell from the original structure of their compositions, from the way the three girls respond to each other, aggressively, with a jolty delivery during the same song that this was not your average pop song, they have obviously listened to the classic favorites of their parents – who were also musicians and founders of the San Fernando valley band Rockinhaim – as well as to tons of R&B; they have cited Brandy and Monica’s ‘The Boy is Mine’, Destiny's Child, TLC and Aaliyah as favorites and they even made a few allusions to Beyonce’s hair because of the marine breeze messing up their own hair, and to hip hop stars, declaring they wanted to go to the streets after the show to do some Lil Wayne and Rick Ross’ covers.
They played songs off their ‘Forever’ EP, giving us some good examples of their weird use of hiccupping or smooth vocal harmonies often echoing each other, layered with synth swirls and large use of drums, since the three girls helped their drummer Dash Hutton with additional snare drums. The energy was real, especially when they covered Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’, a song they had probably chosen for its big classic-rock potential.
I was hoping to see Ryan Adams coming from behind the stage at any time, as the alt-rocker has declared his admiration for the trio and has even joined them during a recent show in LA, but no such chance,.. may be next time? Or may be not, the three girls' confident stage presence, furious jams and totally-grown-up use of instruments despite their very young age definitively showed they didn’t need anyone to get the best of their songs, which seem to be built around their three voices. I am still half-sold on their music, may be it is a little too R&B for me, but these girls know what they are talking about. And, if we needed another confirmation, Este boldly declared just before playing ‘Go Slow’: ‘I love NYC, but we all know where the best hip hop comes from, from the west coast!’ And there was no one in the crowd to protest.