Review and photos—Haim at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Oct 24 2013
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Kirk Chantraine
Haim at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver.
LA’s latest “It” band Haim made their first family trip up to Vancouver on Thursday. The three boisterous sisters, Danielle, Este and Alana, were clearly in the mood to rage – it was the last night of their first tour and they played to a full house at the Commodore Ballroom.
After years of playing old school Americana covers, with momma and poppa Haim being their most loyal fans, the sisters finally released their EP Forever in 2012. They have been festival and indie chart darlings ever since. Days are Gone is their first full-length album. Its string of high-energy, guitar-heavy garage numbers channel Frank Zappa and Genesis – an impressive rock sound from girls who grew up in the times of the Spice Girls and Britney Spears.
Fellow Californians IO Echo charged up the ballroom with songs from their debut full-length Ministry of Love. Shifting from staggering dance-punk numbers in the vein of Liars to mind-melting shoegaze, these newcomers could satiate the appetites of My Bloody Valentine devotees too impatient to wait two decades for another Kevin Shields release. The band seemed slightly off-kilter and distant, and lead singer Ionna Gika too spaced out, during a mediocre cover of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s so Heavy)”. But that’s the price you pay when you cover such an iconic track. Apart from this minor misstep, they put on a pretty ferocious set.
Members of the young stylista crowd piled up on the dance floor early in the night, bustin’ moves to “Gangsta’s Paradise” and other ’90s hits before Haim even hit the stage. I was sitting next to possibly the only attendees over the age of 50 at the venue – real-estate lawyers from Nebraska in town for a conference. They bought their way into the venue after seeing the long line-up at the door. Everyone, it seems, wanted to know what all the critics and fashion mags have been raving about.
Their questions were answered as soon as Haim opened with “Falling”. The catchy dance-rock track showcases the ladies’ seamless, echoing harmonies. Each sister boasted strong, distinct voices and identities. The eldest Danielle ran through verses in a deep Annie Lennox-esque growl, flirty and outspoken Este belted out bridges with a Jenny Lewis rasp, and “Babyhaim” Alana charmed fangirls with her bubbly anecdotes and extensive R&B vocal stylings.
At times, Haim’s overexcitement led to them yelling out the verses and muddying their bright melodies. But the girls were absolutely at ease in front of the crowd. They chatted with folks up front, were liberal with high fives, thrashed on their guitars and whipped their long locks as if they were back in their parents’ garage back in the San Fernando Valley. They jammed to the bluesy-country song “The Wire” like seasoned pros, then casually switched it up for the cool, seductive synth track “Go Slow”.
When Este slid down the stage a la Risky Business for the encore, she had no problem recovering from her fall by blasting into an impromptu version of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll”. With charm to match their talent, it’s plain to see why trendy publications like Nylon and Refinery 29 have hailed these girls as rock goddesses.