Red Bull Sound Space
Yesterday afternoon, fresh off a year of domination (including an impressive showing in the Pazz and Jop poll) the sisters Haim played at KROQ's Red Bull Sound Space for 150 contest winners. Este Haim, their bassist, revealed that it's been her dream to give DJ Stryker a love tap on his behind since she first heard him play “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” on KROQ when she was 12. She proceeded to do exactly that.
But that wasn't the only dream that came true:
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The show started with a brief Q&A. The first question came from Blink 182's Mark Hoppus, via Twitter, asking what Haim's favorite Blink 182 song was. The girls are apparently huge fans: Danielle, singer/ guitarist, won her fifth grade talent show with a rendition of “Aliens Exist.” After a minor “fangirl moment,” Alana, guitar/ keyboard, picked “Josie,” and Este agreed. This was now, she added, the best day of her life.
It was also probably the same for the girl who came forward, representing a Haim Twitter fan page, and handed the girls a handwritten letter that she'd spent two hours crafting the night before.
For the fans who baked in the sun and ditched whatever responsibilities they had that day to catch the 1 p.m. set, it was a pretty sweet deal, basically the equivalent of watching their favorite band in their living room. It was that intimate.
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For Haim, KROQ was the girls' soundtrack growing up in the San Fernando Valley, laser-tagging at UltraZone in Sherman Oaks and stealing food from the Cheesecake Factory, where Este worked. “Growing up I don't think we ever felt like it was bad to want to be a rock star,” said Este. “Not that we're there yet.” That said, after the Q&A ended, they made a pretty good case for why they're exactly that. (Plus, you know, they were wearing black leather.)
The 7-song set featured tracks from their debut album, Days Are Gone, and began with “Falling.” Between chanting vocals and rumbling drums the track sounded like a battle cry. They followed it up with their hit single “The Wire,” filled with crisp rock guitar riffs and each sisters' vocal variations.
Next came the more mellow “Honey & I.” Showing off their softer side, the soulful song is driven by stripped-down guitar and pattering percussion until it crescendos and begins to inspire headbanging. Este spoke of her now-famous “bass face,” aka “facial gymnastics.” As she and the crowd get more into the performance, she explains, she tends to lose control. “It's a direct expression of you guys, is what's happening up here.”
Next was another example of the group's R&B/ rock sound, “Don't Save Me,” which they performed on Saturday Night Live in November, along with “The Wire.” They then picked up the tempo with “Forever,” an adrenalized tune with a tenacious bass-line and choir-like vocals that NME magazine listed as their #4 track of 2012. The group closed out with “Let Me Go,” a powerful percussion-driven song held together by winding, fluid vocals.
If “Falling” was a battle cry, “Let Me Go,” was a victory chant. The sisters showed off their dynamic musicianship, trading in their instruments for drum sticks on a high-intensity drum line. Their tight performance made them seem like veteran rockers.