Imagine opening up for Beyonce.
Now imagine opening up for Beyonce at one of the most iconic sets of her life. Are you feeling overwhelmed, energized, and ecstatic at the same time? Well that’s the high that HAIM have been riding on since successfully warming up the crowd for Queen B at last month’s Coachella.
You would think that sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim’s first time headlining an arena tour would be paralyzingly daunting. Due to the residual adrenaline left from their triumph at Coachella however, the trio’s trip to Boston University’s Agganis Arena as part of their 2018 Sister Sister Sister Tour looked like a cake walk.
I only made it a few feet into the stadium before being directly impacted by the Haim sisters infectiously fun attitude. While passing by the merchandise table, it appeared there was a black shirt with a digital screenshot on it. A closer look at the shirt would reveal HAIM had a great sense of humor about their ballooning fame, as the shirt contained a nothing but a picture of the follow tweet from Rihanna:
Based my interesting trip to the merch table and my preconceived notions from their stunning 2017 album Something To Tell You, I was enthusiastic about HAIM’s distinct pop rock hooks blaring through every permeable gap of this arena. Unfortunately, the surface of HAIM’s performance revealed its fair share of glaring faults that partially masked the creative breadth of the rest of the show. First of all, they announced the backstory and name of almost every song before they played it. It’s always fun to talk about a song or two’s origin story, but explaining half the set’s background takes away from the artistic subtleties that make each track special. Second, they opened and closed with a Blue Man Group-like drum sequence that, although fun, seemed more like a gap-filler for lack of a more well thought out beginning and end.
Finally and most frustrating was their strikingly interminable stage banter. Before announcing the backstory of their songs, they would often start with a hilarious or witty one-liner. After musing the audience with a sly comment, their small talk would turn into a repetitive 5+ minute story that dulled down a crowd who had previously seemed positively ballistic to see their favorite band. For example, Este Haim related one comment back to her superior height, as she cleverly said “I am a tall glass of water. I’m 6’1 and a lot of fun” You would have thought it would end there, but she instead continued on about how she’s great at rhyming on the spot, and how it’s “awesome in Boston” This slant rhyme was not only cringe-worthy, but was suddenly put to a drum sequence as she repeated over and over again “awesome in Boston, awesome in Boston, awesome in Boston…” Stop me if I seem like I’m being sensitive, but the crowd’s collectively folded arms and crooked smirks indicated a similar confusion across the board.
Bothersome as their stage banter was, the songs themselves were still phenomenal. Their intensely passionate harmonies sent the crowd into an electrifying frenzy for the full hour and half set, while their palpable messages of female empowerment were even more dynamic and influential on the live stage. There’s no question that the entire Haim family is bursting at the seams with talent, but it was crystal clear that middle child Danielle Haim was the group’s workhorse. On top of her status as the lead singer and studio drummer, her skills as a guitar player proved to be markedly underrated. Multiple songs like “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Something To Tell You” were given extended plays to let Danielle fly through surprisingly elaborate solos, while slower songs like “Night So Long” and “Right Now” were carried by the chilling echos of her dazzling and commanding range. That isn’t to say her sisters weren’t vital to the performance – they led several songs on their own and still brought the crowd to a resounding roar. In fact, you needed nothing more than a listen to the audience to understand the impact this band had on the Boston public. The average amplitude that the crowd remained at for virtually the entire show was deafening, which should serve as a testament this band of three headstrong sisters ability to, as Beyonce once said, “rep for the girls who taking over the world.”
Check out the playlist below for the studio version of HAIM’s full setlist at the Agganis Arena.
Favorite Live Tracks: Night So long, Little of Your Love, Nothing’s Wrong, The Wire, Want You Back