Kicking off their first headlining tour of the States, the sisters HAIM shredded a sold-out crowd down at the Paradise on “Allston Christmas” night. For a group that has yet to release its first full-length album, HAIM is already building an ardent following here and all overthe country. If you haven’t been sitting at the cool kids’ table, the group (whose name rhymes with ‘time’ rather than ‘fame’) is comprised of three sisters out of L.A. – Este, Danielle and Alana Haim – and a boy drummer with the impossibly cool name of Dash Hutton. You be backing up three California girls, you best have something cool for your own self.
Another L.A. indie band – Io Echo – opened the show, and though I was feeling cranky after standing for an hour and forty minutes awaiting the start of the music, all crankiness evaporated about two songs in. Io Echo is fronted by the luminous Ioanna Gika, who favors long, willowy kimono-like robes on stage, worn over grungy cut-offs. She coils and spins like a garage band version of Florence Welch, and the music, drenched in reverb, follows her lead. Their opening set was greeted by the packed house with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for the headliner.
HAIM hit the stage a little before 10 p.m., and with a cocky challenge to the crowd – “C’mon Boston, let’s do this” – tore into “Better Off,” one of a handful of songs the band has put out there in advance of their first full-length album, Days Are Gone, which will be released at the end of this month. HAIM has widely been compared to Fleetwood Mac, but – and trust me on this, I know my 70s supergroups – the comparison means nothing when it comes to their live shows. On stage, led by lead guitarist and singer Danielle, HAIM has more in common with Ted Nugent than Fleetwood Mac. They did cover a Fleetwood Mac song at the Paradise, though, so there must be some truth to the comparison, but it was a Peter Green-era track – “Oh Well” – a snarly, biting number that has little in common with the easy-listening harmonies of the Buckingham-Nicks era that most people think of when they think of Fleetwood Mac.
During their live performance, HAIM’s sound was much more guitar-driven than their studio tracks would suggest. All three sisters are multi-instrumentalists, with youngest sister Alana switching between rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion, and oldest sister Este on bass and the occasional guitar. Songs that sound like contemporary pop or R&B tracks in the studio – “The Wire,” “Falling,” “Forever” – take on a punk-like swagger when the girls unleash them on stage.
When possibly the most ardent fan in the house Sunday night, a shirtless Berklee student by the name of River St. James, launched himself at the stage in a bid to be adopted by any of the sisters who would take him (Este seemed the most interested), the group invited him up on stage to do a number with them. He took over Danielle’s guitar and played a verse or two of one of his own songs (“American Spirit,” if you’re keeping track at home), before leaving the stage to raucous cheers.
If there was any complaint about the show, it was that HAIM’s set was too short, clocking in at just nine songs. But shazzam, yo, they don’t even have a real album out yet, so whaddya expect. They’re heading out all over the world this fall. I’m looking forward to their return to Boston – and guessing it might be somewhere larger than the ‘Dise next time around.