Saturday, May 28, 2016

2016 North American Tour | Haim with Clubhouse

A tee-shirt pinned to the wall at Haim's merchandise stand in the venue lobby on Friday night read "GO HAIM OR GO HOME." Thinking it was funny, I bought it and got in place on the second tier of the standing pit. What I learned in that pit, though, is that the tee-shirt does not lie. In the audience of a Haim show, you can either go Haim or see yourself out.

Haim's Columbus show is solid evidence that a crowd's disposition can make or break a show. Packed inside the Express Live! indoor music hall, fans jumped, clapped, sang, screamed, and raised their hands for nearly 90 minutes without rest. Between each of the 11 songs on the set list, one of the three Haim sisters would emerge from the darkness for some banter -- each of them usually ending her respective chats with "I FUCKING LOVE YOU, COLUMBUS!" They said that exact phrase no less than twice a piece. They fed off our energy as much as we were fueled off theirs; as Este would say, we were all quite lit.

An unannounced opening act, a local band called Clubhouse composed of guys who looked like they had all just crawled out of the common room of a college residence hall, was pulled together, but they were no match for what was to come. These three young women were electric. Danielle may have found herself center stage and carrying most of the lead vocal and sprawling guitar solo work, but all three shined in their own ways. Este and Alana each took vocals on one song each (the former on a Prince cover and the latter on "Running If You Call My Name") and attracted attention as instrumentalists and backing vocalists elsewhere.

This concert failed to deliver its proposed purpose to preview new work (they premiered only two new tracks: "Give Me Just a Little of Your Love" and "Nothing's Wrong"), but if it had fulfilled that vision, I doubt it would have been as successful as it was. While Danielle taught us some of the words to "Give Me Just a Little of Your Love" to sing along with, the magic was really sparked by the crowd's extensive knowledge of the band's debut album; we knew when to scream, when to two-step, and when to stick our hands in the air to clap along until our arms got sore. And even when my arms were tired and wanted no more than to lay at my sides, I couldn't stop myself from offering the vigorous applause these ladies worked so hard to deserve.

Oh, and by the way: you haven't lived life to its fullest until you have watched Alana Haim beat every last ounce of life out of a drum while Danielle and Este shred the hell out of their guitars during the breakdown of "My Song 5." It's everything.

Haim's North American tour runs through June 11 and makes stops at the Boston Calling, Bunbury, Governor's Ball, and Bonnaroo music festivals.

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