Perhaps the most anticipated show of Red Bull Sound Select’s robust #30DaysInLA lineup, the show sold out in minutes when tickets went on sale in September. On the day of the show, a handful of kids posted up outside the venue not long after the sun came up. By the time doors opened at 8 PM, the line wrapped around Hollywood Blvd., all the way up Gower St.
It’s been three long years since Este, Danielle and Alana released their fiery pop masterpiece Days Are Gone. Fans have grown restless awaiting the follow up to their debut record, and only this year did the band begin to play a handful of new songs from the yet-to-be announced album.
The familiar sounds of “Don’t Change Your Mind” began to bounce off the walls of cozy confines of the Fonda once the lights went down. Adolescent screams couldn’t be contained, and though I was used to standing out like a sore thumb as a late twentysomething dude in a HAIM crowd, it never felt more like home than it did on Tuesday. Once the ladies took the stage, phones were out in a high volume and everybody became their neighbors’ singalong partner when Danielle began delivering the catchy lyrics from the first of many hits of the night.
After “Don’t Save Me,” Este took over lead vocals on a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U,” illustrating that this band has more than just one powerful vocalist. The folksy track “Honey & I” followed, one of the band’s slower numbers that builds momentum.
The trio took in all the adulation with a ton of humility, taking time between songs to recall their early days and also their time as avid LA music fans and the shows they saw. At one point, Este recalled a Rilo Kiley show at the Fonda where her appreciation for frontwoman Jenny Lewis was magnified by her stage presence. As a major Jenny Lewis fanboy myself, it gave me goosebumps to hear real recognizing real.
The first of HAIM’s two new songs they played, “Give Me Just a Little of Your Love,” is very Wilson Phillips-like. I always considered the band’s sound to be that of Wilson Phillips meets Fleetwood Mac, and the two new songs represented those two sounds separately. The band is now accompanied by a keyboardist, and the synths on this first new track were pretty heavy, to go along with the catchy chorus that had all three sisters singing in unison.
Following “Forever,” maybe half the crowd’s favorite HAIM song, and the get-down jam “My Song 5,” the sisters jumped into the other new song, “Nothing’s Wrong.”
That song is very Fleetwood Mac meets Don Henley. The guitar riffs employed by Danielle scream Don Henley, while the melancholy chorus was very Stevie Nicks. It’s in my opinion the better of the two new tracks and I remember becoming obsessed after hearing it the first time on the festival circuit the girls went on this year.
Following “The Wire,” the girls briefly left the stage before returning for “Falling,” which was accompanied by a big drum-off between the sisters. Their ability to get the crowd involved in their performance is nearly unmatched by any major pop group.
The one disappointment of the night was the brevity of their show. They barely played an hour, and according to a setlist on stage, they scrapped “Go Slow” from the encore. That is a favorite of mine and a song the band hasn’t played since 2014, according to setlist.fm. It would have been nice to hear at least one more new song from an album the sisters said was having the “final touches” put on it. But beggars can’t be choosers.
The girls scrapped part of their tour earlier this year to focus on finishing up their new record. If the two songs they did perform are any indication, it will be a worthy follow-up to a record that earned them instant status as one of the best young bands in pop.
Opening up the show was Steven A. Clark, an R&B artist whose performance was very late ‘90s early ‘00s R&B in the best way. Accompanied by just one guy on a mixer, Clark’s performance caught the attention of the crowd that showed up early to grab a good spot.
Up second on the night was Charlotte Day Wilson, whose sound is a bit of R&B meets jazz. She jumped around a bunch of instruments, even playing a little saxophone late in the set, but her best instrument was her voice. If you’re a fan of Sade or neo soul, CDW should be right up your alley and is definitely worth a listen.
Top photo courtesy of Raymond Lew. All other photos courtesy of Red Bull Sound Select.