ARTS & ENTERTAINMENTMUSICPop & Hiss

Live review: Haim at the Fonda Theatre

Arts and CultureJulian CasablancasDuck Sauce (music group)Jenny LewisThe xx (music group)Justin Timberlake

After her band’s sold-out, headlining homecoming show at the Fonda Theatre on Wednesday, there was just one place that Este Haim wanted to party.

“Every time we go on tour, I get scared that Taco Zone isn’t going to be here anymore,” she said, to delighted cheers from fellow fans of the Echo Park taco truck that’s sopped up countless hipster hangovers. “That’s where I’m gonna be after this.”

The Valley-raised sister trio Haim (backed by non-related drummer Dash Hutton) are due for some simpler pleasures. They started this year as a wisecracking local indie-scene staple, a cult favorite of acts that include Ryan Adams, Julian Casablancas, Jenny Lewis and Kesha.

Now they’ve got a Columbia debut, “Days Are Gone,” that revamps today’s playbook with a modern blend of Fleetwood Mac, Destiny’s Child, Peter Gabriel and laptop-R&B. They pal around with Jay-Z and played his Made in America festival. They beat out Justin Timberlake for the No. 1 album in England. The New York Times style section wrote an entirely earnest article about how they get their middle-parted haircuts.

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In short, there’s probably not a cooler band in America right now. But on Wednesday, sheared of the studio ambience that made “Days Are Gone” so pristine, they let their story-worthy hair down, and hoisted their family-band freak flag high.

At this brisk, eager Fonda show (with an opening set from the ever-entrancing goth post-punks Io Echo), Haim’s loose riffing inverted the sound on their record. On “Days Are Gone,” tunes like “Falling” and “The Wire” shove Danielle and Alana Haim’s scratchy funk guitars to the back of the mix, letting Danielle’s deep-echoed vocals and Este’s on-point bass lines carry the tune. 

On Wednesday, though, they reminded fans that these are rock songs, written by young women playing rock instruments in a sweltering garage out in the Valley. At first, the shift was jarring, and one realized how much “Days Are Gone” benefits from their rigorous digital editing instincts (they’ve worked with ace weirdo-pop producers like Ariel Rechtshaid).

But then the live-jam sound became reassuring. Haim is still a band in the traditional sense, and that bodes well for a long future once this ravenous attention levels off (their cover of the early-Fleetwood Mac blues tune “Oh Well” proved that point).

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They all have their own Beatles-y roles onstage. Este, she of the fantastically vulgar Disney-inspired Twitter handle, is the band’s resident foul mouth, close-harmonist and groove-keeper; Alana is in charge of their small-hours synth pads, rap-mixtape drum claps and high-cut shorts that could give Mom Haim a heart attack. Danielle is the frontwoman and also Haim’s mystery, rarely speaking onstage except to deliver a torrent of perfectly-clipped R&B vocal runs behind a drape of brown hair and denim jackets.

Every song at the Fonda felt like a staple in their brief catalog, but a few stood out in this stripped-wire setting. “Go Slow’s” foggy’s keyboards and the sisters’ quick-cut, call-and-response vocals were virtuosic and vibey; “Don’t Save Me” is the obvious smash out of the gate, twisting with Prince-ly funk and a yearning chorus that feels like everything right about pop music today hitting all at once.

They encored with a spitfire in the largely a cappella “Better Off” that showed just how cosmically in tune this trio is with their own sound -- and with each other.

Earlier in the set, they posed for a quick sister-selfie onstage with the crowd behind them. They’d done it before when they opened for The xx here, they said. Haim should ready their poses for some much, much bigger stages. 

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Arts and CultureJulian CasablancasDuck Sauce (music group)Jenny LewisThe xx (music group)Justin Timberlake
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