The most exciting thing about Haim isn’t their sprawling legacy, but where they take things next.
Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Frances Beach.
“We need to be Haim-worthy” says Girl In Red onstage at All Points East, encouraging the crowd to forget about looking cool and have as much fun as possible. Backed by a five-piece band, her 60-minute set flies by in a flurry of bristling love songs, soaring declarations of hope and swaggering anthems of community. She crowdsurfs to the euphoric ‘Bad Idea’ while the closing glee of ‘I Wana Be Your Girlfriend’ sees her in the middle of a penis-shaped moshpit while sparks rain down on stage. It’s a goofy, ambitious set that continues to back up Girl In Red’s plans for world domination. Tonight is the last show of a sprawling festival run, and tomorrow, she’s going home to finish “the best album ever made. This is just the beginning,” she promises.
The rest of the supporting lineup for Haim’s headline show at All Point East has also been carefully curated to get the crowd as Haim-worthy as possible. The Cupra North tent plays host to Australian electro-pop party starters Confidence Man after Romy’s deliciously feel-good set while the L’Oreal Paris stage honours the band’s more folk-rock inspirations. Paris Paloma starts her set with the hushed gloom of ‘Notre Dame’ before the haunted, rugged ‘Mulled Wine’ brings a quiet over the buzzing festival crowd. Elsewhere, Nell Mescal’s set is far more chaotic. “There’s too many of you here, go away,” she beams after the raucous reaction to ‘Cutting Ties’ while ‘Punchline’ and ‘Homesick’ have bloomed into swaggering festival anthems in recent months. New song ‘Teeth’ sees that assurance continue. A smirking revenge anthem about someone reading her diary, she twists vulnerability into snarling power.
Back on the main stage, Griff is playing her first and last festival of the season after a stint touring stadiums with Coldplay. She’s always been a powerhouse pop performer, but there’s a newfound glee running through today’s set, as she embraces the carnage of these big, outdoor shows. ‘Head On Fire’ and ‘Black Hole’ are the sort of charged sunshine bangers that are perfect for days like this, while new single ‘Vertigo’ takes self-doubt and turns it into euphoria, via glistening pop hooks. “I’m just here to have a good time,” she grins.
According to Alana, there are three things everyone needs to do at a Haim gig. Dance your heart out, sing your heart out and “have the best fucking night”. The band make that really easy, with a glorious set that’s a little nostalgic, a little sentimental and a whole lot of fun. Coming onstage after Fergie’s hammering ‘London Bridge’, the trio launch straight into ‘Now I’m In It’ with its big communal singalong and three-way drum breakdown. Este cracks up at just how loud the reaction is from the crowd before the dreamy ‘I Know Alone’ morphs into a sax-laden, pop-belter, complete with a smirking dance routine.
The band are in London to kickstart the ten-year anniversary celebrations for their debut album ‘Days Are Gone’, with Haim viewing the city as their unofficial hometown since an early gig at Dingwalls was the first place they ever heard fans sing back their lyrics. Tonight’s set is littered with those early classics, from the warmth of ‘Want You Back’ to the vicious rage of ‘My Song 5’. Every time she talks about their journey to tonight, Alana is on the verge of tears, while Este seems more concerned about where the after-party is happening. She even leaps down onto the barrier during a sleek ‘3am’ to get suggestions from fans.
It makes for a wonderfully heartfelt, giddy show. There’s a real sense of celebration in the fiery ‘Gasoline’ while a closing run of ‘Falling’, ‘Forever’ and ‘The Wire’ acts as a triumphant victory lap for an astoundingly confident debut. Still, there’s more to this show than sugary nostalgia. ‘Summer Girl’ is an intricate burst of joy, ‘I’ve Been Down’ turns gloom into a cry for community, while the closing ‘The Steps’ finds optimism and determination through pain. The most exciting thing about Haim isn’t their sprawling legacy, but where they take things next. Whichever direction they go, London will be along for the party.