By Joseph Sutton-Holcomb
On Friday night, just before 7 p.m., the intersection of Pine Street and Ninth Avenue outside the Paramount Theatre was packed. A river of starry-eyed concertgoers, most of them young women, flowed east up Pine for several blocks.
The dam broke as the bouncers opened the doors and the crowd poured in, eager to secure a stage-side spot to see Haim, the soulful, post-New Wave pop-rock group out of California.
The band’s moniker is the surname of the three sisters — singer/guitarist Danielle, bassist Este and multi-instrumentalist Alana, the founder.
When they came on stage, supported by a drummer and a keyboardist, the crowd erupted like a sonic volcano. Hands raised, whoops and shouts reverberated off the Paramount’s lofty ceilings as the band launched into “Falling.”
Haim has garnered frequent comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, but Haim’s live sound bears a much closer resemblance to the baroque pop aesthetic of Kate Bush and the sounds of the poppy masters of the ‘80s New Wave.
These women like to jam. Distorted guitar riffs were a staple, but the best songs of the evening — the ominous “My Song No. 5” and hip-shaker “The Wire” — were propelled primarily by keyboard riffs and layered percussion. Every Haim sister had a drum, and Alana, the youngest, spent much of her time on stage playing electric drum samples and synth lines.
This percussive effect reached a fever pitch at the end of the encore, as the sisters transitioned the outro of their final song into a primal drum circle, with all three of them, plus the primary drummer, pounding away with gusto.
Local noisemakers Tacocat got the party started — or at least tried to. Despite its high-energy, fun material — the group is like the Ramones of surf pop — much of the crowd’s bubbly, anticipatory energy melted away during the Seattle band’s set, though people did perk up a bit for “Psychedelic Quinceañera,” a song about taking LSD on your 15th birthday.
Perhaps the crowd was just saving its dancing energy for later.