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Photo Essay by Andy Witchger: Haim at St. Paul’s Palace Theatre

Alana, Danielle and Este Haim are a compelling amalgam of influences, their sound a result of internalized music-listening spanning decades and genres. The sisters seem to hold a near-encyclopedic knowledge of music to accompany their formidable talent. What other band casually name-drops Outkast, 50s doo-wop and The Clash in a single sentence while describing their songwriting approach?

Having explored these diverse influences as bandmates in one form or another since their early childhood, the pitfalls they’ve avoided are remarkable. The Los Angeles-based trio dodged being typecast even after naming an early project “Valli Girls.” They’ve drawn heavily from formative predecessors without falling into pastiche. They released a beloved debut album, but shrugged off any pressure of a sophomore slump.

From Rostam Batmanglij and Nico Muhly, to Devonté Hynes and Taylor Swift, Haim’s wide appeal has drawn collaborators out of the woodwork. The sisters’ fluency in navigating these projects spanning disparate genres and processes appears effortless. After all, if Paul Thomas Anderson asks to drop by and film your recording sessions, you’re doing something right.

Haim’s May 14 set, the penultimate stop on the U.S. leg of their “Sister, Sister, Sister” tour, was the perfect showcase for the group’s achievements. Touching on the highlights of their critically-acclaimed release, Something to Tell You, as well as their 2013 break-out, Days are Gone, the band’s stage presence evoked a youthful exuberance.

Their music has a propulsive rhythm, which was clear as the sisters emerged to a raucous ovation, each standing behind a drum at the front of the stage. Beginning with a tension-building drum-off, Alana, Danielle and Este pounded the audience into a frenzy before transitioning into “Falling,” the opening track from their debut.

The night was tightly choreographed, emphasizing the band’s showmanship and versatility. Fortunately, their personalities bled through the script. Alana stopped to recount the previous night’s drunken pool game at the CC Club, a famous hangout of the legendary Minneapolis band The Replacements. Este, inspired in part by the day’s visit to Paisley Park, explained the importance of Prince to her musical development. “I knew I wanted to do this for a living the second I saw him play live,” she confessed.

Having played the Twin Cities once previously (in 2014), this was the first opportunity for many fans to see the band, which created a celebratory atmosphere. Nearly every song became a sing-along, and the sold-out crowd cheered wildly as Danielle soloed with a foot on a speaker, dramatically clutching her guitar.

The show ended the way it began, with the sisters taking places behind drums while the final notes to “Right Now” reverberated. They resumed their drum-off until confetti cannons filled the air and covered the venue, bringing the evening to a close. Fans streamed out of the theatre, with their excitement clear as the river of confetti blanketed the ground behind them.

Setlist:

“Falling”

“Don’t Save Me”

“Little of Your Love”

“My Song 5”

“Ready for You”

“You Never Knew”

“Want You Back”

“Walking Away”

“Something to Tell You”

“Nothing’s Wrong”

“Forever”

“The Wire”

Encore

“Found it in Silence”

“Right Now”

Andy Witchger (@andywitchger) is a teacher, naturalist and concert junkie from Minneapolis. You can find his work in City Pages, The Current and on his mom’s refrigerator.

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