Haim teach us how to hold on to love at the Palace

Alana and Danielle Haim onstage at the Palace Theatre last night.

Alana and Danielle Haim onstage at the Palace Theatre last night. Tony Nelson

In their first of two nights in St. Paul, Haim soaked in the roaring passions of a capacity Palace Theatre crowd still reeling from Lizzo’s hyped homecoming opening act.

Shortly after the three Haim sisters rushed onstage to three small, standing mini-drum kits and started their set with synchronized Blue Man Group drumming, Danielle Haim, the middle sister and trio’s primary singer, said the band had been keeping an eye on the St. Paul leg of their nearly complete Sister Sister Sister Tour. “What, did it sell out in, like, seconds?” Danielle asked, her laughter quickly drowned out by the adoring crowd.

After the percussion-heavy open, the mini-kits were rolled away and Alana, the youngest Haim, settled into her primary role on keyboard and backup guitar as the oldest sibling, Este, rocked the slap bass. The Haims were in constant rotation: All three sing on most of their songs, and all three take a turn a singing lead.

The California band is touring behind their second album, Something to Tell You, released last summer. It’s an album that asks a specific question about love; When you have the love you want, how do you hold on to it?

Their first song of the night was from Haim’s first record, Days Are Gone. “Falling” has that rolling, active-but-subtle ‘80s synth-rock/post-funk bounce the band clearly loves. From within the song’s cavernous echo, the group sings “And if it gets rough/ it's time to get tough,” describing a rush of desire, that suspended-in-air sensation of meeting a new love interest, not as an involuntary feeling of free fall, but as a base jump that requires preparation.

What happens when love gets rough, typically, is that we don't get tough. We don’t just get one or two shots at love to squander; we blow multiple opportunities to be ready to accept what's in front of us, and spend most of our time cleaning up afterwards. But Haim work their magic in a space between desire and regret, in that area where we work to mature as lovers and humans.

In Haim’s second song, “Don’t Save Me,” Danielle addresses a lover who wants to return, warning him that if he does lunge to “save” her, he’ll hurt them both if “the love isn't strong.” Then Este caught feelings about playing Prince’s home state during the introduction to “Ready for You.” (“I knew I wanted to do this for a living the second I saw him play live,” she said.) It was Haim’s first offering of the night from their latest record, with a steady, soft, addictive groove and lyrics about a relationship that’s still full of potential even after some terrible shit has already gone down. This deep emotional manifesto imbues their sun-kissed, skipping-down-the-Cali-shoreline melody with a deeper resonance.

The mood of the concert would vary along with the lighting, which drifted between bloody reds and warm blues. At times, a single spotlight would strike one member of Haim as she belted out a lyric about love, loss, and reclamation, or grooved to the uptempo soft-rock, soft-funk rhythm, or just delivered some mean Haim-face during a guitar or bass riff.

“My Song 5” was a head-banger, with Danielle leaning over the edge of the stage, her left leg perched on a speaker, to lay down a guttural guitar riff. She took the same stance on “Little of Your Love,” this time delivering a jaunty skip of a solo. But the sight to see at a Haim show, undoubtedly, is Este’s face as she lays down a classic slap-bass line.

Throughout the night, Haim’s icy cool grooves were as precise as their hot ideas about love are insightful. They express the worthwhile frustrations of love while jamming all the heartbreak out of their system as a band. During “Something to Tell You,” Danielle booted one of the band’s two support drummers to drum while singing. The song, about being the bigger person and laying all the cards down when a relationship starts getting a little weird, broke so Danielle could get all those heavy feelings off her chest in the best way possible: By hammering a killer drum solo.

So much pop lyricism frets about finding the real thing, focusing on the search for a perfect love. Then again, maybe it’s a sigh of relief about finding someone (thank heavens, the search is over) or expression of anxiety about losing who you’ve found. Haim does not fuck with any of that. Love isn't some astonishing discovery or something that is suddenly gone forever—it's always at your fingertips, but it takes work to keep it within reach.

See our full photo gallery from the show here.

Haim setlist

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
The Wire

Found it in Silence
Right Now

Lizzo setlist
Scuse Me
En Love
Can't Nobody Love Me the Way I Do
Jerome Go Home
Water Me
Truth Hurts
Good as Hell

Notes on the opener: Lizzo was the perfect pairing for Haim, in that she is all self-love all the time, always preparing herself for ups and downs and showing us how to do the same. The crowd simply lost its shit for her, greeting both her arrival onstage and the conclusion of each song with ovations as long as they were loud and that felt more like hugs than applause. Lizzo bathed in the love unapologetically, never feigning that kinda-humble, fake-overwhelmed attitude some performers adopt, standing still with her assured smile and a couple winks. Then, with a banger like “Fitness” or “Good as Hell,” she would return the love tenfold.

Critic’s bias: Haim's music truly makes me want to be in and work at love. But it also makes me just want to dance into the sunset like a silly boy.

The crowd: A big date night crowd, with couples clenched to each other or dinner party groups of couples in singing circles, along with plenty of cool moms or aunts leading trails of teen girls.

Overheard in the crowd: In the long line for overpriced parking next to the Palace, one woman randomly asked the clump of fans if there was an event. I told her it was a Haim concert. “OK,” she says, taking another look at the assembled humans. “So … is it soft rock?”

Just as Haim finished their drumming intro and started their songs, a man yelled “Yes, Haim! Fuck me up! Fuck me up!”