HAIM Kool Haus, Toronto ON, May 15

HAIM Kool Haus, Toronto ON, May 15
Photo: Kevin Jones
A year ago, HAIM made the rounds on the festival circuit and played catchy songs to fairly appreciative onlookers that probably left still not knowing how to pronounce the band's name.

Last night, the SoCal sisters finally made their Toronto debut, and based on the show's sold-out status, everyone now knows who they are. Walking out to ominous music and flashing lights, the trio have perfected the art of the dramatic entrance, and with the entire venue clapping along to opener "Falling" a minute in, they've picked up a few crowd-commanding skills too.

HAIM now have last fall's acclaimed full-length Days Are Gone to pull from, but strayed from it three songs in to invite the audience into their "living room to jam" with a killer rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well."

Eldest sister Este — known for her notoriously awesome bass face, which made frequent cameos all night — was consistently working the crowd up for the group's original material too, encouraging "motherfuckers" to "lose their shit" during the darker, grittier "My Song 5." Her baby sister Alana, meanwhile, gushed about wanting to move to Toronto, and middle sis Danielle stood centre stage on guitar, owning solos and praising Torontonians' ability to rage – knowledge she apparently gained from a local ex-boyfriend.

After closing out the set with the intoxicating "Forever," the band returned for an encore that opened with a cover of Beyonce's "XO," then delivered Days Are Gone standout "The Wire," before ending with a rendition of "Let Me Go" that featured all three Haims in a centre-stage percussion-off that would have literally silenced anyone who had doubts about their live chops.

HAIM has come a long way in a year. The material they have to work with now allows them to flit effortlessly on stage between sugary synth-pop ("Running If You Call My Name"), blues-y soul ("My Song 5") and good old-fashioned rock'n'roll ("Oh Well"), no sister ever wavering on vocals or the myriad instruments each plays. As the impeccable performance, packed house and deafening audience appreciation indicated, this band is already capable of playing well beyond the Kool Haus, so the next time HAIM rolls into town, it's only fair to expect even bigger and better things.

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