Haim Brings Charm and Enthusiasm to Sister Sister Sister Tour Opener in Portland

Suzi Pratt/WireImage
Alana Haim and Danielle Haim of the band Haim perform at WaMu Theater on April 4, 2018 in Seattle, Washington.

When the three sisters of Haim took the stage at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon, Tuesday night (April 3) to launch their Sister Sister Sister tour, you could practically see the adrenaline coursing through their bodies. Each woman stationed in front of a small array of drums, they each soloed with a charming over-enthusiasm as a slow-building wave of relief relaxed their faces and muscles.

As Alana Haim mentioned early on in the show, this run of shows that takes them through North America and Europe, including a stop at Coachella, has been a long time coming. Their second full-length, Something To Tell You, was released last June and, outside of a handful of promotional appearances and festival dates, they haven’t done a lot of promotion for the album.

“It’s been a long journey,” Alana told the Portland crowd. “We spent a lot of time wondering, ‘Are we ever going to tour this record?’”

Something about being on the road at last, and playing their biggest venue yet in Portland as a headliner, seemed to put a little extra spark into Alana and her sisters. Bassist/vocalist Este whipped her hair around with some added exuberance when she wasn’t pulling faces in response to her playing or someone in the audience. Danielle responded with some fiery guitar work (her solo on set opener “Falling” had a Angus Young-like momentum) and unapologetic rock star poses.

For a big show in a big theater at the start of a big tour, there was an impressive humbleness to how everything was presented. The sisters were accompanied by only a keyboardist and a drummer. There weren’t excessive instrument swaps or an overabundance of equipment on stage. Even the visual aspect of the show was scaled way back, kept to four small banks of stage lights set behind the players and a small silvery platform that all the musicians stood atop.

It will be interesting to see how well that that modest approach will play to the enormous crowds that attend Coachella. What will certainly translate are the bubbly personalities and ineffable pop songwriting skills that the sisters brought to their tour opener.

Between songs, the three chided one another playfully or recounted their previous experiences in Portland, including learning that they were going to be playing Saturday Night Live right before their first-ever show in the Rose City. Loose as they often were, they didn’t let that affect their playing or the crystalline vocal harmonies they utilized on songs like “Walking Away” and “Nothing’s Wrong.”

Haim put together a well-balanced set list, easing themselves and the audience into the night with three songs from their 2013 debut, Days Are Gone, and slowly folding in more recent material. While their own locks were often in motion, not a hair was out of place in their performances. That allowed the '80s-era Fleetwood Mac vibes to soar on “You Never Knew” and gave their run through “The Wire” a comforting familiarity even as Alana urged the crowd to pump their fists in the air. It also gave them the freedom to sashay to center stage and show off some adorably loose dance moves, choreographed to the liquid groove of “Walking Away.”

The big pop star moves Haim did give into still had a quaintness to them. After bringing the night full circle with another drum circle (capped off by a splashy solo by touring drummer Jody Giachello), they set off a pair of confetti cannons which filled the room with small strips of white. And right before that, they indulged in a laid back rendition of Shania Twain’s hit “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” with Este swapping out Brad Pitt for Timothee Chalamet. As with most of the art that Haim makes, it was a shock of the modern snuck into something vintage and warmly familiar.