Plus a review of Janelle Monae’s new album and support for the R. Kelly boycott
Last Tuesday night, May 1st, HAIM, the trio of Jewish, California-born sisters, took control at D.C’s Anthem. They are currently travelingthe world on their Sister Sister Sister Tour in support of their 2017 album Something to Tell You.
Lizzo is opening for the sisters. If you’re unfamiliar with the singer’s work, as I was, you will be surprised and delighted. Lizzo is all about self-love and body positivity. She brings the showmanship of a Beyoncé with about 0.5% of the budget. HAIM and Lizzo’s music don’t necessarily complement each other, which made Lizzo’s showmanship more enticing as a delightful introduction to her work.
The Haim sisters are tour and festival veterans. They’ve played multiple Coachellas, including this year’s festival, and opened stadiums for Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon and Rihanna. This run is their biggest headlining gig with shows at the Greek Theater in L.A. and Red Rocks in Colorado.
Their experience shows. The Anthem is a troublesome venue. It’s too large for a club because the IMP, D.C. major concert promoter’s intention with the venue is to pull performers from Capital One Arena. The sound can get lost in the back and the energy can dissipate it’s not sold out.
HAIM managed make the cavernous club feel like the more-intimate 9:30 Club. During one song, the lights went low and they played in front of red neon lights, which somehow tightened the back of the venue a whole 20 feet.
The band ran through the entirety of Something to Tell You and about half of their first album, Days Are Gone. Every song was as recognizable live as as on record.
Danielle and Este, the middle and eldest sisters, are the most talented of the two. The second Haim shreds on lead guitar. Her solos sounded identical to the versions on the album on songs like “Little of Your Love,” and surprises on “Nothing’s Wrong.” Este is famously known for her “bass face,” which presents both her intensity and absurdity. Alana, the youngest, is gifted in her own right, but her role is to support on rhythm guitar and keyboard. The sisters are assisted by two touring artists on keyboards and drums.
Alana and Este bring the personality between songs, while Danielle is more reserved. There was about a five-minute period of banter about Family Guy, Randy Newman, bodysuits and Alana’s relationship status.
The sisters have a stage presence of 30-year touring veterans. They own the stage with true comfort. There is no theatricality, just expertise, enthusiasm and a sense of humor.
HAIM’s sisterhood is authentic. They’ve worked and learned together outside of the band. In all likeliness, Este remembers Alana being born. (They’re six years apart.) Another band might have spats behind the scenes that could ultimately rupture the ties that bind. Unless, HAIM ends up like Oasis, their love withstands it all.
Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer (8/10): Until now, Janelle Monae has never delivered an album as herself. Her name is on all of her records and EP, but she has always performed as a character, Cyndi Mayweather. Dirty Computer, her latest, has Janelle Monae performing as Janelle Monae. In a sense, Computer, is a debut. Monae recently came out as pansexual. By accepting her truth, she now unlocks a new level of brilliance. The album is an eclectic and energized work. Within its 48 minutes, I heard influences of funk, disco, indie, hip-hop and surf rock. The highlight is “Screwed,” featuring Zoe Kravitz. The song comes out full-force with amped-up guitars. It’s an ode to sexual liberation, which segues into “Django Jane,” where Monae spits arguably one of the hardest rap verses of the year for a full three minutes. Dirty Computer is a freeing work for a brilliant songwriter. Monae has reached new heights by fulfilling her truest self. Best Track: “Screwed” (featuring Zoe Kravitz)
#MuteRKelly: . I will admit that I have openly and vocally enjoyed R. Kelly in the past. No more. It is time to boycott R. Kelly. I stand with his victims, those in Time’s Up leading this boycott and Vince Staples. R. Kelly is a serial predator, with a 20-plus-year history of abuses towards young women and girls. His record label RCA has defended him and ignored the litany of complaints. It is time for streaming services, record labels and touring companies to boycott R. Kelly. It’s time for Kelly to finally go away.