Californian sister trio HAIM brought two weekends of live music to a close as they headlined the final day of All Points East festival on Bank Holiday Monday which, as per the title of Alana, Danielle and Este’s third and latest album, celebrated women in music.
With a line-up that boasted a majority of female artists, spanning soloists, bands and DJs across multiple genres, the day’s curation was spot on: from the range of performers, to where they played, and what time they were scheduled. Even two last-minute cancellations (Tove Lo due to Covid-19 and Marie Davidson because of flight issues) - didn’t dampen spirits.
Up first, the early afternoon allowed two TikTok stars to prove their reach beyond the online realm. Wearing a ruffled flower dress, Mae Stephens warmed things up with her bass-heavy funk-pop hits. Spreading a message of empowerment after opening up to the crowd about her battle with imposter syndrome and body dysmorphia, Stephens’ anti-bullying ethos really resonated; particularly as she dedicated Stranger to her 16-year-old self. Her positive and uplifting stage presence was a great fit for the technicolour, animated backing visuals, which showed a cartoon Mae flying across the galaxy in a spaceship.
As if this moment of opening the main (East) stage wasn’t cool enough, her proud mum was in the crowd filming the performance. A great role model for the younger generation (some of whom were in the audience with their parents). At the opposite end of the festival site - and music spectrum - viral sensation Isabel LaRosa took things in a darker direction with her dark and grunge-y witch-pop, which came to life thanks to her producer brother Thomas’ thrashing guitar riffs.
As the afternoon progressed, things got progressively more indie. Performing with her band The Charm, DJ-turned-singer Avalon Emerson’s voice sounded heavenly, especially paired with her guitarist’s psych-tinged riffs. Having only played a dozen shows - including one at Shacklewell Arms down the road - her gradually increasing experience as a live performer lends to a growth in confidence in front of the mic stand.
Dancing while weaving songs from her self-titled debut album together, the set traversed shoegaze, club, pop and indie. Sandrail Silhouette - about “driving across the desert with a huge engine” - led into the bass-heavy auto-tune of Karaoke Song, which rumbled the chests of those inside the big top tent. While this project leans into dreamy synth-pop, the show retains the dance-able quality of her tougher techno sets and electronic productions (the neon strobes and kaleidoscopic visuals certainly helped).
Later, those looking for a proper party had their appetites satisfied by the perfect one-two of Romy and Confidence Man. The former delivered a DJ-live hybrid hour of strobe-fuelled trance-pop euphoria, and the latter threw one of the greatest dance parties Skiddle has experienced, complete with synchronised choreography, infectious hooks and endless energy.
On a comparatively calmer note, Griff packed the East stage for her only UK festival of the year, performing her catchy pop hits including Black Hole and a new track due out this week which received an equally rapturous response. On the same stage, Norwegian indie-rocker Girl In Red also proved herself as a true rockstar; joined by a live band, she bounded across the stage during head-banging anthem ‘Serotonin’. A future headliner, without a doubt.
Then it was time for the headline act: HAIM. A band who have really put in the work to get to where they are today, the Californian sister trio wasted no time in showcasing their bill-topping talents. Having gone from playing tiny venues (10 years ago) to selling out London’s 02 Arena in 2022, this performance was in celebration of the ten-year anniversary of their debut album, Days Are Gone.
That record’s lead singles (Falling, Forever and The Wire) still sound as huge when performed live as they did when they were released in 2013). Each sporting black leather trousers, the bass faces, stadium-sized guitar riffs, singalong choruses and pounding drums came thick and fast, particularly during Don’t Save Me. Their set regularly veered between a range of moods, showing that they can do it all and then some; I Know Alone’s synchronised dance routines recalled All Saints, Want You Back carried a country stomp, Summer Girl’s added sax-fuelled sophistication, and the rock-leaning ‘My Song 5’ demonstrated their heavier side.
The show clearly meant an awful lot to the LA-based sisters, as they spoke sentimentally to their adoring British fans and their own family members (some of whom were among the audience). With their name in lights behind them, this was Alana, Danielle and Este’s “mind-blowing” crowning moment. “I fucking love you, London,” shouted Danielle, before telling a story about why they call the capital their home.
When they were starting out, they would play everywhere in LA and with any band that would have them but, as they recall, it was only when they got to the UK that more than two people started coming to their shows. After signing with Polydor, their first UK show (at Dingwalls, in June 2012), became a real turning point. “That was the first time we heard the lyrics of ‘Forever’ sung back to us,” Danielle enthused emotionally. Fast forward 11 years and here they are headlining for an audience of 40,000 – a moment they and their fans will never forget.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
All images by Perry Gibson, Louise Morris and Jennifer McCord