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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Show Review: HAIM @ The Casbah San Diego

Show Review
@ The Casbah San Diego

   I'm fully cognizant of the downside to operating out of a secondary market.  San Diego is essentially the southern most outpost of the "Greater Los Angeles" media market that itself encompasses multiple top 20 markets in the United States:

1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA MSA: 9,377,938
11. Riverside-San Bernardino, CA. MSA: 3,108,211
14.  San Diego, CA MSA: 2,798,201
15. Orange County, CA. MSA: 2,735,375

  We are talking like 20 million people, and San Diego has about two and a half million of those people, making it basically one tenth of the second largest "Greater MSA" in the United States (behind NYC, which includes portions of multiple states.)  That means if you look at the music emerging out of San Diego sized market, it will be uneven.  There will be ups and downs, there will be bands that 'get out' and bands that never do.  In the mean time, the geographic location of San Diego proximate to Los Angeles ensures that there will always be a steady stream of the latest n greatest new thing, because all those new things have to go through Los Angeles, and a heft percentage of acts that play Los Angeles will play San Diego.

 And so I found myself at the sold out (two months ago) HAIM show at the Casbah.  Like XX, they are a band I don't like, but it seems like an obvious choice to see them at a Casbah sized venue if only to relieve oneself from the need of ever seeing them again in a larger sized venue.  The ongoing triumph of HAIM, whose debut record is out now on Columbia Records, is a mixture of savvy production and even savvier marketing.  In fact, if they gave out Grammy awards for the marketing of a new artist, I would call Columbia Records/HAIM the winner this year.

 I was shocked at how old the crowd skewed. I was expecting something similar to the group that showed up for the Disclosure set but instead it was more librarians, Moms and even Grandmas.  And their dates.  And a few rabid male super fans.

 Expecting something along the lines of a synth washed/drum pad playing/70s gauzy dream rock experience, HAIM instead played with a live drummer and presented like a fairly conventional trad indie four some who just happens to write top 40 hits.  Live, the hookiness prevails but the slick production does not, leading me to ask whether this band is destined for main stage Coachella performances and arena rock slots or WHAT.  Don't get me wrong- they do their thing and their fans fucking love it, but one would expect the extraordinarily slick production choices to carry through to the live set.  After all, savvy professionalism under a haze of phantasmal innocence is what HAIM is all about, right?

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