The Haim sisters made a couple things perfectly clear to the huge crowd who gathered for their 7 p.m. Austin City Limits Festival set. First off, they really love our city. Second, don’t let the booty shorts, strapless dresses and artfully flowing long hair fool you. These ladies look like they belong on the cover of a fashion magazine, but they know how to rock. Hard.
For their first ACL performance since a mid-afternoon set at the 2013 fest, they hit the stage blowing kisses to the wildly cheering crowd and bouncing up and down with unabashed excitement. They launched into an enthusiastic version of “If I Could Change Your Mind” then quickly segued into “Don’t Save Me.” The crowd received the songs ecstatically.
In the three years since their excellent debut album “Days Are Gone” made them festival faves, the sisters haven’t put out any new music, but their tightly constructed rock songs have become adult alternative radio standards. The sisters have also become a much tougher, gutsier band.
They cranked out a hard-driving set of furious guitar rock. Six-strings squealed, drums banged, hair whipped and the crowd went wild as they covered a good portion of “Days Are Gone.” They also threw in a spirited cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” and a few new tracks from their upcoming album.
They didn’t announce a release date for the next project, but promised they were just putting the finishing touches on the album. The new songs they played built on the sister’s signature sound, very accessible rock ‘n’ roll with hooky harmonized choruses.
The women were effusive about their love of Austin, sharing a story about how they road tripped to town for South by Southwest in 2012 even though they didn’t have any official shows. Two people attended their first gig, they said. The following year, an outstanding showing at SXSW helped launch their career and cemented their affection for our city.
“We can all say now at ACL, we’re a family,” they said from the stage, “we’re a (expletive) family.”
As they took the set out with a fiery take on “The Wire” followed by a raucous rendition of “Falling” with an extended drum break, the enthusiastic crowd response proved the love goes both ways.