Sister Sister Sister: HAIM Delivers Rock Reality in the UK
SISTER SISTER SISTER: HAIM DELIVERS ROCK REALITY IN THE UK
When HAIM - comprised of 3 sisters, Este (bass guitar and vocals), Danielle (vocals and guitar) and Alana (guitars, keyboards, and vocals), hit the road in 2018, the UK and Europe became the epicentre for a short stint of sold-out headline dates.
Having grown up in a musical family in LA, the HAIM sisters are the kind of multi-talented, feminist rock stars that record moguls and fans can’t get enough of. Their stylish music videos and live shows make HAIM a band in demand.
Production Manager, Jeremy Dubois, took up the story at Manchester’s O2 Apollo, the tour’s second largest venue after London’s Alexandra Palace. “Over here, we’re playing some varied venues in terms of size, building age and room type,” explained Dubois. “The capacities range from 1,000- 10,000, so the production design has to be able to be scaled up and down depending on the venue. We also have an entirely different look in London at Alexandra Palace, where we add the element of video.”
Dubois was brought on board in January just before the US dates began. His challenge in the UK was manning a much smaller crew and gear list while still delivering a show that packed a heeled-boot kick. He continued: “We wanted to use one vendor who could set up and prep the majority of the tour. Adlib was a great choice for us as they could manage the lighting and audio requirements. Then, once we get to London, Siyan
handles the video and supplemental lighting.
“The tour is going really well, despite how tired we all are at this point. It’s been 4 months of headline shows, festivals, and promo. I think morale is good considering all of that!” he stated. “The band does really well over here and the crowds seem to love their shows. So, even though it’s been somewhat of a tough schedule, the tour is going very smoothly, making it all worthwhile.”
Dubois’ office buddy in Manchester is Tour Manager, Sam Pauly. TPi first met Pauly in the same venue with Hozier’s crew some years before. “Oh, that’s right!” she smiled, with a slight case of déjà vu. “I actually wasn’t meant to be here this time. I’d planned on taking a year off,” she noted, when pondering how busy 2018 has actually been. “I began touring with Kings Of Leon in 2014. Since then, I hadn’t really stopped and was in need of a rest this year. I was recommended to HAIM, and suddenly my planned break from touring spectacularly failed!” she laughed.
Although the majority of the 2018 Sister Sister Sister crew are new to HAIM, Pauly is well-versed in the world of powerful female rock stars. “I
used to tour manage a female American country duo, so I’m familiar with the strong, lady boss vibe on a tour. I think it’s great.
“As Jeremy mentioned, the 3 weeks in the UK has meant the routing has been a bit of a grind. But, when you know you’re going to be in the thick of it as a TM, you find the key is to counteract all the simple things that can make a team miserable. If you look after peoples’ basic needs like sleep and food, it makes all the difference to their day. You have to take care of each other, and I think we’ve managed to do that.
“2018 so far for HAIM has been an interesting one; we’ve played everything from Coachella right before Beyoncé, to Stubb’s BBQ, to 2 sold out shows at Ally Pally. I did want a break from touring, but you know, that’s a pretty cool run...” she said, with a smile.
SISTER SOUND FOH Engineer Scott Adamson re-joined the band for the Alexandra Palace shows, asking long-time friend Dana Daniel to fill in for some dates. “We use an Avid S6L console, running on timecode to keep the show consistent,” said Daniel, who is utilising McDSP and Sonnox plug-ins for the show.
“Obviously I’m only filling in for Scott’s role, and
“2018 so far for HAIM has been an interesting one; we’ve played everything from Coachella right before Beyoncé, to Stubb’s BBQ, to 2 sold out shows at Ally Pally...”
Sam Pauly, Tour Manager
trying to generate a mix as great as he does, but it helps that I’m familiar with the desk. I’ve been using Avid consoles and ProTools for years now. Scott is such a great mixer, and his setup is quite appealing. The mix is very much about melodic pop songs, so it’s vital that the mix centres around very clear vocals.”
The microphone package is top of the range, with Shure SM58’s, Shure Beta 56a’s, Shure Beta 58a’s, Shure SM58 SE’s and Sennheiser 604’s. Adlib supplied the entire tour’s audio requirements, bar the Shure endorsement pieces. The rental house sent out an L-Acoustics PA comprising elements of K2, KARA, ARCS-II and KS28 subs, box count of course dependant on venue. The K2 rig is also a big selling point forDaniel. “It’s personally my favourite PA at the moment; the K2 is a very musical box, and is great for live shows like this because you get such a smooth and full spectrum of coverage.”
As for the UK audio supplier? “Adlib has been really great with us. They prep beautifully, tune up, and leave us to it!” Daniel concluded.
At the monitor station, Adlib provided a DiGiCo SD12 for control, d&b audiotechnik Q Subs, and a DiGiCo DMI Waves I/O Module. Engineer Thomas
Some of the lighting and visuals team: LD Parker Genoway, Lighitng Tech Adam La Femina, Siyan Account Manager, Tom Grant and Adlib’s Account Manager Jordan Willis; Tour Manager, Sam Pauly with Jeremy Dubois, Production Manager; Monitor Engineer Thomas ‘Chip’ Valentino.
‘Chip’ Valentino started with HAIM at the beginning of their second album cycle in 2017 as a recommendation from FOH mixer, Scott Adamson.
Chip began: “I prefer to mix on DiGiCo desks. If it was up to me, I’d use one for every gig!” Unlike at FOH, Chip doesn’t use plug-ins: “I find that I don’t need them with a console like DiGiCo, as it already has such stature.” The band all use IEMs, with Ultimate Ears and Jerry Harvey Audio JH 16’s. Shure is again the prime choice here, with the in-ear transmitter packs comprising of PSM 1000’s. “The band is Shure-endorsed, so we have their microphones, wireless handhelds, and wired mics. The girls were happy to start using in-ears when they could find someone that could mix them correctly.”
“All rooms are different, so things sometimes tend to sound different in the ears. You’ve got to figure out what the room is telling you; with so many different spaces, it can be quite hectic!”
“They tend to shy away from from certain sounds. Danielle for example, shies away from listening to too much of the other vocals as she’s trying to lock in her sound. Alana and Este tend to listen to Danielle’s vocal to gather pitch. Danielle asks primarily for her guitar and vocal then adds drums and keys to gather more of where her pitchshould be. I’m very delicate with reverb as they don’t like a lot of it in their ears. Other than that, I just need to make sure they’re having a good time on stage; that’s the most important thing!”
Musical Director Tommy King has a tech talk back and a band talk back system to ensure HAIM’s multi-layered show is delivered to perfection.
“I prefer to mix on DiGiCo desks. If it was up to me, I’d use one for every gig!”
Thomas ‘Chip’ Valentio, Monitor Engineer
LIGHTING AND VIDEO Lighting Designer Parker Genoway took the design on the road after spending months creating the show alongside Creative Director Warren Fu. The duo have worked together since last August to ensure HAIM’s look is true to style while remaining consistent. Genoway told TPi: “Lighting HAIM means reinforcing their badass vibe with powerful and dynamic looks. I am always trying to find that sweet spot between classic rock ‘n’ roll grunge and new-age elegance. Knowing when to go big and when to hold back is essential. The girls value an expertly executed show and they spend lots of time with me expressing their ideas and vision. Our fun working relationship allows for some silly, creative, and productive programming sessions.”
For most of the tour, HAIM travelled with the ‘Panel Design’. This was perfect for small to large theatres. 3 custom fabricated frames upstage symbolise the trifecta of talent downstage. Utilising ColorForce II units to uplight the fabric frames, Parker creates contrasting 2-toned gradients. Complementing these bold panels are 14ft vertical pipes with SunStrips. “The SunStrips are essential to the design as this brings the tungsten warmth that that HAIM Girls love,” Parkeradded. “The inherent coolness of most LED products scares this Artist and a punchy tungsten fixture such as the SunStrip with onboard dimming and DMX control is perfect.” Claypaky Stormy CCs and Base Hazers top off this package to add the necessary smoke and strobe FX that HAIM’s live performance requires.
For London’s Alexandra Palace, with a capacity of over 10,000, the crew needed to produce a show with a bigger punch. They opted to go with Fu/Genoway’s ‘PAR Design’ they had previously toured with in America earlier this spring. Standing strong with 144 PAR Cans as a wall of light upstage, there was no doubt he’d reach every last audience member. 34 GLP impression X4 Bar 20’s, 54 Martin Aura XBs, 25 SGM Q7s, and 24 Claypaky Scenius round up this look. Siyan provided a cutting-edge follow-spot system: The Robe RoboSpot with BMFL Spots. “Doubling as both an aesthetic gain and a logistical advantage, these lights allowed us the opportunity to opt out of building spot towers at FOH. This freed up ‘seat kills’ and allowed me to experiment with a new type of key lighting system,” Genoway mentioned. “In tandem with the MA Lighting grandMA2, I was able to alter colour, beam, and focus parameters of the spots to tailor the look while the local followspot operators manned the offstage controller for position tracking. I was thrilled to have such an intentional system while the Siyan team kept the operators up-to-speed on operation.”
Genoway was thoroughly impressed with Adlib for supporting the Panel Design and Siyan for supporting the PAR Design. Siyan’s Tom Grant and his team resolved potential issues before they came up and Adlib’s Jordan Willis and team asked the right questions to make both designs a
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Siyan also deployed a video package - yes, the London-based company has opened up a video rental service as part of an impressive £2m investment. HAIM’s double stint at Alexandra Palace proved to be the perfect concert setting to reveal its new LED screen inventory.
Video Director, Kate Leahy - who has a steady 20 years of lighting experience under her belt - came on board with HAIM in March 2018 when Dubois needed a lighting crew chief. “Jeremy and I have done many projects together,” she began, “and this was a great opportunity to do something with a new band.”
As video only made an appearance at the London shows, Leahy joined the team in the capital. The key elements of Siyan’s video package comprised a 15m wide x 6m LED wall (using a 6mm pitch), 2 20ft IMAG screens with Panasonic21k Projectors, 6 Sony Pro Cameras - 3 manned, 3 fixed. But the fun doesn’t stop there, as Leahy explained: “I also built a PRG MBox Studio V4 portable system for the band. I used a new 2017 MacBook Pro with a Focusrite SMPTE Timecode reader and a Blackmagic Deisgn mini video recorder to capture the IMAG feed. I was driving all the content on the main wall and incorporating live camera feeds.”
As for the visuals, most of the show’s content
“The HAIM girls are extremely hands-on when it comes to production design; not only do they green-light specific ideas but they are responsible for a lot of the original concepts.”
Kate Leahy, Video Director
was created in the rehearsal process for the US tour, specifically the performance at Coachella. Hollywood director Paul Thomas Anderson is a family friend of HAIM, and worked with the band to produce the content.
“We basically cloned our Coachella video show for London. Parker and I sat down and talked through the show, with Camera Director from Siyan, Chris Farrants.
“There were 2 key moments that were very successful in the show & involved some IMAG trickery. The first was during Night So Long, when the sisters appeared at the B-stage at FOH. It’s a very slow, emotional song. Chris had switched his camera feed to black and white, and we took an extreme close up of Alana HAIM and put her on the main wall halfway dissolved with the falling snow content. It was simple and magical. Even ‘Mama HAIM’, the girls’ mum, came up to me after the show and was very excited about it. That was oneof those moments that I designed on the fly.
“The second great moment of the night was the drum outro. The sisters all take their place upstage behind an expansive drum kit and play played it together. They’re right in front of the LED wall. Usually, camera ops are instructed to stay away from catching their own shot behind the subject, but in this instance, we used the resulting ‘infinity’ effect. All 3 sisters were trailing all over the wall, banging away on their section of the kit. This idea
came from the sisters themselves. It gave a great vintage, psychedelic rock feel to the big finale.
“The HAIM girls are extremely hands-on when it comes to production design; not only do they greenlight specific ideas but they are responsible for a lot of the original concepts. That being said, there are some moments that are open to interpretation and as a professional, I know what works and what doesn’t in the moment. It’s all about creating that ‘oooh!’ moment without pulling focus away from the performance as a whole.”
“Every show, venue, and crowd is different. There are unique challenges and rewards inherent in every different approach, but it was a real treat to play Alexandra Palace. It was great to be in a venue that has some real history.
“Plus, Parker doesn’t miss a trick!” she confirmed. “He’s an exceptional young talent & I’m honoured to count him as a colleague and friend. The sisters are gracious and extremely talented, so it’s been a genuine pleasure to work with everyone on this tour.” TPi Photos: Parker Genoway, Phoebe Fox Zac Mahrouche, Shirlaine Forrest www.haimtheband.com www.parkergenoway.com www.kateleahydesign.com www.adlib.co.uk www.siyan.co.uk www.crossland.ie
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