Alana Haim's face said it all: triumphant, almost disbelieving at the end of "The Wire." Or was it Este Haim's bassface: intense, committed, a world away from Lady Gaga getting on her knees for R. Kelly? And then at the center of it all was Danielle Haim, who was, to borrow a phrase from our review of SPIN October cover stars Haim's Essential debut album, Days Are Gone, "freakily poised but never cloying."
The sororal trio (literally, sisters — name rhymes with "lime") performed backed by a drummer and a keyboard player on the November 23 episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire star Josh Hutcherson. And they gave pitilessly adept renditions of two songs, the in-that-case-I-don't-want-no-part heartbreaker "Don't Save Me" (above) and the previously mentioned, glam-underpinned 2013 dominator "The Wire" (below), that neatly encapsulate their album's blend of Fleetwood Mac, Sheryl Crow, and plenty of contemporary pop savvy.
Coming after Gaga's provocations — which were relatively subdued, by her standards — and an Eminem appearance so listless it led to debate over how much of his rapping might've been pre-recorded, Haim made conquering SNL's often unforgiving stage look easy. Even when you could see the effort it took to get here reflected in their faces.