Why I Love Este Haim’s Bassface

NME Deputy Editor Eve Barlow on the face every muso is talking about.

On Friday night, a group called Haim (pronounced Ha’eem) appeared on Jools Holland, making their UK TV debut (see video). This LA trio of sisters are your new favourite band and you will realise this when you’re at a festival this summer and witness the three ladies wigging out to a track called ‘The Wire’. If you don’t believe me these are FIVE further reasons why Haim have serious style:

  1. Lead singer Danielle shreds guitar in the same manner I grate cheese when I haven’t eaten for ten hours.
  2. Guitarist/keyboardist Alana wears glow in the dark t-shirts. I’ve seen her Metallica one – very luminous.
  3. Eldest sister Este gives great quote (sample: “I want to chisel Andrew Garfield’s dick with my labia”) and plays bass in extraordinary ways.
  4. They do rock’n’roll better than anyone. And when people call them the ‘Jewish Hanson’ they say it like it’s a bad thing…?
  5. All three Haims love Mariah Carey.

Back to reason 3, though. Este makes a solid impression wherever she goes because she’s incapable of playing bass without employing the sort of facial gymnastics you’d imagine a Jim Henson muppet may use on a night out at Manumission. There’s even a Twitter account called @estebassface in appreciation of its power.

It was to my disappointment then, that as the UK discovered the hottest new band in the galaxy right now, the nation’s TV viewers overwhelming reacted with: ‘That bassface. WT actual F?!’ Let’s take a look at some Tweets…

@sham681 “The bass player from Haim really needs to work on her ‘cool’ face.”

@Lukeimpressed “HAIM are pretty good but the bass player does unforgivably annoying things with her face.”

@BTCCarl “Put yer face straight bab, if the wind changes it might stick like that”

Let me get this straight, working your face off onstage is something to be frowned upon? Gurning to the delight of your own groove is not ‘cool’? What do we view as acceptable faces from musicians, or anyone exerting some energy? Cos you should see me in the gym.

Are ace musicians supposed to perform their intricate skills while pulling off perfectly poised expressions? Is the physical manifestation in someone’s face of the joy they experience when entertaining people not a bloody gorgeous thing (see also: sex)? The art of pulling a funny face is a highly attractive quality. Nobody wants to be buying iTunes singles off good-looking artists with only one very serious, handsome, face. That’s how we get constipated singing mannequins, like John Mayer. Also, comedians! How they make us howl often merely with a series of lovely, hysterical faces. To return to Jim Henson – imagine waking up next to Animal’s charming gurn face every morning. Instant laughter.

And one more thing (*FEMINIST ALERT*), are we complaining when the dude bassists do this? ‘Cos I don’t hear a resounding echo of disgust when Peter Hook does his quadruple chin frown face for the entirety of the seven-year-long extended mix of ‘Blue Monday’. When Dave Grohl does a face melter it’s all in the name of ROCK, man. Can extreme female bassfaces not also be beautiful? Cos I’d say Este Haim has a pretty face and it’s pretty badass. The fact she’s not afraid to let it all out is what’s gonna make your head nod all summer.

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