Date: October 31st, 2019
Venue: Islington Assembly Hall, London
Support: Jeromes Dream
There’s many things that you can do for Halloween, but tonight couldn’t be more fitting for Daughters‘ headline show, especially with the band being masters of sonic derangement and histrionics.
Last year saw the band’s first album in eight years, ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’, reach large levels of acclaim and raise their profile in ways that would’ve never seemed possible before. The crowd is a mixture of older and younger fans, and also between the curious punters and the die-hards. Tonight and tomorrow’s show in Liverpool sees them wrapping up the touring cycle for the aforementioned record, with the now-iconic album cover making for the stage backdrop.
Kicking off proceedings are the sole support act of the night, Jeromes Dream , who originate from when ‘screamo’ meant confrontational, underground punk rock instead of a dismissal of heavy music by people who don’t know any better. The band are also on a comeback cycle of their own, having just released their first album in 18 years.
On a surface level, there are some definite similarities to Daughters‘ earlier records, but the journey the band take you on throughout their set proves that they’re much more than that. The potent use of the double kick-pedal from drummer Erik Ratensperger cuts through everything to add an extra sense of urgency. Throughout the set there are a few uses of build-ups and tension, and also punishingly savage sections that are borderline grindcore. Guitarist and frontman Jeff Smith performs the entirety of the set with his back to the crowd, and there’s literally no stage banter until the very end – it’s certainly a welcome difference from bands who try so hard to be nice to their audience.
Once Daughters  take to the stage, you know it’ll be a special evening. They straight down to business with ‘The Reason They Hate Me’, which sounds much faster and urgent than on the record. Many people pogo along, but that’s just a teaser for what will follow. From the start, vocalist Alexis Marshall wanders around possessed, occasionally self-flagellating with his microphone while delivering his trademark monologues, which sound like Elvis Presley having a seizure. They also help to bring many chaotic and bludgeoning soundscapes to Islington Assembly Hall, and this is cemented with ‘Satan In The Wait’, which serves as a definite set highlight.
The older material that’s aired largely comes from their 2010 self-titled effort, with ‘The Dead Singer’ upping the ante before the band go full pelt for ‘The Virgin’. At this point Marshall (not for the first time) takes an opportunity to crowd surf, repaying the devotion the die-hards are showing down the front, as well as swinging the microphone about recklessly.
We might be needing a break at this stage, but we reach a highlight at the same time; the close-to-synthwave ‘Less Sex’, with Marshall‘s croon adding another layer to his performance.
‘The Hit’ and ‘Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are One)’ are the other older cuts given an airing, before we get to the three-way punch of further songs from ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’. Possibly due to Marshall‘s laissez-faire approach to microphone handling, we’re now hearing a distorted vocal delivery, which oddly makes things work in an even more eerie manner.
‘Daughter’ is powerfully cathartic as ever, and the band end on ‘Ocean Song’, which shows they can build up the tension and release it to great effect. The band once again create their signature hellscapes, and Marshall is now topless and crowd surfing for virtually half the song, leaving everyone delighted to have shared tonight with the new unlikely heroes.
It almost feels like it doesn’t matter how long Daughters take to release another record, or if they release any further material at all. Tonight is a triumph for everyone involved; a nihilistic but glorious celebration of music that is confrontational, challenging, and oppressive.