Daughter @ Urban Lounge. Photo: Jake Vivori
Daughter is one of my most recent discoveries. I first heard them a little over a month ago, April 2, 2013, to be exact. I was introduced to them by Synkro, thanks to an edit he did of their song “Love.” As I turned the track up in my headphones, I was immediately hooked on the voice I was hearing and I had to hear more. I searched for the original song online and have listened to it at least once every day since. Upon finding it, I Googled the band behind the captivating track and fell... for lack of a better term, in love.
A week later, their new album, If You Leave, landed in the SLUG office and in an instant, vocalist Elena Tonra’s words were bouncing off the walls. Soon after I noticed their name on the Urban Lounge lineup for May and my heart skipped a beat. It was as if the fates had aligned, setting me up to experience something more than what I could comprehend at the time.
As the weeks went by, I found myself playing through both His Young Heart and The Wild Youth EPs every day, sometimes twice a day. I began connecting with Elena's words on a level that feels so personal, it's almost violating. There are people that write and play music, and there are people that write and play music with so much emotion, you can't get through a song without pausing it, for none other than the fact that you are afraid those pent up feelings inside might come pouring out in the form of tears.
The day of the show, I tried not to be “that guy,” the one who listens to the band they are about to see over and over again, but I couldn't help it. I wandered into the SLUG office and tuned on If You Leave. I randomly watched live performances throughout the day, and even played a couple of Daughter tracks on my radio show that night. As I left the KRCL studio Tuesday night and headed towards the Urban Lounge, I started to get anxious. The type of anxious you get when you are about to meet your crush for the first time, on that first date, unsure of what to expect, or how to act––stressing over how you look and what you'll say.
I picked up my friend on the way, and while we were driving, he joked about the fact that people might start crying at the show. I nervously laughed and said a silent prayer to the higher ups that it wouldn't be me. Who the hell knows how you get so connected to something in such a short period of time. Since hearing “Love” and discovering Daughter, I am still trying to figure it out.
We showed up at Urban just after the opener. After grabbing a drink, we settled into a spot on the side just as the lights dimmed and the crowd cheered Daughter onto the stage. And that was it.
I'm not sure how to exactly put into words what happened next, because it just happened. They started playing and Urban was immediately filled with a sense of euphoric melancholia. Daughter has some of the saddest, most tragic songs I have ever heard, and hearing them live was painstakingly beautiful. It was as if each song was seeping under your skin, suffocating you from the inside out.
I caught my breath towards the end of “Landfill.” I had no idea how long I had just been staring at the stage before the singing of the crowd caught my attention. The perfect example of the power Elena's words came at the exact moment when the crowd sang along with her, almost softly whispering “I want you so much / But I hate your guts.” Once, twice, and three times again, the words sank in and I actually looked around to see if, in fact, anyone was nearing that tearful state.
I watched as the band played through each song, Elena switching out her acoustic for a bass, for her electric, all the while sounding better live than anything I had listened to in my headphones over the past month. A feat that for most live acts is almost impossible.
Daughter is a threesome, made up of Elena, Igor (guitar) and Remi (drums), however, they were joined by a fourth who seemed to handle the keys, synth and extra guitar lines Elena and Igor couldn't play themselves, probably just because they only have two hands each.
Between the four of them, there were moments when I felt as if I was watching Sigur Ros, only with Elena on vocals, rather than Jonsi. The music alone is enough to make you feel everything that you don't want to be feeling, an emotional cord that only the likes of Sigur Ros seem to be able to hit in the majority of us. Side note: I've actually cried at a Sigur Ros show before, not like sobbing crying (’cause that would be hella awkward), just a few small tears because my insides were so overwhelmed I felt like I might explode... and had the crowd at this Daughter show been a bit more quiet and not as talkative, I might’ve had the same exact experience.
In between songs, Elena would quietly thank everyone, at times I couldn't even hear what she was saying, she was so soft spoken. She didn't have much to say, but her anxious smile made up for the lack of words she actually spoke. Her gratitude was very apparent, it was almost as if she was blushing between each song, shocked that the crowd was cheering her on.
As she announced their last song and humbly thanked the crowd again, I wanted nothing more than to start the night over. It was one of those moments that you know is going to end, but you would do anything you could to turn back time, not to change anything, but just to experience it.
When they walked off the stage and into the green room, I stood there for a minute trying to figure out if I should turn and walk away or wait, and just maybe, they'd turn back around and say goodbye one more time. I had this unsettling feeling, I wanted so much more. Unfortunately, the house lights came on, followed by the music. I slowly made my way out the front door and into the silent night. The crisp spring air hit my face, pulling me back into reality, washing the somber imbrued layer off my skin.
I drove home in a daze, wondering if anyone else had left feeling the same way I did. The mix of emotions Daughter brings with them is nothing short of heart wrenching. Between the music and the words, and their overall presence, the atmosphere left behind after a Daughter show is something to be bottled up and kept on a shelf for the next time you're suffering from a broken heart. It's enough to bring the pain to the surface, but sweet enough to make it all disappear.