A much heralded event awaits as American noise rock masters Daughters arrived at Brudnell Social Club for the Leeds stop on their current UK tour.
Jessica93 (7) is a Parisian solo artist who pulls from myriad influences to create his eclectic sound. Whether it’s the programmed drum beats that hark back to the glory days of synth pop – think the tone of Pet Shop Boys with the hard hitting edge of mid period Depeche Mode – the vocals that wouldn’t go amiss in post rock or the psychedelic, sprawling guitar work interlaced with carefully administered feedback, there’s something consistently intriguing about the sound. Unfortunately this evening the mixing doesn’t do justice to the eclecticism and the layers can become muddied quickly. However, Jessica93 plays a beautifully composed if not aurally inhibited set, ending abruptly with a laissez faire “Done!” and a complete cutting of all tracks. It catches you off guard and scintillates enough to make it a worthy warm up for the main event.
The Reason They Hate Me couldn’t be a more ill fitting title for the opener of tonight’s headline set, as the voracious adoration in the room for Daughters (10) is heartening and extreme. Instantly the room is in the firm grasp of the sextet’s artful noise. The Reason They Hate Me is a bombastic explosion of monochromatic synths and frenzied guitars, all topped off with the desperate delivery of frontman, Alexis S. F. Marshall. He lithely dances, writhes and prances his way around the shallow stage, a frontman extraordinaire commanding the sold out crowd without instruction, simply through action. Armed with material from one of 2018’s finest albums, You Won’t Get What You Want, the entire band are set to make the evening unforgettable.
The dynamism of the set itself is laudable: There is the sinister discomfort of the likes of Satan In The Wait, the pornographic sensibility and frailness of Less Sex, and the all out war of Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are One). The pacing and arrangement of songs creates a schizophrenic ebb and flow from the genius to the insane; when Recorded Inside A Pyramid and Long Road, No Turns individually drop, the majority of the room erupts into bedlam. A mosh pit more vicious than any hardcore show ensues, engulfing the venue, dwarfing the static portion of the crowd. Meanwhile, Guest House and the aforementioned Less Sex see the audience fall still in stunned reverence of the performance. It is brutally uncompromising, artistically challenging, beautiful and horrifying.
The final two songs, Daughter and Ocean Song, see Marshall make his way around the perimeter of the venue, maintaining the same apparent sneering contempt for the audience that their painful music implies. Though he claims to be enjoying himself and thanks the crowd for showing their fervent support, it feels as though they are an outfit hell-bent on discomfort; they don’t want their sanguine live experience to be enjoyed so much as endured. As he gets face to face with several nervous looking concert goers, you notice marks on his forehead. He then proceeds to bash himself with the head of the microphone opening up these marks, revealing them to be wounds reopened on a frequent basis. This band literally bleed for their art.
As Marshall returns to the stage for the set’s denouement, he strips his shirt and waistcoat revealing his slender frame and begins flagellating himself with his belt. It’s an incredible and breath-taking sight, one that disgusts, distresses and morbidly entertains. Daughters leave their instruments with just a lone guitar feeding back endlessly into the packed room. They all take their leave of the stage, stopping only briefly to turn off the last amplifier and signal that they are done. There will be no more. And can you blame them? A set of such unrivalled intensity, not solely trading on aggression, but on artistic merit and forward thinking musicianship, to expect more would be selfish and foolish. The band bared their souls, bled for their art and did it all with a scathing panache. Beyond incredible, the contemptuous hostility emanating from the stage is fully understandable in the wake of it all. Daughters are a scornful parent looking down upon their children. Marshall’s almost messianic reception – people reaching out just to have the chance of grasping him – elevates this band to a divine status.