Daughters’ high-functioning anarchy comes to Cambridge

by Zoë Sommers

Daughters’ high-functioning anarchy comes to Cambridge

with Container and Big Brave

March 12, 2019 at The Sinclair

Daughters put on one of the most grotesque and loud experiences I’ve ever seen.

I should probably preface this show review by saying I never wear earplugs to shows. It’s really not my thing. When it comes to live music, I’m all about letting a band crush me with a wall of sound. My ears have withstood the likes of IDLES, American Nightmare, and Iceage all without protection. (This is a weird flex, I know.) However, for the first time this past week I went into a show knowing that I simply could not attend unprotected. As it would turn out, I made the right decision. Even with my earplugs in, Daughters put on perhaps the loudest show I’ve ever heard. Beyond the volume, the band mesmerized their passionate fans at The Sinclair with a theatrical, magnetic performance.

Daughters’ high-functioning anarchy comes to Cambridge

Daughters at The Sinclair. Photo by Zoe Sommers for WRBB.

For those unfamiliar with Daughters I think it’s important to give some quick background. Throughout the 2000’s the band had close ties with the flourishing American hardcore punk scene, and in 2010 they released their self-titled record to great acclaim within that community. The band took an eight-year hiatus, and many thought the project was finished. Then, last year they returned with a vengeance on You Won’t Get What You Want, an extravagant, terrifying spectacle of a noise rock record. Before it even dropped, long-time fans were hailing it as an instant classic. When the record did eventually release, reviews praised it as expected. It went so far that the album was covered by the influential Anthony Fantano, who gave the album a perfect 10/10. That was a turning point. In the wake of Fantano’s review, legions of new fans swarmed to Daughters. The group, who have been at it for 16 years now, catapulted from the underground to selling out every show on their tour.

I’m a firm believer in the notion that the opening acts of a show are a reflection of the musical world the headliner comes from. When talent agencies, or even band’s themselves, curate a bill, they do it with the intention of creating a cohesive experience. If this notion holds true, the openers for Daughters reflect the group’s eclecticism and affinity for experimental music. First there was Container, a DJ who bombarded the audience with a noise infused techno set. Every kick drum pulsed through my body, and every snare-hit rang out like a gunshot. On top of the percussion blasted out shots of discordant, ear piercing noise. Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you were there to see Daughters it should have been just fine. The second opener was the female fronted doom metal act Big Brave. Stacks of amp’s were assembled on stage like jenga towers, a necessary touch in order to achieve the band’s deafening onslaught of downtempo sludge. After these two intriguing acts set the tone, it was time for Daughters to take the stage.

For a show that seemed to be slowly building up the suspense, the band wasted no time getting things going. The members all promptly assembled on stage, and without giving the audience ample time to prepare, let loose with their ferocious opener ‘The Reason They Hate Me’. Instantly, lead vocalist Alexis Marshall’s primal, unhinged demeanor was hypnotic. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Firstly, there was his appearance: a shaved head with a rat tail in back, a scabbed dent on his forehead from slamming the microphone on it, and his contrastingly suave outfit complete with tuxedo vest. Secondly, his mannerisms: inserting his hand into mouth gathering scoops of saliva, masochistically choking and whipping himself with the microphone cable, and swinging the microphone around his head like a lasso. Disturbing to say the least. Marshall’s vocal delivery resembled, as Beatroute eloquently described, “Elvis Presley being tortured or the sound of a raving mad southern baptist preacher losing his mind.” The guitars shrieked with scuzzy, somehow melodic, feedback. Honestly, I’m still unsure how an instrument could even produce such alien tones. In response to the musical anarchy, fans reacted appropriately by forming a violent mosh-pit and screaming along to every song.

The rest of the show continued along at whirlwind pace. Daughters raced through their set, taking very little time to even pause between songs. This is probably so the band wouldn’t have to deal with obnoxious Fantano fans shouting, “Ten out of Ten!” when there was a lull. Every time this happened the band just shook their head and grit their teeth, and I couldn’t help but feel for them. Perhaps being thrust from underground royalty to the limelight is a blessing and a curse. Whatever the case though, Daughters don’t let it stop them from putting on one of the most grotesque and loud experiences I’ve ever seen. The entire group performed with a refreshing seriousness and intensity that is rare in the contemporary musical climate. Every member was dialed in, and visibly gave their all. It makes sense Daughters is a well-oiled machine, after all, this has been their life for nearly two decades.