Daughters – The Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK (17th April 2019)

If there’s a perfect time to catch a band during their career then this certainly has to be one of them. Off the back of releasing not just one of the albums of the year but also one of the albums of the decade last October, You Won’t Get What You Want was the first release in eight years from the abrasive and uncompromising Rhode Island noise rockers. The appearance of a new Daughters album took a lot of people by surprise and blew nearly everyone away who heard it. More expansive than their earlier math and grindcore-inspired work, they brought elements of noise, post-hardcore, industrial, electronica and art punk together to create one of the most genuinely terrifying albums you’re ever likely to hear. When a tour was announced the general feeling was that it could be something special and they did not disappoint. 

Support for the sold out show at The Deaf Institute in Manchester was provided by Jessica 93, a one man band from France who plays a dark fusion of shoegaze, post-punk and industrial rock using a loop pedal with pre-programmed beats. Switching between bass and guitar while singing in a grunge-like style through a wall of noise, the overall sound he creates is strongly reminiscent of bands such as The Jesus & Mary Chain and Godflesh but with the vocals of Kurt Cobain. Performing a number of tracks from his latest album Guilty Species, he sensed the audience was getting more and more hyped throughout his set and while introducing his final song he jokingly offered to get out of the way so everyone “could fight!”

As soon as Daughters kicked things off with the industrial punk of ‘The Reason They Hate Me’ the room went completely ape shit as vocalist Alexis S.F. Marshall repeatedly bellowed “don’t tell me how to do my job!”. The release of a lot of pent up energy continued into ‘The Lords Songs’, a short but blistering track with an even more piercing guitar tone than the opener. Some of those in attendance had been waiting to see Daughters for the best part of a decade and they certainly made the most of the roughly hour long set. With the charismatic Marshall muttering words to the affect of “do they think it’s over?”, the temperature in the room after just two songs felt like they had already played for a good while longer.

The bass-driven, patient builder ‘Satan in the Wait’ with its beautifully melodic guitar hook offered some brief respite before the room erupted once again as the band ripped through some of their more frantic and heavier older material. Starting with ‘The Dead Singer’ from their 2010 self-titled album with its demented David Byrne-esque vocal delivery, they also played a couple of tracks from 2006’s Hell Songs. It was fascinating to hear the jerky mayhem of ‘Recorded Inside a Pyramid’ and the short but twisted ‘Daughters Spelled Wrong’ contrasted with their more recent work, such as the frightening and unhinged ‘Long Road, No Turns’ which appeared in amongst them.

One track in particular which differs strikingly from anything they’ve ever written is ‘Less Sex’. Incredibly tame and introspective compared all of their material, it has a very strong air of Nine Inch Nails to it and saw Marshall gathering up his microphone chord before going walkabouts through the audience. Followed closely by his number one fan, a younger Gareth Liddiard (Tropical Fuck Storm, The Drones) lookalike who spent the first part of the night screaming like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert, Marshall made his way up to the wooden steps/seating at the back of the room as the audience held the microphone chord aloft. 

Given the intensity of the performance it’s difficult to recall exactly when the stage diving and crowd surfing began but there was certainly a lot of it. Particularly during the final part of the show when they played ‘The Hit’ and ‘The Virgin’, both from their self-titled album. The best of the stage invasions easily had to be the guy who gave the D-Generation X “suck it” sign (ask any wrestling fan), before launching himself off the stage. There’s always one individual who can’t control himself and tries to take it too far though, with Marshall grabbing hold of the repeat offender and throwing him back into the crowd as if to say “that’s enough now, you’ve had your fun”.

Marshall’s trip to the back of the room wasn’t his only off-stage adventure, ending on top of the bar at one side of the room while also climbing up on to the platform at the other side as they tore through their three-track finale which started with ‘Guest House’. Featuring an onslaught of guitars, pounding drums and agonising cries of “knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking… let me in!!”, it’s arguably the most terrifying track off their recent album. The simple bass groove and Gothic guitar tone of ‘Daughter’ is equally dark and quite beautiful, while lengthy set closer ‘Ocean Song’ is partly reminiscent of Swans with its relentless, cacophonous climax. Daughters are a band at their peak and should not be missed.