This is What You Want…This Is What You Get. For me, and no doubt plenty of others, Daughters’ You Won’t Get What You Want was one of the best albums of 2018. Normally I run a mile when something hip is getting hyped and everybody falls over themselves to let you know they’re listening to it, and I never liked their previous output, having put them in the same box as novelty grind acts like The Locust, so I didn’t think anything they did would be my thing. Then a friend told me I should check them out and I was surprised to find one of those albums with which I clicked instantly and then slowly formed a deep bond. It became the soundtrack to a pretty bad year, and every aspect of it, from the artwork to the titles to the lyrics to the songs, was as a personal mirror to a lot of isolated reflection, over analysis, and self-indulgent brooding.
So the chance to see them live in London in a beautiful theatre venue, on Hallowe’en no less, was taken immediately. Islington Assembly Hall, with its comfortable seats, picturesque interior, and crystal clear acoustics, is the perfect place for a night of dark, discordant, sick and sexy self-disgust. Just what I wanted. And there I experienced that profound disappointment when an album has such a singular and personal meaning to you that when you witness its live recreation, it simply can’t live up.
I’ve never been so particular about a live show before, but I only realised it as the band took the stage and I recoiled at how they didn’t all look like I thought they should. One guitar player bounds around the stage like Greg Puciato’s little brother, all pumped arms and jock-like jocularity, totally at odds with the prowling dirty finesse of his counterpart. The bass player appears awkward in her ill-fitting suit and a beautifully sonorous backing voice that’s completely out of place when supporting the raw self-loathing of Alexis Marshall’s lead vocals. And the guy on keys at the back just stands there, next to the drummer playing with the same furious pulsing energy that drives every album track. I wanted the whole band to exude the same perverse dirty suave I had envisioned when listening to the album.
I wanted that same sick and slick atmosphere in the performance, but Daughters were scrappy and sloppy a lot of the time. Some of the best little details of synth or guitar were lost in the spectacle of performance. With pops and crackles and a lot of noise that was out of tune. Marshall gave it his Iggy crossed with Allin lounge singer thing, gobbing on himself, taking off his clothes, throwing the mic and himself into the crowd, but it wasn’t the skulking dangerous smooth I pictured when listening to the album. I wanted Satan In The Wait and Less Sex to be note perfect. But they weren’t. I wanted the audience to be all old and bitter like me, but it was mostly young fresh-faced middle-class kids having fun, shouting along to the lyrics and making songs that felt like intimate confessions on record into makeshift festival anthems.
There was only one support, and half of the audience didn’t even show up for them. Jeromes Dream, seminal Screamo band recently reformed. I’d never heard of them before and expected it to go over my head like so much “Screamo” before it. Never did much for me at the time. Playing to each other in an inward-facing formation, bassist-vocalist with back to the crowd for the entire set, it was one of the most unique and impressive live sets I’ve ever seen. Each song consisting of a different set of blunt force rhythmic battering. No melodies, just huge slab after huge slab of crushing but mesmerizingly hypnotic riffs, and they smashed them all out in a unified focus of aggression. No antics, no stagecraft, no bullshit, and unfortunately, no appreciation from the crowd, most of which wasn’t even in the room. I wanted them to get a bit more recognition for their music-only execution, and I wanted Daughters to recreate the exact same experience I got from their last full length. I wanted a lot of things.
I knew then as I know now that my take was unreasonable at best. Not one other person that saw the show would have complained about any of the things I did. Daughters were immense. A proper punk rock band full of dangerous energy and presence, and more surprised than anyone else that for the last 12 or 13 months they’ve enjoyed a completely unexpected level of success which is utterly uncontrived, genuine, and based solely on the merit of a fantastic and original release and a live show to match.
I was wrong about the novelty grind dismissal, as the older songs they played had a less-refined but similar spirit to their most recent offering. The setlist was a dynamic mix with a natural arc that grew from fully-clothed and controlled to sweat-soaked naked calamity, ending on a chaotic, deranged and extended version of Ocean Song. It just goes to show how good You Won’t Get What You Want is. For me it was an experience that was so unique and personal that the objectively excellent live rendition could only serve to show that the album is inimitable. I wanted the live version of the record that only I had heard. I didn’t get what I want, but it seemed like everyone else who was there did.
Scribed by: Josuph Price