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A Cathartic Night with Daughter at The Bowery Ballroom

May 1st, 2013

Daughter – The Bowery Ballroom – April 30, 2013


When Katy Perry name-drops one of your tracks in a tweet about her recent breakup with serial dater John Mayer, people will take notice. The British trio Daughter emerged with lead singer Elena Tonra’s delicately acoustic songs and bloomed with the addition of guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella. Playing the first of two sold-out shows at The Bowery Ballroom last night, Tonra remarked, “I’m going to make sure I’m in tune.” The three began the evening with “In the Shallows” and followed with the appropriately celebratory “Candles,” on the day their debut album, If You Leave, was released.

The group’s music melds heart-aching lyrics with a slow build of discontent into a crescendo of fury and hate. On “Still,” Tonra chanted: “Two feet standing on a principle/ Two hands longing for each others warmth/ Cold smoke seeping out of colder throats/ Darkness falling, leaves nowhere to go,” while Aguilella thumped on the kick drum and Haefeli created a chamber of reverb from his electric guitar. The crowd erupted for the aforementioned celebrity breakup song, “Landfill.” And in between thanking the audience, Tonra confessed that on her trip over to the States she came close to popping her eardrum. She hadn’t, thankfully, and was supplied with some medication that left her in a euphoric mood, which was quite the antithesis of the songs “Run” and “Smother.”

As the show neared its end, the best was saved for last as fan-favorite “Youth” drew in the onlookers to sing along to a chorus of “You caused it.” Closing the set with “Home,” the choral echoes of “Take me, take me, home” reminded me of the Welsh artist “Jem’s Save Me,” with its similar repetitive phrasing delivered in an almost yodel. The threesome returned for a special encore—a mash-up of Bon Iver’s “Perth and Hot Chip’s “Ready for the Floor,” which beautifully reimagined the two tracks as a slow dance party in a log cabin. Although the night was a downtempo breakup extravaganza, no one left with a broken heart as couples exited hand in hand from the instant catharsis. —Sharlene Chiu

(Watch Daughter do a stripped-down version of “Youth” and an interview with The Bowery Presents Live.)