Daughters at The Art School, GlasgowSupport: Jessica93
April 18, 2019 at The Art School, Glasgow
Promoter: 432 Presents
When a show has to be upgraded to a bigger venue, that’s a good sign; when it happens twice, something special is probably going to go down. That’s precisely the case tonight, bumping up from the humble Hug and Pint to the more upmarket CCA and, finally, The Art School. And it still sold out.
The irony of a Parisian artist opening a show next to the Glasgow School of Art isn’t lost on everyone, with even Jessica93 (a.k.a. Geoffrey Laporte) making reference to the tragedy that befell Notre Dame mid-set. It might be cheap to call the grungy renaissance dude a one-man Jesus Lizard, but that is almost exactly what he is. He picks up his guitar, plays a few licks or salvos of fuzzed-up belligerence to add meat to a skeletal drum track, and then loops it; substitute guitar for bass, chuck in a hefty bottom end, loop, unplug bass, plug in guitar, solo the hell out of the place; rinse and repeat.
Laporte has a real knack for pairing rhythms that can carry a song on their own, tapping into the primal part of the brain that likes nothing better than to get locked into a groove and leaving him free to embellish in a uniquely maximalist-minimalist fashion. Secondly, he uses volume as a tool itself, constantly ramping it up with each successive layer so that even if something doesn’t quite gel, there’s always something bigger and meaner on its way. Finally, the guy can shred. His guitar-work is inventive, energetically switching up techniques and tempos while using an understated pedal board to great effect. It lends his stoner-grunge compositions something fiery and chaotic so that even if his shtick seems limited at first, there’s a strong sense by the time he leaves the stage that there’s nowhere he can’t take it.
Looking at how packed the room is, it’s a little unbelievable to think that someone had originally pitched this as a club show. That’s not just because of the demand but also down to the sheer, overwhelming power of Daughters operating at peak condition. Alexis Marshall stalks the stage like Nick Cave channelling the vengeful spirit of Travis Bickle, a sharp-suited and ragged-knuckled preacher who mutters and orates on all of life’s absurdities while staring down any unfortunate punter who locks eyes with him. One of his most curious quirks is the sadomasochistic connection he has with his mic, where it’s either being tossed in the air, scraped along the floor or being violently battered off his person any time that he’s not showing it some vocal love.
As a spectacle, it contributes in large part to the unease that Marshall’s lyrics draw up and to the sometime apocalyptic force the band as a whole can wield and manipulate. ‘Less Sex’ lingers and swamps the senses, Lisa Mungo layering subtle swells and sharp bursts of discord with Nicolas Sadler’s understated guitar-work. If it’s downplayed here, though, his efforts elsewhere are overstated to the point of verging on the inhuman. ‘Recorded Inside A Pyramid’ brings the kind of precise yet frantic musicianship that leaves guitar store employees weeping in despair, and ‘Guest House’ bridges atonality and hypnotic repetition to create something that is even harder to grasp hold of here than it is on record.
Calling Daughters incomparable might be a cliché but it has a huge amount of truth to it. They are an immensely emotional prospect but also a cerebral one, utilising movement, contrast and guttural outpourings of frustration to draw the room into their own desperate universe. The crowd can never help but react in kind, some flailing or crowdsurfing while others stand locked in place, unable to take their eyes off the stage; but what’s certain is that no-one has ever experienced a show quite like it. Frequently beautiful and uncomfortably real, they might not be the band we deserve these days, but we sure as hell need them.