Live Review: Daughter with Wilsen at Black Cat, Washington DC – 2nd May 2013

By on Friday, 24th May 2013 at 2:00 pm

London-based Daughter came to our American shores with a much bigger following than I expected. Having heard the splash they made on both BBC Radio 1 and 6Music and with Huw Stephens as a huge supporter, I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to miss. But when they sold out our local mid-sized room at the Black Cat, I was astonished. I see so many bands that while popular at home, when they cross the pond really have to struggle to get a draw. Not so with Daughter. The night was filled with more “I love you”s than the Ed Sheeran gig I was at earlier this year. And it was from the girls mostly; girl crushes all over the place!

Wilsen Washington live

The night started off with the smooth tunes of Wilsen, a ‘dream folk’ band from New York City. What I loved about this band was the DIY nature of the drummer. Not hidden in the back, the drummer was sat to the left of singer Tamsin Wilson and augmented his full kit with a pill bottle (I don’t know if those were actual vitamin B-complex capsules inside though…), jingly brass elephants, a string of plastic bottle caps, and a length of ball chain dangling from his ride cymbal. This unique collection provided an intricate web to capture the ethereal folk sound. My only complaint was that with a female lead singer they were just a tiny bit too similar to Daughter to make for a well-rounded evening of music.

When it was time for the main event, Elena Tonra was her usual demure beautiful self, seemingly overwhelmed by the attention. Once mid-set, the adulation was so intense that she stopped and dissolved into a fit of embarrassed giggles. But truth be known, she deserved it. Having reviewed her album here and loved her earlier EPs, I knew that it was going to be a stunning uplifting experience. The lyrics can be heart-wrenching and the music is melancholy, but her delivery and stage presence were a thing to be seen.

Daughter Washington live 1

They opened the set with ‘Shallows’ and the place fell silent. No bar noise, no whispered comments to neighbors, no shuffling about the room. Tonra delivered a note perfect, clear as a bell rendition; the audience was spellbound. There were even girls around me crying. ‘Candles’ had everyone breathlessly chanting, “blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles”. In fact, the night was filled with people singing along in the most reverent, captivated way I have seen. Truly, she had us all transfixed.

Daughter Washington live 2

They swept through their set ably covering both their recent album and their well-loved EPs, with Igor Haefeli on guitar, Remi Aguilella on drums, and touring member ‘Luke’ on keys and guitar getting plenty of love as well. When ‘Home’ was announced as their final song, such a cheer took over than Tonra exclaimed, “I miss you already” and had to pull away from the mike for a second to recompose herself. I cannot quite tell if this kind of adulation is difficult for her to accept in general, or if we were a particularly adoring crowd that threw her off balance. Either way her adorableness is an apt companion to the gorgeous music that the band produces.

After the cut: the set lists from the night.

Wilsen Set List:
House on a Hill
Oblivion (Grimes cover)

Daughter Set List:
Perth / Ready for the Floor (Bon Iver / Hot Chip mash-up)

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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