It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago, almost no one had heard of Daughter. Since then, they have been making the rounds, slowly garnering more and more attention as they make their way through the indie music scene. Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli, Remi Aguilella (and a touring musician simply known as Luke) make up the indie powerhouse. Last Friday they played in Bologna, Italy at the city’s beautiful arts hall, Teatro Antoniano. Alongside hundreds of diehard Italian fans, we were lucky enough to attend.
The band began the night with a performance of their deeply haunting single “Still” from their newest album, If You Leave. All impressions of Elena Tonra’s shy and timid nature were immediately overshadowed by her intricately layered voice. As I quickly found out, her soft and delicate vocals can suddenly take shape and engulf you completely. Daughter is known for their use of ambience within their songs to create a dramatic contrast in dynamics, which results in a very ephemeral experience. Often fleeting, a song will push you to a breaking point of emotion with both melody and harmony until it abruptly stops. It is at this moment that Tonra will bring forth her most personal and intense feelings, leaving you in a bed of tears.
During any Daughter concert, it’s easy to find yourself lost in a world of melancholy. It’s simply what they do best, and you can’t help but be drawn into it. I often compare thier music to a feeling that one might experience during a long commute to and from a destination. The melody takes you in-and-out of a different state of mind, flowing ever so flawless together.
One of the best moments of the night was during their song “Candles.” Given that it was one of the first songs Tonra wrote under her Daughter moniker, it proved to be one of her most gripping in terms of songwriting and performance. The song seems to weave between crisp guitar chords in a very subtle way before dropping off and pumping your heart full of blood with every stomping drum kick and captivating lyric.
It then came the time everyone had been waiting for: a performance of Daughter’s most raw and stripped-down song to date, “Youth.” Elena couldn’t even get past the first two chords before everyone had a glimmer in their eye, causing her to pull away in shyness, laugh for a few seconds and resume the song. “Youth” was played beautifully, true to the studio version with just as much heart-tugging energy as everyone had imagined and hoped for.
Daughter will break your heart, that is for sure. That human capability is what draws people to their music and keeps them coming back for more. However cliché it may seem, being able to relate to a song and the lyrics that line it is an important part of the listening experience. When Tonra & Co. first graced the stage in Bologna, I had no idea I would find myself so encapsulated in their performance—but with the warmth and embrace that the band brought to the venue, it was almost hard not to be drawn in.
Photos by Nick Vo