Daughters / Wolf Eyes / HIDE
Feb 19, 2019
West Asheville, NC
Reviewed by Donovan Quixote
Asheville, I’m proud of you. You didn’t just grip all the tickets to sell out the show, you showed up ready to throw down on a cold, wet weeknight. I’ve attended some high energy, jam packed gigs lately, but nothing on this level in a long time. Not even Ministry. All of the rapturous, animalistic energy Daughters served, you gave right back. It would be different if this was a band that toured often; a small-ish town crowd with a black-clad scene well familiar with an independent hardcore act passing through yet again. But it isn’t, and it wasn’t. This is DAUGHTERS for f**k’s sake. Them stopping in Asheville wasn’t just a treat, it was an event. And you (we, and they) could not have asked for a better show. Daughters didn’t just meet or exceed any expectations; they demolished them, and so did the Asheville audience.
First up was HIDE from Chicago, a power duo of woozy, post-industrial electronics and goth theatrical vocals. Take the more abrasive aspects of early NIN, feed em through a rusty, sludgy meat grinder, pound em slowly on sheet metal with a strobe light, then submit them to a tall, captivating, non-binary dominatrix to devour and regurgitate their souls, and you come close to HIDE. Definitely an act I’ll catch again.
WOLF EYES were up next, the fifth time I’ve seen them. Now a duo (as they were for the Mothlight’s Fifth Anniversary show last fall,) Nate Young and Inzane John Olson brought more power electronics, modular synth ooze and chewed up reeds in long-form improvisation. Nate’s got a rad new solo record on Lower Floors, the band’s label, called Volume One Dilemmas of Identity, and their set felt like that stark, The Thing meets They Live vibe accompanied by Olson’s arsenal of DIY woodwind contraptions. Perhaps a bit sedate sandwiched between Hide and Daughters, though in hindsight a needed breather between punishments.
There’s a damn good reason You Won’t Get What You Want, Daughters’ latest album (and first after an eight-year hiatus,) found itself on so many Top 10 lists in 2018: it’s amazing. Its intensity and sonic brutality never let up, even in more pensive moments. Total devastation from start to finish. I was excited to hear how it translates live, and was not disappointed. For this tour, Daughters expanded from a quartet to sextet with an additional guitarist and a laptop noisemaker. Their founding bassist wasn’t present; his job obligations keep him in Providence, RI, through these and their upcoming UK dates. (He owns a brewery; Asheville can relate.) So they brought the bassist from METZ, an equally intense band, to fill in and fit like a glove. The band was tight and the sound, even at the front, was impeccable. (I have NEVER heard a band sound bad at The Mothlight. NEVER.)
I had an opportunity to sit down and talk to Lex, the vocalist, prior to the show, which you can hear on this week’s BAMN (airing Feb 23, streaming for a full week afterward.) I found him to be a very warm, welcoming gentleman, quite easy to talk to. We discussed the evolution of the band, how they’re enjoying this current state of success, Korn, Slipknot, a heartbreaking story about Prince, among many other things. His forehead was scarred which, coupled with his half-mullet (as in: bald, no business up front, all party in the back,) one could easily mistake him for a grindcore Krishna. Given Daughters’ notoriety for performative violence (seriously, check out some clips on YouTube, savage,) I was pleasantly taken aback by his serenity, which dissipated the moment he stepped onstage.
If Daughters’s music has evolved from petulant, masochistic grindcore to its current post-everything heaviness, Lex as a performer has aged like a barrel of bourbon so potent you wouldn’t need gasoline to mix a mean molotov cocktail. Equal parts David Yow and Nick Cave, taunting and antagonizing the audience but with a loving grace, and a penchant for shoving his fist down his throat. Or, if you’re lucky, as several fans, perhaps shove his fist down your throat or let you tickle his tonsils for a sec. He feeds off the immense, relentless energy of his band, but also of his fans, many of whom shouted back every lyric, even from the decades-old back catalog. He’s also a snazzy dresser, cleans up real nice to debauch himself (and us.)
Another great thing about the Mothlight, which I realized within moments of the first song, is that there’s little to no security, which was perfect for this show. If it was at The Orange Peel, crowd surfers and stage divers would be manhandled and dismissed. The shorter stage at The Grey Eagle might have meant a bit more direct audience interaction, but it would’ve been difficult to see the band from anywhere in the room. Sardine-squashed up front as I was, at the mercy of whichever direction the crowd was shoving in, unable/unwilling to stop dancing, I didn’t mind the occasional crowd surfer (or Lex) suddenly landing on my head. I left exhausted and exhilarated, totally wrecked but willing to do it all again. And everyone in attendance would agree.
Big shout out and Thank Yous to Lex, Amanda their tour manager, Yolanda and Madeline at Co-Sign, Michael and Abe and Thomas (my show buddies), John at Mothlight, Wolf Eyes, HIDE, AshevilleFM, and you, the Asheville audience. You got what you wanted, and you deserved it. BY ALL MEANS NECESSARY