Published Mar 08, 2016Elena Torna's speaking voice is compact compared to her tremendously large, goosebump-inducing singing voice. The lead singer of the English shoegaze-y, dream-pop band Daughter squeaked out many slight "thank you"s to a packed house at their show yesterday (March 7), the first of two back-to-back nights at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. Torna might have been humble at the right times, but she was commanding and robust throughout Daughter's set.
The show had a few technical glitches here and there, and opening artist Wilsen, from New York, bore the brunt of it, as their soft music required much fussier sound. It was rife with subtle to glaring technical issues (static sounds emitting from the monitor, for example), and the instruments were a touch too loud for their supple sound.
But having Wilsen as an opener was almost like a Daughter song itself: Wilsen were the quieter beginning and lead up to Daughter's larger orchestral grandness.
Daughter's set wove together songs from their recently released sophomore record, Not to Disappear, as well as their debut full-length album, If You Leave, even reaching as far back as their 2011 debut EP, His Young Heart. The majority of the set featured the matured, thundering songs from Not To Disappear, such as "Numbers," "Along/With You" and "Mother." The crowd hollered affectionately at Daughter after each song, yelling that they loved Torna and drummer Remi Aguiella.
At over an hour and a half, Daughter's set trudged a little through the middle. A consistent criticism of their polished recorded work is that their songs get muddled, that it's hard to differentiate between them other than a few outstanding tracks. The audience was engaged at times — particularly during "Youth" — but moving songs around on the setlist to keep things more dynamic might have served their performance better.
Because of a technical issue, guitarist Igor Haefeli veered the band away from the setlist for a moment and guided them into "Candles," from their first EP. Torna gingerly teased about whether she'd still know the song, but it ended up being the night's most awkwardly tender moment; during the incredibly dark and dense song, a sea of couples swathed in blue stage lights all clung to each other while Torna sang, "Cause we both know I'll never be your lover / I only bring the heat / Company under cover."
For "Doing The Right Thing," a particularly bleak song about aging and memory loss, the band wound down their instruments and we were left only with Torna's delicate vocals singing, "Let the pictures soak." A collective shudder ran up the backs of the audience. Hopelessness is central to Daughter's songs, and though that much sadness might be off-putting in one show, sometimes it's necessary just to feel it all anyway, and last night, as Daughter played, the audience surely did.