Show Review: Daughters and HEALTH at Emo’s

by Dylan Garsee

Last week brought an interesting double bill to Emo’s, with brutalists HEALTH and Daughters coming together to display two very different approaches to noise terror. HEALTH’s brand of brutality is very surface level while Daughters’ is very visceral. HEALTH is a flaying, Daughters is sepsis.

HEALTH, one of the few bands who survived blog rock and lived to tell about it, opened the show with their tried and true brand of LA noise pop cum mutated fuck boy-ery. A powerhouse trio at this point, they worked their way through their relatively brief catalogue, all but ignoring their first records. If you wanted to hear “Crimewave” or “Rhinoceros,” go back to 2009.

A relentless light show, cycling between strobes set to kill, deep blue, exit sign red, and almost a sunset orange, HEALTH used all of the tools in their relatively minimal tool kit to overwhelm the audience. A valiant effort considering a majority of the crowd was outfitted in Daughters merch. At one point the person next to me was scrolling Tumblr. The dream of 2011 is alive in Austin.

Highlights of the set included “FEAR NOTHING,” “THE MESSAGE” and “New Coke,” singles from the last two records. Though they may as well be the Beach House of LA noise punks, a major drawback to HEALTH’s music is that if you are not completely tapped in to the specific sonic palette they’re playing in, the songs begin to blend in to one another. As a long time fan of the band, this was not going to happen to me but the rest of the crowd was clearly losing steam part way through the set.

When HEALTH played “We Are Water,” an early fan favorite from GET COLOR, I expected a shift in energy. The song is a masterclass in building and releasing manic tension, ending in a bath of noise that is just as cathartic to hear now as it was on record 10 years ago. The sign of a great band is the ability to make you feel like they are perfuming you and only you. In this case it felt like it because I really did seem to be the only one paying attention.

Daughters, on the other hand, had the attention of the crowd from the second they walked on stage to “Goodbye Horses.” They seem to have taken the mantle from a now disgraced Swans as the favorite band of crusty scenesters and Anthony Fantano acolytes alike. A fan is a fan is a fan.

Drawing heavily from 2018’s vile masterpiece You Won’t Get What You Want and 2010’s self titled record, they recreated the recorded material with shocking accuracy, mics swinging and all, a testament to both their studio prowess and abilities as live musicians. This was especially shown off in performances of earlier tracks like “Our Queen (One is Many and Many Are One),” “The Hit” and “The Virgin.” The one two punch of “The Virgin” and “Less Sex” in particular is a pitch perfect setlist joke that only Daughters can pull off.

The night was an intriguing display of two bands at very strange points in their careers, with HEALTH struggling to translate their trademark brand of noise through 30 layers of despair and nihilism and Daughters entering a phase of critical and commercial success unheard of even a year ago. If this exact same show happened in 2010, their roles would be reversed.

P.S. “Satan in the Wait” still sounds like a middle period Modest Mouse song and I will never apologize or change my mind.