The Bootleg was bastion of European indie music last night, as Choir of Young Believers rolled through to play the last set of their North American tour, before Daughter performed their first Los Angeles show as a trio.The concert was initially set to be in the Bootleg Bar, but was moved into the much larger Theater due to an unexpectedly high number of ticket sales.
The show opened with Choir of Young Believers, brainchild of Danish songwriter Jannis Noya Markigiannis. Their brand of indie/orchestral pop could have been the soundtrack to a futuristic '80s film. The group played songs primarily from their second album, Rhine Gold. Highlights of the set were the catchy "Nye Nummer Et," and "Paralyse," whose extended breakdown was way worth the 10 minutes.
Daughter was next. The name is lead guitarist-vocalist Elena Tonra's stage moniker, and the act also includes two more members. Tonra herself was quiet and withdrawn between songs; instead, most of the talking was done by the lead guitarist Igor Haefeli who meanwhile elevated the music from pure folk into dream-pop territory on songs like "Youth." Musically, the bandmates fed off of each other. Tonra and Haefeli took turns playing electric, acoustic, and bass guitars. Even the drummer, Remi Auillela, played bass on a song while simultaneously playing drums.
Tonra's ethereal voice contrasted with her straight-to-the-sadness lyrics. Each phrase was sung airily and eerily, her voice on the verge of floating away in the wind. But her lyrics were heavy. On "Landfill," she all but whispered, "I want you so much/ But I hate your guts, I hate you."
Though they're dedicated to minimalistic quietness, the beauty of their art lies in their simplicity. Each song contains several dips and rises. And on "Home," the concluding song of the set, they built in to a heavy bridge lead by Auillela's frenetic drum beat, finally releasing the tension built up over the quiet set.
Watching Daughter you get the feeling that you're supposed to be sad and pensive. The venue spotlight never illuminated Tonra, and her face was constantly engulfed in shadows; her hair was cut into a bob that both framed her face and concealed it. Her voice was quiet during most of the set, dripping with melancholy. On "Love," she sharply looked up and inquired, "Does she make your heart beat faster than I could?" With a voice like hers, it is nearly impossible not to join her in that dark place.
Personal Bias: I have a soft spot for girls with guitars and soft voices.
Random Notebook Dump: This felt like the first show I've ever been to that had an equal distribution of men and women in attendance.