words and photos by Ken Jobe
About 25 minutes into Daughters’ set at 89th St in Oklahoma City, a fan calls out a request. It’s impossible to hear from the other side of the sold out venue, but frontman Alexis S. F. Marshall, aka “Lex”, hears them and answers unequivocally.
“No. Not gonna happen.” He points at the setlist taped to the floor of the stage. “See, we already have it all written down. I appreciate the input, but we already planned out everything we’re gonna play tonight, so let’s find another way to interact, shall we?”
To say Lex Marshall “interacts” with the crowd during a typical show is an understatement. His onstage antics—especially in his wilder, drinking days—are the stuff of legend. Nudity, vomit, numerous other bodily fluids, not to mention both physical and verbal altercations with the audience were commonplace. Following the band’s extended hiatus (and Marshall’s newfound sobriety), Lex expressed in various interviews the utter lack of confidence he had that he could still perform with the same intensity he’d had before.
He needn’t have worried. Stage diving, pointing, slapping himself and others, and screaming inches from audience members’ faces, Marshall is as enigmatic and brash as ever. He possesses a manic charisma, like a cross between a revival preacher and a cult leader, but once you lay eyes on him one thing is for sure: once you’ve experienced Daughters, you won’t forget them.
They kick things off with The Reason They Hate Me, a noisy, electronic-tinged cut from the band’s long-awaited reunion LP, 2018’s You Won’t Get What You Want. Marshall howls “Don’t tell me how to do my job,” a line that becomes especially ironic when dealing with the audience member’s special request later in the show.
Continually thrashing about and making it impossible to look away, Lex keeps the audience on its toes for the duration of the hour-long set. Near the end of the show—possibly during the penultimate song, Daughter (not to be confused with their track Daughters Spelled Wrong, which was also part of the set)—Marshall sticks his two middle fingers into his mouth. Initially looking like he’s about to perform some sort of sexual innuendo, it quickly becomes clear he’s sticking his fingers down his throat in an attempt to gag himself.
A girl to my left, apparently familiar with Marshall’s reputation, groans “Oh, no…” And while he does gag and heave, the stage is left dry and Lex doesn’t try to bring up the contents of his stomach a second time.
If there’s any downside to a frontman as unpredictable as Alexis Marshall, it’s this: if one isn’t careful, it’s easy to get caught up in watching his antics and forget to listen to the band—a crime more grievous than any Marshall might commit during his time onstage.
Despite everything going on musically—the ambient sounds, the layered keyboards, jagged, looping guitar riffs, any one of which could easily make the band sound like a muddy, chaotic mess—Daughters sounds amazing. The mix is crystal clear, allowing each component of the music to cut through and be heard easily. On top of that, the band is tight. They chug along like a well-oiled machine; the longer songs never stagnate, and the hour long set flies by. The venue is quick to turn on the house lights and music to signal the end of the show, as it’s apparent that the crowd is hungry for more.
Above all, though, is Lex. A modern day Iggy Pop and a force impossible to ignore, it’s almost hard to believe Marshall was unsure how to follow up his legendary wild performances from the old days. Upon taking the stage at the top of the set, Marshall had mysterious red marks dotting his forehead, but by the time he walks off stage at the conclusion of the almost eight-minute Ocean Song, the bumps are swollen and oozing, pink with blood—they’re where Lex (continually) whacks himself with the microphone.
Daughters has always defied expectations over the course of their careers, being labeled everything from grindcore to math rock to industrial with each subsequent album. While admittedly tamer than the naked, bodily fluid-filled shows of days past, it is only minutely tamer. Alexis Marshall is still a force of nature who’s only as restrained as he wants to be, with a band to match.