An intimate look at Western Daughter's album release show

By Griffin Rae Birdsong 

March 3rd, 2016 

Photo by Megan Jae Photography

Photo by Megan Jae Photography

Boise is a small city, barely a city by some definitions. But the secret truth that Idahoans are often ashamed to admit is that it feels big to us. 
I had been listening to Western Daughter’s As The Sun Went Down for two days prior to the show that Duck Club had thrown together for the end of the week and these were the types of thoughts I was thinking.

Upon first listen, although the album is full of energy, it reminded me of sitting on a rotten wooden fence propped up against a desaturated landscape in my home town of Idaho falls. Perhaps I was projecting, and perhaps projecting is what art is for, but it reminded me of the substance of small town child’s excitement as they dreamt of bigger, mysterious, faraway cities to the west.
It was reflected in the music, the album art, even the band’s name.
For this reason I couldn’t think of a better subject for a gonzo-style review to kick off this blog. There are lots of great bands in Boise, but not all of them could connect with the community the way that Western Daughter seemed to.

Or at least, being a creature governed by intuition, this was my vague suspicion based on my impression of the band so far.

Stepping into the venue felt like the last day of school, or the first day of a state fair. Familiar, and not so familiar, faces bounced off of each other lovingly. There was an energy that seemed to imply a sense of purpose. Different from most other shows in a way that supported my theory that, somehow this album had said out loud what most of us locals only thought in private. 

“We are a displaced generation in the middle of nowhere, a flyover state, a hole in the ground. But look, somehow there is music here!”
Although only Western Daughter could take credit for the album they had written, it was evident that all the rest of us could do was be proud.

This is what made the music feel like it was about more than music. This is why I had over-applied my perfume and sat on rotten wooden fences my whole childhood. This is why we were all here.

I walked in just in time to see the second half of Telescopes as Time Machines’ set. I got a drink and wandered aimlessly like the human equivalent of a dilated eyeball for waiting for the right moment to take it all in.
Some words started to form in my head, but everything sounded corny and Shakespearian. I had another drink and then two more before I wandered down to Mulligans to smoke a cigarette on the patio. After all, there were lots of people to see.

Somehow I found myself in a conversation with 4 other trans women, an occurrence which, in Idaho, is about as rare as finding bottled unicorn blood at a gas station. By this time I had several more drinks and I was beginning to feel sick. Still somewhat amazed by what had just transpired, I cut our conversation about high heels and cis-patriarchy short when I politely excused myself and proceeded to throw up in the ladies room for the next ten minutes.
Vomit aside, it felt like victory. At every turn this night so far had caught me off guard and for a moment I forgot why I was even there as I propped myself up in the corner of handicap stall.

But suddenly, I felt a disturbance in the force. A vibration in the walls? Where the fuck was I?
And then I remembered.

I bolted upstairs with a sudden rush of energy which seemingly came from nowhere. I nearly slapped the doorman in the face in a blundering attempt to show him my wristband and I made my way to the front of the pit.
The band had already started and so I wasted no time trying to think of words to describe what was happening.

In case you were wondering, Taylor Robert Hawkins sings with his eyes closed. Jess hope plays bass as if she is the only one in the room. Cameron Brizzee looks somewhat nervous without a guitar in his hands. Taylor Raymond wears a nonchalant smirk and Zach Sherwood has never before been seen in the same room as The Energizer Bunny.

Never before had I seen so many punks and hipsters alike so willing to sing along than when the album’s single “My Room is a Mess” began to play.
If I was outside bumming a cigarette off you after the show I might have said that it sounded even better live than it did when I was listening to it in my own bedroom.
But, then again, as I already said once before, music is not just about the way music sounds.

I would invite you to remember that all reviews are bias. This in mind, this review is especially bias. I am too sentimental and not musically knowledgeable enough to write a review that isn’t simply about the way I felt that night. I’ll be glad to admit that, just so long as you can admit that Boise feels like a bigger place than it really is sometimes.

Western Daughter is a band for it’s place and time. As The Sun Went Down is an album for anyone that knows what it’s like to climb out of a hole in the ground. And I am the ugliest little girl perched on a fence along a country road in Idaho Falls who just found her new favorite song.