London’s Daughter is one of those bonus acts here because they’re touring with a larger, performing-at-ACL name. That’d be Ben Howard who plays in a few hours, and so here we are on a sweltering Sunday early afternoon at the Miller Lite stage.
"New phone, who dis?" a man to my right jokes. Most of us just got here and have no idea who is performing.
But the four-piece band of 20-somethings built an inspired, wide-open brand of attacking indie rock. You hear shades of Explosions In the Sky-esque post-rock, corralled by singer Elena Tonra’s breathy, fragile, captivating singing voice.
The spine of the band met while attending London’s Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, and this batch of players seems honed in on their influences and aims–Jeff Buckley, ponderous and reflective labelmate acts like the National, the "Friday Night Lights" soundtrack.
"I will meet my creator in the dark," Tonra sang on "Smother." It’s music for walking into Zilker, then being lulled to a blanket. On this my sixth day of ACL, I finally sat down on a hill for a performance.
"Youth" was introduced as "a bit of a singalong." Not in its particularly anthemic nature, but because people knew it enough to follow along and lift their phones.
"We’re hear to depress you guys for a little bit," Swedish guitarist Igor Haefli quipped.
The driving parts did inspire political-convention handclaps from the crowd, and enough of a groove for one of the security guys to approvingly nod along. Next to me a group of girls old enough to fondly remember "Toy Story 3" as a childhood cornerstone gave an overheated friend extra water–a jarring reminder that October in Texas is an illusion.
Still the distilled isolation in the band’s cleanly strummed tones cranked back-of-the-class sulking.
The closing phrase of "Human": "I think I’m dying here." Someone get this poor woman a canned Dasani.