With a name like Daphne Loves Derby, this Washington band created an appealing enigma about themselves before ever going onstage. What kind of music does someone with this name play? Who’s Daphne and why do they love Derby? This was only the start in a long list of questions that came to mind as the doors opened at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.The show opened with three bands: Paulson, House Of Fools, and California based group Sherwood. Once Sherwood entered, the audience seemed to fill out. However, the band brought only a slight glimpse of what one was to expect from the rest of the evening. The six-person band knew how to work every tiny inch of the stage with their crazy tambourine dancing and sing along anthems. The crowd ate up their upbeat rock tunes that you would most likely hear in the background of a summer pool party. With a small following of twenty-something-year-old LA hipsters, Sherwood would prove to be the foil of what was to come.
From the empty corner of the Troubadour’s bar, placed under the second story balcony, came echoes off the stage of drum taps and guitars tuning up. Four young boys, barely twenty years old, fiddled with their instruments till the stage went silent. The boys stood around dumbfounded as they waited for a techie to fix the problem. This was the first impression of Daphne Loves Derby. Once the sound came back on, the band wasted no time tuning what was left, and suddenly, without notice, they used their scrambled sound to create a surprise intro to their first song, “Sundays.” Right off the bat you knew this band was different than the ones before it. A mix of Dashboard Confessional angst hidden under fast-paced rock and pop-filled melodies, revealed whom the band catered to. As the song continued, the crowd parted, showing a mass of underage teens singing along to every word.
Unlike Sherwood, Daphne was less concerned with keeping up the jovial party energy of the crowd. Lead singer Kenny Choi talked little (if at all) to the audience, thanking them softly between songs. Though brief, his sincerity and shyness somehow drew the crowd in. His mysterious, sensitive charm aided the band’s performance and music. As Jason Call and Spencer Abbott swung their guitars to Stu Clay’s fanatical drumming, Choi stood frozen with his eyes closed. With the world dancing around him, Choi focused on executing the meaning of the songs. Unfortunately, the muffling sound of the Troubadour’s acoustics made it difficult to grasp his words, which were clearly the heart of the band.
Halfway through the concert, as Daphne showcased the slightly faster “Hammers and Hearts,” the boys relaxed more on stage, dancing together during the guitar solos. When their last song ended, they sped off stage, leaving the audience cheering for seconds. Then the awkward silence filled the bar once more, leaving fans asking, “Are they coming back? Should we keep cheering?” Moments later, Daphne ran back out with Choi asking, “What song do you want us to play?” Louder screams engulfed the bar causing a bashful band to settle for the crowd favorite, “Hopeless.”
Looking around at the teenagers up in the rafters and surrounding the stage, it was clear that with all the tiny mishaps and awkward silences, everyone at the Troubadour had fallen in love with the boys of Daphne and were jealous of whoever Derby might be.