Live Review: Daniel Johnston @ The El Rey theatre
California native, Daniel Johnston led his silent invasion through Los Angeles this weekend. Johnston, diagnosed with manic depression, has been widely deemed an outsider in the music industry. He played last Friday at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, joined by his brother, fans and musicians alike and hundreds of hopeful fans cheering his name he proved himself to be anything but an outsider. Having turned fifty this year, Daniel has spent some twenty odd years in the public eye, sharing with the world pieces of his broken soul. His dedication to art, unrequited love, personalization with pain, and tortured existence, has made Daniel Johnston a cult icon by fans from around the world. His songs are hauntingly direct, with simple childish undertones, ranging from spotty and vacant, to unquestionable songs of brilliance. His social anxiety, creates this romantic disconnect with reality, that amplifies a fascination that will indefinitely make sure that the name Daniel Johnston, and his beautiful story will never perish.
Daniel Johnston was joined by French singer Soko, as well as Jason Faulkner. Soko, who just finished her new album, “I Thought I Was An Alien”, to be released on October 31st, 2011 for Halloween, opened for Daniel last year, has been an avid fan for as long as she can remember. She even mentions him in her song, “I will never Love you more” that she released a few years back. The lyrics read, “I will never love you more than Daniel Johnston himself. For me he’s more than God, I will never love you more.”
Soko Joined Daniel on “Lousy Weekend” and “Revolution”, a Beatles cover. The two proved to be a heartfelt combo, both using the melodies of their own soul, to care for their ever breaking hearts. Soko sings many songs of lost love, betrayal, and the yearning to find truth outside of their music and art.
“I have always loved Daniel Johnston and when I wrote that song, I had no idea I would ever have the chance to meet him.” She stated on stage.
Johnston sings songs of lost love. Specifically from “The Devil And Daniel Johnston”, a moving documentary about the artist’s life in which he talks about Lori, whom he lost to an metaphoric undertaker, that he loved so much, that his love would last forever.
“The girl of my dreams. So wonderful, so beautiful. and I had her boots. This was so long ago in my idealistic dream, through so many songs, Lori. She inspired a thousand songs, and then I knew I was an artist.”
Through their music and art, both Soko, and Daniel seem to understand what it means to be completely consumed in their romantic hearts. Soko and Daniel were joined by many local musicians around town, including Jenny O, Rain Phoenix, Isaiah MacMenam, Maxime Sokolinski, Miles Marisco, and Jason Falkner.
After the show, the dreary eyed fans spilled out into the streets of Los Angeles, full of new hope and insight, on love and dedication. I met up with Daniel where he graciously drew me a photograph. He also invited me to come see him play again on Sunday. One thing is certain, Daniel Johnston is one of the most honest performers of this generation.” (Ericka Clevenger)