Sunny Day Real Estate In Concert
"Hello. And we're back."
That's how Sunny Day Real Estate singer Jeremy Enigk greeted a sold-out audience at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night. A sea of plaid and vintage Jawbox T-shirts erupted in appreciation.
It almost doesn't matter the reason; the fact is that Sunny Day Real Estate has reunited. Granted, this is the second reunion by the influential emo band (third, if you count the Dan Hoerner-less group The Fire Theft), but with original bassist Nate Mendel onstage, there was a fresh energy that had been missing from SDRE and related projects since he left for Foo Fighters.
Beginning with "Friday," the night's set list leaned heavily on the newly reissued Diary and LP2. Enigk's voice has changed considerably since 1994, taking more sweeping falsetto cues from Peter Gabriel, but he handled the old material with the grit and passion that defines on those albums. Only one song was performed from latter-day SDRE: the sweeping "Guitar and Video Games" from How It Feels to Be Something On. If Sunny Day's reunion lasts beyond this tour, it would be nice to hear the band play more songs from its last two albums, especially since the sometimes divisive The Rising Tide is well worth re-examination in a live setting.
As buzzed around the Internet, Sunny Day Real Estate did play a new song, called "10." Anthemic like recent U2 and punctuated by Hoerner's echoing guitar, it comes off sounding something like the next step after The Rising Tide, which isn't a bad place to be.
But every SDRE fan was waiting for one song. At the encore, "In Circles" was almost cathartic, especially for the audience members who screamed along.
More About Sunny Day Real Estate
Coming of age in the gut of grunge, the Seattle quartet released Diary in 1994; the moodier LP2 followed a year later. Unlike the first wave of emo bands rooted in hardcore, Sunny Day Real Estate drenched its emotions in melody. The band — singer and guitarist Jeremy Enigk, in particular — was unabashedly afraid to wear anguish and truth-seeking on its sleeves. As much fun as detractors make of the sometimes-meek, sweater-vest-wearing, bespectacled fans who came in subsequent years, there was something powerful about the searing crunch of songs such as "In Circles."
After LP2 (affectionately dubbed The Pink Album for its all-pink cover), Sunny Day split. Half of the band joined Foo Fighters, Hoerner started a farm and Enigk recorded the carnival-esque chamber-pop album Return of the Frog Queen. In the meantime, SDRE saw its earnest rock music manifest in legions of young bands like The Get Up Kids, Rainer Maria and Boys Life.
Sunny Day Real Estate would reunite for two more albums: 1998's inspired How It Feels to Be Something On and its divisive follow-up, 2000's The Rising Tide; the latter expanded on Enigk's prog-rock tendencies. Now, nearly a decade later, Sunny Day Real Estate has come back at what its members say is the right time.
Hoerner recently told The Onion's A.V. Club in an interview, "It fell into place perfectly, which is what I like about Sunny Day. When something interesting is going to happen with Sunny Day, everything just lines up."
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