Sunny Day Real Estate, The Jealous Sound
Monday, September 21, 2009
Ogden Theater, Denver
Better Than: Most of the descendents of this style of music have been.
Sunny Day Real Estate's current tour is a bit of a reunion tour for the Jealous Sound from Los Angeles as well. The long-running indie rock band hit a bump in the road a few years back when frontman Blair Shehan (also formerly of Knapsack) quit the band. For this show, the band was clearly back up to speed and performed a set of music that burned away nearly a decade's worth of memories of awful emo bands capable of only a very narrow emotional and thematic range. With an impressive musical and dynamic range of its own, the Jealous Sound played an emotionally intense, at times even angry but not outraged, string of solid songs. I was surprised when one of the guitarists engaged in a droney guitar riff, mostly because you don't hear that often enough in melodic rock rooted in punk. Tasteful hooks, no soloing and heartfelt, but not melodramatic, emotional singing made this charismatic band the perfect opening act rather than some latter day emo outfit without much to say.
After a slight delay once the house music shut down, Sunny Day took the stage and opened with "Friday." Most of the set came from Diary and LP2. Jeremy Enigk sang with a palpable conviction that distorted his face and contorted his body. Each of the players dug into his respective instrument heavily with the intense dynamics of the songs, perfectly expressing the rush of feeling contained within each.
The hanging chords and unconventional atmospheres of "Red Elephant" served as a striking reminder that Sunny Day always had a richer and more varied sound than most of the bands directly or indirectly inspired by its music. The especially inspired rendition of "Grendel," with its slashingly forceful guitar interplay came as a pleasant surprise. So much so that Dan Hoerner said, "We never used to play it before, but I love playing 'Grendel.'" Such renewed enthusiasm for the music informed the entire show. It looked like the band was having fun playing its old songs.
Overall, the act played incredibly well despite being undermined at times by vocals were too low in the mix. But that hardly mattered when you had Enigk and Hoerner diving and leaping about on stage as each was swept up in the moment. And while emo is supposedly wimpy music, these guys rocked harder than most heavy bands I've seen. The main set ended with "Sometimes," but Sunny Day came out on stage for a three song encore beginning with a raging version of "In Circles" and closing with a moving performance of "48."
Personal Bias: I was glad when a band as cool as SDRE came out of grunge-era Seattle.
Random Detail: Ran into comic artist John Bueno at the show.
By the Way: I was always a lukewarm fan of this band but now I know why people were so enthusiastic about them.
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Sunny Day Real Estate
Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO
03. Red Elephant
04. Song About an Angel
+ ENCORE +
01. In Circles
02. Spade and Parade