By now you've probably heard that Sunny Day Real Estate, one of my all-time favorite bands and an act whose influence can not be overstated, is reuniting and heading out on the road for twenty dates with the original line-up. We just received word that the tour, which kicks off on September 17 in Vancouver and will coincide with re-issues of Diary and LP2, will be making a stop at the Ogden Theatre on Monday, September 21. For most folks, this will be their first opportunity to the see the band fronted by Jeremy Enigk, whose renown grew exponentially after the band expired.
I've seen the band before. And while it will certainly be nice to see the guys back together again, honestly, I'm not as excited as I guess I should be. After all, this is one of my favorite bands of all time. Just the same, it seemed like a much bigger deal to me the first time around, when How It Feels to Be Something On was released in 1998. Back then, there wasn't even the slightest inclination that Sunny Day, who, at that point, was shrouded in impenetrable mystique (the group mysteriously wouldn't perform in California, didn't do interviews and otherwise just seemed mythical), would reconvene.
Nonetheless, the act did so in similar fashion, announcing two shows -- a hometown show at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle and Irving Plaza in New York -- before embarking on a subsequent tour. Had I known that the band would later make a stop at the Fox and then again at the Gothic during the Rising Tide tour, I probably wouldn't have flipped for a pair of tickets to the show in Seattle, tickets which ultimately went to waste.
I didn't have the wherewithal back then to make it out there to see the show and I knew it, but I still felt remiss not buying a ticket when I had the chance -- in the same way that I kicked myself for not knowing about, muchless seeing, Sunny Day when it came to town previously with Shudder to Think. I loved everything about that band, from the moniker (inspired by a Talking Heads song, in essence, it's an allusion to the notion that if people could figure out a way to sell you sunny days, they would) to Jeremy Enigk's unique voice and phrasing to the careening guitar work of Dan Hoerner to the artwork of Chris Thompson to the production of Brad Wood.
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Fortunately, I caught both the Fox and Gothic shows, and they were every bit as amazing as I expected, even with Joe Skyward filling in on bass for Nate Mendel, who by then had defected to the Foo Fighters. After that is when the mystique began to unravel for me. In retrospect, I think this was mostly due to Enigk's post-Sunny Day work with the Fire Theft, which I caught in the volleyball pit of some faceless bar in Austin during South By Southwest. Frankly, the band struck me as watered down Sunny Day. And so that, coupled with the accessibility of Enigk through his subsequent solo work, somehow served to demystify both he and the group in my mind. I can't explain it any better than that, I just didn't regard the band in the same light.
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Even so, that's probably just me projecting onto the band. In countless interviews, including a recent one with a radio station in his hometown, The End in Seattle, and the one I conducted three years ago in this very fishwrap, Enigk humbly blanched at the idea that he and his bandmates helped launch an entire movement. In the end, that's never what they set out to do. Come to find out, they were just playing in a rock band.
Funny how our favorite bands never fit so neatly into the boxes we place them in, isn't it?