October 15, 2009
One topic that often comes up when talking about music is what past band you wish you could have seen live. One of the bands I always bring up is Sunny Day Real Estate. After their debut was released in 1994 they toured less than a year before breaking up, and by all accounts they put on a hell of a live show. For some people, My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, or the upcoming Pavement shows might be the end-all be-all of reunion tours, but for me I don’t think anything will ever top seeing Jeremy Enigk, Dan Hoerner, Nate Mendel, and William Goldsmith playing together for the first time in 15 years.
What makes this particular show at The Metro in Chicago even more special is that band’s groundbreaking debut album, Diary, was recorded in Chicago at Idful Studios. Dan Hoerner mentioned to the crowd early on that this show felt like coming home. They chose The Jealous Sound, who had previously supported them on the Rising Tide tour, to open up the show. The band fit the SDRE sound to a ‘T’, melodic guitar, emotive singing, and pounding drums. I can’t say that I was rushing to buy any of their albums afterwards, but they put on a solid, enjoyable set. A nice little warm-up for the phenomenal show that Sunny Day Real Estate provided.
From the very beginning, Sunny Day absolutely tore the place down. The crowd was rapturous in their praise as they took the stage to “Friday”, before kicking right into one of the most well-known and bombastic songs in their arsenal, “Seven”. The band didn’t let up for a second, rocketing through some of their best tunes, the commanding “Shadows” came next and then my all-time favorite SDRE song, “Song About An Angel”, which was completely freakin’ beautiful. I’ve loved that song for years now and seeing the band’s impassioned performance was deeply moving. From Engik desperately screaming emotionally-packed lines like “sometimes you see right through me” to Goldsmith pounded out those profoundly intense drum fills, it was nothing short of breathtaking.
The band threw in a couple surprises, the first being a track from How It Feels To Be Something On, “Guitar and Video Games” which, partly because I didn’t expect to hear it (it was the only track not from their original line-up played), and partly because it’s such an awesome song, brought a huge smile to my face. They also played a fantastic new song that was very melodic (dare I say poppy) and featured some great Edge-like guitar. It was a blast seeing this band interact with each other, you could really sense how special this tour was to them. Enigk put everything he had into the performance, he may not be able to hit every high note like he used to, but he has not lost an ounce of his fiery passion. Goldsmith pounded the living crap out of the drums song after song and his brilliant fills seemed even more machine-like and precise than on record. Mendel is true pro, gracefully providing the tight, walking bass lines so essential to the sound. Hoerner was probably the most estastic of the group, he couldn’t wipe the huge grin off his face, even as he produced those massive, reverb-drenched guitar riffs. His enthusiasm was contagious; suffice to say, there was a lot of love going around at the Metro that night.
The band closed out the set just as strong as they had opened it. One of the band’s most complex and unique compositions, “J’Nuh”, began the final thrust forward and featured one of the best instrumental breakdowns of the night of with the muscular prog-like guitar riff, bending time-signatures, and back-and-forth vocal harmonies from Enigk and Hoerner. The triumphant sounding “47” followed with more guitar heroics and the set ended with the brooding Diary closer, “Sometimes”.
The encore began with what many consider to be Sunny Day’s defining song, “In Circles”. The thrillng start-stop dynamics of the song exploded out of the speakers and the bridge of the song was re-arranged to be much cleaner and forceful. You would think that a reunion show would be the last place to try out a new drum arrangement on your most popular song, but it turned out incredible, and everyone in the building sang along. The band played one more, the cathartic “48”, before calling it a night. For a band I dreamed about seeing since my childhood, I couldn’t have had higher expectations for this show, and I’m proud to say that Sunny Day Real Estate exceed every one of them. I can honestly say this stands out, not only as one of the best shows, but one of the best nights of my life.
View the more Sunny Day Real Estate pictures after the jump. Click here for the entire set.
The Jealous Sound
Sunny Day Real Estate