SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE
Thursday September 17, 2009, Commodore Ballroom
By Kyle Antivenin
Oddly enough, one of the most anticipated reunions of 2009 played out to a half-full house at the Commodore, as emo-definers Sunny Day Real Estate kicked off their world tour in none other than Vancouver (well, okay, there was that ‘secret’ warm-up show in Tacoma the night before, but who’s counting?). The crowd, smaller than expected at 700 or so, were no less reverent and enthusiastic - if maybe a little awestruck at just how amazing it sounded to hear these songs live again. This was the first time the all-original lineup had played together since 1995, and it reflected in the mostly age-25+, indie-plaidshirt crowd, who remembered when ‘emo’ meant something a little more substantial than emergency trips to M·A·C for eyeliner and asymmetrical, weed-whacker haircuts. Incidentally, there was nary a My Chemical Romance clone to be spotted anywhere this eve; I guess the ‘kids’ were too ‘cool’ for this show.
The show was opened by LA’s The Jealous Sound, who did a sufficient job in their ½-hour set, wearing their influences on their sleeve. But, let’s face it; opening for a reunion show like this, they had their work cut out for them.
Shortly thereafter, Sunny Day Real Estate humbly walked onstage to the roar of an appreciative crowd. Kicking off the proceedings with the beloved “Friday”, the band stormed its way through forty-five minutes of material comprising their first two records, 1994’s Diary and its follow-up, 1995’s LP2 (both given the reissue treatment by SubPop this year). A song or two in, frontman Jeremy Enigk announced that his vocal cords were troubling him, but you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. This didn’t appear to be a band that was rusty or out-of-practice, although admittedly it did take a song or two for things to really kick into high gear. Especially impressive was drummer William Goldsmith, sporting outsized industrial headphones and stomping his kit like it was his last show ever. You might say it was his night, especially after watching his bandmates (rounded out by guitarist Dan Hoerner and bassist Nate Mendel) surround him for the crashing finale of “Song About an Angel”, their backs to the crowd, oblivious to anything but the sheer power of the song and the force that indeed, we were all part of something very special taking place. And then there was the pleasant surprise, “New Song”. I can’t tell you much more about it than that it fit perfectly in the set, alongside the ‘classic’ Sunny Day songs, and it left the crowd slavering for the possibility of much more to come.
Of course a shortened set -those blasted vocal cords!- led to an early encore, and returning onstage to a(nother) hero’s welcome, they kicked into “In Circles” and brought the house down. I couldn’t –shit, everybody couldn’t- stop smiling as the song whisked us back to those halcyon days of 1994, when the Diary LP broke all our teenage hearts (even if some of us were already in our twenties). The encore was rounded out by the songs “48” and “Spade and Parade” – a short set, sure, but nobody seemed to mind. I think we were collectively feeling blessed to just have been lucky enough to be picked first date on the tour.
If there’s any justice, Sunny Day Real Estate will have a new album out in 2010, to properly show the scene-hair kids how it’s supposed to be done.
Posted: Oct 6, 2009