Jeremy Enigk can be a bit reclusive, and Sunny Day Real Estate can be a bit averse to giving the people what they want, so I wasn't 100% sure what to expect from them at their first NYC show in 13 years, but it only took about 5 seconds into opener "Pillars" to see that Sunny Day Real Estate were prepared to put on the show of a lifetime. Jeremy seemed not just excited to be playing these classic songs again, but genuinely grateful to see how many people had showed up to pack the cavernous Brooklyn Steel on Thursday night (9/29), their first of two consecutive nights at the venue. His voice also sounded great, and the band -- an expanded five-piece with original members Jeremy Enigk, Dan Hoerner on guitar, and William Goldsmith on drums, alongside live bassist Chris Jordan and third guitarist/backing vocalist Jason Narducy (of Bob Mould's band, Superchunk, Split Single, etc) -- was as tight as you could ask for. The "Midwest emo" sound -- which Sunny Day Real Estate, despite being from Seattle, are widely considered progenitors of -- is often raw and scrappy, but Sunny Day were refined and full of finesse. The three-guitar setup allowed them to layer their sound and really fill the room with a triumphant, swelling atmosphere. And Jeremy's voice soared over all of it, just the way it does on Sunny Day's classic records.
As for the setlist, Sunny Day Real Estate touched on all four of their distinctly different albums, from the second wave emo ground zero of Diary to that album's more experimental followup LP2 to the artsier albums from their second act, How It Feels To Be Something On and The Rising Tide. They also played their newest song, "Lipton Witch," which came out on a 2014 split with Circa Survive. And as different as their albums do sound, Sunny Day Real Estate built a setlist that sounded entirely cohesive. They played the Diary songs in a way that fit in perfectly with the more ethereal How It Feels songs, without losing an ounce of their original bite. Comparatively deeper cuts like The Rising Tide's towering title track and LP2's climactic "J'Nuh" hit just as hard as the widely-loved "Seven" and "In Circles." For the roughly 90 minutes that Sunny Day Real Estate were on stage, not a single dull moment passed.