It’s hard to really quantify the impact of a band whose output is so minimal relative to their name, reputation, and influence. The concepts are diametrically opposed, and when looked at objectively, make little sense. At least to an outsider (read: most of the music listening population). When Sunny Day Real Estate announced that they were embarking on a reunion tour last year, a collective cheer was raised throughout the Emo Scene Timeline, which starts in the mid-90’s and extends well into the future. That they were bringing a lauded, enigmatic, and again, relatively unknown act as their sole opener - The Appleseed Cast, another band with an outsized influence, all things considered - was an interesting choice, and one I was personally excited about. There wasn’t a Cincinnati date on the initial list of tour dates, though. The tour happened elsewhere. Then, somehow, I found myself seeing them both last night at Bogart’s, right here in Cincinnati.
The Appleseed Cast has been around in one form or another since the late 90’s. It’s constant, Christohper Crisci, has guided various iterations of the band through the early days of Emo, into the more expansive and sonically undefinable territory of Post Rock, and with their last two albums, have settled somewhere in the middle. I was able to catch The Appleseed Cast when they toured as openers for Cursive and mewithoutYou, pre-pandemic, and was delighted to see them on a bigger stage, in front of a slightly bigger crowd, and leaning into a wide swath of their back catalog between a few of their newer tracks.
Over the course of 40 minutes, the band made their way through a decent amount of songs, with a few stops on tracks from Illumination Ritual and The Fleeting Light of Impermanence, their newest album - though it’s been several years since it was released. I’m hopeful we get a new release sometime soon, as their particular brand of heady, often subdued, but quietly energetic Post Rock is among my favorites being recorded these days.
I had reasonably high hopes for what a Sunny Day Real Estate set would sound like. I missed the band when they first arrived, all the way back in the mid-90’s - considering where I was with the music I was listening to, I’m honestly curious what High School Me would have thought of them had I been paying attention. 41 year old me, however, has enjoyed discovering them for myself over the past few years, but since I didn’t have an almost 30 year emotional connection, all I really wanted from their live show was for it to *sound* good. On that front, they delivered with ease.
Not having the overall nostalgia that so many in the crowd seemed to carry with them - and for good reason, as the band’s history and musical output is more or less legendary - I was able to enjoy their set as exceptionally tight, incredibly loud, and variably heavy. And honestly, that’s all I think any of us could have asked for.
Their set spanned the entirety of their catalog, with the loudest cheers and most commotion caused from their playing tracks from Diary and their self-titled LP. Throughout, I was surprised by how heavy so much of their music sounds in a live setting, though considering their mid-90’s creation, it really shouldn’t have come as much of a shock. That was a particularly heavy era of rock music. What I would have given to see them play a show with bands like Far…
Vocally, musically, vibe-wise, Sunny Day Real Estate successfully brought an entire crowd of fans back to what some would claim were the halcyon days of emo. One can’t ignore or discount the band’s influence on all the various waves of emo and rock that have come about since their inception, dissolution, and various reunions. And after finally getting to see them live, it’s impossible to discount their place in the history of indie rock and emo in general - they’re simply too good.