Sunny Day Real Estate was one of the most influential American bands of the last decade. One of the first to be tagged emo (though it transcended the label), the band spawned a loyal following and many imitators, and may be partly responsible for the emo-pop of Dashboard Confessional or the indie rock of Dismemberment Plan. Its 1994 debut, Diary, is an indie classic, with Jeremy Enigk singing earnestly to a brooding, melodic musical backdrop. Sunny Day's existence was short and tumultuous; the group broke up and re-formed at least three times, producing four proper albums. This aura of mystery and upset probably helped to solidify its legacy.
When Sunny Day officially disbanded in 2002, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith continued playing with the Foo Fighters, while Enigk explored his conversion to Christianity and opted to quit playing music for a time. Most fans expected Enigk to eventually produce another solo album in the vein of '96's Return of the Frog Queen. But then a funny thing happened.
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The three Sunny Day vets regrouped sans guitarist Dan Hoerner under the moniker The Fire Theft. Their self-titled debut in September 2003 exhibited some of the prog rock and orchestral elements evident in later Sunny Day offerings, upping the experiment with almost ambient instrumental pieces and sweeping, epic songwriting that showcased Enigk's upper register.
The Fire Theft
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill in Tempe
Scheduled to perform on Wednesday, March 10, with Grandaddy, Saves the Day, and Dios. Showtime is 6:30 p.m. For tickets, $20 in advance, call 480-829-0707.
Sunny Day loyalists may argue that members of The Fire Theft took the wrong elements from their old project, and that they should have left well enough alone. But this is not Sunny Day Real Estate II -- it's an entirely new project. While it may not hit that special Sunny Day space, it's still better than all the imitators that the band inadvertently spawned. And who knows -- if we wait a couple of years, maybe one of the guys will convert to Judaism, and The Fire Theft will break up and re-form as Sunny Day Real Estate.