Jeremy Enigk – Ghosts Tour at Chop Suey
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As you probably know, Enigk was the singer/guitarist of Sunny Day Real Estate, the Seattle quartet widely credited as the Big Bang of the post-hardcore, indie rock variant of emo that would spend the next decade morphing into a massively commercial enterprise.
You can’t blame Sunny Day Real Estate for that, though. They were just a young, powerhouse band who happened to be several years ahead of their time.
SDRE’s debut album, Diary, and its first single, “Seven,” was a seismic event, not least in the lives of the band members. It was released in May of 1994, one month and two days after Kurt Cobain’s suicide was discovered. Diary became Sub Pop’s biggest-selling album since Bleach—a distinction that lasted until the next decade.
The story of the band’s splintering during the making of their follow-up album (LP2)—and triumphant reunion a few years later—has been well-told elsewhere. But for our purposes, it’s worth bearing in mind that the break-up drama formed the background from which Return of the Frog Queen emerged.
In the space of about two years, Jeremy Enigk had joined a band with some friends, toured the world, sold way more records than anyone had anticipated, been heralded with hyperbolic—not to say unwarranted—praise, become a significant voice to a lot of young listeners, experienced a religious epiphany that he spoke of publicly, and watched the band buckle and fall apart, much to the dismay of a public that was only just starting to figure out how to broadcast its anxious speculations and judgments on the internet.
By the time the band broke up, he had been loved, respected, celebrated, criticized, vilified, and reproached. He was 21 years old.
One might expect a person might respond to all this sturm und drang by making noisy, chaotic, electric guitar-driven music of the kind his now-defunct band made its name with. One might expect someone whose character and even sanity had been widely debated in public might want to write a definitive statement about his identity, his ideology, his id.
But Jeremy Enigk didn’t do either of those things. He made Return of the Frog Queen instead.
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