Where were you on July 4th, 2000? Well, if you’re anything like me and enjoy potent alternative
rock; you were probably at Sunny Day Real Estate’s show at the Guvernment, a now defunct
club in Toronto’s downtown waterfront district. That show happened to be the last time that the
embattled band played Toronto...that is until this past Wednesday. Coming on the heels of a
very successful reunion run last year, the Seattle icons booked another trek for 2023 and this
one brought the band back to TO for the first time in some 23 years. The band, which features
original members Jeremy Enigk, Dan Hoerner, and William Goldsmith, was augmented by
touring guitarist Greg Suran and in place of Nate Mendel (who is presumably consumed by Foo
Fighter duties) bass player Chris Jordan. Of course Sunny Day Real Estate hasn’t released a
record since 2000’s The Rising Tide, though there was a hint of what was to come with the
release of the Record Store Day split single with Circa Survive back in 2014...a song that came
out of aborted recording sessions a few years previous.

After a very spirited opening set by Whitby natives Chastity (a last minute replacement for The
Appleseed Cast), the band took to the stage and lead man Enigk made the simple
proclamation of: “We’re Sunny Day Real Estate and were gonna play some songs”... and with
that they launched into ‘Pillars’, the powerful opener from 1998’s How it Feels to be Something
On. Enigk made reference to their age, when introducing another song, saying: “Thirty years
ago we recorded an album called Diary, and yes that does date us a little, but this is the first
song we wrote for’s called ‘Song About an Angel’ you can imagine this was met with
wild abandon from the loving audience.

There was plenty more from Diary too, ‘Seven’, ‘In Circles’ and ’48’ were all played with an
intensity that would rival any of their shows from 1994...and that intensity was matched handily
by the dedicated throng. LP2 (aka The Pink Album) got little love on this night, with only ‘Red
Elephant’ and the totally cathartic ‘J’Nuh’ getting a run through. So inspiring to see William
Goldsmith’s physical playing and Hoerner’s pure joy live and in-person.

Though the band is playing songs from all four of their long-players on this tour, the emphasis
has really been on How it Feels to be Something On...arguably their strongest work. Aside
from the aforementioned “‘Pillars’, the five-piece brought the stunners ‘Guitar and Video
Games’, ‘Roses in Water’, ‘How it Feels to be Something On’, and ‘Days Were Golden’ to
stunning life.

The set was a balanced mix of Sunny Day’s early, edgy, multiple time-signatured epics blended
in with their more accessible, arena ready late era material. Before a generous encore that
included a double shot from The Rising Tide, the fan favourite ‘In Circles’ and the subdued
‘Days Were Golden’, Enigk genuinely stated to the crowd “thank you so much for helping to
create this life for us...this one’s for you!”

Sunny Day Real Estate is a band equal parts blessed and cursed. Blessed in that its music has
had a lasting emotional impact on generations of listeners, to the extent that they can draw
significant crowds twelve years after their last tour and twenty-three after their last album
release. Cursed in that the stars never seem to lineup just right for them to survive long term.
Who knows what comes next for this bunch, but let’s just hope it’s something fruitful!

-Johnny Hooper