If words and music are half of all that is called Art, then Jeremy Enigk has mastered half of all that is Creativity all by himself. Former lead singer/songwriter of indie legends Sunny Day Real Estate, and later on, The Fire Theft, Enigk’s raspy, guttural cries can seamlessly transition to angel-sweet high notes in a turn of perfect, poetic verse. His passionate stage presence is nothing to sneeze at, either. Jeremy Enigk’s appearance is low-key and no-BS, with shaven head, work pants and a t-shirt—but the expression and feeling that bursts from his simplicity is so authentic, so powerful that he is flat-out mesmerizing to watch.
Touring for his fantastic new CD, World Waits [Lewis Hollow Recordings], Enigk treated St. Louis’ Creepy Crawl to mostly new songs from this album, as well as music he did for the movie soundtrack, The United States of Leland. Unfortunately, there were sound problems with the vocals, and those who weren’t up front probably missed a significant part of the show. Opening with “A New Beginning,” the audience was totally seduced by the time he got to the second number, “Been Here Before,” a beautiful, dark love song capable of rendering the toughest six-foot skater boy to tears.
It was obvious by the tightness and ease of which the band worked with Enigk that some of the four others have been with him since SDRE—and that was indeed the case.
A lively highlight was the song, “City Tonight,” with the urgent cry, ”Am I late to the kingdom of love?” Meanwhile, the guitarist sprang to the front of the stage like an axe-weilding banshee, causing the front row to take a step back.
“Set It On Fire,” from The United States of Leland soundtrack, was an especially energetic, heavy surprise. Another treat was a solo number, a new song that didn’t make the record, which he said he hopes to re-record. But wait, when did the band leave the stage? We were too spellbound by Enigk to notice.
Jeremy put down his own guitar a couple of times to sit at the keyboard for songs like “Canons.” He told us his song, “Damien Dreams,” is about his friend and his wife. “It’s inspiring to see married couples who really love each other,” he said. And it’s so damned inspiring to see Jeremy Enigk who, perhaps most demonstrably during the song, “Shade,” makes music speak for him in ways that go beyond words. Playing his keyboards more like bongo drums than piano, he worked the room and himself up into an amazing, dramatic frenzy. Oh. My. God. He closed with an encore of “Ballroom Blitz” from the movie, and “Explain.” This is great stuff, folks, and you’d be a fool to miss him if he comes through your town. In fact, I feel a fool for not having driven two hours each way to Columbia, Mo. to see him last month.
Opening the show were local bands, Ghost In Light, an ambient rock band that we missed but heard great things about, and Open Sky Reminder, a promising side project of Adair’s guitarist, Patrick Baum. Baum changes roles as frontman for OSR, singing smart, relevant lyrics and only occasionally slipping into the popular emo tones of the day—but that didn’t bother the younger ones in the crowd too much. The second half of his set was solo as the band, he joked, were new and hadn’t learned the rest. It didn’t matter. He was sensational with a powerful closing number that may or may not have been called, “Something I Forgot to Say,” but it definitely had those words. And Patrick Baum didn’t forget a trick that night. One to watch.