When he fronted for Sunny Day Real Estate, Enigk’s whine-tinged tenor helped define “emo” in its mid-’90s heyday, before the term became largely synonymous with “horse shit.” Enigk’s solo efforts are comfortably familiar to SDRE fans, though his voice has grown smoother with age, losing a bit of that signature nasal quality the new-wave whiners like Dashboard Confessional took to heart. By today’s standards, in fact, Enigk’s work can no longer be comfortably defined as emo.
The acoustic strum and piano highlights are nothing new, obviously — prototypical college-radio rock — but few can do it this well. Enigk’s melodic compositions are deceptively complex, incorporating orchestral elements and keyboard quietly but productively. On repeated listening, songs like the excellent “Oh John” utilize instrumental asides and lyrical theatricality hinting at a fascinating prog-rock bent. Squint, and you’ll be convinced you’re watching golden-era Death Cab for Cutie.
Fans concerned by rumors that Enigk’s conversion to hardcore Christianity killed SDRE should still those visions of three-chord God rock. Songs like “River to Sea” verge dangerously close to Newsboys territory, the majority of Enigk’s lyrics are ambiguous enough to put hardcore atheists at ease, though his vocals do seem to reveal a grand-scheme mindset and an inspiring amount of hope, qualities almost entirely missing from neo-emo’s ex-girlfriend-obsessed bitching.
Show up early to catch acoustic sets from locals Pop Pistol, Ledaswan, and Jason Stiles. $15, 8pm Aug 27 Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar, 1003 Ave B. myspace.com/rockbottomtattoobar