Live: The Jealous Sound, Alive Again at Southpaw


The Jealous Sound
Tuesday, September 29

Let me now formally apologize to the Jealous Sound, onto whose Wikipedia page this blog has marched, I see this morning, and deposited the following factoid: “According to a blog post on The Village Voice’s website, The Jealous Sound broke up in 2005, and the songs on the Got Friends EP are ‘the last shreds of material recorded before Shehan went crazy and more or less disappeared.'” Our information, as of October 14th, 2008 was sound, I think; our phrasing, less than delicate at best, and now, happily, obsolete, the band happily reunited at this point and traveling the country with Sunny Day Real Estate, with whom they now seem to occasionally share a bassist (ahem: though not last night), the Foo Fighters’ Nate Mendel.

Last night is their off night, SDRE-wise, and so for old time’s sake the band headlined a Brooklyn show at Southpaw to the type of undersized but slavishly devoted crowd I once saw the even more venerable Lungfish play to in this same venue. “Thanks for coming back,” someone yells, about halfway through, the blaring subtext of the whole night put into words for the rest of us to chuckle at. “You bet,” says frontman Blair Shehan, a statement quickly amended by guitarist Pedro Benito, who knows a gift when he receives one: “Thanks for having us back.”

It’s a comeback a lot like SDRE’s in some ways, the incongruous spectacle of seeing the emo bands who ruled the earth before emo itself did returning to the battlefield upon which their descendants triumphed — and then married Ashlee Simpson — in those long, hysterical years between the early aughts and, well, now. Not that the Jealous Sound — who only formed in 2000, though between Knapsack and Sunday’s Best, their ’90s credentials were never in question — weren’t already pretty much grown-up when they started. Shehan, in particular, retains the ability to suspend doubt in those of us who are no longer so young as to uncomplicatedly identify with sentiments like, say, “What’s wrong is everywhere.” Specifically, we refer you to his voice, maybe the most perfect upper register ever to grace this whole being-emotional-onstage-with-guitars thing, able to kick up like 10 or 12 notches at will, doubling and tripling itself on choruses whenever necessary, which when you’re playing stuff this dynamic, is almost always.

At Southpaw, the fact that they aren’t all that familiar with many of their own songs (past their new bassist, the band also has a new drummer, Asher Simon Bob Penn) becomes clear right around the encore, when Shehan — whose tiny forehead and massive eyes and bald skull and slight frame and huge voice may, it occurs, may be the most physically literal build of all time, musician-wise — is reduced to coming back onstage and meeting the raucous and encore-prompting applause with the news that the band, despite having only played eight or nine or so songs, knows no further music at this time. We all have to start somewhere.