JEREMY ENIGK - Return of the Frog Queen Anniversary Tour

JEREMY ENIGK - Return of the Frog Queen Anniversary Tour

Chris Staples

Thursday 6/7

7:30 pm

$20-23

Tickets at the Door

This event is all ages

$20 ADV / $23 DOORS. Orders place for the sole purpose of resale will be cancelled. Orders exceeding the 4 ticket limit subject to cancellation.

JEREMY ENIGK
JEREMY ENIGK
Three good reasons why it’s hard to remember a time when an album like Jeremy Enigk’s Return of the Frog Queen sounded shocking:

1) At the time of its release in 1996, there was no other album like it.

2) In the 22 years between then and now, its marriage of seemingly opposing sensibilities—English folk and American punk; orchestral chamber pop and progressive rock; surreal, pastoral, fanciful lyrics that burn to express personal, emotional, and spiritual quandary—has become the blueprint for so much great music that a young listener can be forgiven for thinking that things were always just like that.

This isn’t to claim some kind of Velvet Underground/Big Star status for the album, but it is to say that you can draw a straight line between Frog Queen and elements of Elliott Smith, Belle & Sebastian, Rufus Wainwright, Destroyer, the Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, Beirut, Grizzly Bear, Joanna Newsom, Bon Iver, and many, many other artists who have come to define the past two decades of indie music.

3) It’s getting harder to remember anything anymore.

But Return of the Frog Queen is worth remembering. Or discovering. And most definitely celebrating. Though you rarely see it turn up on lists of 50 Best Things of Whatever Year We Wish We Still Lived in Because the Present Is Such a Consummate Drag, the album was an indisputable innovation in the world of ‘90s indie rock, rewriting a litany of unwritten rules about sound, subject matter, and solo identity for lead singers of successful bands.

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.

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.

By the time the band broke up, he had been loved, respected, celebrated, criticized, vilified, and reproached. He was 21 years old.

The songs that formed the basis of Enigk’s first solo album were about as far from the sound of Sunny Day Real Estate as you could imagine—unless all you’d heard of them was “Pheurton Skeurto,” the little piano songlet that sounds (delightfully) out of place on Diary.

Spare acoustic guitar figures and solemn, almost plainsong melodies are the foundational elements, which Enigk and his two key collaborators, producer Greg Williamson and arranger/conductor Mark Nichols, build up into astonishingly dynamic worlds of sound. But for all the swoops and bends, the unconventional entrances and exits, the arrangements remain organic, and perfectly united behind the singular human voice at the center of it all.

Even after two decades, it’s difficult to find a name for the atmosphere conjured by the album. There are traces of Incredible String Band pastoralia, but also a strain of Pink Floydish unease. Bowie between Man Who Sold the World and Hunky Dory. It’s not dark exactly, but only because your eyes have adjusted to candlelight. It feels mystical, even metaphysical.
Chris Staples
Chris Staples
Staples, after feeling the seductive pull of that illusion for years, had enough of it. He was going to tear it down. As he began to pick up the pieces of his life, and coincidentally began to write music for a new album to follow his acclaimed 2014 Barsuk debut American Soft, his songs pivoted forward, becoming the new record, released in August 2016: Golden Age.

Starting in his hometown in Florida, all the way to the Pacific Northwest, Staples has built a career writing songs in their most immediate form – a moment happens, and to process it he lets a thought or feeling guide the song into being. This mentality has carried him from his first solo record, Panama (2001) to American Soft, and with each album Staples’ core strengths have grown into a subtle brilliance – innate melody, intense allegory, and the deceptive sinew behind songs that could easily be dismissed as merely quiet.

Balancing his music with day jobs in construction and carpentry, and playing at times in other people’s bands, Staples struggled to focus the many parts of his creative life, but didn’t have the capacity to make a change. His life was split between work, split between his home in Seattle and his roots in Florida, where he had always gone to write and record his albums.

But as the songs for Golden Age started to materialize, he resolved to look forward, and consider what he had been balancing. He quit his full time construction job and focused on carpentry; he decided to stay in the Northwest to finish the record. He maintained his natural way of writing – keeping notebooks everywhere, letting an offhand line or a thought point to a song’s direction, but as the album took shape, he crafted it with the express purpose of reorienting his route. Instead of retreating, he took stock of what he had been through and molded it into something he believed in. With this combination of practiced technique and newfound perspective, Golden Age stands as his most intimate, reflective, and exploratory record to date.
Venue Information:
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell St
San Francisco, CA, 94102
http://rickshawstop.com