Providing an ethereal experience for obscure indie rock fans everywhere, jangle pop band Real Estate played three sold-out nights at The Chapel Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 — the first time the group played in the Bay since last February.
San Francisco welcomed the New Jersey band, which formed in 2009, with a packed house in anticipation of new music for 2019. Throughout the concert, the band played never before performed tracks and hinted at a new album.
The show opened with a dry comedy segment by Kevin O’Shea, who seemed to love talking about his experience ordering Jack in the Box tacos while intoxicated. He recounted being stoned and driving while eating said tacos, a dangerous combination for a performer to be recounting onstage. It was strange to see a comedian open for a band but the choice could work in the future if the right performer took the stage.
Real Estate entered with a natural stage presence, seeming more than comfortable in front of the crowd, and started with “Saturday” off of the 2017 album “In Mind.” The band didn’t perform much from its first 2009 self-titled album, but otherwise the set was split fairly evenly between its other three albums.
“Crime” built the energy in the venue with crashing drum fills and beach-rock vibes. While many Real Estate songs feature echoey voice effects, the live sound was more natural with less layering and reverb. This didn’t take away anything from the quality of the music but rather made the live performance all the more unique.
There were only minor technical difficulties during the show, with equipment occasionally needing to be tinkered with or switched out. “This is a live show, sometimes cables break,” bassist and vocalist Alex Bleeker said on stage. “You can rest assured we’re not using backing tracks.”
“Had To Hear,” one of the band’s most popular songs, was a sway-inducing tune. Guitarist Julian Lynch bounced on his toes while he played, the entire band falling into a trance as they glided through long instrumentals.
During the concert, the band announced a new album which has been in the works for about a year. “It’s almost ready,” Real Estate said, to which an audience member replied with, “Is it any good?” “You’ll be the judge of that,” Bleeker said.
Guitarist and lead vocalist Martin Courtney, IV said the band has been “holed up at the studio,” hard at work on the new tracks. Considering how many unreleased or previously unperformed songs were featured during the first night of the three-day experience, it seems likely that it won’t be long before the album drops. In December, the band tweeted, “Our new album is gonna fix the ozone layer I swear to god.” Considering Real Estate’s earthshaking performance, we can expect as much.
Predictably, the group performed “Darling,” the hit single off of “In Mind” and currently the band’s top song on Spotify. One of the more synth heavy tracks, audience members sang along to the simple yet catchy lyrics and coastal guitar tones.
A new song was featured in this set, noted on the set list pages as “Julian’s Song.” Led vocally by Lynch and featuring powerful instrumentals and heavy usage of Courtney’s 12-string guitar, it was easily one of the best songs played that night. Lynch was overjoyed by the song’s end.
UC Berkeley student Marcus Rice, 19, attended two of the nights Real Estate played. “Real Estate’s performance surprised me with the technical skill that goes into making what sounds from the studio as lowkey, precise and simple music,” Rice said.
Lowkey, precise and simple as their sound is, the stage presence, visuals and technique that goes into a Real Estate concert is well-deserving of a sold out weekend.