Concert Review: The Jealous Sound at The Triple Rock Social Club

The business of making music professionally can be easy and it can be incredibly hard. For many independent bands that find themselves signed to a label, the realization that it actually complicates the process can be a rude awakening. One of my favorite Christian bands, Burlap to Cashmere, put out a great debut record just before their label was dissolved and their contract went to a giant label that didn’t care to support them. The band bitterly broke up and were off the map for 10+ years. You’ll find similar stories strewn around the musical landscape these days, including in the story of The Jealous Sound.

The Jealous Sound

The Jealous Sound emerged in 2000 out of the ashes of a few midwest emo bands and quickly released a self-titled EP on Better Looking Records. Blair Shehan, the band’s leader, brought a unique guitar style and angst-ridden lyrics that struck a chord with fans of the then-popular “emo” genre. Their EP got enough attention that they were signed to Mojo records for a follow-up album. Then things got complicated. Mojo had a distribution deal with Universal, but the deal fell apart and Mojo went through some major upheaval. The Jealous Sound found themselves landing with Mojo/Jive, a completely different entity than the one that signed them. Mojo/Jive didn’t market their emo style and therefore offered little support. The band was able to get out of their deal with Mojo/Jive and return to Better Looking Records in 2003 to record their first LP: Kill Them With Kindness

Again, the success of that record got them noticed by a slightly larger label called The Militia Group that specialized in emo bands. They were signed to a deal to record a 2nd LP in 2005. Then, things got complicated again and the story gets hazy. The band’s website went stagnant for a full year, prompting fans to wonder what was going on with the new album and rumors swirled that Blair Shehan had quit the band. In 2006, a note was posted saying the album was still being worked on and The Militia Group insisted an album was taking shape. This all proved to be smoke and mirrors. 
The truth was that in 2005 the band had begun to record their album, but only got 3 songs down before Shehan quit and left town without telling anyone where he went. The band was still obligated to deliver an album to the label, so the 3 songs were cobbled together into a digital EP (along with 2 silly remixes to pad it) and released in 2008. According to a post on The Village Voice, the songs on the EP were “the last shreds of recorded material before Shehan went crazy and more or less disappeared.” Fans were happy to have the songs, but crushed by the news that the band had already been dead for years and this album was merely a ghostly echo of their talent. 
Then, something amazing happened: the band updated their MySpace page with a note indicating a possible reformation of the band. Indeed, in 2009, The Jealous Sound announced they were back and would be touring as the opening act for the Sunny Day Real Estate reunion tour. Shortly thereafter, news spread that the band was recording again and a new album was forthcoming. Shehan had returned to California, the band had reunited and, with support from Nate Mendel of The Foo Fighters, secured studio time and a deal with a new label. Their new album, entitled A Gentle Reminder, was released on 1/31/12 and a lineup of tour dates was announced soon after. The Jealous Sound was truly back. 
Which brings us to February 19th at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. As we entered to club area, it was sparsely populated by hipsters (which is apparently what Emo kids grow up to be) and friends and family of the local opening acts. 
The first band, The Central Division, was a three-piece outfit from the Minneapolis area who brought a big sound and tight instrumentation to their emo songs. For an opening act, they had plenty of talent and an “aw-shucks” like-ability and stage presence. 
The second band, also from Minneapolis, was called The Farewell Continental and they were quite the contrast from the opening act. The band featured 5 members including a charismatic and flashy frontman (Justin Pierre, who also plays in pop-punk outfit Motion City Soundtrack) and a female keyboard player and vocalist. Their joyful pop-rock anthems were fun and many in the crowd shouted out lyrics right along with them. It was clear that they  had a healthy following in town. Between songs, Pierre gushed over The Jealous Sound and promised we would be blown away by them. The lead guitarist also took the mic at one point and stated that he’d been touring with various bands for years, but the members of The Jealous Sound were the nicest guys he’s toured with. In fact, when their van broke down and their gear was not available for a show, The Jealous Sound let them their opening act use their gear. 
Blair Shehan of The Jealous Sound

Finally, the moment came when Blair and the rest of the band took the stage and began to play the opening track from their new album. As they played through their set, which mixed in songs from all four of their releases, it was impressive how tight the sounded given that this is their first headlining tour in years. Shehan was completely comfortable on stage, giving instructions to the sound techs and changing the setlist with the band. He lightly bantered with the audience, even putting down a tipsy barfly who shouted “less talk, more rock”. Actually, there was very little banter to be had as Shehan showed a preference for quick turnarounds and quiet tuning between songs. The songs themselves were blazing and full of forceful emotion from Shehan, whose lyrics are full of cryptic depictions of broken hearts, longing and burgeoning hope – the pillars of classic emo songs. 

As the setlist wound down, Shehan dismissed the band and played the final song of the set solo. The song was “Turning Around” from the Got Friends EP, a picture of a beaten down and defeated couple surveying the damage and believing that things are turning around.

Here are the lyrics:

Turning Around by The Jealous Sound

We fell flat from the force of the blow
Life’s bad and your face baby don’t I know, woah
And if the taste is too sweet, and if the pull is too strong
If your will is weak, we should move this along
But I was reading our stars and it says they’re aligned
And its so far, so good somehow
We could leave this behind
And if the magic is lost, the rooms still a wreck
With the tragedy dead we’ll know what to expect
From now on, from now on

Everything’s turning, everything’s turning around
Around, around
Everything’s turning,
Around, around
Everything’s turning around

If the obstacles gone and if the rooms still reserved
People like us, they get what they deserve
And as we awoke, the sun filled the room
maybe I spoke just a little too soon
I can say, hey hey cause

Everything’s turning around
Around, around
Everything’s turning around
Around, around
Everything’s turning, everything’s turning around

And I have to believe so I’m making big plans
Give this away so its out of your hands
If you knock me up baby, but I wont back down
If you disagree, well don’t make a sound cause

Everything’s turning around
Around, around
Everything’s turning around
Around, around
Everything’s turning, everything’s turning around

It’s a perfect encapsulation of the band’s resurgence. No one’s sure of what happened during the years that Blair Shehan was MIA, and though this song was recorded prior to his quitting the band, it gives a picture of Shehan wanting to leave the wreckage of the past behind and turn his life around again. 

The band’s website featured a main page title stating “A second chance rarely comes around”. Shehan and the rest of the band seem to recognize that what has transpired is something truly special. They have been given a second chance by their friends, by their industry and by their fans. And what’s even more astounding is that they have taken this second chance and delivered a great collection of songs that easily stands with the rest of their work. 

The band came back onstage to close the night with one more song and then they were gone. Just a scant hour’s worth of music, but something special nonetheless. Here’s hoping Shehan and company have themselves a firm foundation now that will support many more albums in the years ahead. 

Here’s an approximation of the setlist:

Beautiful Morning
Hope For Us
Got Friends
Promise of the West
Perfect Timing
Abandon! Abandon!
Your Eyes Were Shining
The Fold Out
Anxious Arms
Turning Around (Blair solo)

Encore: Naive 

Also, someone apparently shot a video of the band performing “The Fold Out”, so here’s a taste of the show if you weren’t there. 


2 thoughts on “Concert Review: The Jealous Sound at The Triple Rock Social Club

  1. I am glad they were good, because I saw the Jealous Sound on the SDRE and they sucked. I loved their first EP and LP but considering giving them away after that show. Very little energy, and the songs were only shells of the recorded versions. However, I will say playing on the same stage as SDRE might make anyone sound like they suck. Haven't bought the new Jealous Sound LP yet, still debating it.

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