Jenine Cali’s fingers hurt.
She hasn’t played guitar in a while.
But it’s a new day, on several levels.
The Day After… , the Vegas alt-rockers that Cali fronted for more than a decade, singing and playing guitar, have ended their five-year hiatus for a reunion show Saturday at Artifice, which will commemorate their 15th anniversary as a band.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon at a southside PT’s, Cali and her bandmates enjoy a postpractice beer after having played their 15-song set list for the show in its entirety for the first time since reuniting.
“People have been asking us since the day we stopped when we were going to do another show,” says bassist KC Wells. “The reception that we’ve gotten since we announced it has been huge. And it feels good.”
As well it should.
The Day After… was one of Las Vegas’ leading alt-rock acts for years, a band perpetually on the verge, it seemed, with a deep catalog of moody, yet radio-friendly would-be hits that were emotionally charged and musically turbulent.
They toured a bunch, played the South By Southwest music festival twice, got signed and earned plenty of airplay on local radio stations.
But after releasing what would be their final record, 2009’s equally bruised and bruising “Black Heart Symphony,” they split from their label, their drummer quit and they were faced with starting over with the band better than a decade into their career.
“We went from the highs of being signed back to square one,” Wells says. “At that point, we were just like, ‘We’ve done everything that we could possibly do, really,’ particularly in Vegas. It became a job.”
And so The Day After… was shelved.
Cali resurfaced in ascendant indie rockers The Dirty Hooks, in which she sings and plays drums — hence her sore digits as she returns to the guitar — while Wells would take some time off before getting involved in other projects.
Cali and Wells, lifelong friends, stayed in touch, though, and began informally jamming with each other at Wells’ house. Then they ran into drummer Uffe Moller, an early member of the band, who gave them a CD of old The Day After… songs. Soon after, they were all on board with a reunion show, recruiting guitarist Jesse Pino to flesh out their sound.
“When we all get together, it just feels right,” Moller adds. “Right away I could tell, ‘This is going to work, man.’ ”
A big reason why it is working is that the band no longer has to deal with the pressures of trying to succeed in the music business.
“Coming back to it makes you appreciate it that much more,” Cali says, reflecting on the band’s earlier years. “You’re so busy trying to push it, that you can’t really enjoy it.”