Ah emo. The genre we once wallowed along to as we shut out the horribleness (and our parents) from behind our closed bedroom doors. We dawned that My Chemical Romance shirt with pride, until that moment we had to leg it away from a couple of road men in the local park, chanting at us the ever lasting, and humiliating, ‘greebo’.
“We are not DJs. We are not a band. We are people playing the music we love.” – emo nite.
But as we began to ‘give away’ those AFI shirts, and conform to the Adidas and Harrington jackets of modern fashionista society, little did we know that the genre we so desperately found ourselves joking, and cringing about when looking back on our youth, would once more be at the forefront of popular culture.
In the last year bands such as MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, PARAMORE, and earlier bands such as AMERICAN FOOTBALL have been popping up in the record stores, going from rare to find vinyl to every shop’s ‘must haves’, club nights are coming out from underground to celebrate the genre, and we’re all desperately trying to find, and still fit into that band merch we once ordered online back in 2008. Even culture vultures such as POST MALONE wrack up millions of views as he belts his heart out to the cult classic, Welcome To The Black Parade.
With bands such as FALL OUT BOY and PANIC! AT THE DISCO beginning to steer away from their sad poster boy heart throb days, and embrace a more radio and mainstream market, it makes us wonder why, now more than ever, emo is making it’s comeback one side fringe at a time, and why suddenly it’s ok to be the emotional drunk in your circle of friends on a night out.
As someone, like many others of my now mid 20s generation, going to the same clubs, with the same people, with the exact same playlist, and drinking cheap vodka and food colouring, soon got redundant.
Both as a music fan, and someone who had spent most of their adolescence touring, I had seen alternative club nights in every shape and form. I had jumped on (and subsequently broken) tables to Limp Bizkit in the backstage of festivals, I had built my social life around the people and the attendance of a weekly alternative night in a small Camden club (RIP Purple Turtle), and had an entourage of various promoters of whom were one phone call away from ending up drunkenly bamboozled in another city across the UK. This was all the while screaming my heart out to a playlist of the same Don Broco, Bring Me The Horizon, and god forbid I ever listen to sober, Punk Goes Pop tracks. Now this isn’t me shooting down ‘alternative nights’ at all, if anything far from it. But change is always good, it’s bold and it’s daring, and when you start to reach the new prime (apparently your mid 20s makes you old at a Roam show) sometimes, you just want to go somewhere that makes you feel like you’re 19 instead of worrying about doing your tax returns 4 vodka lemonades in, and making you choke on an ice cube at the bar when you find out the person next to you was born in the year 2000 (I still remember having to write that in my school books).
So here’s just why, and how the return of emo, and emo nights, made me fall drunkenly in love with alternative club culture all over again….
IT CAN HAPPEN LITERALLY ANYWHERE.
The first time I heard of an ’emo night’, or more so the famous, ‘Emo Nite’ was on a drive to Southern California. I had been shown photographs of a million mid 20s adults living it up ‘Hollywood style’ in a huge lit up club, a far stretch of the imagination from my actual first experience of an emo night. Fast forward two years, and 5,109 miles later, and I found myself feeling super under-dressed in a Drake playing club in the high end of Manchester, better known as Spinningfields. Like all drunk millennials, my phone was in hand, and a DM on instagram from a music enthusiast friend was suggesting I hit up a club in the more ‘trendy’ Northern Quarter. “Come sing to Mayday Parade!” and an address was in front of me. Being pretty new to the city I relied heavily on Google Maps, and putting in the address for the almost scene named, Lost In Tokyo, I was still ignorantly expecting to find myself in a multi floored establishment. I couldn’t have been more wrong. But this was the genius of the Manchester night, Club Skeleton. Taking place in an underground Japanese Dojo themed bar, it was by all means peculiar. Where was the CO2 canons, where was the stage for people to drunkenly flaunt on? But that’s what an alternative club night wanted, not emo. In that moment I realised that this was a sub genre that was used to hiding itself away, and so why not put it in a setting that reflected that? Four yells into I’m Not Okay, did I really care about how cool my surroundings would look in a club night photo? No. I cared more about the music then I did about how cool of a ‘profile pic’ a photo of me here would be.
ANYONE CAN BE THERE.
Let’s start with the bat cave of all emo nights itself, a simply titled EMO NITE. Having started in LA in 2009 as a sub division of the New York club night, Diary, the clan are quick to state, “We are not DJs. We are not a band. We are people playing the music we love.” This is the general vibe to all good emo nights. No one is looking for exposed skin and 4 lines of ketamine to get an over hyped man repeatedly hitting play to make a crowd buzz, but instead are taking the playlists you only play when alone in the car and projecting them to the masses. Since the night has gone on to feature everyone from LETLIVE to mainstream circle artists such as DEMI LEVATO, and as more and more of the goth borrowing genre nights pop up, you can’t help but feel that you weren’t alone in the back of class secretly etching Motion City Soundtrack lyrics into the pages of your text book. The term, alternative night is one that associates with crowds smothered in tattoos, flaunting their latest Impericon purchase, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but since the launch of nights such as Emo Nite we’ve seen countless culture vultures come forward and unashamedly brag about their mid teen playlists consisting of Sum 41 and Good Charlotte. In fact, Emo Nite has also been selling out on it’s merchandise, shirts boldly admitting to the sub culture we all tried to hide away in shame prior to 2010. Unlike the term, alternative, emo is a term that has once more reunited the music lovers, one bedroom hiding anthem at a time.
IT’S A BIG OLD NOSTALGIA TRIP THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FEEL ANCIENT
Only a few weeks ago the Reading and Leeds line up was revealed (you can read our other debate about that here), and man have I never felt like my record collection needed to be preserved in a historical archive than I did that moment. I’m only 24. In society that’s deemed the age where I need to ‘start on my career path’, or pre millennial generation much like my parents would be buying a house and raising kids. But in music years? Twenty. Four. That’s the age where you can’t use terms like, ‘calm’ and ‘peng’ without looking like you’re trying to be a hip mum, let alone know every word to that UK pop punk band’s song that is consistently posted around in the world of Twitter. Stepping foot into an ‘alternative night’ the first song to come at me was a Lil Peep track. Sure the music is great, it’s got that beat that makes people move, and of course it’s great that these clubs are all keeping their playlists relevant and up to date, but honestly? I had no idea who it was. But that’s never the case with an emo night. All those years of secretly perfecting every lyric to, That’s What You Get and, Famous Last Words suddenly has a place in the world, and for those brief couple of hours you’re not a generation of fuck ups that can’t afford a mortgage, but a timeless individual that queued for hours outside that venue to watch Taking Back Sunday swing a microphone around. You can go with your older brother, you can go with your work colleagues, because guaranteed, your 30s is another number, and unlike those ‘punk’ takes on ‘chart music’ (we’re ‘not’ talking about you Punk Goes Pop) you’re gonna actually know not just a handful of songs, but every. Single. One. Of. Them.
ALL THOSE ADOLESCENT ANXIETIES OF BEING TAKEN THE PISS OUT OF ARE BEGINNING TO DISAPPEAR.
One thing that was apparent in my younger years of being an ’emo kid’ in mainstream school, was that every Ugg boot wearing girl, and every JD sports bag carrying bloke made me their prey. Glad to get out of school and leave those people behind, the anxieties of having to hide away a genre of music I had to keep to myself was still there. But that’s the glory of these ’emo nights’. It’s unity between all those 2000s teenagers, those ‘weirdos’, those ‘greebos’, all under one flag. Emo nights aren’t trying to be cool, they’re being honest about who they are. When we spoke to one of the co founders of the recent ‘Black Parade’ night, Sean told us, ‘the name was intentional, because it was just so corny no one could further take the mick out of it.’
NO ONE IS GONNA JUDGE YOU FOR THAT GUILTY PLEASURE, OR KNOCK A DRINK OUT OF YOUR HAND.
I love Nu metal just as much as the next person. I love it when clubs sneak in that Britney mega mix (ok, that’s the only reason I got Twitter, to request that simultaneously on Canal Street), but the pros of emo night is you get exactly what is on the tin. No one is dropping ‘Break Stuff’ mid ‘Cute Without the E’, and no one is going to knock that £8 pint out of your hand in the name of a Slipknot mosh pit erupting in the middle of the room. Another pro of these perfectly selected playlists is that there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. A few weeks back Club Skeleton dropped in a Millionaire’s song mid set, and I’m pretty sure that bar hasn’t seen a cash flow like that in a long time. No one is also hating on you if you don’t know all the lyrics to Kendrick Lamar’s All The Stars.
BAND SHIRTS ARE COOL AND IT DOESN’T MATTER IF ALL YOUR MAKE UP SLIPS OFF LIKE IT IT DOES MID POST NIGHT OUT KEBAB.
Every Thursday I would leave work early to spend hours getting myself ready for the ‘night out’. This included doing my make up for hours, choose which crop top, or better yet, which one showed off my tattoos the most, and tightest jeans I could find. The idea of wearing a band t shirt, in get this this, a premise outside of a show that wasn’t that band’s own headline show, made me cringe. However, latching onto the vintage revival that has seen as many thrift shops open on high streets as there are shops selling practical day to day items (hey who needs washing up liquid when I have this Bruce Springsteen tour circa 1974 t shirt?), emo nights have become a place where straight after work I can throw on a band shirt and just go with it. It’s become one where what someone is wearing becomes a topic of conversation, ‘were you at that tour? I was’, and one where if my eyeliner smudges, which it always does, I can just pull it off with a, ‘it’s not a phase mom’ joke.
FINALLY, IT FEELS LIKE HOME.
Many of us will use music in the form of a nostalgic escapism. With younger crowds comes more drama, more kiss and tells, more who didn’t like who’s Instagram post, and, ‘oh my god why do you know every word to that song?’ moments. If you own a car, and are ok when it comes to your finances in certain club nights you’re that ‘weirdo who is too old to be there’. But not at emo nights .See it is a genre that has grown up with us, songs are played that make us slap our friends on the back and remember pre college summers, and even slower tracks from the likes of Mayday Parade take us straight back to our adolescent bedrooms. The location, no matter where it is, is transformed into that Kerrang! poster walled room, with the CDs your friends gave you. I have never ever, ever, seen two people not get on in this environment, why? Because the second that finale, both unpredictable and nostalgic of, Welcome To The Black Parade rings out, for a minute the inner teenager in all of us is united.
To conclude we all thought ’emo’ was a genre we had to hide away behind slammed shut doors, it was one that for a short period of my life I was mildly embarrassed to be associated with, but nights like that night back in August last year, jagerbomb in hand and flaunting a Fall Out Boy t shirt surrounded by like minded, drama free people made me realise something. Emo never went away, it’s not having a revival. It’s future is bullet proof, and the after math is that finally, it’s having it’s very own standing ovation where everyone alternative or not, can come together.
JOIN US THIS FRIDAY AT MANCHESTER’S STAR AND GARTER FOR ‘EMO DISCO’. GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE.