Five Emo Bands That Are Still Killing It

Jimmy Eat World at House of Blues in 2014
Jimmy Eat World at House of Blues in 2014
Photo by Abrahan Garza

Get your handkerchiefs ready, kids, because tonight at House of Blues, Brand New, Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine are going to make you cry. This all-star cast of emo bands is one of the best parts about the ACL Fest overflow in Houston, and it's one of those rare lineups that isn't just based on nostalgia. These bands are actually still really potent.

And they're not the only ones still making excellent, gut-wrenching music these days. Emo might be a dying scene, but damned if some of those bands don't still have some gas left in them. Here are five that are still rocking it with passion and precision after all these years.

Thanks to a reunited original lineup and going on a tenth-anniversary tour for their most famous album, Tell All Your Friends, Taking Back Sunday was rejuvenated in the last few years. Though they had a downturn, their latest is a nice return to form. Happiness Is represents all fans loved about the band in the beginning, but it also sees them making some moves forward with their sound. It's the best of both worlds.

As vital and relevant in 2015 as ever, returned a few years ago and shifted even more towards the pop that brought them to prominence over the emo that hardcore fans prefer (and live for). But, always smart about their every move, the group has released two pop records and one hardcore punk EP since coming back. That punk EP, Pax-Am Days, shows they're just as in touch with their roots as ever. Plus, pay attention to their newest pop works, and you'll hear all those classic elements in there, just hidden a bit under synthesizers.

Never stopping and bucking everyone passing around them, the Used have been plugging away with their own brand of emo since day one. With their latest album, Imaginary Enemy, they turn their razor-sharp focus towards politics, but singer Bert McCracken's trademark screams and funny way of enunciating with his masterful singing voice, along with all the heavy guitar riffs and catchy choruses, remain in place as ever.

Jimmy Eat World strongly emotional pop-punk created one of emo's earliest torchbearers into mainstream music; it's doubtful most other emo bands would have made any sort of mark on the charts without the massive success of 2001's Bleed American. Every album since has been strong and featured at least one huge hit that will remind you of what made this band so groundbreaking in the first place. 2013's Damage, their most recent album, is a very solid record, and lead single “I Will Steal You Back” comfortably fits among the ranks of the Arizonans' best songs.

It only seems fitting to shout out the band playing tonight. Though they began as a pop-punk band with some seriously downer lyrics and flashes of Morrissey moments, Brand New quickly transitioned towards darker and more experimental music. By 2009's fantastic Daisy, which is unfortunately their newest full-length album, they had fully taken on elements of post-punk, grunge, indie-rock and hardcore to craft something almost unheard in the scene.

Having grown into their own, Brand New cemented their legacy as one of the greatest products of, and in fact transcended, the emo scene of the 2000s. They stand unparalleled in their musicality and in just how devoted their fanbase is. Expect some pretty epic singalongs tonight.

Brand New, Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band perform tonight at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

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House of Blues

1204 Caroline
Houston, TX 77002


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