Classic Rock Corner

Emo Nite Makes the Most of a Genre's Nostalgic Moment

Emo Nite LA brings the energy.
Emo Nite LA brings the energy. Photo by Jawn Rocha
As the more dedicated, energetic members of the crowd rushed to jump on stage, my roommate leaned over to me and said, “They’re babies!” She wasn’t exactly wrong. A few of the sweaty mass, amped up after only a handful of songs, might have looked like they had learned some hard life lessons, but the majority of them still had the touch of the vitality of youth. Watching them move and scream, they were the types that wouldn’t look out of place at an EDM show, surrendering to music that is all about the party and joy.

It was, as it always is when it comes to these sorts of nights, a clash of expectations. The music blasting out from the speakers wasn’t always joyful even if the celebration was. Emo Nite LA had come to Houston, bringing it with the bangers of the early ‘00s, the songs of heartbreak and disappointment they had gotten at least a few of these people through those long, sad nights of being a teenager. Them, and some younger folks who had to have missed emo’s golden age of popularity but were proof that to at least some people that music is still timeless.

I find the rehabilitation of emo fascinating because I feel so disconnected from it, even though it should be something that’s absolutely in my wheelhouse. Yeah, I go to emo nights and have even guest DJed a time or two, but it’s not a scene I feel a part of, largely due to timing. As someone who was doing the high school thing in the late ‘90s, emo had its mainstream moment while I was in college and discovering older, equally geeky genres of music. Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Paramore and so on, all of those bands were on the rise while I was getting into Pink Floyd and Genesis.

I just don’t have the nostalgia for the songs that make up most emo night playlists. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it just means that I, from time to time, wish people got excited for Texas is the Reason the way they do for My Chemical Romance. I’m just happy that there’s room for The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World at these things, as it keeps me from feeling completely out in the cold.

But I can’t deny, having now seen it first hand, that Emo Nite LA is making the most of their position as big dogs on the scene. On their website, they mention that they aren’t a band and they aren’t DJs; their mission is to put on parties celebrating the music they love. That they do. There’s no build up or warming up the crowd; they take the stage and start dropping the hits and trust their fellow fans to jump into the party without reservation.

I can’t help but admire how they’ve made the most of this moment. With plenty of merch available for sale and plenty of positive press from coast to coast, Emo Nite LA is making the most of a generation hitting that sweet spot of wanting to embrace their nostalgia while still being young enough to party without (too many) hesitations. Standing there, I wasn’t surprised that people were into it. I’ve been to enough of our own local emo nights (shout out to my friends at Saves the Tuesday) to know that this music, kind of weird and kind of sad but kind of triumphant, has a certain magic to it.

But I do wonder how much longer this magic will last. Ten years from now, will emo nights still exist the way that ‘80s new wave parties do? Will there be fans showing up to dance the night away to “Welcome to the Black Parade” the way they do to “Enjoy the Silence”? I have no idea. My brain tells me, no, but my heart says not to bet against it. And what is emo, and nostalgia, if not heart?

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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia