With a uniform of eyeliner, skinny jeans and blackened hair, along with a heartbreaking song added to your MySpace profile, emo music was all the rage in the early 2000s. Even though most of the bands from that era have disappeared, some groups are thriving on a wave of nostalgia.
Hawthorne Heights played to a packed venue this Tuesday at Scout Bar near Clear Lake. “Tuesday night! That’s where it’s at! Right?!,” exclaimed JT Woodruff, lead singer and guitarist, gathering a few chuckles from the crowd. “I remember our first show in Houston, June 2004 in the Engine Room. It was unbearably hot then too.” The emo act from Ohio, consisting of drummer Chris Popadak, bass player Matt Ridenour and lead guitarist Mark McMillon, were able to bring their 2004 breakout album, The Silence in Black and White, back to life on its fifteenth anniversary tour.
The mood was set with a powerful performance of opening song "Life on Standby" and the crowd responded with the same energy. Singing, moshing, and even flying garments were all on the list of activities for supporters. The band progressed through the track list, song by song, replicating the exactness of a recorded album, with ear-pleasing vocals and tight guitar and drum synchronization.
Though other bands of the same genre have had worse luck with the changing of their lead singer's voice over time, JT’s high-pitched, nasally tone was able to project around the venue in a smooth manner, making it all the more easy to sing along with, while still providing a softer a cappella outro on certain tracks like "Silver Bullet." Hawthorne previously released an acoustic version of The Silence in Black and White in 2014 for the album’s tenth anniversary.
Before Hawthorne, post-hardcore band Emery dominated the stage with an energetic display of its 2004 album The Weak’s End. The Seattle band’s screaming vocals and airy guitar mesmerized all in attendance. “We’ve been doing this for 18 years, I think most of y’all couldn’t legally drink when you first saw us,” lead singer Toby Morrell jokingly told the crowd.
Along with the nostalgia of past bands, Fort Worth hardcore act Oh, Sleeper, opened the show with a literal in-your-face performance as fans jumped on stage to scream lyrics before being hurled back on top of the crowd by lead singer Micah Kinard; and touring bassist Seth Webster took his instrument and microphone stand into the pit to perform with the crowd.
The night was a wonderful time for old fans to reminisce about their youthful days back in school and for new fans to be able to see what a dying genre looked like at its peak.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.