Hawthorne Heights Throws It Back On Tuesday Night

Mark McMillon, Chris Popadak, JT Woodruff and Matt Ridenour of Hawthorne Heights.
Mark McMillon, Chris Popadak, JT Woodruff and Matt Ridenour of Hawthorne Heights. Photo by Jennifer Lake
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.

click to enlarge Gettin' emo with Hawthorne Heights. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER LAKE
Gettin' emo with Hawthorne Heights.
Photo by Jennifer Lake
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.

click to enlarge Tuesday night is where it's at. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER LAKE
Tuesday night is where it's at.
Photo by Jennifer Lake
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.
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Houston Press contributor Cameron Martinez uses his extensive knowledge of headbanging and bumping into people to give readers an inside look at the city’s music scene. He often tag-teams shows with his camera-savvy wife Jennifer Lake.