“Right, you’re going to be the first face people see when they open this week’s Kerrang! – do your best…”
IN JUST THREE YEARS, EMO NITE HAS GONE FROM BAR ROOM CLUB TO A PLACE THAT FRIENDSHIPS AND RELATIONSHIPS ARE BORN, AND LIVES SAVED, AND THE SOUNDTRACK'S PRETTY AMAZING, TOO. KERRANG! HEADS TO LOS ANGELES TO EXPRIENCE ROCKS BEST NIGHT OUT...
It’s after 1am on a Wednesday morning, the air smells of salt, sweat (and sugar on the asphalt), and hundreds of people are hysterically shouting along to Lit’s My Own Worst Enemy – which, for what it’s worth at this moment, might just be the greatest song of all time. LA’S Echoplex is teeming with stage invaders while mash-up DJS Captain Cuts mix emo classics (Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue, blink-182’s Feeling This, etc.) with current Top 40. Having been hit with the relentless euphoria of the previous four hours, hearts are now moshing up and down inside chests. Everyone’s Jimmy Eat World-soundtracked bedroom past is reborn here in a 2017 emo-topian heaven.
Welcome to Emo Nite: a monthly celebration where nobody’s tears are shamed and no amount of lung-defying sing-along sessions are enough.
When was the last time you went to a pop-punk party and saw 500 people facing the decks, instead of each other? When was the last time you felt like you were at a gig for someone’s birthday with all of the friends you never knew you had? Tonight, attendants come in black T-shirts that say ‘SAD AS FUCK’.THEY dance and crowd-surf amid dozens of black and white balloons, smile-screaming, ‘Can we forget about the things I said when I was drunk?’ Everyone on the stage responds: ‘Didn’t mean to call you that!’ Kerrang!, searching for an even greater high than this, clocks DJ
Ryan Mcmahon mounting the decks, and decides to follow suit. Standing tall among a sea of beautiful strangers singing in unison, the ball drops: this is the greatest night of everyone’s lives.
‘Lit aren’t emo!’ we can hear some of you shrug.well, no. Lit are as emo as Papa Roach,avril Lavigne or Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone, which all get spins via various DJS, including Hawthorne Heights’ JT Woodruff and rapper Machine Gun Kelly, who currently has the Number One pop song in the U.S. with a member of Fifth Harmony. Here,‘emo’ is a state of mind.all present are as schooled in Brand New’s Sictransit Gloria as they are chanting ‘This is a God dream!’ to Kanyewest’s Ultralight Beam.what is and isn’t emo isn’t a dance-floor concern, because Emo Nite transcends nostalgia. It relies upon the fact that the genre has never gone away. It’s emo’s openmindedness that’s allowed for its re-emergence.tonight is a fan’s safe heaven, a place where emo fights back.
Earlier this afternoon, in an office nearby, Emo Nite’s three founders attempt to keep their biggest secret yet. Beyond DJ sets from New Found Glory, Mikey Way, Good Charlotte and The Used, over the past three years there have been live surprises, too. Dashboard Confessional played an acoustic set for the event’s one-year anniversary.the All-american Rejects did similar for anniversary two. However, those don’t come close to tonight’s reveal, billed as “the most insane emo night ever”.
Ensuring K! isn’t about to inform the world via Twitter, 27-year-old founder T.J. Petracca reveals that at midnight, From First To Last will reunite with Sonny Moore and play their first set in 10 years.“everyone is gonna pass out and die,” he laughs, while glancing at co-founders Morgan Freed, 32, and Babs Szabo, 29.The fact the biggest DJ in the world is returning to his emo roots speaks mountains.“skrillex is the aftermath of one of the best emo bands of our lives,” says Babs.“emo is forever evolving.that’s why we’ve had rappers Djing, or Halsey
onstage. Demi Lovato and Kristen Stewart are on the list tonight. Kristen’s always in the mosh-pit dancing.”
Forty thousand people have come through Emo Nite’s all-inclusive doors since it began at a smaller bar in the winter of 2014.At the time, Morgan,t.j. and Babs were all working at a creative agency, hating their jobs. They bonded over a love of emo,t.j. and Babs realising their mutual affinity while singing Dashboard at a friend’s karaoke party.what began as a funny idea for a bar room party turned into the originally named Taking Back Tuesday only three weeks later.after just two “crazy” bar nights, they moved to the Echoplex, bamboozled by the level of interest they had.the third Emo Nite featured a Mark Hoppus DJ set.
“We’re still overwhelmed,” T.J. says.“we just try and make it as cool and special every time.we’re not promoters, we’ve never booked shows.we do this because we love this music.”
The front of the office is a store for all their merch, which includes beanie hats bearing Emo Nite’s gravestone symbol and parkas preaching ‘Every Nite Is Emo Nite’. Outside is a neon sign that reads ‘Ride Or Cry’, the name of the trio’s own creative agency.their experience in social media and marketing has provided ammunition to make Emo Nite the stuff of legend. It even has its own Snapchat filter.
“I’ve seen ‘Ride Or Cry’ sweaters on [DJ] Alice In Wonderland and K-stew,” says Babs.“that’s my favourite part about this – seeing people you’d never have thought love emo publicly saying they do.” “We’re redefining how people feel about the word,” T.J. says.“we’ll never post a joke about having swoopy hair or cutting your wrists. Fuck that. Look at the pictures of people – they’re overjoyed.”
Like most emo kids,t.j., Morgan and Babs listened to emo alone.t.j. recalls hearing Brand New when he got kicked out of high school.“it got me through the shittiest year of my life,” he admits.the Get Up Kids changed everything for Morgan. For Babs, it was Sum 41.T.J. tears up recalling Dashboard’s Emo Nite set.
Today, however, it’s not the old bands they bond over, but new local discoveries such as Super Whatever, Modern Color and Sundressed, the latter of whom play the upstairs room later. Some bands met each other at Emo Nite, thereby proliferating this circle of strife.“we haven’t focused on the nostalgia because we still listen to emo,” says Morgan.“if someone says,‘do you remember when you listened to this?!’ I’m like,‘yeah, yesterday.’”
A year into the LA nights, they took Emo Nite on the road around the States, learning that different cities were into varied strains of emo. In the coming months, they’re visiting Philadelphia, Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Chicago.“can we come back with you to the UK?” asks Babs with a smile.
“In Denver we had people propose onstage,” T.J. says. “All the people who wait in line every month have all become best friends and they hang out every day.
It’s not because of us – it’s because we all like the same shit.we just gave them a place to find each other.”
Outside the Echoplex, around 8pm, the line of gleaming fans extends three blocks in the pouring rain. Some have been here as early as 11am.at the front is Sophie, who’s been coming for almost two years and met her boyfriend here a year ago. “Every person that I’ve ever met at Emo Nite are the people in my life,” she says, introducing Kerrang! to her entire crew, including Gil.“this guy saved my life,” she says.“i was getting over a Xanax addiction and was ready to give up. Gil stuck me in the middle of this group, and we’ve been inseparable since.”
Sophie is certainly not alone in feeling the sense of family.“you can turn to any person in the room and sing in their face and they’ll go with it. Emo Nite is about letting go of your past but also embracing it.this is who I am. I’m not perfect and that’s okay because there are people like me here. I’ve never felt this type of community ever. I’m definitely going to cry tonight.” Also here is Rocky, who turns up in full MCR garb. Initially from New Jersey, he moved to LA for a girl, and wound up finding a club night.“i came thinking I’d bought Taking Back Sunday tickets, and I lined up for Taking Back Tuesday instead,” he laughs.“i kept coming and it became this thing that I obsessed over.”
For Rocky, it’s not about the past: there’s a newfound currency to this scene, particularly in the Trump era. “Emo came post 9/11. In 2017, younger people are looking to feel again.you’re gonna hear struggle, you’re gonna hear pain, you’re gonna hear anger.”
By 9pm the crowds funnel into the main room.t.j. welcomes them with Sugar,we’re Goin Down.“oh boy, do we have a treat for you tonight,” he teases.“it’s so fucked-up.” The crowds cheer every single song intro like they’re at a concert.teeing up for his DJ set, JT Woodruff remarks that in his decade touring the UK with Hawthorne Heights he couldn’t understand why pop-punk nights had never made it back home.“this is my livelihood,” he says.“i only play hits. I don’t want to be the lead balloon that stops the party.”
T.J. PETRACCA, EMO NITE CO-FOUNDER
Captain Cuts don’t have that worry; their mashup sets are tried and tested.they came here when Mark Hoppus DJ’D and decided to invent a way to get involved.“it was the best night I’ve ever had,” says Ryan. “We were born to DJ this.” The decision to mix Panic! At The Disco and Paramore with current Top 40 is not coincidence.with the likes of 5 Seconds Of Summer, twenty one pilots and Halsey storming up the charts, the influences of emo on the wider culture is more obvious than ever.“even Closer bythe Chainsmokers feels like it could have been a blink-182 song,” he says.
There’s no greater testament to emo’s currency than Sonny Moore foregoing his Skrillex moniker to take up his duties as frontman of From Firstto Last.as the clock strikes midnight, the stage is bathed in red light.“can I get a,‘huh!’?” shouts Sonny. Playing seven songs including Note To Self and new anthem Make War, he embodies the same oneness of everyone in the room, a passion and an elation to return to his roots unapologetically. “Are you guys surprised?” he smiles.
Some cry. Others cheer. But, mostly, everyone is so sad they came.
“THE PEOPLE HERE HAVE BECOME BEST FRIENDS. THEY HANG OUT EVERY DAY”
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EMO NITE, SEE EMONITE.COM
Mosh-pits: taking your life into your own hands if you’ve an ingrown toenail Rocky: the lost member ofthe Black Parade The Kings & Queen of Emo Nite: (from left) T.J. Petracca, Babs Szabo and Morgan Freed “Who wants to hear another sad one?” Sonny...