In times of upheaval, there is a nostalgia for innocence. When the Korean War was waging, Americans turned to Leave It to Beaver. During Vietnam, oldies radio stations came to being, playing hits from the 1950s. With current political and social turmoil, its no wonder that Emo Nite has been ferried into existence.
Started by three friends in an LA dive bar, Emo Nite LA has grown in popularity steadily over the last three years. It is a chance for during the 2000s to harken back to a time before they had to pay rent, before Trump was president, when their greatest worry was what their crush thought of them.
What is interesting about Emo Nite LA is the definition of Emo. Ben Jorgensen from Armor For Sleep DJed in the Echoplex, playing several Say Anything songs interspersed with pop/rock hits from the late 90s like Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy,” Avril Levigne’s “Sk8er Boi,” and Fountains of Wayne‘s “Stacy’s Mom.” The crowd largely stayed with him through the set. Bradley Walden from Emarosa kicked off his set with Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” which made the crowd thin out a bit. He would explain on the mic afterwards “Carly Rae isn’t really emo but she makes me feel those emotions.” After a few more songs, he dropped Limp Bizkit “Break Stuff” which lost a majority of the crowd.
Luckily when the crowd wandered, the Echo featured live music. New York quartet, Locals Only brought their a high energy mix of punk, hardcore, and pop to the stage. Playing early in the night did not help their draw any. Although they are reminiscent of A Day to Remember, not many had moved upstairs by the time they played.
By the time Rivals took the stage, a fair amount of people had found the much cooler confines of the Echo. The band, just off tour with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, serves a similar audience. Lead singer, Kalie Wolfe has a monster voice but she seemed a bit emotive with in between song banter like “I wrote this song when I was so messed up and inside my head.” It seemed a bit forced but the emo kids in attendance ate it up.
On the other hand, Lil Aaron was a bit more divisive. Having recently dropped his EP produced by Travis Barker, the emo rapper sampled Fall Out Boy, rapped about Hot Topic. With such lines as “I got bands like the Warped Tour,” it name-checked the culture but few emo purists would have considered it appropriate for the nite.
Emo Nite is all about surprises and there were a few. There was the drum battle between Frank Zummo of Sum 41 and Adrian Young of No Doubt. The biggest surprise guest might have been Kris Roe of the Ataris playing a late acoustic set. Who didn’t want to end their night hearing an acoustic version of “San Dimas High School Football Rules?”
The drunk, sweaty, stoned emo kids pouring into the Echo Park streets were a true testament to Emo Nite’s pull. Everyone looked 17 again, care-free again if just for one night.