The Gospel of Emo Nite Day

By now if you’re in the scene whose foundation is on the backs of bands like Taking Back Sunday, The Used and Fall Out Boy then you’ve heard of – and perhaps have gone to – Emo Night. A night of dancing to music that got you through high school (and for many adulthood) in the ’00s. What started in a tiny bar in what’s likely a gentrified neighborhood by now in LA finally got its day this weekend. Literally. Emo Nite Day took over The Shrine in what was a, well…interesting attempt to go bigger than their monthly club takeovers.

A couple of reasons got me out of the house for this. The first being The Used. At 16 they were the world to me, and it is actually Bert McCracken who had me up thinking about how to construct this review last night as I laid by my fiance, nauseous from his weekend medication cocktail. He said something along the lines of that music is our religion. Which in many ways makes sense.

Music fandom (and every other) is very comparable to religion. Venues are churches. Bands are the preachers reciting words we in the audience did not write but connect to as if we did. And in the sense of this scene, there are sketchy “preachers” who touch people they shouldn’t causing a nasty cloud to hang over the rest of the congregation.

The biggest sense of religion I experienced that like church, Emo Nite seems to exist for those who truly need it. Need that sense of community, that socialization, those sermons (or in this case songs) that give them hope. For the most part, that is not me.

Despite loathing the aspects that make Emo Nite and a morning at church similar, I don’t hate on either because I can see what it does mean to others. My aunt was a legit crackhead. Her house was raided, kids were taken away, and she was tossed in jail. There she found solace in religion. Upon getting out she changed her life around. The music surrounding Emo Nite has had the similar effects for people who you can tell live for the event.

The guy decked out in his Black Parade best looked as if the holy ghost had taken over his soul any time a guest DJ pressed play on a My Chemical Romance favorite. Dashboard Confessional blaring through the speakers caused emotional responses in many. Craig Owens, Aaron Gillespie and The Used’s sing-a-longs creating a choir of nostalgia. While there were many aspects of the day/night that was questionable – the actual congregation was proof that Emo Nite exists for a reason.

Like church though, it’s not always perfect. Like I said, some things were questionable. First and foremost the bang for the buck. The price was far too much for the end result. Knowing that my bestie flew down from Oakland for Finch only to experience a trio of oddly arranged songs was disappointing. As was the ONE song from Craig Owens. Even though his performance was beautiful with the stringed section and grand piano, it was ONE song. His energy throughout almost made up for it being a five-minute moment.

Owens along with Gillespie, The Used and William Beckett DJing were the only people to really remind you of those great days of the ’00s when they were on top of their game. Everyone else was like well…I came, I performed, do you validate parking? One thing that differentiated from the religious aspect was the “preachers” from other genres. Machine Gun Kelly and surprise guest Demi Lovato and The Chainsmokers.

It’s understandable that the music of Emo Nite is in their Spotify but did we really need them? Machine Gun Kelly obliterated “Adam’s Song” due to one too many drinks beforehand. Demi took the Owens’ route with one song. Personally, why the hell wasn’t it “Really Don’t Care?” Then there was The Chainsmokers. The whole time they/he(?) were on stage I could only think of this tweet:

In the end, they seemed as unnecessary as the length. Starting at 2 pm and wrapping a second after the clock struck 11 pm. It was like being at my cousin’s Catholic wedding when I was five; boredom hit hard and fast until the sun went down. The small group of people who got there when doors opened seemed to wander around confused as to what to do. Dance to Cut It What We Aim For in a room with maybe 100 other people? Nah, too weird man. Sit outside and listen to Dales? I guess, at least I’m on my ass and not my feet.

Expanding the hours, having mainstream guest perform, taking over a larger space. It was like when a small town preacher turns into Joel Osteen. Only I feel like the trio who run Emo Nite would never leave hurricane victims out cold. However, it was like they tried to go too big when in reality they are always going to be more effective in their original setting. Also in their smaller space, you don’t get people like me. Outsiders who left the congregation years ago and now while understanding the importance of it to others does not necessarily need it in their own lives…most of the time.

This weekend I did need it a bit. For many 2017 has been a shit show. I am no different. Between dealing with my fiance’s medical issues and some recent personal news of my own – I’d needed that little sermon by way of Bert McCracken. From his eccentric slam poetry to those three songs that took me – even for 15 minutes – back to a time where all these 2017 issues were over a decade away. Back to a time where my mom’s gambling and my lack of self-esteem were my biggest problems. Isn’t it funny how big those teenage problems feel until you get older and see how much other shit life can toss your way?

Emo Nite Day was far from perfect but like with church during a time of questioning and crisis, I needed it for a quick second. Unfortunately “Taste of Ink” wasn’t quite enough to make the day a success for me. For the Black Parade fanatic though, those singing Dashboard in unison or those who joined the choir during the better live performances – they got exactly what they sought out; a sense of redemption and belonging. Which is the point, right? Everyone needs a place to feel at ease in this world. That is why Emo Nite works. Being overpriced, too long and a bit unsettling in the live performance front – that is why Emo Nite Day as a whole did not.

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