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LA’s Emo Night Brings Back More Than Music

Taking Back Tuesday July Promo
Taking Back Tuesday July Promo

Once a month, in the epicenter of hipster culture in Los Angeles, the Echoplex opens its doors for Taking Back Tuesday—a night that brings every “emo” kid together to listen to their favorite 2000-2006 jams. A group of DJs spin their favorite emo tunes and a special guest DJ usually plays later in the evening; everyone from members of Senses Fail to Blink-182 have played a set. So this June, two friends and I caked on the eyeliner, pulled on our band t-shirts, and headed into Silverlake to see what Taking Back Tuesday (or #EmoNightLA, as it’s also known) was all about.

The Echoplex, as a venue, has seen rock stars of all types, including The Rolling Stones, Beck, NIN, and The Mars Volta. It’s a small venue (capacity caps at 700) and it has that rock ’n’ roll smell of stale beer and deodorants mingling together. Taking Back Tuesday looked like every My Chemical Romance concert I went to over the last decade. But even more importantly, it felt like every My Chemical Romance, every Taking Back Sunday, every Blink 182 concert I’ve ever attended. All these people, men and women with varying degrees of dyed hair and tattoos, came together to celebrate this music and what it does for them.

This is music that grabs hold of someone and sticks to them like sap on a car windshield. No matter how hard you scrape, this shit is on you. It pulled me into a strange time warp, where it didn’t matter that no one was playing an instrument on stage because I felt like I was back at my first concert. It took me back an entire decade, back well before this kind of music was popular—back to a time when I got shit for being an emo kid.

When emo first gained popularity in the early 2000s, the word was widely used derisively. People used it to put down the music and the people who identified with it. Being an emo kid was almost like wearing a target to school that said “I FEEL MY FEELINGS HARDCORE,” giving other insecure middle and high school kids the opportunity to pick on them.

Once I got to the Echoplex and saw the enthusiastic crowd and the excitement, however, I realized things have since shifted. Now, emo kids—or former emo kids who like to dabble in the culture—have taken back the word. There was a feeling in the room, which was amplified by the DJs, that being an emo kid is cool now. The DJs asked, “How are all you emo kids doing tonight?” to which they got an uproarious response from the crowd. No one felt picked on or shamed for being there. It was about celebrating the music and the culture associated with it.

If you look closely at actual lyrics, it’s easy to see why these bands resonate so strongly with confused adolescents (and struggling 20somethings). In the My Chemical Romance song “Thank You For The Venom,” frontman Gerard Way croons, “You’ll never make me leave/ I’ll wear this on my sleeve/ Give me a reason to believe.”  Lost, lonely, and searching for anyone to understand, these lyrics hit close to home for emo kids everywhere. The universal feeling of being misunderstood doesn’t go away entirely when you grow up. People will always misunderstand and overlook and be sort of shitty. You’ll always have to deal with that, and finding a healthy way to channel those feelings constructively, like with music, will always be important.

The feeling emo music gives me is one of acceptance and recognition; like someone turned to me in a moment of my own intense weakness and said, “I get it, this sucks, but you’ve got to stay strong.” That was the feeling that washed over me, like a warm shower, the moment I stepped into the #EmoNightLA crowd. It felt like I had found an old pair of Vans, well worn and held together by colored duck tape, that slipped on like no time had passed. It was like stepping back into my skin.

People jumped, bopped, and moshed to Sum 41, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New. The moment the opening lyrics of “Fat Lip” blared from the speakers, (“Storming through the party like my name is El Niño/ When I’m hangin’ out drinking in the back of an El Camino/ As a kid, I was a skid and no one knew me by name/ I trashed my own house party cause nobody came”) 300 screaming attendees pushed forward and a mosh pit appeared like a sink hole, pulling in bodies from every direction. The songs that amped up the crowd most were songs about rebellion and being misunderstood, eliciting instant recognition and nostalgic joy.

Emo Night at the Echoplex gives people who never stopped being emo a place to jam together; a place to scream, jump, and enjoy the music that has become part of their soul. It’s a place where the year is 2006, and you’re watching the best damned Warped Tour of your entire life. The fact that this still exists, a decade later, is a testament to how much this music and this community still care. If every night could be Emo Night, then you would know where to find me: Jamming in Silverlake with a bunch of fucking emo kids.

EMO NIGHT IS THE FIRST TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH

FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/emonightLA

by Maria Spiridigliozzi

Asking Alexandria Get Down and Dirty With New Single

i wont give in_aa

As if you didn’t already know from months of not-so-subtle speculation and hint-dropping from other online sources, Denis Shaforostov is the new vocalist of Asking Alexandria. The infamous metalcore act welcomed the singer to their ranks after he recently signed to the same label, Sumerian Records, with band Down & Dirty. There hasn’t been much word on what this means for the budding band, who still list Denis as their vocalist on their Facebook page, but there has been a new AA single released.

The new song, “I Won’t Give In,” is a step in a slightly softer direction for the controversial band. Mostly tame until the husky breakdown kicks in, the single doesn’t seem to have much bite in terms of sound. In terms of lyrical content, however, get the antidote ready. “Every breath you take/ I watch you slip away/ You’re slowly killing yourself/ I won’t give in” are the venomous words of the chorus, and it doesn’t take a mindreader to guess who they may have been written by and directed at. The question is, has Danny Worsnop heard it yet?

Let us know what you think of the new Asking Alexandria lineup and the new sound, and catch them on the Vans Warped Tour 2015.

Interview with Sean Long of While She Sleeps

while she sleeps1

When was the last time you thought for yourself? Are you sure? Listen to Brainwashed, the new While She Sleeps record, and you may call your answer into question–and that’s the point. “We have all grown [up] being told exactly what to do in pretty much every single aspect of being alive,” says Sean Long, guitarist for the UK metal band, “leaving little room for pure creativity and fun, even though we are led to believe that we have freedom. We are trying to make people aware and to just take a step back and be conscious of the fact that not everything you hear or are told is what’s right or what you should do.”

The band’s against the grain ideas seem to be working in their favor, as Brainwashed has already met with some rave reviews across the board. The new record earned a 5K rating from Kerrang, 8/10 from Metal Hammer and Rocksound, and not to mention HXC Magazine‘s own 4.5/5 rating. The band challenge the listener with poetics as well as sheer heaviness, penning lyrics like “If you want words to live your life by/ Walk the graves, walk the graves / It’s written on the headstones/ Time waits for no one” (“Our Legacy”). While She Sleeps mean to throw you outside your comfort zone if only to urge you toward something better–“We are not lost/ There’s method in this madness” (“Method In Madness”)–and now’s the time to listen.

The devastating energy and merciless attitude of the songs are also part of what make it a stand up metal album, an aspect of the music that Long sites as coming out of some serious trials. “I think [it’s] because we have had such a wild year of struggle and confusion,” he says. “It most definitely shines through our music and also as friends. We are in this together and we like to think that people who like our music, too, are also in it with us.”

One such struggle was a 2014 surgery on vocalist Lawrence “Loz” Taylor’s vocal chords, which could have been enough to send any band spiraling. Whatever the troubles, though, While She Sleeps have clearly pulled through, and have even surpassed expectations, both physically and musically.  The song “Four Walls” relies heavily on gospel style group chanting, while the entire fifteen track record is bracketed by strange chatter and noise in “The Divide” and “The Woods.” “‘The Divide’ is a presentation of chaos into order,” explains Long. “It’s making a stand on what we could do if we worked together. All the voices of ‘The Divide’ are the same voices to the next track in which they all sync up. It’s showing the two poles of what we can do together or against each other.” Citing his personal favorite tune as “Life In Tension” he insists, “For us it’s a triumphant album.”

Brainwashed is not only the result of the five members of While She Sleeps, but also the result of the impressive audio professionals who helped work on the album. Recording engineer Carl Bown (Trivium) and mixer Colin Richardson (Bullet For My ValentineAs I Lay Dying) provide influence that is immediately recognizable upon listening to the full album.

while-she-sleeps-brainwashed

“Carl Bown is our boy,” Long takes care to emphasize. “[He is] one of the best guys we know. All of this talent under his belt and [he] is just a great guy. No ego blowing up everywhere which I hear all too much these days about people with talent. It really pisses me off that people do well then somehow lose themselves and think they are owed something or they are better than most. Carl knew from the start just how to keep our punk edge yet give it the real production it needed without losing any raw vibes.” The combined effort from all involved make Brainwashed what it is, an album designed to interrogate as much as to console.

Go and get your copy of the new record and catch While She Sleeps on the Vans Warped Tour this summer for a performance Long declares will be “fucking mental.” Until then, question everything and take his most pressing message to heart: “Simply be your own god.”