Note: This story originally ran on December 17, 2015. For the latest on Emo Night, including the May 19 party at the Sinclair, follow Luke O’Neil and Texas Mike on Twitter.
Emo, ever the divisive word in American music lexicon, means a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, it’s the music of their teen years; for others it’s the backdrop of their coming-of-age 20s or that bad collegiate breakup; and for another group that mixes the previous groups, it’s the continued soundtrack to their lives in the here and now.
These songs of pure emotion dangling on the strings of our hearts stick with us, just like those memories do. And tonight, the Sinclair in Cambridge becomes the hub for all things emo.
At the rock club’s restaurant side, you’ll hear a chorus of voices singing along to Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, and My Chemical Romance as part of Emo Night Boston, an event curated by journalist Luke O’Neil, who was hooked on the genre early on, thanks to a steady diet of The Promise Ring and The Get-Up Kids, and his pal Texas Mike. The night has recently been designated as a monthly party, as each one grows in popularity.
“I had been writing emo revival pieces for the Village Voice and had covered some emo revival nights in New York,” O’Neil says. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I do one here? Oh wait, I can.’ And it brings people together too, which is always a positive thing.”
Emo nights have been a big hit in other big cities like New York and Los Angeles. Like many local events and establishments, Boston’s emo night has gained a loyal, almost provincial, following, mostly from those in their twenties.
Last month’s Emo Night Boston drew a capacity crowd to the Sinclair both before and after the Copeland and Eisley concert held just next door. Upon walking in, you could feel the emotion in the room — but instead of sadness and moodiness, a sheer feeling of musical reminiscence and longing for the days when these songs could be heard all over modern rock radio, hung heavy in the air.
If you’ve been to an emo show you hear music and an entire, passionate chorus of voices singing every word. At Emo Night Boston, the same holds true, as seen in this video posted last month by O’Neil. The atmosphere at Emo Nigh Boston is a welcoming one, much like the scene itself.
“It’s super chill and friendly. That’s what punk and emo is really all about,” O’Neil adds. “It doesn’t feel scene-y. Everybody’s welcome to chat and sing along, or sit in the corner and not talk to anybody. Actually, that’s more appropriately emo.”
Tonight also includes a raffle of a handful of posters signed by emo bands that graced the Sinclair’s stage including Joyce Manor, Tigers Jaw, and Touche Amore.
The future is bright for Emo Night Boston as the January installment will feature live music including sets of some of emo’s biggest hits and albums and other installments may include guest DJ spots from some of the genre’s bands. The January event is tentatively scheduled for the middle of the month.
Emo Night Boston is not just an endeavor taken on by O’Neil and friends, but with the caring help of the local scene. Boston has been an emo hotbed since the 1990’s and continues to foster the genre locally thanks to record labels like Run For Cover (which is sponsoring tonight’s party) and the now-relocated Topshelf Records.
But the emo revival, a buzzword du jour by some in the music journalism community, is no nostalgia act, and has seen a national resurgence. Here in the Bay State, bands like Somos and Worcester’s The Hotelier have seen success recently as part of the genre’s latest wave of bands. For many, the term emo revival, is certainly a misnomer. “A lot of people were writing and talking about it four years ago,” O’Neil says. “Emo never went away. People had been doing it before it was a trend and continued to after.”
EMO NIGHT :: Thursday, December 17 at the Sinclair Kitchen, 52 Church St. in Cambridge, MA :: 9 p.m., 21-plus, no cover :: Facebook event page