By Austin Keating, Mattoon High School, Mattoon, Il
“Dude, this is awesome!” said my friend as we entered the gates.
“Yeah,” I said with a daze, my eyes fixated on the performers playing at the stage directly in front of us.
The lead singer of the band started off their set with an elongated wail followed by a sudden crash of inaudible guitar riffs. His greasy, skunk colored hair remained motionless as he jumped in his tight jeans and his earlobes (gauged the size of Ritz crackers) shook as he landed on his torn Chucks.
The crowd, predominantly made up of carbon copies of the singer, screamed and moshing ensued. Eyeliner was smeared, vibrantly colored square sunglasses were broken, flannels were ripped and I just stood there in the chaos struck by an epiphany.
However, the train of thought was soon ended when I was pushed into a circle pit and forced to run for my life. A few bumps and bruises I suffered that day make it hard to recall exactly what thoughts caused me to freeze up in a pit of angsty emo kids; but I do still remember the general idea.
When you hear emo, there’s a stereotype that comes to mind, something akin to the audience/singer at the concert I mentioned before; unenthusiastic and melodramatic teenagers that express themselves through their dark fashion and the whiny, soft-core music they listen to.
The idea that struck me in that pit of death is that today’s emo scene doesn’t fit into that stereotype in that it’s not about expression; it’s about dressing the way the lead singer of so and so does.
Let’s take a minute and look at it from a historical perspective with the help from some all-knowing musical masterminds from allmusic.com.
While kids my age were still in diapers, bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Drive Like Jehu made edgy, expressive music with frenetic passion that, while intensely creative, did not meet with great success outside of their cult-like following.
Skipping forward a bit to a time when kids my age were rocking out to Smash Mouth and learning how to write in cursive, emo was becoming its own specific genre behind the scenes of the music industry.
Dozens of bands like Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, Saves the Day, Brand New and The Get Up Kids popped up and released masterpieces with deeply confessional lyrics and unique styles.
All of these were fairly unnoticed by the mainstream media aside from Weezer’s Pinkerton, which was rated horribly by reviewers precisely for the confessional lyrics that made it emo.
By 2002 though, emo hit it big. The music genre entered national consciousness with the release of Jimmy Eat World’s new album, Bleed American.
New Found Glory and Saves the Day followed Jimmy Eat World’s example and released albums with a poppy charge. Soon, emo became the next big thing.
This is where it all went wrong; the edgy, progressive style that had been emo’s guiding influence for all this time was traded off for a more streamlined and appealing poppy sound.
The dozens of new emo bands cared more about making a catchy chorus than having meaningful lyrics; they cared more for looking stylish than having their own unique musical style.
In that crowd of emo kids, I realized this wasn’t the place for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love and identify with emo music; I love the idea that emo musicians can find new and out of the box ways to express themselves.
However, the self-proclaimed emo band on stage that day, wasn’t interested in expressing themselves. The only things they wanted was to look “scene,” to regurgitate the same sounds the bands on the surrounding stages at the festival were and in making songs that would attract the most people
Seeing as how I can’t catch a ride with the Doctor on his time machine to get to the 90’s where emo visionaries would play edgy songs in small, unnoticed venues; I guess I’ll be content to just complain until emo goes out of fashion again.the original article from Hsjorg, written by Austin Keating