Favorite emo bands mix old with new

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Nostalgia. It’s a powerful thing. We often like to think of things the way they used to be, as opposed to what is currently occurring. It happens with politics, world news and yes, music. This past month, two nostalgia-driven bands played in St. Louis, many years after their peak popularity, to packed venues. These two bands were The Used, who played The Pageant over Labor Day Weekend, and Taking Back Sunday, who played the Ready Room on Friday, Sept. 23. And yet despite their similarities in both spearheading the early 2000’s emo scene, their shows were vastly different displays of past and present.

First, The Used. Their current tour is billed as a “15th anniversary tour,” in which they play two consecutive nights in each city they visit. The band plays their selftitled debut album on night one, and then their second album, “In Love and Death” on night two. Between their two shows in St. Louis, they played approximately one song that had been released after 2004 (“Pretty Handsome Awkward,” which was played as the encore). The nostalgic aspect was defi- nitely embraced, with the band acknowledging that these albums were what brought them a lot of success and fans. I attended the concert on night two, See “Throwback” on Page 6 and it unfolded like an episode of “VH1 Storytellers.” Lead singer Bert McCracken would tell the story of how the song came to be, whether it was his addiction to drugs at the time or the death of his dog, they would play the song, and the process would repeat. It was cool, for sure, but also dragged a 50-minute album out by an extra 30 minutes. The fans certainly didn’t mind that, and hung on his every word, hoping to get some new insight into their 12-year old sophomore effort. The band sounded great, but McCracken’s voice has not withstood the test of time flawlessly. It wasn’t that he was completely off- rhythm, but he was also no perfectionist when it came to hitting notes. I have to cut him some slack, though — I can’t image ones’ vocal cords would be the same after 15 years of screaming and singing. At the end of the album, Bert thanked the crowd and announced that new music was coming soon. While this was a night of nostalgia, they would be moving into the future soon.

Secondly, Taking Back Sunday. Their show was similar to The Used, in the case that they took the time to play an album front-to-back. The only difference was this was an album released two weeks ago, not 12 years. They walked out to a sold-out Ready Room, that could’ve doubled as a sauna it was so hot, and jumped right in to “Death Wolf,” the first song off of the newly released “Tidal Wave.” The band acknowledged the crowd’s kindness, allowing them to play an album that they so wholeheartedly believed in, and promised to play the oldies later. And while when bands play new music it generally signals a bathroom or bar break, the strange thing was, the album was phenomenal. It paraded the maturity of Taking Back Sunday’s sound. No longer were they trying to scream and wail about teenage angst. Instead, it was a melodic record that moved, as the record title maybe intended, as a wave, with hard-hitting songs and acoustic slow pieces switching places. Their singer, Adam Lazarra, seemed to have suffered some of the same plagues as McCracken, in which his voice didn’t seem as strong as it once been, but that was a more forgivable offense for him, because he wasn’t even attempting his old ways for the first half of the show.

After they ended the new album, a short break was taken, followed by the opening chords of “Cute Without the E,” which might be The entire cast sang these monstrously catchy songs with the utmost control and energy–I had to stop myself from trying to imitate them…at intermission. Continued from page 5 the quintessential emo song from the genre’s heyday. Mosh pits and crowd-surfers immediately became present and the seemingly tame crowd came to life. After 45 minutes of hit after hit, the band left the stage, giving fans a 90-minute-long timeline of their career, from the present and then to the past.

Both crowds were in their late 20’s and early 30’s, and it was quite the sight to see them instantly transport from having a 9-5 job to wearing all black and resenting high school with the simple striking of a chord. While these bands could have once filled small arenas with their emotional lyrics and intense screams, they have moved well past that point in their careers. And even if their heyday is past them, screaming at the top of your lungs to the songs you grew up with will never get old.