Now, wait a minute. Before you start haphazardly dogpiling me with scorn, give me a chance to make my case. Let me assure you, this will not be about bands like Dashboard Confessional, Bright Eyes, My Chemical Romance, The Get Up Kids, etc. These bands are a perversion of what Emo was at its origin, and are not at all representative of its glorious roots. Did that get your attention? Are you now asking yourselves, and me, “If those shitty-ass bands aren’t representative of real Emo, what is Emo?” I’ll tell you what Emo is, and what Emo was: fucking hardcore.
“Bullshit,” I hear you pointlessly yelling at your monitors, forgetting the fact that I can’t actually hear you regardless of how many times I say something like, “I hear you asking…” Sorry for the ruse, but I can’t actually hear you. It’s simply a tool I use to ask a question in order to provide an answer. Well, to answer your pretend-question, it’s not bullshit. Emo originated in the Washington D.C. hardcore punk movement of the mid-80s as a derivative of hardcore punk. Rites of Spring (a future TBBYNHO feature), a very short-lived but extremely influential D.C. band, began altering the standard hardcore punk formula by creating songs that had incredibly personal lyrics. Thus, emotional hardcore, commonly called Emo or Emocore, was born. Ian MacKaye, one of a veritable pantheon of punk rock gods produced by the 70s and 80s, took Rites of Spring’s formula and ran with it. After Minor Threat, Ian got some guys together and formed Embrace. Embrace, like Rites of Spring, was very short-lived, but again, extremely influential. Both bands managed to infuse the wild energy of hardcore punk with raw emotional expression. While their lesson has been taken and adapted in different ways (Jawbreaker, Sunny Day Real Estate, and more), their incredibly potent fusion has yet to be truly recreated.
Take a moment and listen to the true roots of a genre that has strayed far from the path its originators created and paved and tell me it’s not better than all of the pretenders to the name that exist today.