Emo never died – The subculture making a comeback

You might recall a phase of life where fringes covered eyes, both of which were caked in dark black eyeliner, a time when fingerless gloves were all the rage. This was what we called the “emo phase” or subculture. Emo fashion is typically associated with skinny jeans, studded or sometimes spiked belts and converse.

Since the announcement that My Chemical Romance and Green Day will play again in Ireland this year, many people who experienced this phase are currently raiding their wardrobes to find such clothing, practising their old make-up habits and styling their hair to cover most of their face.

The age of ‘Emo’ was a time around ten or fifteen years ago, where people rebelled against their parents and listened to music that can only be described as screaming (hence the name “screamo”). The people who listened to this type of music were dubbed “emo’s” or “emo kids”.

Emo’s were people who only listened to dark music such as My Chemical Romance, Fall out Boy, Green Day, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Pierce the Veil and Paramore (however, it can be disputed that Paramore was punk rock).

Emo music was characterised by the band putting emphasis on emotional expression which resulted in some controversial lyrics. This subculture shot into many homes in the early 2000’s, however, many bands rejected their emo status due to the stigma that it brought with it.

Emo music was associated with introversion and shyness, which is why many artists did not like to be put into this genre of music, despite the fact that they mentioned death in many of their songs.

According to an article by NME, emo can be traced back to the 1980’s, however, the more popular bands can be seen to have emerged in the 1990’s. Joan of Arc and Sunny Day Real Estate are some prime examples .

The explosion of emo came in the new millenium. Emo kids used MySpace and Bebo as platforms to upload photos, music, quizzes, as well as to create a very obviously emo persona.

MySpace allowed users to follow bands, musicians and celebrities. Like Bebo, you could upload music to your page and describe yourself. One thing that almost all emo kids did was sign off their accounts with “rawr xD”, something that is still reflected upon as funny and embarrassing today.

Clodagh Meaney, a current multimedia student and showbizz journalist for Goss.ie runs a podcast with her friend Courtney Smyth called “Kids from Yesterday”, in which they look back on many facets of the emo subculture. They began the podcast to explore “one of music’s most under-documented subcultures”.

Meaney told The College View:”The podcast is an opportunity to critique the inherent issues such as the lack of diversity and the sexual misconduct as well as praising the wonderful side of the community and the music itself.”

The podcast, which is recorded every second Monday, documents everything from fashion and misogyny to ‘fat-phobia’. The presenters get their ideas from stories that are currently trending in the media, such as mental health, which was a controversial topic in the emo subculture.

“We initially came up with a number of topics we wanted to explore including mental health – which we delved into in ‘Which came first – the music or the misery?’ We also record a general catch-up every now and then too which doesn’t have a particular focus.”

When asked if emo could ever make a comeback, Meaney said that “it never really went away” but that it is without a doubt making its comeback. She explained that certain artists, like rapper ‘Lil Peep’ have “evolved the genre and brought it to a brand new audience”, hence emo’s revival moment.

There is currently still a huge emo culture in Dublin. “While people who hung around central bank in their teens aren’t necessarily there anymore – you will without a doubt see some of the same faces at Sabotage in Fibber McGees,” Meaney remarked.

Fibber McGees is known as Dublin’s most popular rock and roll bar in the city centre and they hold a nightclub called Sabotage which sometimes has a certain theme to it, for example a “Paramore Appreciation Night”.

Clodagh Meaney discussed how her emo style back in the day was called “androgynous”. The multimedia student told of how she believed her body did not match with those of her style icons, such as Hayley Williams. “I always felt that I was the problem when in fact there just weren’t many diverse body types in the scene that looked like mine.”

Nowadays, her style is drawn from people who have a similar body type to herself. However, Meaney revealed that she never quite relinquished the emo-inspired trend of dying her hair fun colours.

Meaney mentioned that her favourite episode of the podcast to record was “my friend wrote a fanfic part 2”, in which their friend Dani read the second part of her 16-year-old My Chemical Romance fanfiction which she penned in 2004.

While critics may argue that emo subculture has breathed its last, the likes of Fibber McGees and the “Kids from Yesterday” podcast ensure that its legacy still lives on today.

Roisin Maguire

Image Credit: Flickr