Some people thought the emo revival would be a passing fad after its rise to prominence in 2013, but alas, 2014 proved that your favorite heartbreak was here to stay. Some argue it never left, and others say that, like Refused, it could never really die, but one thing is certain: Emo and its twinkle daddy brethren are in the spotlight more and more than they’ve been in a long time, as they get love from every rational person out there. Between music festivals, breakthrough bands, crazy interviews, the inevitable reunions (and worse, the breakups), emo has gotten to the point where your local newspaper wrote about it and your favorite magazine reviewed plenty of it this year.
While the #PopScreamoRevival is still a few years off, 2014 was a new peak for sad boys who love spacey guitars and power chords. We’re here to help guide you through what were the biggest, most important moments from this calendar year (at least one of which you can still live out). Put on your crying bibs and read on.
12 – Rainer Maria Reunites
On October 9, we implored Rainer Maria to get back together for the first time since December 2006, artfully telling them, “C’mon, man!” Well, this dream you can still live out: On New Year’s Eve, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Wisconsin trio will be playing the same venue they played their previous show, the Bowery Ballroom. Is new material on the way? No one knows, but we’re hopeful. Will there be new shows? No one knows, but we’re hopeful. Almost a decade after their break up, a generation raised on Say Anything may best know Caithlin De Marrais as the other voice on “Shiksa (Girlfriend)”. For those lucky enough to attend the show, De Marrais is the voice assuring us nothing is impossible for emo in 2014.
11 – Emo Makes You Feel Better
The late Frank Zappa once defended allegedly violent music by pointing out that love songs don’t make anyone fall in love, suggesting music doesn’t make anyone do anything. A recent study might prove Zappa wrong, however, saying sad music does do something: It makes people feel better. “Music-evoked sadness can be appreciated not only as an aesthetic, abstract reward, but it also plays a role in well-being, by providing consolation as well as regulating negative moods and emotions,” the study concludes. We boiled it down to a simple mantra: Sad music helps people through sad times. Apropos of science, you can read the full study here. Regarding feeling better, here’s “Claire” by Jimmy Eat World.
10 – Sunny Day Real Estate Releases New Music
Do emo revival bands count as emo? Are bands associated with emo that don’t fit the sound still emo? Is Fall Out Boy emo? These age-old debates, argued since our days as cave dwellers, will likely remain unsettled until one warring tribe defeats all others. (Or until we ask those who know best.) One that’s not up for debate is Sunny Day Real Estate: They are emo. They are so emo, in fact, that their existence is both a prominent plot point in the Emo Games and an interesting side note in the Foo Fighters’ history.
It’s only fitting that 2014 saw Sunny Day Real Estate’s first new music in over a decade. A quirky split with alternative band Circa Survive, the vinyl came out on a limited pressing of 2,500 for Record Store Day, preventing legions of their hardcore fans from getting the release, making it much sought after for vinyl collectors. For the rest of us, fear not: You can listen to the new song, “Lipton Witch” below.
9 – Emo Stands Against Being A Dick On Stage
The old saying goes, it only takes one rotten apple to ruin the bunch. For Joyce Manor, it only took one rotten stage diver to ruin the crowd. In the week that followed, it was like the band were being hunted by those bad apples, enabling a debate that burned brightly and fizzled quickly. That all happened about a week after a male “fan” sexually assaulted members of Pity Sex and Tigers Jaw on their summer tour. Turns out no one really disagrees: If you’re inflicting harm on someone or touching someone without their consent, you are outright in the wrong. Period. To those beyond the scene, the discussion might have seemed aimless; to those within it, it was a poignant reminder that there’s still a way to go before everyone is treated with equal respect.
8 – Fall Out Boy wins the AP Artist of the Year Award
The first AP Music Awards had plenty of shining moments, but one shines above the rest: Fall Out Boy taking home the big one, the main Skully. Vocalist Patrick Stump talked about the honor of the award being presented by Saves The Day, but perhaps their performance was the real star of the night. With a full orchestra at their disposal, the rockers played “The Phoenix” to the awe of the 6,000-strong crowd. Our recap should give you the full story on what happened, or our winners rundown can give you the bottom line. It’s foreshadowing of things to look forward to: Fall Out Boy’s new album is out January 20, while the APMAs will return in 2015. Who will take home the Skully for Artist Of The Year next time?
7 – The Hotelier Find Home In Noplace
In early January of 2014, Say Anything frontman Max Bemis began tweeting his excitement for a new album from the Hotelier, previously known as the Hotel Year. Fans began to realize the group hung out with Bemis (which in turn went viral after a since-deleted photo of the Worcester, Massachusetts, emo group hanging out with Bemis in his Ferrari surfaced). Throw in some hype from hipster tastemakers Pitchfork for their album Home, Like Noplace Is There, and the Hotelier shot to the top of the scene like a man out of a circus cannon.
What’s more? They solidified their status quickly, touring with fellow New Englanders the World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am Not Afraid To Die in basements and venues alike, with bassist/vocalist Christian Holden’s personal lyrics converting strangers to fans everywhere they went. “I called in sick for your funeral / the sight of your body made me feel uncomfortable” is already set in stone as one of the best all-time emo lyrics. With an upcoming tour opening for La Dispute and Title Fight, it seems like the Hotelier found their home.
6 – The Jazz June And Dikembe Unite Emo And Emo Revival
Dikembe made a quick name for themselves on the scene with a then-free EP on Bandcamp named after the undisputed greatest basketball team of all time. The release was further strengthened by said EP’s copyright-infringing inclusion of dialogue (since removed) from the most emo sitcom of all time. It was only fitting that the Jazz June teamed up with revival label Topshelf Records for their first full length in over a decade and released a split with Dikembe on Topshelf and revival kings Tiny Engines.
The Jazz June’s “Over Underground” is a consistently loud jam with the call-and-response vocal style that would influence Dikembe and their younger peers. Dikembe’s half, “Healer Of The Pride” features more dynamic changes and more layered guitar play, but less urgency. Who had the better song? It doesn’t matter. The real winner of the split was us.
5 – FEST 13 Happened
While musical festivals like Riot Fest help push emo to the mainstream (and others like Lollapalooza are increasingly accepting of it), The FEST is still the go-to for the community to gather for the best display of what emo is truly about. Every year has special moments, but FEST 13 may have had the best collection so far: PUP did an all-request set, the Hotelier played their breakthrough album front-to-back, and Descendents united the Saturday crowd together for some old school punk sing-alongs. In one of the most emo moments imaginable, the World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die did a powerful set masquerading as At The Drive-In. While you may not mistake vocalist David Bello for Cedric Bixler-Zavala, you’d be hard pressed to find any musical gathering anywhere that enables the creativity, artistry, and sense of music one needs for this sort of planned craziness and frenetic spontaneity other than FEST. We’re already looking forward to next year.
4 – Say Anything, Saves The Day, and Reggie And The Full Effect Celebrate Anniversaries Together
One of the most compelling storylines of the past few years was the multitude of reunions that came out of this scene this year for anniversary celebrations. Three bands that didn’t have to break up to find a way to celebrate together: Say Anything’s 10th anniversary of …Is A Real Boy, Saves the Day’s 15th for Through Being Cool, and Reggie And The Full Effect’s 11th for Under The Tray all fell on 2014. While Reggie flubbed a tad to get in there (11th anniversary?), one thing was clear: Every night on this tour was special. On some nights, Saves The Day headlined; on others, Say Anything did. For some performances, Max Bemis would come out and sing with Chris Conley for a few Saves The Day songs, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise, since both artists love each other. On every night, James Dewees—aka Reggie—would put on a wild striptease in a Santa costume. Nostalgia wouldn’t be the right word, because these exact bands never played these albums back in the day. In winter 2014, these three bands made new memories.
3 – Mineral And Into It. Over It. Share A Few Emo Stages
While Dikembe and the Jazz June shared wax, Evan Weiss’ Into It. Over It. and twinkle founders Mineral shared the road. Into It. Over It. shined in 2014, touring in support of the superb Intersections, including a stop at Lollapooza, and giving us some exceptional journalism, but Mineral may have had an even better year: They overcame the all-too-common band robbery to have a highly acclaimed re-release and reunion tour packed full of sold out dates.
We were smart (lucky?) enough to employ Weiss to chat with Mineral. By now, he’s experienced both sides of the microphone, but he really shines talking to Mineral about what’s changed in the 17 years they’ve been gone. The interview was so comprehensive, we couldn’t fit it in just one piece.
2 – American Football Reunites… And Gets David Bazan To Play
American Football are the fathers of modern emo, their collective influence pushing nearly every revival act forward. When their deluxe vinyl was released, 2014 proved to be an important year for emo and its future generations, as that famous Illinois house is already considered a necessary visit for punk travelers across the globe. When their first two reunion shows sold out in seconds, giving way to another date, and then another, it was clear American Football were charging for a big year. None of these performances (three in New York City and one in Chicago) were as notable as the California shows.
That was because on December 11 in San Francisco and December 14 in Los Angeles, David Bazan opened for American Football. This wasn’t a combination of emo revival and 90s emo; this was a surplus of tear-your-heart-to-shreds, cry-all-night emo. Some people cry to “Never Meant” and others sob to “Options.” One thing is for sure: While American Football keeps touring (and doing out-of-nowhere covers of Elvis Costello), no two bands could combine for an emo moment more than this. Pedro The Lion live on as David Bazan, and fans of that ethereal guitar and trumpet play can always savor Owen. Years later, revival skeptics will look at this exact winter as the moment two heavyweights collided to entertain only a small portion of people on the West Coast. What could be more emo than that?
1 – 5 Seconds Of Summer Hit No. 1 On The Billboard Top 200
2014 was quite a year, and while 5 Seconds Of Summer may not have had provided your favorite moment, they definitely had the most noticed. The deceptively important band is actively fighting to bring attention to the right places the right way; the shamelessly pop-punk group is the most prominent example of the sad-boys-with-powerchords formula to reach radio waves since blink-182 forgot their age. When they’re not going deaf from hordes of Summermaniacs, the band record hits that literally shoot to the top of the charts: This year’s self-titled album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. There aren’t many other bands who could appear on both the cover of AP and the cover of Billboard, but 5 Seconds Of Summer pull the trick off like every emo band wishes they could. Don’t think they’re qualified? They don’t care. Their poetry reads like any other diary: “I drove by all the places we used to hang out getting wasted / I thought our last kiss, how it felt the way you tasted.” You may hope they stop, but they know better. In the year of the revival, the band that hits number one is king.