Emo Night hypes up Syracuse

Emo Night hypes up Syracuse

Review: Syracuse's first Emo Night revives the moodiest hits of the 2000s
Published: October 18, 2018
Emo Night in Syracuse on Oct. 13, 2018
Local Syracuse emo-punk bands played cover songs by My Chemical Romance, A Day to Remember, American Football and The Wonder Years as well as some original pieces.

In a crowded graffitied warehouse in downtown Syracuse, the only pop of color among the sea of black clothes was red. Red lipstick and red checkered flannels stood out in the Spark Contemporary Art Space as the groups of 20-and-30-somethings milled around in their best edgy band T-shirts, Converse and combat boots.

The small art space received an overwhelming response to its first ever Emo Night. These throwback events to years not so long past have become popular across the U.S., with major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Nashville hosting large events that regularly have 10,000 responses on Facebook.

The mini-concert jammed into the tiny black-box style theater in the back of the Spark Art Space building began with DJ Myke McIntyre, who played to a small audience of very enthusiastic karaoke singers. The two-hour set included what the Facebook page called “emo and pop-punk hits,” anthems anyone who had a phase of dressing entirely in band t-shirts and jean chains would recognize. A Day to Remember’s “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” got the audience fist-pumping with all their might, while “Ohio is for Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights inspired one young man, clad in a backpack and sweaty green flannel, to headbang at the front of the stage.

The energy DJ Myke riled up was unfortunately lost on the first band who took the stage. The local Syracuse band, Can’t Sleep, seemed to have more heart than technical know-how. The set covered well-known band The Wonder Years, but even tried-and-true fans couldn’t tell which songs they were performing. The small, raised platform stage in the tight, wood-lined room didn’t do favors for the acoustics of any ensemble. But it was especially apparent that lead singer Christian Scaia was struggling to be heard over guitarist Aaron Draper and bassist Eric Corp, both of whom were trying to compete with the overwhelming volume of drummer James Howe.

When singing could be heard, the melodic choruses and simple harmonies that define The Wonder Years were often off-key and off-time with the music. In spite of this, the last few songs, ”Passing Through A Screen Door,” and “Came Out Swinging” managed to rile attention from audience members who stepped up to the mic to sing along, danced wildly and formed a small mosh pit in the center of the floor.

Kevin McGinn of the band The Yellow took the stage next, looking like an image of the My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way himself with a dyed shaggy haircut and black denim jacket. With only an acoustic guitar, microphone and impromptu backup vocals from Closure band member Collins Van Gorden, McGinn seemed to win the audience with his self-deprecating humor and simple performance. His clearly apt guitar playing and traditionally “young punk” voice had the audience singing along to every word of his set, including hits like “Helena” and “Teenagers.”

McGinn’s short solo appearance was followed by an unannounced visit from a member of The Goodfight, Justyn Palmatier, who came on stage with an acoustic guitar and said that he would play “the saddest song from the saddest album ever” before diving into “Our Apartment” by Aaron West and the Roaring ‘20s.

Also a musician with a good set of skills on the guitar, Palmatier found sweet-spot moments of powerful and raspy vocals that had listeners cheering in the middle of his songs. “No matter how tough you are now,” he said at the end of his mish-mash of a set, “You totally listened to Homesick every day when it came out.” He referred to the A Day to Remember’s 2009 album featuring the song, “If It Means a Lot To You,” which he closed with, accompanied by gang vocals by the audience.

Closure, the final band to take the stage, was by far the night’s shining example of talent. Dubbed an “emo/math rock band” by lead singer Collins Van Gorden, Closure demonstrated a consistency in quality and creativity in their original works. After covering a song or two by bands like American Football, Closure spent the rest of their time playing a set of original pieces that included “Dragon Ball Z is on Later, Do You Want to Come Watch,” and “Late Sunset Over Vorhees.”

Drummer Jake Blake reigned over the kit with total control of dynamics and sharp, complex rhythms, while guitarists Noah Melendez and Van Gorden executed tight and well-timed harmonies alongside bassist Liam MacPherson. Van Gorden, though with some of the unpredictability and roughness that comes with emo/punk music, was applauded for his pleasant and melodic voice. Though the band chose to play originals at an event that had been advertised as one for cover bands, the audience didn’t seem to mind with the set being pretty damn good.

The joy of Emo Night, however, existed in the enthusiasm of the audience. Among the young adults was DJ Myke’s grandmother in a yellow knit sweater, taking selfies and bobbing along to the music. A young pre-teen decked out in skeleton-bone gloves and a My Chemical Romance T-shirt hung out with her mother, dressed in a matching outfit, on possibly the coolest mother-daughter date night ever. The venue may have been dry and the band set up a bit haphazard, but at the end of the night, the emo kids had their night of fun.