The Kids Are Finally Alright: A Tribute to Black Cat + Former Emo Kids
February 17, 2022 @ 1:00pm
Whatever It Is, The Kids Like(d) It
Is it a phase if it makes a comeback?
Emo. Screamo. Scene. Whatever you called it, the 2000’s alternative scene is an era still making lasting impressions on pop culture.
Whether it’s the return of the raccoon look or the cringe-twinged theatrics of Machine Gun Kelly, it’s once again chic to appreciate art that’s distinctly rebellious and painstakingly melodramatic.
And when it comes to providing those melodramatic tunes, it’s safe to say the lovely people at Black Cat have led the way with their recent “Tell All Your Friends Emo vs Pop Punk” night.
Excitement and Distress
Hearing about this event, I was stoked to hear what classic songs lay at the top of Black Cat’s encircling staircase. But when it came to understanding why I was excited, existential dread hit me hard.
“I’m 22. How could emo be nostalgic already?”
It’s been only 3 years since I attended the last Warped Tour.
I was still reading AltPress, Epitaph was being funded by my dollar and none of my friends could hold a straight face when I screamed “BLEGH!”
I’m entirely too young to feel teen sentimentality, but with this feeling of remembrance, I realized this generational homesickness most definitely affected the crowd at Black Cat.
So with my love for all things alternative, I had a new mission: figure out the state of the D.C. emo population.
Slept On…Without The Sirens
Nobody ever told me research could be humbling, but most of the crowd that night definitely humbled me at on my age.
“You’re only 22. Oh my god, you’re a baby.”
“22? That’s the older side, ain’t it? I’m only 19.”
While I saw myself as the vanguard on all things alt, my credentials were diminished by the fact I was born in 1999. And I see the rationale.
When “Black Parade” came out, I was 7 years old. But when My Chemical Romance got back together. I was already 20, going on 21. I’m definitely in the middle of the community, but instead of seeing my turn-of-the-century birth as a handicap, it became a vehicle for education.
My Love For Myspace and Tik Tok
“I would’ve died if I had an IG in high school. Too embarrassing.”
Social media has always been a cultural catalyst, but your take on society is totally dependent on which website was your kickstart.
For my age, Instagram was a domain for fashion tips and music news. But for those older, Myspace truly was the home of the scene.
While Myspace was the model for social media tyranny, online communities of the 2000’s used the domain to connect up-and-comers and have one-on-ones with personalities that they loved. With relative ease, normal people skyrocketed to some absurd level of niche universality. They weren’t famous. They were micro-famous.
And in terms of Tik Tok, it’s the same blueprint, but in such a higher abundance.
When every video is simultaneously an essay and 30 seconds, younger Zoomers are definitely slingshotted down a hole of endless and diverse alt information.
Diverse and Widespread
I’ve always known the alternative 2000’s were a time with many cliques.
For myself, I became aesthetically scattered with age.
I started off my teens as a wannabe with a bad bowl cut. After that, I decided to cut the helmet hair and cosplay as one of those suave youth group guys with nerd glasses. And by the time I got into college, everyone was doing the Midwestern look.
Emo had meant so many things to me. So when I spoke to fellow Black Cat attendees, I was excited to see how they interpreted the genre.
For many, regional upbringing was a major factor.
For my midwestern associates, there wasn’t really a heavy eyeliner phase. More so, it was flannels, ironic trucker hats and guys that looked like Modern Baseball.
And for the West Coast, it seemed that the neon club kid style was their alternative dogma.
Along with the region, multiculturalism was a huge measure that made alternative music survive the times.
It’s beautiful how I was dancing next to people that weren’t like me at all. On one dance floor, we had practicing hijabs screaming Simple Plan, African Americans wearing checkered skinny jeans and Latinos head banging like there’s no tomorrow.
We had a dance floor that lifted up all creeds and a venue that made it clear they were a safe space for all.
Nostalgia Ain’t So Bad
In terms of my research on emo nostalgia, I realized there was no shame in rediscovery.
For many attendees at Black Cat, emo music was a mental health mechanism.
While many people struggled with health and work in the past years, the songs of their youth helped them deal with tribulations. And if anything, they understand the lyrics better.
“The frustrated lyrics tap into my emotions. The pissed-off feeling makes more sense now.”
No one expects a teen to be emotionally mature, but it’s a great measure that we can revisit this era and better understand what was instilled in us.
Because some emo was problematic. And a lot of it stemmed from a place of intimacy that was maybe too much for a nation of unsupervised kids. But today we can look at all these trends holistically and approach a revival in a nurturing manner.
Black Cat’s Service To D.C.
With how Black Cat handled such a complex night, they were the perfect venue because they acknowledged this diverse fandom and city.
At no time did I ever feel displaced at Black Cat. When I told the doormen that I was there to scope out the feel of this emo night, they welcomed me and spoke about the importance of reflecting the history of punk in the DMV.
A surprisingly huge topic with everyone I spoke to that night.
When I wasn’t screaming to “DONTTRUSTME” or hip-shaking to “Misery Business,” everyone told me how the District alternative scene needed to come back or that it never went away and people needed to wise up.
We have such a business-savvy headspace in the DMV, but when it comes to how these 9-to-5 professionals view themselves, they’re still the cool emo kids at Hot Topic.
Under the wraps of conformity, D.C. truly is a rebel with many causes.
Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; blackcatdc.com // @blackcatdc
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