Music Spotlight: Emo Night LA

Photo by Leah Perrino

Photo by Leah Perrino

If you haven't heard of Emo Night, let us introduce you. The monthly event takes place the first Tuesday of the month–Taking Back Tuesday, as they call it–at the Echoplex. Entry is $5 at the door, and the money goes to charity (see below). The night consists of old school emo jams played by DJs and live musicians, an amazing crowd, drinking, dancing, screaming, and emo merch. It's one of my personal favorite events in LA. It allows me to relive my high school years and gives me another reason to bust out my favorite band tees. But more importantly, it gives me a chance to reflect on the music I grew up on, the music that influenced a lot of what I do, the music I still listen to alone in my car. And standing alongside others, shouting lyrics until my throat hurts, well, it's a pretty powerful experience. I caught up with founders Morgan Freed, Babs Szabo and T.J. Petracca to get the story. –Leah Perrino

Asymmetric Magazine: Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Morgan Freed: My name is Morgan; I like eating trash and have a grill.
Babs Szabo: I'm Babs, and I'm obsessed with my cat and taking frequent trips to Joshua Tree. 
T.J. Petracca: I enjoy drinking coffee, drinking alcohol and answering emails. 

AM: How did the idea for Emo Night come about? 
MF: I think this is just something we always thought would be cool whenever we went out to bars or clubs. There are only so many times we can hear the same top 40 stuff that doesn't really mean anything to us. I mean, it’s cool, it’s just not something that changed our lives. TJ and Babs went to a karaoke bar in Palm Springs and sang Dashboard; I knew a dude up here at a bar. The rest is history.

AM: How would you describe Emo Night to someone who has never been?
MF: We get this a lot. You just have to go. It’s impossible to describe. Its like asking how to describe love. It’s different for every person, but I think the general consensus is that it’s bottom line the most fun you’ll have every month.
BS: The best night ever with the best community of people on the face of the earth listening to the best music.

AM: What challenges did you face when starting a monthly event in LA? 
MF: Well, we’re not promoters, so we had to kind of learn everything about that field extremely quickly. And we’re not DJ’s, so, same. We’re just fans of the music and have a thing that we want to do our own way. Following a formula that other nights use just doesn’t work for us, so we kind of made our own rules in that regard. Getting people to understand that and trust us was a bit of a challenge.
BS: We've faced quite a few challenges in the past, but the positive aspects of emo night outweigh the stress of that immensely.

AM: Can you tell us about the charities you guys contribute to?
MF: We usually let the [night's] guest DJ pick what they want to donate to. We’ve done everything from animals to substance abuse to buying hearing aids for kids.

AM: What's your all-time favorite emo jam?
MF: That's a tough one. Probably anything off of Saves the Day “Through Being Cool” or Jimmy Eat World “Clarity”.
BS: Anything off of Taking Back Sunday's "Tell All Your Friends," Yellowcard "Rough Draft" and The Used "Take It Away”
TP: Probably Dashboard Confessional "The Best Deceptions" or anything Brand New "Devil and God" era. 

AM: We've seen a lot of big names at Emo Night. Who's your dream artist to take the stage that hasn't already?
MF: I would love to see Chris Conley from Saves the Day do an acoustic set. I remember seeing him do that in Phoenix like 12 years ago, and it changed the way I viewed what a live show was supposed to be.
BS: My dream was to get Bert from The Used to Emo Night, and we accomplished that. I would love to see any of the members of Taking Back Sunday come through or Skrillex do a set as Sonny from From First to Last.
TP: Dashboard was the big one for me for sure. I’d love to have Brand New or Conor Oberst swing by.

AM: Congrats on celebrating your 1 year anniversary in December! What can we expect to see for Emo Night LA next?
MF: We tour weekly to different cities in America and even Canada. We’d love to cruise outside of North America and put together a festival. Turning this into a lifelong thing rather than just a year or two.
BS: We take it day by day and figure out next steps as we go. For me, I'd like to keep doing Emo Night as long as everyone is still having fun with it and finding meaning from it.

Emo Night is the first Tuesday of every month starting at 9pm at the Echoplex. You can find more info at emonightla.com

Posted on February 26, 2016 .