It’s 8.25pm and there’s already been an absolute disaster & public humiliation.
(Let me explain)
We had made the pilgrimage from Santa Monica to Silverlake to go to emo night.
Emo was/is the last great youth subculture, with its own unique look, mythologies, stars, festivals, and social network (Myspace).
Along with Gangster rap, emo/pop-punk is my favourite type of music, so I’m VERY EXCITED to finally get here.
I’ve even dragged my friend Dylan all the way from Madison Wisconsin to head there with me, along with three non-emos, including a female star from “America’s next top model”.
So why are we all fucked up?
We got caught jumping the queue.
(Let me explain)
There were like ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE in the queue for this damn place. The capacity of the venue is 500.
There was no way we couldn’t get in – I hadn’t written a blogpost about my nightlife in over a month
We aimed to queue jump using the oldest method in the world
Wait outside the queue, then as it moves forward, the people coming around the corner think you were part of the queue and you slide in.
The club hadn’t opened yet so the queue didn’t move
So we were approached by a dude who looked EXACTLY like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons (except he was in all black). World of Warcraft vibes, y’know?
Anyway he is NOT happy to see us
“We’ve heard reports you guys jumped the queue. Get to the back or you ain’t coming in”
I thought about that classic Trump phrase “People are saying…” I wanted to dissect this “Who is actually saying this?” I posited the theory no-one was saying that, he just presumed we were queue jumping and was bluffing us.
Anyway so now we’re at the ass end of this queue which is so far it’s basically another zip code and we’re scheming how to get back in
We entertained the two other ways to get into any club/party:
- Tell the wristband girl you have bad eczema so they have to put the wristband on super loose and you can pass it to your friend once you get in
- Tell the doorgirl you “Should be on the list, but not sure what name they put on” Tell them your names Aaron Smith or Amy Smith or something, just make sure she doesn’t lift the paper, you need her to be looking on the front page. While she does that, you look at the list, grab one or two other names (as many as you can ideally) and pass those names to your friends, who can do the same to get you names, or you all use them and go on. Most people on a list don’t show up for most things. I used this classic technique to get into the Twitter party under the name I spotted “Adrian Grenier” when I googled him to find out he was the lead actor in American TV show “Entourage” I lol’ed. Luckily the bouncers weren’t fans and I got in
So the model turned up and I instructed her to charm her way into the queue by talking to boys then text us and we’ll arrive and we’ll all go in together.
The plan worked too well and she was way too far forward by the time we got the text so we were racing up to meet her before she got in…we couldn’t see her so just cut in the fast-moving queue (very easy to do).
We charmed the people immediately stood next to us and all was well.
They liked my accent. It’s so easy.
So now we got in!
There were four types of species at Emo night:
- Girls who somehow haven’t aged and look EXACTLY like the Myspace eyeliner girls of 2007. How I don’t know, but they barely look 21, let alone old-timers. Maybe emo isn’t dead?
2) People who aren’t skinny – Don’t mean to start beef here, but literally everyone in LA is skinny. This was the first public place I’ve seen people who weren’t thin. Good old emo bringing together the outsiders. I dig it
3) Older people reliving their glory days – Like, goths and suchlike
4)”La types” – LA girls in flawless makeup and outfits. I’m suspicious they don’t really love My Chemical Romance and don’t appreciate the stress we had to go through to get in but then I think, if they hated the music here? It’s me in every other club I ever go to that doesn’t play emo, so who am I to say?
In a classic case of “stop judging everyone” I speak to one of the flawless LA girls and she’s actually really friendly and cool.
Then she says “Meet my single friends” (a great line to hear) so we’re like hey and they’re like “We know who you are, you cut in front of us in the queue”
I tell them I regret nothing, but the conversation is kinda dead after that…
The same thing happened again a couple of minutes later, with one girl saying her friend had told the security guard about us.
Then she introduces her to me for some reason.
That girl also has no time for us.
I notice she’s wearing a hat that says “Make America Emo Again”
I feel like saying to her “That’s one thing we can both agree on!” but I don’t, of course.
I slink away and we head into the main room. This is more like it.
Panic! At the disco is playing and people are singing like a choir.
Emo music is opium to twenty-somethings trying to make sense of a world seemingly collapsing at every visible level – politics, jobs, riots, Instagram perfection and everything inbetween.
This is therapy, an escape from a stressful sad world devoid of innocence we wanted no part in but got thrust into anyway.
We were working out who we were back then and then we’d hear lines like “Ever been alone in a crowded room” and been like “YES! This minneapolis electro band really get me”
In the Myspace era, anyone anywhere could start a band and suddenly blow up or express themselves through the way they looked on that strange social network we grew up with, or be glued to the stereo and feel a depth in music that we weren’t getting in any other genre of music.
If you’re wondering the main influence to my writing?
It’s like four or five authors, maybe a bit of Vice magazine, but mainly it’s most of these bands.
The sincerity and vulnerability I connected with and has stayed with me ever since.
A moshpit opens up as the DJ drops Metalcore legends “A Day To Remember”.
I had just moved from the suburbs to the city when I first heard them
Their lyrics mean just as much to me now as they did then
Like, even as the “growth hacking” guy, I’m someone who right now makes their living as a personality, so I can totes relate to their lyrics:
“It’s not easy making a name for yourself, where do you draw the line?
I never thought I’d be in this far”
I’m from a small town, and a common theme in emo was disgust and disorientation about living in a dead small town and kinda feeling like there must be more to life.
I’m thinking about this as the chorus comes in, (and again, consider how much I’ve toured this past 18 months)
“I sold my soul to the open road
I’ll live my life alone!
You won’t find me in the same spot
Believe me I could never stop
My life’s turned upside down
Meet me out past the train tracks
I’m leaving and not coming back
You’re right and I was wrong
This town will be the downfall of us all”
People think being on welfare was the lowest point in my life
Well, kinda, in some respects
But in terms of emotional brutality and being around mean people, the suburbs was much worse, the small-mindedness and bitterness and rude people & things that I went through scarred me way more than being dead broke for a bit.
When I was dead broke I at least had a dream (to start a startup & change my life)
In the suburbs the dream is to get messed up at the weekend, or start a family, little else
“Get a real job, that’s what they said to me
But I could never live the way they want
I’m gonna get by and just do my time
Out of step, while they all get in line”
Ah yiss! Good Charlotte got me dancing on the stage with 200 other people.
It’s not a phase, mom!
I legit still feel this way.
And right then I thought how I’d been vindicated for taking a different path to everyone else.
It worked out – I made it out here to Los Angeles and now I’m holding hands with an english girl with bright blonde hair I’d been planning to meet for a while.
The only problem is she’s also holding hands with another guy at the same time.
So now there’s this strange rivalry between me and the other guy and as is the way we kinda have to pretend to be friends in front of the girl despite this almost tribal rivalry.
He leaves then she says to me “ugh, I’m so glad he left”
And I say “Then why did you give him your number?”
I can’t quite hear what she says but she ends with ‘I could tell he was only into me because of my fake hair and boobies”
I take a beat to make sure she said that in the order I thought she did.
Fake hair. She definitely said fake hair.
Now I’m with her friends and one of them loves my outfit and asks me if I want to be in her comedy TV show.
The problem with LA is these strange opportunities keep getting thrown at you, and the key is to say NO and focus.
I tell her “Yes! Let’s definitely do it. When’s it shooting?”
She takes my details.
Then she starts making out with a guy taller than me in a black t-shirt.
Then another girl comes along and starts making out with the girl who was talking to me.
It’s really “on”, y’know?
Now he is making out with both of them and I don’t see them again for the rest of the night
Earlier that night while I was on stage a girl was screaming Taking Back Sunday lyrics in my face (which I absolutely loved) and we got to talking and I asked her out of the blue if she liked my favourite band (They’re called Say Anything) she was like “Yes! Let’s go and see them when they come to LA in November”
I was SO STOKED to meet anyone into that obscure little band (they were all set to go mainstream but the singer spent a lot of time in mental institutions and rehab) and when I asked her what she does (like, for a job) she sounded kinda down, and it’s so far from the innocence of singing your heart out as a teenager to the things that await us as an adult, particularly if you don’t get to do the things you dream about.
I have something of a love/hate relationship with Entertainment
On one hand entertainment is designed to be addictive (hello Netflix!) and to take you away from improving your life/making a contribution to the world, on the other it normally feels great and is a blissful escape from the stress of this world.
Emo night, just for a few hours, took us outside of ourselves and back to a simpler time, while the “nighttime adventure playground” of the venue with alcohol and party allowed us to make new memories, new friends, and connect over a shared love for something that meant so much to us just a few years ago.
Times change, people move on, but feelings last forever
Shoutout to all my emo friends in recovery
Anyone wanna come emo night with me next month??
After a crescendo that sandwiched Blink 182 into Paramore into The Used, the club started to dissolve.
The ways we violate ourselves as adults
Escaping who we are just for a minute
I asked my friend and music industry expert why this was happening- Why don’t they just use a bigger venue? They’d make more on drinks, merch, everything. It seems elementary
Will had been following emo night for a while, and kinda blew my mind with the model they’ve followed, so let’s do a left turn into:
HOW TO BUILD LA’S BIGGEST CLUB NIGHT
- Tap into a niche no-one else is touching (Emo, which is basically nostalgia for most of the attendees, only maniacs like me actually still listen to it on a daily)
- Hire a venue that’s too small so that there’s a three-hour queue to get in every month
- This gets all of LA talking “Why is this place so hard to get into? We should go and find out”
- The only way you can guaranteed get in is a $30 ticket (3x door cost) bought in-store at their “emo/music shop” – driving more footfall for other products
- Get press nationwide
- All of America looks at this club night and thinks “This is LA’s hottest club night! We have to bring it here”
- Now it’s in multiple cities all year round and has multiple revenue streams
What I love about all of the above is it’s a message in branding.
They’re selling a commodity product – There’s no super DJ, the music isn’t exclusive, new or remixed (It’s a Spotify playlist on a laptop for the most part), they’ve controlled the market by ensuring there’s more demand than there is supply & created an experience – ANyone could hire a bar and play Fall Out Boy, but these guys built an empire out of it!