Things You Only Know If You Were An Emo Kid

The seven things only an OG emo can relate to

Things You Only Know If You Were An Emo Kid

by Marianne Eloise |
Published on

During the mid-2000s, we all lost the plot a bit. Fashion-wise, in any case. Besides all the Juicy Couture that dominated one-half of schoolyard culture (Juicy is back too, btw), there was emo. Those of us who participated were instantly recognisable by our poker-straight side fringes, sweatbands, skinny jeans, red and black knew emo when you saw it, regardless of how hard it was to actually define. It was so mainstream, so well-understood that Fall Out Boy was on the radio, and the Daily Mail had themselves a moral panic about the ‘self-harm cult’. It was embarrassing; it was fleeting and, what we often forget, it was a whole lot of fun.

But fear not: emo is back. Paramore is back touring and has a new album. Emo nights exist up and down the country, zines are dedicated to it, and we’re talking about and sharing it more than we have in the ten years since the scene died. I’ve even seen some kids who were hardly alive the first time around with ‘coon tails and MCR t-shirts, but this isn’t about them. This is about us, the OG emos, the ones who knew and enjoyed it way back when MSN was a thing, and Myspace occupied our after-school hours. It’s finally acceptable to talk about emo again, so let’s dip our toes in the nostalgia pool and talk about all the things you can only possibly know if you were (or are!) an emo kid. I’ve handily divided it up by emotions, because that is, well, extremely emo.

The Ecstasy Of:

1. How Much Fun Being Perpetually Emosh Was

Emo was and is very silly and melodramatic, but you know what? It’s also a whole lot of fun. The first time around, I had the time of my life fully immersing myself in the music and the scene. I stopped myself loving it for a few years, convinced that it was the only way to grow up and move on. But, I was wrong. One listen of Taking Back Sunday again, and I realised how foolish I was. There is still honestly nothing better than getting in a room full of former emos and screaming at the top of your lungs. Line up an incredibly emosh playlist on Spotify, and get involved. Sing, scream, scribble the lyrics on your notebooks. The world is a terrifying, brutal place right now, which, as sad as it is, is the perfect emo storm.

2. Hanging Out In Coal-Eyelinered, Side-Fringed Squads

Back in the day, I would become mates with someone purely because we both had heavy black eyeliner and a pessimistic outlook. After so long being the only little emo at your school, finding someone who just got it was a feeling like no other. It’s still the same now. For those ex-emos amongst us, there’s nothing better than making friends and then finding out that yes, they too once harboured a side fringe and a grudge against their parents. If your friends are all normal fully functioning adults who never felt any kind of aching need to draw fanart of Gerard Way kissing Frank Iero, I don’t really know what to say to you. EXCEPT ABANDON THEM RIGHT AWAY. If she doesn’t know ‘mics are for singing not for swinging’, she’s no pal of mine.

3. Dedicating Your Life To the Music

My very first gig alone was Yellowcard, and after that it was Fall Out Boy, closely followed by Panic! At the Disco in the same year. As a young emo you spent most of your time and emotional energy on music. Copying out lyrics, endlessly Googling your favourite musicians, editing collages of them, contacting them on Myspace, then getting together the money to actually see them live. It was special. It was something to look forward to. It was something to dissect and remember and revisit for years. I have spent collective weeks bruised from being crushed up against stage barriers sweating and screaming. That might sound like hell, but I don’t regret a second of it. While the show was enough on its own, if you caught a pick, or a drumstick, or grabbed a singer’s sweaty hand that was that extra bit more special.

And The Agony Of:

4. Being Too Young To Go Out, Out

The saddest thing about being emo was that most of us were too young to drink legally. We could go to shows, sure, but we couldn’t get the full experience. If you’re still feeling sad about this, I can guarantee you that there is some kind of alt/emo/mid-2000s night near you. Emo Nite LA is the king of dedicated emo nights, but until they come to the UK (which should be very soon), you have a tonne of great options. Emo Disco is the UK’s only dedicated club night, and they tour all over. Emo nights are an opportunity to scream, to drink, to cry, to indulge your most base desires among like-minded people. It might feel like a regression, but you owe it to your 13-year-old self.

5. Choosing The Right Lyrics For Your MSN Name

Trying to decide whether, ‘yOu CoUlD sLiT mY tHrOaT && WiTh My OnE LaSt GasPiNg BrEaTh // I’d ApOlOgIsE fOr BlEeDiNg On YoUr ShIrT’ or, ‘[don’t apologise]//[I hope you choke and die]’ best sums up just how you’re feeling about the boy you’ve been flirting with over Myspace was an absolute chore. It was essentially subtweeting before Twitter existed. It always ended with you either broadcasting to everyone just how sad you were or bragging about how you loved a band more than anyone else did. Either way, it was performative, braggy, had zero chill and was extremely difficult to get right.

6. Picking Your Myspace Profile Song

If someone had autoplay music on their Twitter account, I would divorce them. Somehow, though, hearing the opening lines of Jude Law and a Semester Abroad by Brand New every time I went on someone’s page had the opposite effect. It was, again, an extremely indulgent way to publically express yourself. It was a very personal choice. And it could absolutely, never in a million years, be the same as one of your friend’s.

7. Getting Your Outfit And Hair Just So

Despite a very limited fashion and music scope, 90% of being emo was the exquisite pain of choosing just how to express yourself that day. Be it through Myspace, the shows you went to or the clothes you wore, it was all about self-expression. The wrong band T-shirt or striped sweatband had the potential to throw an entire day off kilt, and you never wanted to dress like your friends. But, you also didn’t want to be too different from them. Getting your side fringe to stay flat, making sure your eyeliner didn’t smudge too much and that your black clothing didn’t get washed out in the laundry was a minefield. Emo was basically all about making decisions about expressing your feelings externally, and I won’t hear otherwise.

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Follow Marianne on Twitter @marianne_eloise

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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