Nostalgia is in the air as more and more emo/screamo reunion tours keep popping up. The When We Were Young Festival is sold out for 2023 and features a gambit of bands you thought called it quits right about when wearing your girlfriend’s jeans went out of style (if it ever was truly in style).
Nostalgia is in the air as more and more emo/screamo reunion tours keep popping up. The When We Were Young Festival is sold out for 2023 and features a gambit of bands you thought called it quits right about when wearing your girlfriend’s jeans went out of style (if it ever was truly in style). Take a look at that lineup and tell me how many of those bands you didn’t knew existed anymore. The Is For Lovers Festival is another one that keeps calling back the tunes of the early 2000s, even embracing the nostalgia with a MySpace Your Face photo booth complete with emo makeovers. One might even credit Matt Cutshall and Emo’s Not Dead for revitalizing it all, but really it’s probably just a bunch of elder millennials who grew up (sort of), got real jobs and now have the money to dump into buying merch and attending expensive festivals.
Either way, here is a roundup of some of my favorite returns from the early-2000s emo/screamo genres that you can still catch today.
Further Seems Forever is one of my favorite emo bands, and a good definition of the genre to me. Led by the emo king Chris Carrabba (of Dashboard Confessional fame, another hiatus that later resurrected), the band was formed in 1998, but lost Carrabba right after their debut LP, The Moon is Down was recorded. After a host of other lineup changes (including two more lead singers), the band played their last show in the summer of 2006. Fast forward a few years and good ol’ Chris Carrabba got the original lineup back together to play some shows and record a new record, Penny Black. I was lucky enough to catch them at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, and am happy to see that they still tour, out now supporting twenty years of their second LP (and my personal favorite), How to Start a Fire.
The Early November was really one of my sister’s favorite bands, but after I got over that stage of making fun of music that my sister liked, I learned they are really a great band. I was even coaxed into attending a show back in 2006 and was really impressed with their stage presence, as well as their drummer, who is one of the most creative out there and very fun to watch. New Jersey natives, they formed in 2001 and signed with a label the following year. They pretty quickly became a staple of the genre, releasing what I think is quite possibly the most emo song ever written, “Ever So Sweet,” as well as songs with long emo titles like, “Everything’s Too Cold…But You’re So Hot,” and “I Wanna Hear You Sad.”
But all good things must come to an end, and after a very ambitious triple album project, The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path, the band called it quits in 2007. But just four years later, the band had a sold out reunion show. After that, more albums ensued, culminating in Twenty, a celebration of twenty years since their debut EP. They are currently on a nationwide tour supporting the album.
Copeland always teetered on the slower edge of emo, but their unique arrangements alongside beautiful melodies sung by Aaron Marsh make them worth your listen, regardless of where they belong. The band called it quits in 2010 with a farewell tour after releasing four LPs, a few EPs and a b-sides compilation, my favorite of which is In Motion and its accompanying acoustic EP. Just four years later, however, they released Ixora, produced by Marsh, with Blush five years after that. Most recently, they recorded a compilation of their hits, rearranged and recorded alongside a full orchestra, as well as celebrated the 20th anniversary of their first album, Beneath Medicine Tree, with a nationwide tour.
Thursday‘s record Full Collapse really defined the screamo genre, with local bands doing their best to imitate the unique screaming styles alongside melodic guitar riffs and vulnerable lyrics. But to me, their major-label debut of War All the Time was when they hit their stride. This record is still one of my all-time favorites, and is one of those albums you need to sit with and listen from start to finish. They formed in 1997, went on “hiatus” in 2004 (though they still remained active), went on a proper hiatus in 2013, only to return in 2016 before going on yet another hiatus in 2019. However, the band started playing music together again a year later and still pops up now and then, usually in playing full album shows of fan favorites. I saw them perform War All the Time in its entirety in 2019 with my sister, and I’ll tell you they can still bring the energy that any good screamo band should.
My Chemical Romance may be the most recognizable band on this list, as they achieved major commercial success during their twelve-year run before disbanding in 2013. The band was started in 2001 by frontman Gerard Way and drummer Matt Pelissier after the two were deeply affected by the terrorist attack on September 11. Just a few months after forming, the band recorded its first LP, produced by Geoff Rickly of Thursday. It seems this band was born on a meteor, as their early days were quickly spent touring with major players in the scene, massive music videos and mainstream success with their albums, The Black Parade probably being their biggest.
Seemingly at their peak, the band decided to take a break in 2007, only to return in 2009 to record more music, before finally officially breaking up in 2013. After a host of solo project ventures, and a re-issue of The Black Parade, the band played a reunion show in 2019 that sold out in fifteen minutes, followed by a tour planned for 2020 that was postponed and eventually concluded in March of this year.
Watashi Wa is probably a band you’ve never heard of, but they are well worth your listen! Originally a pretty straightforward punk band (though I always appreciated the profundity of their lyrics, even as a bunch of youngsters), they evolved with each release, landing on a pretty emo-sounding alt-rock with albums The Love of Life and Eager Seas, which was actually supposed to be released under a band of the same name. Led by frontman Seth Roberts, Watashi Wa did actually eventually turn into Eager Seas, which then became a band called Lakes, which then reverted to Eager Seas, which then again reverted to Watashi Wa with a 2022 release, People Like People. It’s confusing, right? Also, pretty emo. Still, the talent is undeniable with this band, and I’ve always loved their creativity, musicianship and message. I was elated to find them touring again on the Labeled Fest at the end of 2022, which fulfilled my dream of seeing one of my high school favorites long after they disappeared.
The Academy Is…leans more towards the punk side of emo, but still retains that angst that any good band of the genre should have. Take a look at their history and you’ll see a host of other bands in the scene, centered around all three of their LPs being released by Fueled By Ramen records, who was well-connected with Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy (a band that could also be on this list). With only three albums, the band made a mark in the early-2000s genre before breaking up in 2011. Four years later, they played their first album in its entirety at Riot Fest, followed by a brief US tour before calling it quits that same year. However, they reunited again for Riot Fest in 2022 and are currently slated for the aforementioned When We Were Young Festival later this year.
This is only a taste of the early-2000s emp/screamo bands you can still see live today. I mentioned that Fall Out Boy and Dashboard Confessional also belong in this category, as well as Sunny Day Real Estate, Thrice, Say Anything, Finch, Gaslight Anthem and Something Corporate, just to name a few. I think this interest in the genre is timely and also fueled heavily by these big music festivals that seem to have come back in full force since the pandemic. Yes, this is the golden time to reminisce in the yonder days of your youth, though now you don’t have to hide your beer and you can actually afford a ticket — no more sneaking in the back door!