At Taking Back Tuesday, You Can Wear Your Emo Colors with Pride

Taking Back Tuesday
Taking Back Tuesday
Photo by Gil Riego

Taking Back Tuesday
The Echoplex
March 3, 2015

For many of today's 20-to-30-something year olds, the aughts of the 2000s were filled with angst, melancholia and a lot of awkwardness. These were the days when eyeliner sales skyrocketed, Hot Topic was a one-stop shop for all wardrobe essentials, and bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance ruled the world.

For as outcast as many of us emo kids felt, there sure were a lot of us. And it seemed like they were all lined up outside the Echoplex last night for Taking Back Tuesday.  

It all started last year, with a night of karaoke and Barbara "Babs" Szabo and T.J. Petracca sharing the mic over Dashboard Confessional. Babs — who just recently saw her favorite band, Taking Back Sunday, for the 22nd time — used to organize an weekly emo night with her friends at San Francisco State. 

It was a beautiful thing. So beautiful that Babs and her coworkers Petracca and Morgan Freed decided to bring emo night to Los Angeles.

Thus, Taking Back Tuesday was born, inviting everyone to relive all the complicated feels of adolescence. This time with cleverly named drinks like "Story of the Beer," Blink-182's Mark Hoppus DJing, and a crowd of hundreds instead of you and your tears, sobbing to "Ohio Is For Lovers" alone in your bedroom. 

"For us, emo music is just rock music," says Petracca. "But the word 'emo' kinda had a stigma, so now it's like, let's take that stigma and wear it with pride."

Literally. The crew had shirts screen-printed with "Sad as Fuck" and "Emo Night" on sale for $15. 

Much of the proceeds of the night go to charity. Last month Mark Hoppus requested donations go to animal welfare and cruelty prevention organizations, while guest DJ Buddy Nielsen from Senses Fail requested funds be directed to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth. Proceeds from last night's event are going towards the Harmony Project, which provides musical instruments and lessons to underprivileged youth in Los Angeles. 

"That was the age when we all fell in love with this kind of music" says Petracca. "Everything we have today we owe to this type of music," adds Freed. "We wouldn't be who we are if it wasn't for this."

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Being in a packed room of sweaty people headbanging and belting out every word to songs from bands like Saves the Day, Get Up Kids, The Used, and of course, Taking Back Sunday, confirms this. For many kids who found themselves in these songs, emo wasn't just a phase — it's a lifestyle, one that's still going strong at Taking Back Tuesday.

Hoppus, who says DJing at Taking Back Tuesday is like playing a concert, notes the timeless importance of the genre to himself and so many others: "People say, 'Oh it's really cool that this music is making a comeback,' but I don't think they get it's not really making a comeback, it's music that everyone's listened to for the past 15 years...It's been a part of my playlist and a part of my identity for the last 15, 20 years." 

The crowd at Taking Back TuesdayEXPAND
The crowd at Taking Back Tuesday
Photo by Artemis Thomas-Hansard

Bert McCracken of The Used made a video all the way from his new home in Australia for the crowd last night, talking about some of his favorite albums and memories of the golden age of emo. It was a really special moment for anyone who shared a connection with The Used's music growing up — which was apparently everyone at the Echoplex, as screams broke out throughout the room.

"The second it stops being fun, we stop doing the party," says Petracca. "We're just trying to make it so people come out and put their guard down for a second and sing along to the music that made us actually fall in love with music."

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