Is Emo Revival Really a Thing?

The generation of outcasts subculture renaissance.

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Is Emo Revival Really a Thing?
Emo seems to be one of the most misunderstood subcultures of the past century. Up to this day, the word 'emo' is often used as a stereotype, which is insulting to one if not self-proclaimed. Nevertheless, one of the most frequently asked questions during the nostalgic conversations of the ex-90's teens arguably stays, 'Were you a scene kid?.'
Emo is a subculture that rejected the traditionally hardcore masculine values and opened up the mic for the bands to talk about traditionally feminine subjects such as heartbreak and disappointment in a confessional and poetic manner. These lyrics, combined with the loud, melodic punk music, definitely hit the spot for the young hardcore kids who were struggling with their own emotions at the time.

According to Andy Greenwald, the author of ‘Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo,' ‘The origins of the term 'emo' are shrouded in mystery ... but it first came into common practice in 1985. If Minor Threat was hardcore, then Rites of Spring, with its altered focus, was emotional hardcore or emocore.’ The style was soon dubbed 'emo-core.’ The ‘emocore’ label quickly spread around the Washington, D.C. punk scene and became attached to many of the bands associated with the Dischord Records label.

Formed in 1984, Rites of Spring band broke free of hardcore's self-imposed boundaries in favor of melodic guitars, varied rhythms, and deeply personal, impassioned lyrics. Their performances became public emotional purges where audience members would sometimes weep. This was one of the first hardcore scenes ever to attract a significant amount of females. 

The Washington emo scene lasted only a few years and by 1986 most of the major bands of the movement (including Rites of Spring, Embrace, Gray Matter, and Beefeater) had broken up.  
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The second wave of the genre was the so-called ‘Midwest Emo.’ Chief among the second wave scene were Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate, both of whom fostered cult followings and brought 'emo' a step closer to the mainstream. As for many people, the subculture embodied powerlessness and adolescent frustration at the world that made them want to scream, during the second wave a more aggressive offshoot of emo called 'screamo' developed in San Diego.
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The third wave was the Emo's commercial peak. Emo broke into the mainstream media in the summer of 2002 with a number of notable events, such as Jimmy Eat World's ‘Bleed American’ album reached #1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and New Found Glory's album ‘Sticks and Stones’ at #4 on the Billboard. Emo Pop becomes the genre's dominant sound. The record label Fueled by Ramen became a center of the movement, releasing platinum selling albums from bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and Paramore.
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The fourth wave, which is considered to be the 'emo revival,' is a 2010s development in the genre in which bands have taken inspiration from the sounds and aesthetics of emo from the '90s and early '00s. For quite a while now some great things are going on in the underground scene, especially all over Philadelphia and its big house shows. The sound itself is different from bands of the second wave and seems to be more of a fusion between the post-hardcore scene, math rock, and pop-punk. The lyrics mainly focus on themes of nostalgia and adulthood. Some people, perhaps, can call it twinklecore. The new emo bands seem to satisfy the alternative mindset desire for some raw guitar DIY sound. However, most of the public is skeptical about the term 'revival.' Most of the people involved in the scene seem to be sure that the revival is an illusion and that the genre has always been going strong. Some of them, though, feel thankful for the media's attention to the genre. For example, Evan Weiss from Into It. Over It. tweeted: 'I appreciate the 'revival' coverage. It's encouraging and positive. Gives me a sense of validation seeing as I've been doing this since 1999.'

Here are a few underground movement bands for you to get a taste of what's going on in the scene.

The Hotelier

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The band released their second album in 2014 titled ‘Home, Like Noplace Is There,’ which brought the band to attention in the emo revival scene. After releasing the album, vocalist Christian Holden stated in a blog post on the band's Tumblr: ‘Our new album deals with some real dark stuff. So to all my brooding and slightly damaged friends, have your a happy album or Rugrats in Paris nearby. It’s partly about my experience with friends and loved ones in the past three years which were very complicated, toxic, and abusive. But laid within is a lot about the deconstruction of self for personal growth and transformation. I hope it helps you live and stuff. Apparently, we are emo now.’


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Originally formed in 2007 under the name Castevet, the band is from Chicago, Illinois. The band has two studio albums.

Pianos Become the Teeth

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Pianos Become the Teeth is an American rock band from Baltimore, Maryland, formed in 2006. Their musical style has been inspired by post-rock and early screamo acts, and they are a part of a post-hardcore music movement also represented by Touché Amoré, La Dispute, Defeater, and Make Do and Mend. The group reissued their well-received debut album Old Pride in 2010 through Topshelf Records.

Touché Amoré

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An American post-hardcore band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 2007. They released their fourth studio album titled ‘Stage Four’ in 2016.

Everyone Everywhere

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Everyone Everywhere is an American emo band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania formed in 2007. They have released two self-titled albums, two EPs, and one split with Into It. Over It. since then.

Into It. Over It.

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This is a solo project of the Chicago, Illinois-based musician Evan Thomas Weiss. It is considered one of the leading acts in the emo revival scene of the ‘10s.


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An American emo band from Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2011 Snowing announced they were breaking up. In 2016 they reunited for two the final shows at the Broken World Fest in Pittsburgh and the Square of Opposition Records' 15th year anniversary.

Moose Blood

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Moose Blood are an English emo band based in Canterbury, Kent. They formed in 2012 and are currently signed to Hopeless Records.

The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

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TWIABP is an American band formed in Willimantic, Connecticut in 2009. According to their Facebook page, their ‘lineup is constantly expanding and contracting. Recording and live performance lineups vary.’

A Great Big Pile of Leaves

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An American indie rock band from Brooklyn, New York, currently signed to Topshelf Records.

Sorority Noise

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An American indie rock band from Hartford, Connecticut formed in 2013. Their latest album is called ‘You're Not As _____ As You Think It’ was released in 2017 by Triple Crown Records.


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AllMusic biographer Jason Lymangrover called the band's sound a merge of ‘bombastic emo pop, post-hardcore, and thick, chunky indie rock.’ Their 2015 album called ‘Everybody Is Going to Heaven’ charted at number 2 on the Billboard Vinyl Albums chart.

Glocca Morra

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Glocca Morra was an American indie rock/emo band from Miami, Florida, formed in 2009. Before breaking up in 2015, the band announced their plans to release a final two song EP on Ice Age Records.

Title Fight

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An American rock band from Kingston, Pennsylvania, formed in 2003. They have released three studio albums.

Algernon Cadwallader

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Was an American emo band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 2005. The band split in 2012.

The Front Bottoms

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An American band that originated in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey was formed in 2007. They have five studio albums, the latest of which is the ‘Back on Top’ released on 2015.

Tiny Moving Parts

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An American emo/math rock band from Benson, Minnesota formed in 2010. In 2016 they released their latest album ‘Celebrate.’

Modern Baseball

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An American band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania formed in 2011. The band has three studio albums.

You Blew It!

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An American emo quintet based in Orlando, Florida. The band was formed in 2009.


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An American rock band from St. Louis, Missouri formed in 2011 following the end of the group Hunter Gatherer. Their 2015 album ‘Dealer’ was ranked at number 2 on AbsolutePunk's top albums of 2015 list.

51 comments sorted by best / new / date

    An entire emo article without mentioning My Chemical Romance. You get my upvote sir
    I loved Emo Chicks in my teenage years. the music was not that great, but I always had a crush on them. 
    I have zero problem with emo music, I just hate the over obsessive fans.  I love emo, especially the pioneer that based on Hardcore Punk music instead of popular pop punk emo that degenerate emo music.
    To me it appears that "emo" have been "replaced" by indie pop or alt pop like 21 pilots or halsey, and the "sadness" subculture is very much alive with all the tumblr harley-quinn posts... but emo the rock subgenre doesn't seem to be very popular anymore. Neither is any rock subgenre, sadly... maybe partly because people do call nonrock like 21 pilots "rock"
    You're thinking about "third wave", pop-punk-ish emo, it has very little to do with what the article showcases. Also new rock music is alive and well, if you want to put a little time in looking for it
    I think he meant rock in the mainstream. Not just like, semi famous, like superstars and stuff. Since these days rap is the biggest alternative genre today, basically the "rock" of our generation.
    I'd rather Goth metal makes a come-back. Mainly for the goth chicks... I honestly couldn't care less about the music xD
    I keep seeing this hot goth chick at my college. Some of them are be pretty hot, but it depends.
    Does she have vampire teeth too?
    uh no. shes got a really nice body and face but dark clothes and goth band shirts. She wears high black boots that are platforms, if i remember right. Anyways nothing rediculous and every guy stares basically.
    Aside from great music, that's the other thing I miss about going to see Type O Negative whenever they'd come to town. Dude brought in the goth girlies!
    People may complain about hipsters, but nothing was ever as pretentious and cringy as the emo fashiontrend from the late mid 2000's.
    I dont mind the music its the dumbass haircuts and guys wearing girl pants so tight it gives them cameltoe that bothers me a little
    It just cracks me up when people make comments like this, but they don't care about bands like Alice in Chains or Guns n' Roses doing the same damn thing. 
    I hated the emo movement in the mid-2000's. I had a friend who even admitted to me that he cut his wrists because it was "the thing to do" when being emo. He and his emo friends always hung out outside of some kiosk looking like the darkest happy bunch. I had a hard time accepting that poser movement. It's like an insult to everybody who's emotionally ill for real.
    Your friend was just an idiot. Same goes for the idiots who faked being mentally ill for attention. I doubt they listened to any of this music in this article.
    I dont know about emo music making a come back but emo clothing definitely is. I walked into a JayJays store the other day and 90% of the clothing was black. I do like emo music but the fashion ended for a good reason.
    Emo, is not goth. Goth is not emo. Goth is currently very much in fashion; chokers, black clothing, skinny jeans, leather.  Emo is not in fashion; band bracelets, baggy jumpers, beanies and floppy hair. I don't get how the two are mistaken so frequently.
    Goth and Emo are different but are very similar. If you search it up you will definitely notice the similarities. I think you might be mistaking emo for grunge. The style you described isn't really just emo. for example skinny jeans and band t-shirts(usually both black) and long hair(usually straightened and black). There are a few different types of emo fashion though.
    Well, emo revival definitely exists, but it was a thing five-six years ago... many of the best known bands have split up, and it isn't a trend anymore. Some good bands still come out though, I really love Oliver Houston's first ep!
    I never realized they were gone long enough to be able to have a revival.
    The thing is that I think most of the bands from this so-called revival sound so similar that it cannot be more than a passing trend. I mean, if you listen to Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker or Jimmy Eat World you see similar contexts and themes, but can still tell them apart, same for all the Fueled by Ramen bands like FOB and Paramore (although I struggle to call that Emo). However, I listen to Citizen, Turnover, The World is a Beautiful Place... and it all sounds like it could be the same band, no distinctive elements. Maybe Basement would be the one I set more apart cuz to me they sound a bit heavier, but otherwise this whole movement just seems like a passing trend.
    I've seen You Blew It! about 3-4 times live. The band is hilarious and I love their music.
    Article should be titled "WAS the emo revival really a thing" because A:half these bands have either broken up (cstvt, algernon, modern baseball) or moved past the emo realm (pianos, title fight) and the rest are just 90s indie revival bands. Touche amore is just straight up hardcore in my book. And if you even REALLY followed whatever real emo is, it never went away, like all punk and indie bands, it's just a springboard genre for young bands to start from.
    Realising that there was a difference between Emo and "Scene" was the greatest day of my life. 
    You know what, is it just me or does anyone else notice how these "retro cycles" keep getting closer and closer? In the 1970's and early-mid 1980's - we had the retro 50's - American Grafitti, The Cars, the B-52's, Stray Cats, the Romantics, riding around in your big pink 59' Caddy Deville or 57' Chevy Bel Aire.... Then the late 80's/early 90's came about, and the sixties started to creep in because everyone into thrift shop culture was buying old 60's stuff because the mainstream 80's made it uncool after a time.  But it still blended so well into what came before it's hard to tell where it started.... Then the late 90's came, all the 60's people started moving 70's style now, Lenny Kravits was as 70's as it gets.  Funk had a revival.  Sure we had a small few months where Swing was back in for awhile, but mostly it was the 70's. Then by the mid 2000's we had the retro 80's, Rooney, Parimore, by the late 2000's New retro Wave (80's style synth music mostly)  came around and got some popularity via the movie Drive and it's soundtrack.  Then Soundgarden got back together, Nirvana starts all their special promotions for album anniversaires - and everyone's talking about a Grunge revival for 2-3 years there, then within the past 2 years - Nu-Metal starts getting attention, now we're starting on retro Emo already and it's only been 10 years.... This shit is getting ridiculous.  Jeezuz people, give it some time to age first.
    The emo revival this is pertaining to is the mid 80s to 90s (mostly 90s,) not the 2000s. It's much more punk and indie/alt based versus pop-punk that somehow absorbed the ridiculous poser goth look. But I get it, to those who don't care aren't concerned about facts.
    Heres the thing though, the #1 time period I heard that term was in the mid 2000's when Emo/Screamo was all the range.  It was probably underground and not bastardized in the 90's so I would not know.  The 80's and early 90's were my bag back then before I started making misanthropic baritone chorus metal.
    And that's fine and all. If you don't know anything about what the article is referring to, then it's probably best not to respond. Most of the bands listed have closer ties to 80s hardcore and 90s indie rock, not 00s emo-pop and glam-core as that era should be known as.
    Im not into the emo bands really, but im surprised Taking Back Sunday isn't mentioned at all in this article. I thought they had some good songs.