by Anna Kennedy
At nine o’clock on Friday night the doors to the Voltage Lounge opened and I followed a group of music lovers into the dim-lit venue. One of the first things I noticed was a table set up on the stage with very minimal DJ equipment and a large banner with a cracked tombstone being used as a backdrop. The rest of the venue was covered in black and white balloons with sayings such as “Sad as Fuck” and “Every Nite is Emo Nite”.
Emo Nite was started by a group of friends who; as they describe, “…throw parties for the music we love.” These events started in Los Angles and have stretched throughout the country, showcasing the alternative and emotional music that many people in their 20’s and 30’s grew up rocking out to. This group of friends has grown since then; and on Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting some of the people in this group; Jason Alexander Medina and Rocky Rinaldi.
The party got started with Fall Out Boy and the crowd was invited on stage to dance and sing with Medina and Rinaldi. Most who joined them on stage stayed there all night and feverishly danced with Rinaldi, who was decked out in an outfit inspired by My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade”. With the crowd on the floor, on the stage, and on the upper balcony of the venue the whole night felt like a massive house party.
As the night continued music by Yellowcard, All Time Low, Hit the Lights, and more were bursting through the speakers. There was never a single song that the crowd didn’t sing along to with smiles on their faces, especially when Smash Mouths “Rock Stars” was played. As the song started, you could hear over the mic “This is the greatest emo song ever written.” This seemed to confuse most in the venue, but the crowd sang along nonetheless.
In talking with Rinaldi about how he became a part of these events, he told me about how he went to the first Emo Nite, that was held in Los Angeles, alone and how he’s been a part of the events from that day forward. “Emo Nite is about community and everyone coming together”, he said with a smile on his face.
Back down on the stage, I met up with Medina who took a moment to talk with me while controlling all the music that makes Emo Nite what it is today. Medina is a big part of the events in both Philadelphia and his own home town of Baltimore. I asked him if he focuses on bands that are from each city that he is performing in for specific events. He explained that he doesn’t; unless he’s in Philadelphia. With bands like Switchfoot, Modern Baseball, and Valencia all from the Philadelphia area, it is hard not to bring that up while on their home turf. When asked about how the show was going, Medina exclaimed: “Best Emo Nite I have ever done. Everyone is Dancing. Everyone is into it!”
That does not surprise me at all. Philadelphia fans have a lot of passion. It can be sports, music, or cheesesteaks; when we are excited you can be sure that we won’t hold back.
Emo Nite is an event that allows you to travel back in time where you first fell in love with a band that meant something to you. It is a night where you can wrap your arm around a person you have never met and feel like old friends; while singing along to all your favorite songs. The night is what you make it. If you want to go to a show to stand and watch without participating, Emo Nite may not be for you. To get the most out of this event, come prepared to dance and sing your heart out.
If you are from the Philadelphia area but have not yet been to an Emo Nite, I suggest picking up tickets to the next local show in Baltimore on July 14th.
All photos provided by James L Harper.