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Taking Back Tuesday


There are very few events we have had the patience to wait in a 2 hour line for.
Much less on a work night.
Much less in THE RAIN.
Emo Night is that exception.

All photos by Gil Riego

Every first Tuesday of the month since last December, we’ve lined up for blocks outside of dingy bars in Echo Park to revisit the nostalgic angst of our youth, and belt the songs that defined the way we listen to music today. Hundreds of mid-20 to early-30 somethings wait with us amidst air that’s is saturated with raw energy and anticipation for the experience waiting just beyond the bouncer. We mosh, we crowd surf, we scream, we sing with strangers. We drink “Soco Amaretto Limes” and “The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me” (a PBR and shot of whiskey) while headbanging to a “Turn Down For What” x “The Rock Show” mash up, courtesy of Mark Hoppus. This is Taking Back Tuesday.

Coined after an emo-era highlight band Taking Back Sunday, Taking Back Tuesday (or more casually known as Emo Night) is a bar night that involves the three event founders and hosts (T.J. Petracca, Barbara Szabo, and Morgan Freed) DJing the favorite songs of our youth. They curate and coordinate the surprise guest DJs, and so far we’ve been graced with the presence of Mark Hoppus (twice!), Joyce Manor, The Chain Gang of 1974, Desaparecidos, Motion City Soundtrack and Senses Fail. The event, which started at the Short Stop in Echo Park, has since moved to the Echoplex to accommodate sad-song lovers’ high demand to relive the feels of their adolescence.

The idea for an LA emo night was conceived, as many brilliant ideas are, amidst a boozy karaoke session in Palm Springs. Babs had previously thrown a few emo nights when she lived in San Francisco that didn’t take off, but after the inevitable bonding that happens when publicly belting out Dashboard Confessional, she and T.J. decided they needed to bring it to LA. The two looped in their colleague and friend Morgan Freed, and got to work. We all collectively agree that an emo night was something vital that was missing from LA nightlife and the turnout for the events are a testament to that.

Morgan: “It was the most organic thing ever. Not at any given point did we ever think, ‘oh, we’re going to start an LLC...’”
TJ: Or we’re going to get Mark Hoppus to come. It was more like, let’s get all of our friends together, get drunk and sing along to Brand New at the Short Stop.”

On the way to our first Emo Night we (LYKA) were ecstatic. After hosting private pop-punk karaoke sessions of our own in our apartment for years, it was novel to think that we’d be able to experience the nostalgia in public. At first we were even skeptical as to if anyone would go to the event, convinced we were some of the last few that enjoyed blasting Chroma in full, or My Chemical Romance while pre-gaming. However much to our, and the emo night founders’ surprise, the turnout for the first Taking Back Tuesday at the Short Stop was massive. Lines wrapped around the building for blocks. Even when it began to RAIN - the first storm LA has seen in months - we stuck it out. And the wait was absolutely worth it.

TJ: “It doesn’t happen at all in LA. We’re up in the DJ booth the first night and Morgan grabs me and goes, ‘TJ, this never happens.’ No matter what show or party you go to, people care way too much about how they look. It comes from a good place for us too, because we’re not Hollywood promoters, we’re never going into this to make money.”

It’s important to note that all of the proceeds Taking Back Tuesday collects are put back into the party for the community of already-loyal attendees, whether it’s for pizza, booking artists, for the photographer, to make the videos or if someone needs DJ equipment. The rest of the proceeds are donated to charities of the guest DJ’s choice. And personally, we’d gladly pay a $5 admission fee after 10pm (get there by 9pm if you don’t want to wait in line, just saying) if that ensures that the party will go on. Event planning is strenuous and on top of the three founder’s full-time jobs, they’re putting in the extra effort to ensure a successful night that everyone can enjoy.

The Myspace phenomenon nurtured the pop punk music scene for angsty Internet kids all over the globe. Although the three founders grew up in different parts of the states, from Boston to Utah to Arizona, to Hungary (and us from Tokyo to Minneapolis); it’s insane to realize that regardless of distance, we all had parallel interests and very similar musical upbringings. That music was partly what inspired the founders to move to Los Angeles and pursue careers in the entertainment industry at their respective media and marketing firms. And now, starting Taking Back Tuesday has allowed them to break up the pattern of the mundane LA nightlife mentality.

Morgan:I think that when people throw parties, they don’t do it to have fun, they just try to get everybody there… whereas here, I have never seen so much joy on people’s faces. Emo is legitimately instant friendship.”

For those of us who at one point were ashamed to admit this actually isn’t guilty pleasure music, who kept our enthusiasm to ourselves, who could only turn to Myspace and Friday night shows at the YMCA during our awkward outcast middle school days, this room full of strangers does feel like instant friendship. The spirit of the event is amazing. It’s the first time we’ve been able to share and embrace that part of our personality publicly with other people. The event’s overall vibe is a far cry from typical Hollywood pretension. It feels like a house party, where you can bond with other people who love wearing black over a majorly influential genre and subculture.

Taking Back Tuesday has also garnered the attention of some of the founders’ biggest heros; from Adam Lazzara to Bert McCracken, everyone is hyped on the concept. Not to mention, the first time Mark Hoppus ever DJed in his life was at Emo Night. He learned how to DJ for this thing, and has shown up on two different nights. With each Emo Night event, they’ve been raising the bar a little higher with more DJs, incorporating more elements like an extra patio DJ booth, merch and more; they’re even making a documentary which we already can’t wait to see, and have plans to possibly expand into live elements, beyond just a typical DJ set.

Morgan: And when I say “DJ”, we have a Spotify playlist and press play on an iPad… I even look at a computer and get confused, by no means do I know how to DJ. We just play the things that we feel like the people want. How many times can we play “Cute Without The E”? Every time. But going on before Mark Hoppus, I can retire right now. It’s a dream come true to do what we’re doing, for all of us.

The next Taking Back Tuesday: Emo Night LA (Cinco De Emo edish) takes place Tuesday, May 5th at the Echoplex, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Free before 10 PM, $5 after, 21+. Click here for more info.

Our below convo with Babs TJ and Morgan is longer-than-normal (because let’s be honest - we could talk about this for days). We got deep with them discussing the micro demographics of the genre, our first favorite shows and what made that scene - and thus emo night - so important. If you were a part of that world with us, enjoy.

We love Emo Night. We keep running into friends at the parties that we didn’t know liked that kind of music, and now we’re even better friends than we were before.
Morgan: So what I’m hearing is that we’re heroes?
TJ: Or that we Saved The Day?

So how were you able to book Mark Hoppus and was it  a huge deal for you guys? Because it was for us.
Babs: So a lot of things are happening word of mouth at this point, so my friend was friends with his old manager. So he got looped in on an email, and in my mind I was like, ‘this is never going to happen.’ Until the point where Mark walked in, it wasn’t a real thing to me.
TJ: He was like, ‘Take my fee, give it to an animal welfare charity, and let’s have fun.’
Babs: The main thing is that we never want to convince someone to come DJ; of course we have our dream DJs, but I’m never going to sit there are persuade them. It’s more like, ‘here’s the information, if you want to come, you should.’
TJ: It’s so much about the party and event. If you think you’re going to come, do a DJ set and make some money, then you probably shouldn’t do it.
Morgan: Like, we’ve turned people down, because it’s not the spirit of the fucking thing. I don’t think we’re ever going to compromise the integrity of the event. I would never want to. We want it to be more about the event than the actual person. If you’re coming just for the person, then you’re probably coming for the wrong reasons.

Who are your respective dream DJs?
Babs: Adam Lazzara.
TJ: I really want Jesse Lacey to come DJ, my real dream though would be to have Chris Carrabba come do a set.

I’ve never been able to see Brand New live, but they were my favorite band growing up so I was really hyped to see them at Coachella.
TJ: They’re my favorite too, I have a Brand New tattoo… it says “Fight off your demons, write songs in your sleep.” It’s not even a lyric, it’s just something they posted on their website. All three of us have different tastes within the genre too… it’s weird how the genre got broken up into micro demographics by just a few years. Morgan plays a lot more old school emo, Barbara plays more pop punk emo, I just play a lot of Dashboard and Brand New.
Morgan: I play a lot of Get Up Kids and Jimmy [Eat World].
Babs: But it’s not only by age, we just all have different tastes.
Morgan: I never really listened to a lot of the stuff that TJ and Babs listen to. We play b2b2b, b3b... But at any point we can just drop it and drop an acoustic Dashboard song, if it feels right. There’s a cool uncertainty about the crowd and it’s exciting.

We’d really love to see a live component, now that the night is at the Echoplex.
Babs: I think DJing sort of intimidates some artists to be our guests because these bands usually haven’t done it before. Mark went out and bought DJ equipment and learned how to DJ, which was great. I think it’s cool that the night can motivate artists to do something they’ve never done before.
Morgan: I think we all keep asking how we can keep making the night better for everybody. We’re all learning all the time; we’re not promoters, we’re trying to be more of an audience. We go to concerts, we’ve been in the audience situation, the line situation, so with Emo Night it’s like how can we make every aspect of this amazing for everyone that comes.

It’s so validating to come out and enjoy this music with other people.
Babs: Adam Lazzara talked about our event in an interview a while ago, and talked about how it’s validating for him because he never thought people cared about his music. Really cool of him. There were people in the audience Facetiming him during our first party! Nobody even told me… it was crazy that my idol was on people’s phones while I was playing his songs.
Morgan: You know when you read someone’s stupid online profile where it’s like, ‘music is my life.’ Every time I read that I’m like, ‘okay...’ I didn’t think we ever had to say it, haha but this just shows that mentality. For everybody that comes, this music actually a huge part of our lives, and now we can be super proud of it. We all work in the music industry now, so I have to listen to a lot of stupid ass shit all day and it sucks. But now we have friends sending us new bands to check out that are new emo. There’s this brand new band that is so fucking good called Have Mercy. For me, I get to relive that whole experience of finding something you really, really like and listen to it on repeat. Yo, I’ve never put an ###### album on and been like, I gotta listen to this shit over and over and over again. Fuck that.

What are you guys listening to lately? And working in the industry, what do you think is missing or lacking in LA nightlife or music in general?
Morgan: There’s no motherfucking heart in anything in LA.
TJ: You go to these residencies, and a lot of good bands come out of them, but so much of that scene is hype and buzz and the “next cool thing.” Everybody just goes to say they were there before some band blew up. At a certain point you get tired of it. Let’s go back to music that makes you feel something.
Babs: When we were listening to these bands, there was no social media. Now there’s so much out there, so many remixes of things; 10 years ago it was super pure.
Morgan: Being a fan has changed 100% and I don’t know that feeling anymore for new bands. Doing this has revived my love for music and the way that I feel about bands. We’re not doing anything crazy, we’re not doing anything anybody else couldn’t do, we just care about it. We just found the right team, and we’re not just a team, it’s a fucking friendship. People really sing from the bottom of their hearts - like, the band is actually there but it doesn’t matter. And it’s not just one song, its every single one.

Morgan: My favorite part is when I’m so sweaty and shitty, and somebody will hug me and we sing into each other’s faces - a fucking stranger. That personal connection about something that somebody else has written, that’s my favorite part. It’s exactly what the genre is to me. Connecting with somebody no matter what they fucking look like, where they work or what they wear, if we like Hands Down then we’ll scream it into each other’s faces and care about it.

Favorite show you went to as a kid?
TJ: I saw Brand New and Manchester Orchestra together. I hadn’t heard of Manchester Orchestra but they were opening and I was up there, front row, right up against the barrier. Manchester Orchestra blew my fucking head off. And Brand New came on with like, 2 drummers facing each other… that show changed my life. I was like 16.
Babs: Mine is probably a string of three: I followed Taking Back Sunday up the west coast, so I went to SD, LA, and SB.
Morgan: Saves The Day acoustic set. My sister and I are so different; she went to college and got a 4.2 and I’m like, ‘what the fuck is college?’ I played in bands my whole life. But during that show we were holding each other singing the same songs in a small room, it was one of those moments you can’t forget. I want to recreate that for every person that comes to our event.

What are some of your other hobbies?
Morgan: I play in a band called Scouts. It’s like a pop band; if I didn’t make any kind of music I would feel super empty. Even if the music sucks… And now I’m into cinematography, directing and learning about that stuff. I love directing music videos.
TJ: Mine are watching Netflix, eating pizza, going to work…
Babs: I mean, I’m a huge nerd so I love reading, that’s my number one hobby. And I really like the desert, so I’m going to count that as a hobby because I go every chance I get. I think that goes back to the way I was when I discovered emo music, it was something I kept to myself; I just like being back in the desert by myself and having my own time.

What are some projects you’re working on currently?
Morgan: We have day jobs and pay rent and do things that everybody else does, but to make something like emo night or music videos, I couldn’t have asked for a cooler life. And I get to work with everybody that’s awesome and cool as shit, there’s not one part of my day where I’m not having fun. I could order Perrier for the office and still have a good time doing it. Not stuffing bags at Costco.

What are your favorite venues in LA?
TJ: Seeing actual live music, I like the Regent.
Morgan: I like the Troubadour.
TJ: I saw Brand New at the Troubadour, it was so fucking cool.
Morgan: My favorite concert that I ever saw was also when Jimmy did their whole Clarity album. I cried. That’s my favorite album of all time. When I hear a cool band today, it's like, sure they have one or two cool songs. But a whole album? I think our generation of albums is different from what it used to be. When you can listen to an album in full, that's important. My favorite bands have put albums out that are perfect all the way through. Every Blink album, perfect.

Favorite brunch spots in LA?
Babs: I hate brunch. I mean, I love brunch, but only if I make it myself.
TJ: I love Lot 1; It’s right by my house and they have bottomless mimosas for $10 and $15 with a meal, or something? There’s a laundromat across the street so I’ll throw my laundry in, drink bottomless, throw them in the dryer, then drink some more bottomless. I go for the mimosas.
Morgan: Fred 62, have a Sammy Davis Jr. It’ll change your life. I like Home a lot too.

Bloody marys or mimosas?
Babs: Mimosas.
TJ: I like them both, depends on the day. Maybe I’ll start with a bloody, then move on to mimosas… but if I’m really hungover I’ll have a bloody mary.

What about favorite places in LA?
Babs: I love the No Name bar on Fairfax.
TJ: I don’t leave Echo Park, ever.
Morgan: I love Dark Room.
Babs: Can we all go to Dark Room together you guys?