I do this thing where, as I’m writing blog posts, I’m actually hearing myself talking in my head to a group of imaginary friends, kind of like when you’re preparing to take the stand in a murder trial by staring at yourself in a mirror and clearing your throat a lot. So while I was thinking of all the things I wanted to say in this post about Emarosa, my brain-voice was machine-gunning the words at such an alarming pace that I gave myself a headache.
If you’re a new figment of my fake readership, let me give you a brief run-down of my love affair with Emarosa and why I didn’t give a shit who else was playing at the same time as them that day because this day trumps all. I fell in love with them in 2008 after Jonny Craig got kicked out of Dance Gavin Dance and picked up by Emarosa, currently in need a new singer. Jonny Craig was It for me back then so naturally Emarosa became my favorite band.
Jonny fucked them over big time in 2011, and so the rest of the band really had no choice but to part ways with him. Jonny was all, “Good luck Emarosa, you guys are nothing without me” and for awhile it was starting to look like he was right; they all but fell off the face of the earth, popping up sporadically to let Facebook and Twitter know that they weren’t done, they were still writing music and looking for a singer.
It took them three years, but they found Bradley Walden and proceeded to record their best album to date; it has never felt better being an Emarosa fan. My pride for them is so ridiculously over-the-top that you’d think Chooch was in the band.
Thinking of the shitty position that Jonny put Emarosa in (remember the MacBook scandal?) always leaves me with the bitter taste of chopped cabbage in my mouth.
(It’s worth noting that Emarosa only played the first leg of Warped Tour, and then a day after their last date, Jonny’s new band Slaves jumps on for the last leg. There was absolutely no overlap. #soblessed that the Pittsburgh date got Emarosa and not misogynistic, drama-perpetuating Slaves!)
I always get real on edge right before seeing a band that I’m super into, so around 4:30 (35 minutes before their set time), I started to feel pretty barfy, coupled with some intense pants-peeing giddiness. I mean that in all of the best ways, like back in high school when you would hide behind a corner, waiting to take a clandestine photo of Scott Dambaugh with your 35MM camera; or when you would have your mom drive you past his house; or when you and your best friend would walk “casual” laps around the mall while you hoped to spot him slinking about lazily in his billowing Stüssy pants, OMG IT WAS JUST LIKE THAT.
It had been raining, and I mean RA-HAY-NING, intermittently all day long, and it conveniently started up again right before 5:00. I was bummed, because Emarosa has been making huge waves this summer on Warped Tour, and were even bumped up to the main stage for one of the dates, thanks to their incredibly energetic performances. They’ve been growing more and more popular, and the pictures I had been seeing online showed that they were drawing really big crowds for a band playing on one of the smaller stages.
Unfortunately, the rain drove a ton of people clear to the other side of the venue, beneath the amphitheater’s sheltering roof, leaving very few of us to brave it out before the Kevin Says stage. By the time Emarosa came on, the rain was coming down in bullet-like sheets, and there were times I had to shut my eyes because it felt like my contacts were being knocked off my eyeballs.
But it was worth it. Fuck the rain! Bradley gave zero fucks about the weather and spent 95% of their set immersed in the audience. (The few times he was actually on stage, he was busy busting out basic gymnastics stunts and spinning Will upside down. He has done nothing short of busting his ass to win over the old Jonny Craig fans, and in the process, he has garnered a ton of new recruits as well. If I wasn’t such a blathering mess in these situations, I would like to hug him and thank him for breathing new life into Emarosa. And then I’d like to grovel in the faces of Will and Jordan about how grateful I am that they didn’t stop trying and how I never gave up, and how proud I am of them and most of all, fuck Jonny Craig! He was nothing but poison. I wasted so much time defending him when all he gave back was slurred performances and humiliating encounters. I’m too old to fuck around with that.
Moments after the above picture was taken, Bradley had crowd-surfed his way over to where I was standing and I got to touch him and was like OMFG about it for the rest of the day. Chooch likes to tell everyone that I cried, but I promise you I didn’t actually cry. I only cried once all day, and that was during PVRIS’s set. (MORE ON THAT IN ANOTHER POST.)
This was actually only my seventh time: 3x with Jonny as the singer, once with Tilian Pearson who was filling in when Jonny was forced to go to a detox facility, and 3x with Bradley. I am here to report that this was the best performance of them all. I was so excited that this was Chooch’s first time getting to see them live! He seemed really into it, and we were right in front of the barrier so he could see perfectly (not like Bradley was ever on the stage!) but there was a moment when I looked over my shoulder at Chooch and he was making this anguished face, so I thought to myself, “Oh boy, here we go. The Brat is surfacing.” Because he has a pretty low threshold when it comes to doing things he doesn’t want to be doing, so I thought maybe he had grown tired of Emarosa so quickly and was about to start whining about wanting to go home.
Boy, sit yo’ ass down. We ain’t leaving when Pierce the Veil is on next!
Anyway, I found out later that his contorted face was out of repulsion because there was a couple behind me who were making out, God forbid.
Just, wow. Bradley proves over and over that Jonny isn’t the only golden-throated angel in this scene. It makes me laugh that after Bradley had joined the band, Jonny was tweeting about how Emarosa wasn’t “allowed” to ever play “his” songs again, but they are. And Bradley is KILLING IT. “Set It Off Like Napalm” coming out of his mouth is almost too much for me to handle.
If we’re being honest here, I don’t think Emarosa is going to be this scene’s best kept secret much longer. They are too good and deserve mainstream success. I’m rooting for them so fucking hard.
Right after the last song ended (1996 On Bevard!), Bradley said he was going to be at their merch tent meeting everyone; after dropping the mic, he ran straight up that soggy, muddy hill, true to his word. We quickly followed, and thanks to the still-heavy rain, only about 20 people beat us there. There was a little bit of time to spare before Pierce the Veil, so I asked Chooch if he would be my proxy and meet Bradley and Chooch was like, “Yeah, duh.”
He’s clearly a pro at rubbing elbows with bands now, you guys.
“I dare you to tell him that he’s better than Jonny,” I said, laughing as we stood in line.
“What will you give me if I do?” he immediately asked, his wagering cap securely fastened under his chin. It’s never free with him! What happened to the days when the mere act of accepting and completing a dare was all the glory needed?
So I promised him a dollar. That little crook.
I know Chooch already posted this picture in his own blog post, but it is too glorious not to repost over and over again.
God I can’t even remember what happened now when it was Chooch’s turn, I was shaking so bad. But I will tell you that right after I took this picture, Chooch started to walk away but then turned back and said, “You’re better than Jonny.”
“Thanks, man! I agree,” Bradley said, propelling me into a tailspin of IS THIS REAL LIFE.
I shot myself with a horse tranquilizer just in time to chime in with, “We’re Team Emarosa!” Bradley probably said “thanks” or something, but I couldn’t hear past the psychotic ringing in my ears.
“You’re so goddamn awkward,” Henry said after we walked away. WTF I felt like I was being pretty OK and normal for once? I dwelled on it on for the rest of the day, trying to recreate in my head what I must have sounded like. Probably Bullwinkle. So, thanks, Henry. I’m glad you fucking fell down the hill!
I’ve been going through serious withdrawals like I always do after a show, particularly Warped Tour. But the good news is that I’M GOING TO SEE EMAROSA AGAIN TOMORROW NIGHT IN CLEVELAND, WOO!