In 2006, at England’s annual Reading Festival, Panic! At the Disco and My Chemical Romance shared the main stage, with Panic! taking the stage Friday and My Chemical… following them Sunday. The decision to involve the two bands was a controversial one, as the Reading Festival had a history of hosting harder rock groups, and plenty of fans were unimpressed by the decision to feature them so prominently.
However, nobody knew exactly HOW unimpressed the hard rock fans were until, the Friday of the festival, midway through Panic! At the Disco’s set, a 2L pop-bottle, emptied and refilled with human urine, came sailing from the crowd, colliding with the side of one band-member’s skull, knocking him unconscious.
He was only unconscious a few minutes, but it was long enough that the set was cancelled. This cancellation proved to be a mistake on the part of the organizers…
…because Sunday, when My Chemical Romance took to the stage, they were assailed by a barrage of detritus the likes of which no band had ever weathered. They played as much of their planned set as they could manage, then beat a hasty retreat. The crowd, realizing their power to prevent shitty bands from being inflicted on them, howled in victory as they fled the stage.
The opening shots had been fired. The War on Emo, as New Musical Express later dubbed it, had begun, and the time had come for everyone to choose a side.
The war went on for years.
There were bad times, to be sure. There are always bad times in war. I was there when the last of us pulled out of MySpace, abandoning it to our enemies forever. I was on the roof of our embassy as self-important poetry and simplistic rock riffing closed in on us and we feared the helicopters wouldn’t get us away in time. I sometimes wonder if my old MySpace profile is still there somewhere, amongst the Emo wreckage that once was a social media site. We promised we’d one day be back, but in our hearts we knew we never would…
But battles won and lost are, ultimately, irrelevant. In war there is one party triumphant, and the individual battles leading up to that point are nothing more than sideshows.
Which is why the real victory, the only lasting one, was the final one. When Fall Out Boy was forced to tour jointly with 50cent in a desperate attempt to stay in the size of venue they’d grown used to and then, a few weeks later, they were forced to cancel that tour in it’s entirety due to lackluster ticket sales we knew the war was coming to an end. By the time Fall Out Boy split up, a month after that, it was almost anticlimactic. We’d won, the genre was no longer a force to fear, and all that was left for us to do was to mop up the scattered remnants of what once was a potent, if god-awful, cultural force.
We congratulated ourselves mightily upon that day. Perhaps too mightily, our hubris in victory leaving us unprepared for future challenges. And yet all I can bring myself to wish for now is to be back in those heady days, to have more time to enjoy our moments of triumph…
Because now we live in utter squalor, scrabbling from day to day with neither plan nor hope. Our forces lay in ruin and those who survive wish they had not. We sleep, when we can sleep, in the burned out husks of buildings where once grand music played, and always that infernal WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB is there, in the background, like the endless heartbeat of some horrible, ancient deity.
Because Emo, you see, was all that had stood between us and Dubstep. And now, heavens help us, there’s no hope left for any of us….