• Courtesy of Wikipedia
  • Mewithoutyou live

Since emo’s underground fourth-wave scene crossed over and became a visible phenomenon on the Billboard charts last year its become distorted under the conspiratorial scrutiny of folks apprehensive about the term “emo revival.” In the past year I’ve read plenty of anti-trend pieces more focused on the misleading nature of the phrase “emo revival” than on why people might use the term in the first place.

After all, the bands involved in the lingering third-wave scene, emo’s most mainstream and commercially successful iteration, can still flex their muscles even as their ranks have dwindled—Fall Out Boy’s return album, Save Rock and Roll, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 last April. The notion that emo died rings false to the masses whose only interpretation of the genre came from its 2000s popularity , and much of the bickering I’ve seen about “emo revival” is centered on the word choice used to describe the newer scene. It’s an argument that fails to address the cultural changing of the guard taking place between the once-omnipresent third wave and the newer scene.

In the last decade emo’s interpretation remained fluid—it became a “I know it when I see it” pop phenomenon, and everyone seemed to see it a different way. Sure, emo’s dominant motif skewed towards My Chemical Romance’s gothic fashion by the end of the aughts—the culture hasn’t quite shed this image, and South Park paraded it out in a 2013 episode focused on goth and emo kids—but there’s always been some space in emo’s third wave for transgressive interpretations of the pop-centric sound. Brand New managed to sustain their popularity when they went rogue with 2006’s fantastic The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and further down the totem pole Philadelphia’s Mewithoutyou carried a torch for the second wave throughout the 2000s.

Mewithoutyou is still kicking it, and tomorrow night the band headlines Bottom Lounge to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of its second album, Catch for Us the Foxes. These songs push the feral, cavernous posthardcore sound that germinated in many regional screamo scenes in the 90s, but Mewithoutyou’s version is more refined and polished. Listening to Catch for Us the Foxes you get the sense that the band could at any moment bust out into moments of chaos, even when they whipped out tight and sharp songs that resemble Warped Tour outfits eager to cash in on screamo’s 2004 popularity. Mewithoutyou is one of the rare acts from emo’s 2000s that could play to fans of Pedro the Lion and Thursday, and one that has been free to do their own bizarre thing as they’ve seen fit. Tomorrow Mewithoutyou will be joined by Appleseed Cast, the second-wave outfit that’s gravitated towards celestial postrock, and Hop Along, a Philly group whose searing, flexible take on fourth-wave emo is liable to appeal to people who hate anything associated with the “e” word.