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In the 1990s, bands like Silent Majority and Mind Over Matter architected the melodic hardcore sound that Brand New and Taking Back Sunday would sugarcoat and blow up.
Silent Majority were at least trying to be post-Fugazi male feminists, with songs like “Polar Bear Club” (from 1997’s ), which included a line hypothesizing about the year 2016: “I just bought a microphone for my kid,” singer Tommy Corrigan daydreams, “’Cause she’s trying out for a band.” But things changed on Long Island.
Women have long been shouting about the fucked-up power dynamics of pop-punk and third-wave emo, which have continued into the present—the allegations against Front Step Porch’s predatory singer Jake Mc Elfresh in 2015 almost mirror the ones against Lacey.
People are now listening because they have been cornered. “I’m hoping that with this coming out, it opens the door for people really looking out for women in our scene,“ Emily Driskill, one of Lacey’s alleged victims, told Pitchfork.
It strikes me now as no coincidence at all that my favorite Long Island band of the early-2000s, the one I obsessed over hardest, was also the only group I ever saw with a female member: Michelle Nolan, multi-instrumentalist of emotional piano-rockers Straylight Run (which included former members of Taking Back Sunday).
But Straylight Run was the exception to the rule in a scene that hardly represented young women.
In fact I did not care much about boys at this point in my life.
That is not a radical idea, and it strikes me now as dubious that any longtime Brand New fan would be completely shocked by these allegations.
Part of the premise of emo then was, “I hate myself, I hate the world.” When that is square one, it can be hard to parse how the music is making you internalize even more gendered self-loathing.
In the internet days before Tumblr, our intellectualization was less instant; as teenagers, we didn’t have a vocabulary to articulate all of our contradictory instincts.
“It’s been talked about for a while but it hasn’t actually been happening.” In her groundbreaking 2003 essay “Emo: Where the Girls Aren’t,” originally published in , Jessica Hopper was watching.
Her “deepest concerns,” she said, were for the girls clinging to the lip of the stage, front and center, “who are wanting to stake some claim to punk rock, or an underground avenue, for a way out.” The first time I read this, some years later, I cried at the reality of being seen in a space where I had believed no one was looking out for women.