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Park Hill Graffiti – The importance of music on heritage.

On the 9th February 2021, news broke that the infamous graffiti ‘I Love You Will You Marry Me’ had been removed from the Park Hill estate in Sheffield, to the uproar of the local community. The influence behind Yungblud’s early song of the same name. The story of the Park Hill graffiti is one of two halves. The remarkable beauty of neon lit graffiti on a brutalist housing estate, and the poignant story of how it came to be. It’s impact felt within the historic nature of the site and its cultural influence across the city.

Park Hill is intrinsic to Sheffield’s culture. Full of eclectic meanings. The largest grade 2* listed building in Europe, listed for social developments and a futuristic vision; moving the slum estates of Sheffield into modern housing for its citizens. However, the estate ultimately turning into a hotbed for crime where famously police wouldn’t go near the area due to gang culture. The site is built into Sheffield’s culture, a filming site for This is England, the backdrop for the Arctic Monkeys ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ music video and within the Pulp documentary ‘Life, Death and Supermarkets’.

Jason Lowe’s public display of affection to ‘Clare’ was spray-painted on a bridge at Park Hill, Sheffield, in 2001. He planned to take her to the Roxy on the facing hill, to show her. It was his two-fingers-up at the social services office opposite. The story differs over time, but Jason speaking to the Guardian in 2016 explained, “even though she was a loving person she was not one for accepting love. Just asking her face to face wouldn’t have been enough. And she said yes. But things went downhill from there.” Social services had advised Clare to pay attention to her children, not Jason. The graffiti has become an image of working class culture and has been shared across the globe. It was shown at the Venice Biennale of Architecture; Urban Splash, the Park Hill developers had replicated the proposal on T-shirts for their launch party and Alex Turner wore one on stage in America.

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Alex Turner wearing the ‘I Love You Will You Marry Me’ t-shirt

With a quirky act of romance
A version of Romeo and Juliet
This time with Adidas sneakers and cigarettes
A couple of kids trying to cut down the safety net
They twisted the story so they could bring glory to it

(Yungblud, I Love You Will You Marry Me)

Clare died aged only 30, the site holds strong personal attachment for Clare’s family and to Jason. Despite the huge exploitation of this graffiti, the heartbreaking story, goes further. Jason is homeless and hasn’t received a penny from the marketing that the Park Hill estate has produced. He’s tracked his father down, only to be rejected. One of his sons has been sent to prison for life, for murder. He heard the sentence announced on the radio while at work. Soon he left that job, near breakdown. He struggles to get work because of an unspent conviction. Speaking to the Guardian he was on the phone in the car, he pleaded to a Universal Credit helpline, in rising despair and tears.

When they wrote on the
T-shirts, cool merch, postcards
And lighting it up like a piece of art
They kicked him to the side and left him to starve
On the memory that’s re-breaking his broken heart
(Yungblud, I Love You Will You Marry Me)

Despite the graffiti having huge personal significance and evolving through modern culture, the role of music has been dismissed on the graffiti’s influence and its preservation.

Music and heritage have a symbiotic relationship. Places influence music and music influences places. Locations across the world have become tourism rich unofficial heritage sites, drawing on a personal connection to the band, and as we move into a streaming only world, a place of tangibility to the bands they adore. Salford Lads Club, Manchester (The Smiths), Strawberry Fields, Liverpool (The Beatles), Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France (The Doors), Grove Passage, London (The Libertines).

Its hard to imagine the music of Oasis without a Manchester rooftop scene, the music of Fontaines DC without a Dublin street and the work of Gerry Cinnamon without a packed Glaswegian crowd. Influenced by lyrics, music videos and culture of the band.

Sheffield itself, has been the backdrop for starting some of the greatest bands; Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon, Pulp, The Human League to name just a few. The raw, post-industrialism of the ‘steel city’ spawning angst and escapism.

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Park Hill Estate, Sheffield

Should the wider debate centre around musical influence playing a role in choosing what to conserve and to what extent? When heritage is so intrinsically linked to a culture, and to a song should we be taking further steps to ensure its survival? Does music form a further medium in heritage preservation? Gentrification can take the heart out of a place along with the roots of its culture and its cultural production.

To some, the notorious Park Hill graffiti was a small part of the wider estate, not essential to protect. But the human expression on a brutalist landscape and the music it inspired stands out clearer than the neon lights that adorned it.

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5 best gigs of 2020

A packed start to 2020 ended up a struggling year for the live music industry. With the return of innovative socially distanced shows, 2020 still managed to deliver some outstanding performances.

Below are a selection of the best shows and a reason why they were so great.

Mura Masa – Pryzm, Kingston

Getting fucked for a 6pm club show… full of guest performances

Sports Team – Nags Head, Camberwell

Chaos from start to finish

King Krule – Pryzm, Kingston

A phenomenal set, intimate and passionate performance.

Blossoms, Lafayette

A stunning new, B&Q smelling venue. Topped off by a pretty much greatest hits set list and incredible support from Cabbage

Sam Fender, Newcastle

The first show since the beginning of lockdown. Geordie crowd as per. Proper class

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5 Alt. Christmas Songs

Black Midi – Jingle Bell Rock

Haim – Christmas Wrapping 2020

Bombay Bicycle Club – In The Bleak Midwinter

The Wombats – Is This Christmas

My Chemical Romance – All I Want For Christmas

Belle and Sebastian – Christmas Wrapping

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5 songs by artists who should win the mercury prize 2020

Charli XCX – Anthems (how i’m feeling now)

Moses Boyd – Stranger Than Fiction (Dark Matter)

Lanterns on the Lake – When It All Comes True (Spook the Herd)

Anna Meredith – Inhale Exhale (FIBS)

Kano – Pan Fried (Hoodies All Summer)

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Outdoor Gigs: What options do grassroots venues and artists have to survive.

The recent news of the Live At The Drive In shows being cancelled due to fears of local outbreaks, highlights the realism of routes out of lockdown for live music performance. After the government announced outdoor shows could go ahead, a string of (already announced) outdoor events had started to sell tickets. With a lineup featuring The Streets, Kaiser Chiefs and Tom Grennan the shows were not to everyones taste, but economically, large scale bands are needed to secure enough sales, at a high enough price point, with such limited capacity. Although a great concept, the nature of the lineup and the ongoing risks of operating within a pandemic have distracted the community still at risk.

The government announced a four stage plan. At stage one and stage two, venues can open for rehearsals, training and recording performances for broadcast without an audience. Next, outdoor shows are allowed, plus ‘pilots’ for indoor gigs with a seated, limited and distanced audience; it’s uncertain yet whether that will involve a two-metre rule or a capacity limit at around 30 per cent. At stage four, limited, distanced indoor gigs can go ahead and at stage five they can increase audience capacity to something that maybe isn’t bankruptcy.

Amidst the praise of live music ‘returning’, the most at-risk venues and artists continue to be affected by the outbreak and that stage four, seems very far away. On the 16th July, The Welly in Hull, Gorilla in Manchester and Deaf Institute all closed. Grassroots organisations and small-medium artists still do not know their future. They both have limited cash reserves and limited exposure are unable to sustain themselves due to their popularity, through donations, merch and spotify streams.

Lets look at some of the places that have done it successfully. In Barcelona, Primavera music festival have launched ‘Nits del Forum’ a series of open-air shows, in Parc Del Forum with an attendance capped to enable social distancing. These events are selling out, proving success whilst also allowing bars to operate in the space, to further support.

Primavera ‘Nits del Forum’ from Instagram

In Oslo, a city fortunate to have many open spaces, have been hosting outside gigs in car parks, and unique locations such as SALT by the Oslo fyord, with a gig every night of the weekend, open mic nights and dj events. With limited capacity and enough space to distance between one and other, similarly these events are selling out.

These international examples show a fascinating incite, but it is difficult to see how these can be replicated in the UK music industry. The UK has very limited outside space to host an economically stable outside performance of this nature. Furthermore, The majority of UK gig-goes tend to be from a lifestyle without cars and the UK focus has such been on large scale, remote events. Although if a city attempted one of these concepts, London, for example, where space is a premium, seems impossible to host in socially distanced spaces like Barcelona and Oslo. There are many variables to be considered for those who would potentially host, the popularity of the act, the style of location, risk of further lockdowns without insurance to name just a few. Ultimately, grassroots venues are nervous at spending money and to host such an event that could be a further huge financial risk if then cancelled.

What has been seen from the decline in popularity of live streams, is that the ambiance of a show is integral to its success, the characterization of some of the UK’s best grassroots venues are through their intimacy, and grunge-like aesthetics, these can’t be replicated in these circumstances but admittedly, outdoor shows are a step in the right direction and need to be supported.

What this means for venues

Whilst all of this is ongoing, its key to remember what venues are still going through, The Lexington in Islington ran a very successful Crowdfunder project, but it revealed the stark reality of each venue. The Lexington has costs of over £25,000 each month, to survive with the doors closed, this cost is not going away and initial crowdfunding drives are drying out. Most venues have opened to sell alcohol but that is just a drop in the ocean of their overall costs and business model.

What this means for artists

But most importantly, what does this mean for the artists who play the venues, a venue cannot exist without the type of bands who would inhabit its space. And without co-survival, one will not exist without the other.

Ultimately, there are not enough avenues that provide income for musicians, venue staff and touring crew. Streaming, merchandise and streamed shows operate with very minimal profit to the artist. Even incredibly successful bands, if they were to remove their savings, wouldn’t be financially secure with current financial infrastructure.

Streaming has been a great success in the past at opening up new artists to listeners, however an ongoing debate is the amount artists recieve per stream, and in this current climate, this needs to be a further avenue of income. Tom Gray, Director of PRS for Music recently tweeted a case study of the Beatles, if they were to start out in today’s climate.

He goes on to detail, in 1965, 1.8 million copies of Rubber Soul sold in the USA. 11 songs. That’s 19.8 million confirmed song sales. That’s about £80k for Parlophone in streaming terms and £16k for The Beatles.

The band recorded for one month in Abbey Road Studio 2. Renting that room, a rough guess, £3k per day. So that’s £90k for the room. A producer of George Martin’s stature today, no less than £15k. So the band are already endebted to the label for £105k. With a band as popular at the time as the Beatles, what hope does that give emerging musicians without touring.

When you consider how little the money from each stream (approx £0.005 per play) goes to the artists, you need a lot of plays to earn any kind of money. In fact, the whole system is fucked, many labels still pay to artists based on 90% earnings because they hold back 10% for ‘breakages’ (when they used to pack vans with vinyl and there were inevitable casualties).

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One of the hard hitting and unspoken facts from all of this, is that there is a sense of survival, not just for venues, the musicians but for the audiences themselves. The majority of gig-goers are young, who do not have an abundance of disposable income, facing an unprecedented recession. In times of uncertainty, a changing mindset of saving is having a huge impact on donations and supporting to the extent we would all want to do. Whereas the extent of government support is yet to be divided out, the arts have been left to be supported by its audience, who need a sense of normality to return.

In times of economic turmoil, the meaning of arts is vastly more significant beyond just its economic impact. Expressions in hardship characterize some of musics greatest movements, from Swing-Jazz, Punk and Grime. The country needs the arts move than ever. The government has stepped in with a £1.57bn grant package, though what is yet to be seen is how long this can last, who is supported and what this means once the grant package has been split across the arts in its entirety.

The Music Venue Trust have calculated that staying closed for a further three months will cost a combined £46 million, and 93 per cent won’t be able to reopen at all. A car crash waiting to happen. But opening with such restrictions in ‘phase four’ would cost £85 million (or £52 million with a one-metre restriction) and risk further closures that we are already seeing. Instead the MVT, propose that the government provides the funds of around £50 million to survive until October, and then fucks off.

What needs to happen is some level of ongoing government support for venues to begin operating at a reduced capacity, now. Or inject enough cash into the grassroots venues that support the whole industry. If venues can only operate at 70% capacity, the government should support the remaining costs of ticket sales to get live music back ‘on the road’.

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Interview: Field Music

We spoke to North East legends Field Music around Newcastle’s hubs of live music, and why they need to be saved. Long term advocates for the protection of venues, Field Music are integral to the voices of cultural survival.

When playing certain venues, are you conscious of bands that have graced its stage before? And does this affect how it feels to play at such venue?

Yes, although it wouldn’t have an affect on the performance itself. It does add something to the time spent around the venue before a show and it gives us something to chat about with the audience in between songs – a town’s audience are usually pretty knowledgeable about who has played their venues.

If you were to choose one venue, that you played at have visited to be protected. What would that venue be? What are your memories of ‘x’ venue?  And what is the most important aspect of the venue that you would protect?

The Cluny in Newcastle upon Tyne. It feels like such a central part of Tyne and Wear’s music and cultural community – indeed a good few of Newcastle’s cultural businesses moved into the Ouseburn area because of the magnetic draw of the Cluny. Some of my best memories of the place are all-day festival events which happened in the mid 00s when it really felt like the North East’s music scene was exploding with vibrancy and that there was a real sense of connection between bands and audiences. It’s been a thriving business so the way it needs to be protected really is against frivolous noise complaints from nearby residential apartments, which again were only built nearby because of the cultural capital the Cluny itself had brought there.

What are the attributes of these buildings that are significant? i.e graffiti on dressing room walls.

Most of the notable venues I can think of have their own unique arrangement between stage and viewing areas. At the Cluny, for instance, the ceiling is vaulted and the stage is quite narrow and high so the lower audience area feels tight and sweaty, whereas the raised audience area still has great views but you can view the gig with a bit of detachment. The main room at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds has a stage right in the corner and tiered viewing areas for the audience so everyone has a great view and everyone feels very close. Most of the venues I care about are not just big black box rooms.

Music scenes: Do you feel that scenes are important for towns and cities to embrace and to remember? and how do you feel the legacy of starting out in a different city would have influenced your sound?

Great bands tend to come out of a local music ecosystem which allows them, or forces them, to be innovative – either in how they sound or how they function. We had three major strands in Sunderland affecting us – 1) very little infrastructure (so we had to make our own), 2) a dominant music culture which was fixated on the laddish aspects of Britpop (which made us determined to do something completely different), 3) a small group of like-minded, awkward friends who’s skills and interests complemented ours (Barry Hyde from the Futureheads and his dad’s massive wayward record collection, This Ain’t Vegas’s links to DIY culture in Leeds and love of US-based DIY record labels etc.) That combination of things wouldn’t have happened in another town – not even in Newcastle.

How do you feel a venue supports your fans connect to one another during your shows?

I don’t think there’s anything specific beyond the atmosphere, the feel of a place. When, as a band, you find the venues which really work for you, it’s because the audience for your band is made up of just the sort of people who want to hang out in a particular venue.

Do you feel venues form communities and what venue symbolises this?

They certainly do for the reasons above. And for me The Cluny in Newcastle, The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, Nice n’ Sleazy’s in Glasgow, The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge are all great examples of venues where this happens.

What do you feel are the benefits and downsides of listing and protecting a music venue?

The obvious potential downside is that it might stop a venue from being a vibrant, contemporary thing and becomes preserved – a historical footnote rather than a focus for current cultural happenings. The benefit would be that venues might continue to exist even as they attract development to their areas which would threaten their existence.


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Interview: The Ninth Wave

On the soon to be released Happy Days! EP, Glasgow Noise-Pop band The Ninth Wave fronted by Haydn Park-Patterson and Amelia Kidd, tell us about their experiences across their hometown, their recent tours and the underlying importance of protecting venues.

When playing certain venues, are you conscious of bands that have graced its stage before? And does this affect how it feels to play at such venue?

Definitely! Sometimes it’s hard to judge how prestigious a venue is, especially if you’re playing outside your home city, so to see the type of acts that have played there before you really puts that into perspective. It almost feels like more of an achievement if you’re in a venue and you see old posters of your favourite band playing there back in the day. We were playing the Electric Ballroom in Camden with Yonaka last year and on the walls were old gig posters for bands like Joy Division / Talking Heads / The Clash, almost every inspirational band you could think of had played there at some point – that made the gig feel extra special to us because even though it’s a much smaller venue than the size they would play at the peak of their career, it’s almost like a rights of passage to play there. 

If you were to choose one venue, that you played at have visited to be protected. What would that venue be? What are your memories of ‘x’ venue?  And what is the most important aspect of the venue that you would protect?

We haven’t played there (yet!) but one venue in Glasgow to protect is The Barrowlands. I’ve seen all of my favourite gigs in there over the years, and there really isn’t a venue like it. After a fire in 1958 it was rebuilt and nothing has been changed since – the sprung dance floor makes it feel like the entire world is bouncing when the crowd goes mental for a band, and there’s such an amazing friendly atmosphere. And there’s even a tuk stall at the side of the dancefloor for all your crisp / juice needs : amazing.  

What are the attributes of these buildings that are significant? i.e graffiti on dressing room walls.

The best venues all feel like they’ve been lived in, like they’ve seen a lot of mental bands over the years. If that’s the wallpaper of band tags on the green room walls, or posters of the gig history over the years, there’s always reminders of how special the events were in the past.  

Music scenes: Do you feel that scenes are important for towns and cities to embrace and to remember? and how do you feel the legacy of starting out in a different city would have influenced your sound?

It’s definitely important to remember the city’s history of scenes, especially when listening to the music as it helps you understand it a lot better. As much as we adore Glasgow, it is pretty bleak at points and that certainly has an impact on the music we make. Maybe we would be making happy guitar music about how nice the sun is if we didn’t live in Glasgow – but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The difference with Glasgow is, it has numerous different scenes that all seem to interlink one way or another. There’s this contagious drive to be the best version of yourself, and being surrounded by that really helps push a band forward.

Do you feel venues form communities and what venue symbolises this?

After a lot of larger gigs by Glasgow bands, the band will usually play a DJ set in The Priory afterwards – this gives the opportunity to really form a community between fans and the band as it is such a compact space. It’s where a lot of my friendships in the music scene were formed, as everybody there is a like minded individual all there for the same reasons.

What do you feel are the benefits and downsides of listing and protecting a music venue?

Listing a music venue would ultimately mean that big corporations wouldn’t be able to storm in and make it into a hotel / student flats, which I think is the most important factor. Without these venues, a city has no community and no culture, so would you even be able to call it a city at all?  

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Interview: lostboy

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Playing a string of intimate dates over the last year, emerging Sheffield artist lostboy speaks around his experiences so far and the meaning of independent venues for the city and beyond.

When playing certain venues, are you conscious of bands that have graced its stage before? And does this affect how it feels to play at such a venue?
We are usually conscious about other artists who have played a venue, if big bands have played the stage it often adds more personal value to our performance.

If you were to choose one venue in which you have played to be protected, what would that venue be? What are your memories of said venue?  And what is the most important aspect of the venue that you would protect?
The venue I’d choose would be The Louisiana in Bristol. I have really great memories of the venue and the last show we played there sold out and was our best tour date yet!


What are the attributes of these buildings that are significant? i.e graffiti on dressing room walls.
A whole bunch; band stickers in toilets, band names in green rooms, posters around the bar area of previous sold out shows.

Music scenes: Do you feel that scenes are important for towns and cities to embrace and to remember? and how do you feel the legacy of starting out in a different city would have influenced your sound?
Music scenes are a massive part of local areas. They provide places and events for young people to spend time and get together. Grass roots venues are integral to supporting togetherness in towns and cities. Starting out in another area would have meant we’d have grown up around different bands, probably influencing our sound. This certainly had an effect on us when we branched out to Sheffield, a city with a rich musical heritage, particularly in indie.


How do you feel a venue helps your fans connect to one another during your shows?
The size of a room makes a big difference to crowd experience, particularly at the start. Smaller venues that allow 14+ / 16+ enable younger people to go to gigs with their friends, but quite often small venues don’t have these licenses, so people miss out on shows by their favourite bands, meaning the bands miss out as well.

Do you feel venues form communities and what venue symbolises this?Venues do support communities. An example of this would be Tramshed in Cardiff, which offers community events as well as a hugely varied roster of love music from jazz to metal. Another example is Cafe Totem in Sheffield – unfortunately now set to be demolished. They lead the Sheffield Music Scene, along with the Leadmill, by being vocal on local matters as well as setting up online communities for musicians, promoters and other venues to converse about anything.

What do you feel are the benefits and downsides of listing and protecting a music venue?
The benefits are clear – we get to keep our venues that are a vital platform for young bands to progress through their careers. Without these venues, we are at risk of destroying this pathway. I don’t think there are any downsides to listing music venues. They need saving and should receive more support in general from central and local government.

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Interview: The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable, Twen play the Doug Fir on Dec. 18 / Preview

Welsh alternative-rock band the Joy Formidable share their thoughts and four albums worth of experiences on the significance of venues, the impact of Covid-19.

1. When playing certain venues, are you conscious of bands that have graced its stage before? And does this affect how it feels to play at such venue? 

Always conscious, yes. It’s fun to know and imagine who has played at the venue before you. It doesn’t always enhance the gig ; that’s down to a lot of factors, but if the venue has character and has been well maintained for a great artist & audience experience, it’s usually a lot more memorable to play somewhere with history, age and a musical legacy. 

2. If you were to choose one venue, that you played at have visited to be protected. What would that venue be? What are your memories of ‘x’ venue? And what is the most important aspect of the venue that you would protect? 

It would have to be the Tivoli in North Wales & I would love to see it attracting original new music again like it did in the 90’s. It would be a wonderful addition to North Wales to have an inspirational venue back in motion again, somewhere that young people from Buckley/Mold and surrounding areas can go & enjoy the arts without having to travel to Manchester or Liverpool. It’s hosted so many bands ; Nirvana, Oasis, SFA, Jeff Buckley – now it’s more tribute based acts or weekend club nights. 

What are the attributes of these buildings that are significant? i.e graffiti on dressing room walls. 

Architecture and layout – Was a cinema in the 1920’s. 

3. Music scenes: Do you feel that scenes are important for towns and cities to embrace and to remember? and how do you feel the legacy of starting out in a different city would have influenced your sound? 

I think every area should have a hub for the arts and live music. A way of involving the community, catering to lots of age groups and tastes. I was inspired to become an artist because of the shows I saw at Buckley Tivoli and the influx of music that visited our tiny Welsh town. Without that, it’s very easy, especially in rural areas to feel culturally isolated and that can lead to great art in itself, as long as there’s a drive/tendency for people to support local talent and a place to play. 

4. How do you feel a venue supports your fans connect to one another during your shows? 

We have so many fans that have befriended other fans at shows. Love stories, engagements, friendships. I am very worried that post Covid that will decline or cease to happen even when shows resume. We are potentially entering into a more fearful, disconnected time. 

5. Do you feel venues form communities and what venue symbolises this? 

I think Clwb Ifor Bach is a large vertebrae in the backbone of the Cardiff music scene. They absolutely do, when they are managed by passionate, inclusive, thoughtful people. 

6. What do you feel are the benefits and downsides of listing and protecting a music venue. 

I can’t think of any downsides. We have lost so many iconic venues over the years to bad planning, lack of money, changes in recreational trends and shitty councils. We would love to see more of them protected and cherished. 

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emo: cultural identity in modern music heritage

An alternate youth culture, emo transcended music beyond the iPod Nano into the lifestyles of many adolescents. Coined through an embracement of emotional and sentimental lyrics, in an age of diminishing expectations and consumerism, emo flourised to define an era. Whilst the scene is often seen as a detrimental term, closely linked to acts of self-harm, the subsequent media backlash around its spreading influence, only fueled the movement further.

History

Emerging as an american punk movement in the mid-80s, with bands such as Embrace, the movement developed into the 90s with the merging of alternate rock and pop-punk. Jawbreaker and Jimmy Eat World championing this scene. By the mid-90s the midwest emo scene had developed and the advent of screamo merged and diversified a movement in its infancy. The screamo movement would go on to develop synonymously with emo with such bands as Bring Me The Horizon.

As the 00’s went on, new bands characterised by sensitivity, introversion and angst; My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, the Used and AFI led the way in the spike of popularity, with strong pop-punk influences, centered around the Fuelled By Ramen label.

Beyond the 00s, emo-rap from artists such as Lil Peep paved way for a new sub-genre and contemporary artists such as Yungblud and Stand Atlantic bring new fans and audiences to this ongoing movement.

Beyond music: a lifestyle

What really differentiates ’emo’ beyond just another genre is the way it encapsulates music, fashion and broadly identity. Only in certain periods of time can you identify what someone is listening to by how they dress. Similarly to the acknowledged Punk movement, emo was based on similar tendencies of rebellion and angst. Against mainstream fashion, mainstream music and mainstream livelihoods.

Emo style | Scene outfits, Punk outfits, Alternative outfits

Highly influenced by gothic fashion, emo brought a contemporary twist, sparks of neon and a closer affiliation with brand loyalty. Skinny jeans, band tees, studded belts, lip piercings, jet black straightened hair. Notable labels; Criminal Damage, LowLife, Macbeth, DropDead, Atticus became benchmarks over identity. With outlets Blue Banana and Hot Topic, the catwalks of the emo world. Identity through fashion inspired competitiveness; the tightness of drainpipe jeans, quantity of piercings, the amount of belts became symbolised trophies. Emo fashion was inspired by its roots, band’s became postered icons, similar to religious saints. Emo’s embodied their heros, emulating their fashion, hairstyle and characteristics.

They said all teenagers scare the living shit out of me, They could care less as long as someone’ll bleed, So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose, Maybe they’ll leave you alone, but not me. ‘My Chemical Romance – Teenagers

Alongside other modern movements, identity now existed in an online world. At the height of emo culture, MSN, Bebo and Myspace dominated the digital world. With added levels of personalistion, ’emos’ MSN names emblazoned lyrics, their Bebo featured their emo anthems and Myspace allowed for a music-centred platform to transcend into everyday identity.

21 Things You'll Only Remember If You Grew Up With MSN Messenger

Further transcending into livelihoods, TV channels such as Scuzz and magazines such as Kerrang and RockSound brought a further depth to identity with a continuous need for latest news and blending further mediums such as TV shows and movies.

Hanging out behind the club on the weekend, Acting stupid, getting drunk with my best friends, I couldn’t wait for the summer and the warped tour, I remember it’s the first time that I saw her there. Blink 182 – Rock Show

The plethora of bands at this time enabled the emergence of joint tours, notably the Kerrang Tour and Vans Warped Tour. These tours were a turning point for musical discovery but in America, the Warped Tour became entwined with a lifestyle and further cementation of culture.

Why it matters?

Linking music alongside identity is a key pillar for its heritage recognition. The impact of a defining moment in music should not be dismissed on its subsequent influences. One way we can read this heritage is through the music itself, bands such as Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy have taken their emo origins and transformed themselves over time, is this enough of a recognition or easily lost in time. The movement is entangled with tangible artefacts, whether that be fashion, logos scrawled on textbooks or decaying posters on a bedroom wall.

The affiliation to emo culture added context to other locations within towns and cities. Meeting groups of emo culture became destinations and communal spaces, where individuals form different backgrounds could bond over music and culture. Breathing life and identity into urban cityscapes.

In relation to venues and gigs, emo fanbases are arguably some of the most loyal. Communities in this instance are made not just in the venue, but outside, bonding with fellow fans, queuing for hours. Whereas this culture originally stemmed from music, it’s sometime forgotten the breeding ground is in the venues themselves. Grassroots venues lifted emo bands from a niche scene to a wider audience through establishing the link of merch, spreading the bands influence and cultural identity further.

Leeds-Cockpit-Graffiti.jpg

Whilst the majority of emo bands aren’t synonymous with a particular venue, the circuit of the late 00’s remains key. Thinking about the emo scene, the same reliance isn’t on grassroot venues but on those slightly larger due to the international touring of many american emo bands. However the important consideration is that these styles of venues became the next step in the ladder, achievable through a bit of hard graft.