Rewind 10 years to a time when emo music dominated the national scene. Secondhand Serenade, Hawthorne Heights and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were at the forefront with their expressive, confessional lyrics. While the genre of music has fallen out of mainstream success since the turn of the decade, emo music still holds a special place in the hearts of millennials, as proven by Secondhand Serenade’s Awake: 10 Year Anniversary Tour.
The audience that piled into the Neighborhood Theatre’s side room, specifically designed for acoustic shows, was overly familiar with bands performing. However, despite all the excitement, it was down to earth and casual. Hawthorne Heights sold merch while Ronnie Winter of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus serenaded the audience with four songs including “Face Down.”
Photos by Benjamin Robson
There wasn’t any pressure on the acts and the showiness that’s often glorified on major world tours was nonexistent, for good reason. The informal environment created an intimate setting that felt more like a must-see occasion than anything else. The simpleness of Hawthorne Heights sitting atop four bar stools in front of an American flag draped with party lights produced a more than satisfying atmosphere. From “Saying Sorry” to “Ohio Is For Lovers,” the Dayton natives offered an evening unlike anything else.
Other than the assembly of black back drop with the pink initials “SS” transcribed on it, little changed with Secondhand Serenade’s performance. John Vesely performed his debut album Awake in honor of the 10 year anniversary and on cue with the realness of the night, he even forgot some of the lyrics midway through. Fans laughed off the gaffe and even helped fill in vocally when needed.
Nearly a decade has passed since songs such as “Fall For You” broke the airwaves, but the audience fused for a passionate rendition as if the anthem was released yesterday. The whole night felt like a family outing – perhaps because Vesely brought his wife on stage for a charming duo. While the emo scene has taken a few steps back in popularity over the years, it’s clear that those who celebrated its boldness in the heyday are more than willing to turn back the clock and come together – even on a Monday night.