LIVE | Lil Xan @ Emo Nite

by John Hood

I didn’t come to Emo Nite looking for Sum 41. I didn’t come to hear an onslaught of Warped Tour classics either. In fact, neither thought ever even entered my mind. See, I came to catch Lil Xan, who just dropped another track with Lucifena. And I expected to get hip to the latest sad rap superstars. Turns out though I got all that -- and then some. A genre-busting night that combined the roar of Warped with the gut-baring introspection found on SoundCloud. A deep dive into the dark night of the soul shared among 2000-plus just like us.

That’s Emo Nite. A mass gathering of might-have-been stay-at-homes who come together each month in order to let it all out. They get by with a little help from their friends alright. Always have. Always will. Whether said friend is My Chemical Romance or the stranger in the Docs standing next to them. 

The gathering’s been going strong for five years now. Not just in L.A., mind you. But also in Baltimore, Omaha, Houston and around a dozen other U.S. cities. So yeah, it’s a thing.

But Emo Nite was born and raised in Los Angeles and as such it’s a thing that’s got a particularly L.A. cred. That means Demi Lovato might show up and sing a Paramore song or a Warped Tour regular will take to the stage and spin a set or two. It also means you’ll catch next gen emo acts such as Ghostemane and Yelawolf.

Or Lil Xan. If Emo Nite is a phenomenon based on a phenomenon, then Emo is the phenomenon that simply just won’t die. Hell, if anything, it may even be getting better with age. You can hear it in the full-throated crowd (who will never forget the words to every single song they heard coming up). And you can hear it in the words of Lil Xan (whose patented slur packs the same gut punch -- and sparks a similar aural reaction). A lot of that has to do with Xan’s inspirations (he spun -- and led the singalong to -- such songs as The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside”). It also has a lot to do with Xan’s past (he too has battled depression and addiction). Mostly though, Xan’s Emo status has to do with him using music to evoke the demons that lurk within -- and to celebrate the vanquishing of each and every one of those pesky little creatures. It’s what has driven Emo since the days of Sunny Day Real Estate. And it’s what unites its fans to this day. 

Photographed by  Andrew Alvarado

Photographed by Andrew Alvarado

And this night. Lil Xan spun it like it was, then he showed us what it is, now. In between there was a Happy Birthday singalong; in the end he was joined by Lucifena. Yes, the two delivered a rousing rendition of “Lost at Sea.” Then again, why wouldn’t they? The track’s red hot. In fact, at press time its clip has already racked nearly a quarter million views. It’s also put some heavy -- and much-deserved -- focus on the talents of Ursus Magana (who expertly directed) and Alligator Jesus (who created all the wild bling). 

Lil Xan’s showing also proved that though Warped Tour may be dead and gone (RIP), the sound and the fury that spawned the decades-long racket lives on. And it’ll rage on so long there are emotions raring to be heard at full and unmitigated volume.

Okay, so I didn’t come to Emo Nite seeking the next Fall Out Boy or Taking Back Sunday; I didn’t really come looking for the next Lil Peep or XXXtentacion either. But if the roar of the crowd is any indication, in Lil Xan I found someone who might just represent both. And I say trust the roar.