This month marks one year since Brent Cayson started Chicago Emo Night, a monthly DJ event focused on the emotional rock genre. Held on the third Thursday of each month, it draws both current fans and those seeking high school nostalgia to Burlington Bar (3425 W Fullerton Ave.) in Logan Square.
Cayson’s involvement in the emo music scene came when he toured for a few years managing merchandise for bands. His love for the genre continues to this day and served as his inspiration for starting the event.
“At the end of 2014, I got the idea for Chicago Emo Night,” says Cayson. “Some of the major cities have something similar going on; New York City’s emo night has been around for about 5 years and Los Angeles’ event got started around the same time as ours did. But the Midwest is home to a lot of iconic emo bands like Hey Mercedes, Braid, American Football, and so many more. There’s just a good history here.” Though Cayson, along with co-producer Justin Watt, produces and DJs the event, the additional draw for many fans are the guest DJs—Bob Nanna from Braid, Mark Rose from Spitalfield, members of Say Anything, Will Noon from Straylight Run, and Adam Siska from The Academy Is, to name a few.
Unlike some themed DJ nights that draw a narrow crowd, Chicago Emo Night devotees come from many age groups and backgrounds.
On the community created around the event, Cayson says, “For a lot of these people, this is the music they listened to alone or in a small group of friends because it wasn’t a mainstream thing at the time they discovered it—so it’s fun to hear it played out in public like this. People like to talk about stories from shows they went to and just bond over the music, singing along with the people around them.”
According to Cayson, Burlington Bar is a perfect fit for the event.
“I live right at the edge of Logan Square, so I spend a lot of time in the neighborhood. I think there’s a concentration of like-minded people that are interested in this kind of event,” he says. “I had been to Burlington Bar a handful of times and really liked the vibe of it. I talked with the owner and he gave me a three-month trial run to see how it went. The first Chicago Emo Night was in March 2015, and here we are a year later.”
For those who can’t get enough, Cayson also DJs monthly at Beauty Bar in Wicker Park alongside Brian Buckley (the DJ behind Trusty Chords, a pop-punk night at Five Star Bar) for an emo vs. pop-punk night called Soundtrack of Your Life.
The next Chicago Emo Night will be held Thursday, March 17 starting at 9 pm. In addition to the music, attendees can expect a PBR hosted bar from 9 – 10 pm. RSVP on Facebook for updates and additional details.