Once a month, nostalgic fans of 90s and 2000s emo have a space where they can jam out to old punk classics. Emo Night Denton creates a niche network to amplify the voices of BIPOC artists and collaborates with DFW booking groups to organize benefit concerts for causes like the DJT Justice Network.
Steven Ramos, Denton band Bowtiger’s bassist, started Emo Night Denton in February where he DJs era-defining setlists and highlights local artists over Twitch to celebrate emo in an inclusive environment. Joining him on the project are Bowtiger singer Maritza Vega and 2019 UNT alumna Tori Falcon.
The group adopted the idea from the national movement of emo night events and added their own Denton-centered twist through incorporating smaller artists in the music scene. Emo Nights were originally intended to be in-person but transitioned to an online format during the pandemic.
“I think at our core, we’re three friends who want to give artists a chance to play music and also benefit things that are happening here at home,” Ramos said. “To create a space for all people to come together and celebrate the music that we love from our past and also to find music to celebrate within Denton.”
As a Latinx trio working in a white-male-dominated genre, the group creates a space where marginalized groups are heard and supported, Vega said. They intentionally reach out to BIPOC and queer artists to help promote their art and voices in the community.
“It’s easy for somebody to identify with us,” Vega said. “Especially someone who has brown skin, because it’s something that you don’t normally see. The emo genre especially is very white, and we’re here to shake the table on purpose and speak for those who are afraid to speak up.”
Emo Night Denton stays true to the history of punk and local music scene movements by endorsing counterculture and fighting against oppressive systems, Falcon said. The group intends for each event they organize to also benefit a cause they resonate with.
“The issues that we see, they’re not removable,” Falcon said. “And we can’t act like they’re not there just because we want to put on a show or go to a show. I think because of who we are, the experiences we have, and the communities we exist in, we know that we should not have to separate those things to have a good time. They can exist together just as they really do.”
Since the summer, Emo Night Denton has been working with a coalition of DFW Booking groups to put on benefit live streams for local causes. On Oct. 11, they joined forces with Regina Burgarin Booking and record label Barfwave to broadcast No Justice No Peace: A Benefit for the DJT Justice Network with ticket donations starting at $5.
The benefit raised over $650 for the non-profit organization that seeks justice for Darius Jerrell Tarver, who was killed in January by Denton police during a welfare check. The organization advocates for policy reform and increased resources for mental illness survivors and victims of police brutality.
“Darius Tarver’s family wants justice, and we can help them and be a part of that,” Falcon said. “Specifically for this event, it’s telling us that these issues are not far away from our community. They happen right here. They’re still happening, you know, a few weeks ago, people were calling in about having the city budget changed to reduce police funding and fund human services more. It’s not just in a faraway city in another state, it’s right here. There’s communities here that need your help, right now, and we all have a part.”
Emo Night Denton advertised the benefit over social media and pronounced calls-to-action directed at the music scene. Because the music community is tight-knit, they act as a network to support and amplify causes like the DJT Justice Network, Ramos said. The benefit provided an avenue for individuals to get directly involved with advocacy.
“When we make benefits a part of our shows, it’s showing people in the music scene that look like us, people of color, anyone from marginalized identities, or marginalized genders that we know that those identities aren’t something you can just take off, and we see that and we’re here to support that with the platforms that we have,” Falcon said.
Attendees donated to the organization during the livestream, which featured performances by Dallas groups The Bralettes and Rosegarden Funeral Party as well as Mint Green, Stary and Shady Bug. The benefit’s goal was to provide a way for all types of people to listen to music they enjoy while supporting causes that impact their community, Ramos said.
“Hopefully we influence someone to start looking into how they can get involved,” Ramos said. “Whether it’s through the causes we’re doing or they use that as a stepping stone to look into what’s going on with city budgets and the other many things that people can get involved within town. I hope people see that it is not difficult, and it’s something that we are inviting you to do and come along with us for.”
Courtesy Amber Gaudet