American Football at the Regency Ballroom for Noise Pop 2016, by Mike Rosati
American Football (photo: Mike Rosati)

This emo kid used to always get told by an old coworker, “If you don’t listen to American Football, then you do not understand the true beginnings of emo.” So, I got into American Football to ensure that this conversation would never happen again. I right away delved into the band and became very confused because I could only find one of their albums online. Turns out, there was nothing else to find other than that sole album released in 1999. I was and am still amazed how this band that only released one album over 15 years ago can have such a cult following. I get it though — their sole and self-titled album is revolutionary on its own, with defining traits that would later define the early-2000s emo scene.

Ever since they started to play reunion shows in 2014, I knew that I had to catch them. Gladly, thanks to Noise Pop and The Bay Bridged, I got to see them at The Regency Ballroom on February 27, 2016.

I went alone, even though I semi-knew that kind of crowd. Due to the cult following and the sentimental importance to this band, the crowd was filled with grown emos who just wanted to see the band that sculpted their youth. There were the teenagers that read about them on Vice who really just wanted to have a memorable time. Then there was the “I KNOW ALL THEIR SONGS AND I AM SO DRUNK AND SO ARE ALL MY FRIENDS” fan-bros who gladly all ended up leaving to puke by the second half of American Football’s set. Thank the emo gods (aka thank you Elliott Smith for letting me be publicly sad in peace).

Most stood there idly experiencing the entirety of their favorite album played live, while many screamed along, because of course they knew all the words.  There would’ve only been one way I would have been disappointed by this show, and that’s if they sucked. Because how can a band suck if they have been playing the same album for over 15 years? Well, I wasn’t disappointed. They didn’t suck, and instead seemed to have mastered that album. For a band that means so much to so many, they left me in awe — unable to shout in approval or even clap. I, like many others, was left on my own to remember why I ever identified as emo in the first place, and that night made it all come back stronger than it was when I was 14. It was a very emo honor.