It was November 15, 2016 and while we were upstairs in the green room of The Echo in Los Angeles, below us the room had quickly filled up with anticipating bodies. Amongst us there was talk of electoral colleges, the fanciful idea of California, Oregon and Washington annexing with Canada as well as incorporating fire dancers, carnivals, orchestras and a traveling choir into the act. But all of that aside, a very loud rock show was about to go down and it was all Emarosa’s fault.
Over their 10 year history, Louisville, KY’s Emarosa has gone through some changes. Life happened, members came and went and yet the band is still standing and doing so on its most solid ground with ER White, Matthew Marcellus, Jordan Stewart and Bradley Walden who stepped up, stepped in and established himself as the band’s dynamic new voice.
And it was good.
Last summer brought the release of 131: Walden’s second album with the band and it did not suck. It was flush with bolder soul, emotion and unabashed pop brightness while still delivering hard-hitting rock heft due to being composed of songs like “Sure,” “Porcelain,” “One Car Garage,” “Hurt” and the suped up funk of “Helpless” and it’s a record that plays extremely well live and folds neatly into Emarosa’s catalog.
The band guestimates that they played at least 120 shows in 2016; shows that took them to Canada, the UK and through the US including points along the Warped Tour where they saw their fan base change. Not only did it become reinvigorated, it exploded to the point where a headlining tour was in order, during which they wound up playing their first sold out show as headliners in the United States: Webster Hall in New York City. That, too, did not suck.
This LA show also turned out to be a sold-out affair: rowdy and raucous with both band and audience fully engaged and invested in each other. As musical experiences go, it was a tangible one and it looked like THIS.
Photographer Kimberly Zsebe (ZB Images) said it was one of the most fun shows she’d ever shot.
As for the band, there were a few takeaways of thought on the year, the music and what it’s all meant:
2016 IN A NUTSHELL
“It’s been a crazy ride. You know, touring is hard in general and a handful of the tours that we’ve done in this last year we have experienced some pretty gnarly things that…I mean, I’ve been touring for 10 years and two of the guys with us, it was their first tour with us and we went through more things in one tour than I went through in a decade of touring and it was just, you know…I think the thing that I would say to sum up this year in general would be that no matter what happened or where we were, everyone still maintained a good vibe and in good spirits and I think that’s one thing that really kind of pushed us through.” – ER White
FEELS LIKE HOME
“This tour. I really feel like this tour is showing the work we put in. When we went to the UK, the band had not been there for five years and London sold out on a Sunday night and those kids were singing 131 louder than any other song, like from any other record. And we did play old stuff because the band hadn’t been there, so out of respect we played old albums. Now we’re back in the states, New York City was sold out. First US sold out show.
It was incredible. Again, this tour has shown 131, which is the record that I’m most proud of and I think the whole band is most proud of…the people have responded to the energy that we put into that record. It’s so satisfying to see all of the hard work put in. I mean, I’ve been in this band…about three years? And so it’s taken about three years to wash off all the dirt that was there. And it took a lot from every member, not just myself. I will say that I took the most of the heat, obviously, but we walked through it and came out on top. It’s just been fantastic.” – Bradley Walden
“Everyone’s finding the band in their own path and you can see them all get in the same room together and really get excited about it because they all have kind of come to this band that they see a different light. They’ve got their own journey to kind of get there, and it’s great to get them all in one big room and celebrating all these songs together.” – Jordan Stewart
So what’s next for Emarosa? Now that White, Marcellus, Stewart and Walden have gotten some hard earned rest, taking on the world sounds like a plan. So come April you can find the band hitting the road again, this time with Pierce The Veil and Sum 41, bringing the songs of 131 to as many people in as many places as possible.
And it, too, will be good.