By Leor Galil
There’s a pre-concert ritual many gig-goers may be familiar with: gawking at band merchandise. Usually, there’s a flashy T-shirt or a tour-only vinyl that will whet some music fan’s appetite.
Yet, the most interesting item Nick Wakim’s band, Castevet, had to offer at a house show in Logan Square in early August couldn’t be bought. It was a photo of the Chicago quartet’s latest album, “The Echo & The Light,” on display at a record store. In Japan.
“We’re kind of a big deal in Japan,” Wakim said, jokingly, as he showed some of the other musicians on the night’s bill the photo on his iPhone 4. “No big deal.”
Joking aside, Castevet’s success is a big deal. For a band that plays basement shows as often as Castevet, the opportunity to release an album on a foreign label like Japan’s Stiff Slack Records doesn’t happen every day. Castevet is doing something big. And that big thing is emo.
Emo, or emotional hardcore, has gone through a lot of changes since it became a vital sound in the Washington, D.C., post-hardcore scene in the mid-eighties. Its most recent iteration saw a marriage of pop-punk melodies and emo lyrical introspection boost bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance to the No. 1 and 2 spots on the Billboard charts, respectively. Emo experienced a wave of backlash along with its success, be it in the form of the British tabloids that called emo a cult, or other bands that saw the genre as flaccid and one-note.
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