Parkite’s love for emo a hit with L.A. club scene |

Parkite’s love for emo a hit with L.A. club scene

Park CityÕs T.J. Petracca, flanked by Barbara ÒBabsÓ Szabo, left, and Morgan Freed, right, feels the music during Emo Night L.A.: Taking Back Tuesday, one of the most popular club events in Southern California. The three conceived the idea and takes it to different clubs in different cities. (Courtesy of Big Picture Media)

Although the roots of emo music can be traced back to the mid-1980s punk scene, the style, which features heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics and escalated vocals, broke into the mainstream in the 2000s with the likes of Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Saves the Day, Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday and The Get Up Kids, just to name a few.

That’s when Park City teen T.J. Petracca took notice, so much so that he changed his lifestyle.

"Whenever I tell people that I grew up in Park City and talk about my transition of playing in bands, I say that I went from skiing 100 days a year to playing in rehearsal studios and my parents’ garage with a band for 100 days a year," Petracca said during a telephone call to The Park Record from his home in Los Angeles, California. "I began playing in emo bands at the Lo-Fi Cafe in Salt Lake City when I was 15, and was the singer/screamer for Streetlight Silhouette."

The love for emo led Petracca to California where he and two friends founded Emo Night LA: Taking Back Tuesday, one of Los Angeles’ most popular monthly events.

Emo Night is a monthly event that brings together people who share the love of emo rock music and each month, a different musician from the scene, guest DJs at the event, according to Petracca.

The event’s one-year anniversary celebration got a write-up in Rolling Stone in December.

"My friends and I were fed up with going to other clubs and hearing the same Top 40 songs over and over again and paying $1 million for drinks," said Petracca, who attended Parleys Park Elementary School and Roland Hall St. Marks in Salt Lake City. "So, we started this up in a bar down the street from my house and they let us play what we wanted to play one night a month."

After a couple of nights, crowds of emo fans took notice.

"Suddenly there were lines around the block wanting to get in," he said. "It was crazy, because we didn’t really promote this at all. We just told our friends what we were doing and they told a bunch of other people and that, I guess, struck a chord with other people in town."

The event outgrew the dive bar and was moved to the EchoPlex, just off of Sunset Blvd.

The EchoPlex has a capacity of 800, and Petracca and his partners — Morgan Freed and Barbara "Babs" Szabo — host the party every first Tuesday of the month.

"We started to reach out to different people we knew in the music industry and tried to see if we could get some of the artists we looked up to when we were growing up to come join us," Petracca said. "And it began to happen."

One of the DJs was Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus and then My Chemical Romance’s Mikey Way stepped up to the console.

In addition to these personalities playing the songs they liked, other artists began stopping in to play short acoustic sets.

"The big one for me was Chris Carrabba (from Dashboard Confessional)," Petracca said. "That took a year to put together and I had reached out to everyone I knew to try to get in touch with him.

"It was amazing because he just came and played an acoustic set, and everyone was singing so loud and it was pretty emotional," Petracca said. "There was something like 30 people on stage around him and I asked him if he wanted us to clear everyone off, but he said no."

Another memorable night featured The Used, another Utah-based band.

"I saw (lead singer) Bert McCracken and went up to him and said, ‘I’m from 801!’ and he said, ‘Don’t say that too loud, but come over here and give me a hug,’" Petracca said.

Those performances upped the ante for the three Emo Night founders.

"Babs has more of a pop-punk taste and she likes the sadder stuff like Bright Eyes and Brand New, and I’m sure she would love to get them here," Petracca said. "Morgan is a little older than us and likes the Get Up Kids and Saves the Day. I know his No. 1 choice would be Chris Connelly."

Petracca always had a passion for music and after graduating high school, he moved to Boston and studied production and songwriting at the Berklee College of Music and toured with an alt-country band.

"I moved to L.A. the week after I graduated to work in the music industry and started at an artist management company where I ran social media for clients such as Soundgarden, Chromeo, Portugal. The Man and Animal Collective," Petracca said. "It was cool and I was going to a lot of shows in Los Angeles. I learned a lot and met a lot of people."

Looking back, Petracca is surprised at how popular Emo Night has become.

"We never intended it to blow up this way," he said. "We just wanted to sort of go back to our music we listened to when we were teens.

"I felt like for a minute emo became sort of uncool, but all of a sudden, everyone who is around my age — 25 and 26 — looked back to that moment in rock music and realized how cool it was," he said.

When Petracca and his cohorts aren’t hosting Emo Night at the EchoPlex, they take the party to other clubs in different cities.

"We would love to come to Park City and Salt Lake City and do this," he said. "We’ll see. I mean, Park City was a beautiful place to grow up and my parents are still there. And they are super supportive of everything I do."

For more information about Emo Night: Taking Back Tuesday, visit

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