Emo: In the past decade the word went from being a descriptive term for an obscure subgenre of punk to a household buzzword garnering mixed reviews, worrying parents and media outlets nationwide. Now, thanks to Josh Bakaitus, emo is the topic of a recurring DJ night at Lava Lounge.
What began as a one-time event, started by Ashley Ryon of YinzerParty.com, has hatched into a full-fledged series, with the seventh installment happening on Aug. 23. After hosting the inaugural event solo, Ryon asked Bakaitus to be a guest DJ — using the pseudonym DJ Barry Bonz — at the second event. Soon after, she moved to Portland, Ore., and handed the torch to Bakaitus (who's better known to local music fans for his work with Drusky Entertainment).
"Lava Lounge is perfect [for the event]," Bakaitus says, "because most of the demographic of people who grew up listening to the bands we are spinning either frequent the bar nightly or weekly." Plus, he says, many local bands within Pittsburgh's emo scene have played Lava Lounge at one point, and where more times than not an amalgamation of older scenesters can reminisce about seeing bands like The Get Up Kids and Saves The Day during Club Laga's heyday.
As for the playlist, Bakaitus says the crowd usually responds best to the late-'90s and early-21st-century emo picks, leaving traditional bands like Rites Of Spring and Fugazi in the dust: "People love the singalongs and dancier stuff like The Postal Service, The Faint, and Head Automatica."
The selections are never set in stone. Bakaitus usually takes requests via Facebook event pages and plans accordingly, but can alter the playlist to the mood of the room and what seems appropriate at the time. The requests made by audience members, Bakaitus says, take them back to their youth on the spot, turning Lava Lounge into more of a time machine than a club.
"It's always a packed house full of mostly sing-alongs, dancing and good vibes."