“It has to be a little bit more of an elevated experience,” said Elin. “Command of the vocals and a more theatrical experience. Patti Smith would be great. That’s also a show that sells out (1,000-seat venues). She would do gangbusters at the McCallum.”
Hawthorne Heights and Emo Orchestra began their collaboration following a resurgence of interest in emo. Emo Nite, a touring party founded eight years ago by curators T.J. Petracca and Morgan Freed, now plays venues from the Avalon in Hollywood to Webster Hall in New York. It played Coachella and had a sold-out three-month residency at the Zouk Nightclub at Resorts World in Las Vegas in 2022.
Mench-Thurlow, who attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, assembled an orchestra by seeking trained musicians who like emo on social media sites such as Reddit, Facebook, and his Berklee Alumni Group. He originally planned to tour with union musicians from each city supporting Hawthorne Heights. But, after seeing how union rates had escalated since COVID, he found it feasible to create an ensemble that could travel on two rented buses. They’ll start as a 15-piece orchestra, but they have charts for 26 and 31-piece ensembles, and Emo Orchestra could grow as the demand warrants.
Hawthorne Heights played Pappy + Harriet’s on a Wednesday night last October and Moresco was surprised by the enthusiasm for the show — not just by the local audience, but his own staff. He then branded the month Emo October and said, “Every single show was hugely successful.
“To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have even known or been able to talk about this prior to that show,” he said. “But Hawthorne Heights and the lead singer, JT (Woodruff), takes you on sort of a verbal journey. He’s very much an ambassador for this resurgence of emo. So, when you have a band you absolutely love, you always want them to come back.”
Mench-Thurlow approached Moresco last November about Hawthorne Heights playing its hits, plus emo classics by bands such as My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and Dashboard Confessional, with Emo Orchestra. But he said he’d need at least 1,000 seats. So Moresco cold-called Gershenfeld.