ONLY NOISE: How I Turned COVID Blues Into The First Virtual Emo Nite Hosted By Non-Male DJs

The author in her childhood bedroom.

Celebrating the arrival of 2020 immediately took me to 2010. I rang in the new year at Barclays Center with a friend, seeing The Strokes for the first time. It felt appropriate, given how at the end of 2019, I had mentally regressed to feeling like my teenage self.

The year ended on a rough note. I lost my job and months later, a friend died at a very young age. After spending the year working on bettering myself by going to therapy, exercising, drinking less, and leaving toxic relationships behind, suddenly all progress was lost. I was emotionally fragile and reckless, incapable of having a positive mindset. As someone whose work is tied to her identity, I didn’t know who I was without it.

I sought validation and anything that’d distract me from my depression. In a misguided attempt to find happiness, I entered a brief, unhealthy romance with someone. What was meant to be a distraction brought more emotional distress. In a way, it made me feel like I was sixteen again. At that age, I had turned to music to cope, listening to songs that made me feel less alone while dealing with heartache. This time, I decided to do the same. I revisited old favorites that accurately described what I was dealing with, such as “Glendora” by Rilo Kiley and “Title Track” by Death Cab for Cutie. I reminded myself that there was a reason why Jenny Lewis wrote about these issues: it’s common to seek validation from the wrong people, and it doesn’t make me any less of a person to have a moment of weakness.

Music helped, and later things started to fall into place. I was hired at my dream job. I eased up on drinking to cope with grief and depression. I was exercising regularly again, focusing on using it as a designated time to clear my thoughts. My friends were supportive as I attempted to rebuild my life. But just when I was finally feeling like my old self, the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City.

I began quarantining in early March out of precaution, before the city declared a state of emergency. My parents were very concerned, and though the pandemic was still in its early stages, my family urged me to return home with them to Puerto Rico. I initially said no, but after much convincing from my mom, I decided to temporarily move back home with my parents.

Typically, I’d avoid spending more than a week back home. It triggers painful memories from a decade ago, when I desperately wanted to leave the island. I didn’t have true friends growing up and spent much of my time isolated in my room, making internet friends and learning about bands through Tumblr and

As a teen, I had no idea that finding solace in music through online communities would shape my future. My childhood bedroom walls are adorned with posters featuring some of the bands I’ve interviewed: Vivian Girls, Of Montreal, Best Coast, and Los Campesinos. I wish I could tell my teenage self, who felt so lost and insecure, that I’d accomplish so many things beyond my wildest dreams at that age. But being back home also felt like I was returning to feeling disconnected from the music-based community I had formed in Brooklyn.

In quarantine, I stopped hearing regularly from friends – it was reminiscent of that loneliness I felt as a teen. My depression returned and made me incapable of leaving the house; I didn’t have the energy to even take a quick walk around the block. No matter how much I accomplished at work, my depression caused me to be very hard on myself, making me think I was going to permanently lose the life I had in Brooklyn. This feeling persisted for two months, becoming worse each day.

One day, music writer Arielle Gordon tweeted about hosting a virtual emo night and after attending with my sibling, I realized I could create an online community of my own that would make me feel less alone. I told my sibling that I wanted to make my own virtual emo night, but with non-male DJs, widening the space for fellow music journalists, tour managers, artists, and anyone involved in music who, like me, were craving that sense of community they’d lost.

After tweeting about wanting to do it, I quickly received a response from Lindsey Miller and Mel Grinberg – both of whom are managers whose work I deeply admire – saying they wanted to get involved. Within two minutes, we had a concrete plan, and we invited Arielle and Rolling Stone editor Suzy Exposito to join. I named it Home, Like NoPlace Is There after The Hotelier’s album – appropriately about confronting depression and dark memories.

Before planning it, my depression was making me feel like my life had no purpose. Planning this event made me realize that others were in need of a community as much as I was, and it was exactly the positive, healthy distraction I needed. People I hadn’t met before began promoting it and were excited for it.

It was nerve-wracking, though. It was the first time I had planned a virtual event. Would it even work? What if something went wrong and the event failed? When it was time for the event to start, there were already 20-something people waiting on Zoom. The number of people kept increasing throughout the night, and the awkwardness of having a virtual emo night dissipated. The Hotelier’s Christian Holden even joined! People made new friends and found a safe space where they could talk about music and joke with each other.

Many reached out later saying it was the most fun they’d had since the pandemic began. That was true for me, too. For the five-and-a-half hours of the emo night, I felt happy and appreciated; I was overjoyed that my fellow DJs felt seen and appreciated, too. The last thing I thought I’d do in 2020 was revisit emo, a genre I have a complicated relationship with due to feeling like my writing about emo wasn’t respected as much as male colleagues’ – not to mention how the genre is often tied to bands that represent toxic masculinity. But now, emo carries a more positive meaning for me. It ties different generations together, and on Friday nights, everyone gets to feel like they belong somewhere – no matter who they are.

With this emo night, I have something to look forward to weekly that gives me an excuse to (virtually) socialize and dress up. While it’ll be some time until things are back to “normal” – if that ever even happens – I’m excited to feel like my regular self.

Follow Home, Like NoPlace Is There on Twitter for ongoing virtual emo night events.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Political Popstars, Return of the 2000s & More

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Pussy Riot

Political Popstars, Return of the 2000s & More

By Jasmine Williams

Pussy Riot Forever!

Days after members of Pussy Riot were arrested for staging a protest during the World Cup, the Russian firebrands were awarded a settlement relating to their 2012 jail sentences for performing a “punk prayer” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. On Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia has to pay around $57,000 in damages to Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova for being unfairly imprisoned. Following the World Cup, Pussy Riot released a new music video called “Track About Good Cop.”


This week, another controversial female musician returns. M.I.A. has never been one to shy away from politics, forever finding a way to inject global news stories into earworm hooks. (“All I wanna do is bang, bang, bang, and get your money” has to be the most gangster satire on anti-immigrant sentiments, ever.)

Finally, fans of Maya Arulpragasam will be able to get an insider view into her life through an upcoming documentary. Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. will journey from her childhood among Tamil Tigers to her Super Bowl settlement. The film comes out this September.

That New New

It’s not just early aughts fashion that’s back, three of your favorite feely bands from the 2000s have dropped videos this week. Death Cab for Cutie and The Blow both released new clips that veer into art-student-film-project territory while Cat Power debuted the song “Wanderer,” featuring unlikely collaborator (and tour mate), Lana Del Rey.

Chance The Rapper announced his foray into media with a new track. “I Might Need Security” discloses his purchase of local news site, The Chicagoist.

Alt-rappers Brockhampton also entered new waters this week, the group dropped a music video for “1998 Truman,” their first release since the departure of ex-member, Ameer Vann, due to allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct.

End Notes

  • Pitchfork Music Festival is this weekend in Chicago. You can livestream many of the acts, including Lauryn Hill, Blood Orange, and Courtney Barnett on Pitchfork’s YouTube channel.


  • Fans who were worried about SZA can breathe a sigh of relief. After missing some dates on TDE’s Championship tour due to damaged vocal cords, the Drew Barrymore singer made a valiant comeback at Firefly Festival.


  • Jay-Z is disputing with Philadelphia mayor, Jim Kenney over the music festival that the rapper founded six years ago. Since its 2012 inception, Made in America Festival has been held in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art,  but this may be about to change. Without talking to festival organizers, Kenney told local news that the fest’s busy location was inconveniencing the city and would have to be moved in 2019. In response to the mayor, Jay-Z published a statement in the The Inquirer to voice his disapproval. Maybe op-eds are the new rap battle?


  • Mad Decent Block Party returns to New York after taking a one-year hiatus from the city. On September 24, TroyBoi, Walshy Fire, and more will play at the Brooklyn Mirage.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Market Hotel, Musical Maps & More

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  • Market Hotel Raided By NYPD, Closed Temporarily

    I know what you’re thinking: typical DIY venue! Didn’t bother to get a liquor license! It was just a matter of time! Well, that’s not really the case. The space has a nonprofit status, which means they could apply for event permits, which acted like a temporary liquor license during shows. One was recently denied, but that was only because the venue is in the processing of applying for an actual liquor license. So, the NYPD was able to swoop in before the staff could remove alcohol stored for an upcoming event- an event they had no reason to believe would need to be dry. As this excellent piece by The Observer points out, compared to bars in the immediate area, Market Hotel has virtually no 311 complaints and does important work in Bushwick’s community instead of just getting people drunk. Plus, they host amazing shows and similar spaces are going out of business left and right.

  • Lighten Up With This Talking Heads Parody

    Watch Fred Armisen and Bill Hader perform as Test Pattern, a Talking Heads parody that was featured in one of the duo’s Documentary Now! episodes that poked fun at Stop Making Sense. Check out “Art + Student = Poor” below:

  • ICYMI: Check Out This Musical Map

    It’s rumored that a 1976 Sex Pistols’ show made such a big impression that members of the audience went on to start bands like Joy Division and The Smiths. The Design studio Dorothy took this idea and ran with it, organizing bands into a kind of map of who influenced who, with a complex series of lines (inspired by a transistor radio circuit board)  showing the connection between alt-rock bands. Check it out via WIRED.

  • Musicians Unite Against Trump

    In order to stop the nightmare of a Trump presidency, musicians are taking part in the “30 Days, 30 Songs” project. Each song has a strong anti-Trump message; Death Cab For Cutie’s “Million Dollar Loan” includes the lyrics “He’s proud to say, he built his fortune the old-fashioned way/ Because to succeed, all you really need is a million dollar loan.” Aimee Mann wrote a song from Trump’s point of view, explaining that “My own feeling was that it wasn’t really the job itself he wanted, but the thrill of running and winning, and that maybe it had all gotten out of hand and was a runaway train that he couldn’t stop.” From the project’s website: “As artists, we are united in our desire to speak out against the ignorant, divisive, and hateful campaign of Donald Trump… We hope these songs provide both motivation and soundtrack to doing the right thing these last few weeks before this most pivotal election.”