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As far as TikTok is concerned, it’s officially the season of fully embracing that we’ve entered cooler months and bid adieu to summer. It’s the season of ushering in new aesthetics — which is exactly what some Gen Z emo kids are doing.
As one user put it, it’s time to transition from “pop punk summer to Midwest emo fall” as soon as it gets the least bit chilly. While Gen Z Gilmore Girls fans were celebrating the start of Gilmore Girls season on Sept. 1, emo kids were embracing a disparate, more angst-driven aesthetic: “Midwest emo fall.”
“I like to call it the annual transition,” @killzoltar wrote in response to Em’s video.
“I listen to Midwest emo year round because I am not having a very good silly goose time,” @scout0118 added.
What is Midwest emo?
Midwest emo is a subgenre of emo that emerged in the 1990s in Midwestern America in response to the emotional hard-core scene in Washington, D.C. While there’s been debate as to which bands are actually considered to be part of the Midwest emo genre, bands like American Football are recognized as having created a “second wave” of emo music.
According to Rate Your Music, however, the advent of Midwest emo can be attributed to the band Sunny Day Real Estate, who, despite hailing from Seattle, “combined elements of their native Seattle’s indie rock scene with the post-hardcore music propagated by Washington, D.C.-based Dischord Records.”
Due to the genre’s heavy emphasis on emotional resonance, “alternating loud and soft dynamics; off-key, strained or ‘whiny’ vocals with little screaming; and ‘twinkly’ arpeggiated guitar parts” were commonplace.
Just as Sunny Day Real Estate was a notable member of the Midwest emo scene in the Pacific Northwest, different bands in different regions — like the Promise Ring in the Midwest, Mineral in Texas and Texas Is the Reason in the East Coast — aided in the genre’s growing popularity during this time.
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From a fashion perspective, according to the Midwest emo aesthetics fandom on Wikipedia, the genre is greatly influenced by Midwestern tastes. In terms of fashion, this manifests in clothing that is “decidedly uninspired” and favors “comfort and accessibility over artistic expression.”
On Sept. 8, TikTok creator Buddy Love (@buddylovetattoos) revealed how to put together the perfect outfit to wear to that “dive bar you’ve been scared to go in,” with the help of audio that was first posted by Grace (@sprite.enjoyer) in 2022. Love posted the video with the hashtag #midwestemo.
With all this in mind, it appears Gen Z emo fans associate the fall months with Midwest emo, both as a genre and an aesthetic. Donning a beanie, a somewhat oversized flannel and jeans that lean on the skinnier side while listening to songs about heartbreak, strained parental relationships and wanting desperately to leave their small towns feels quintessentially “fall” for these TikTokers.
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