Labeled Fest in Tempe, AZ | Emery, Norma Jean, Idle Threat

Before making their final stop(s) through Oklahoma and Texas, emo elders Emery and their 2022 Labeled Fest popped into the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Arizona. The show was co-headlined by Georgia’s metalcore grand pappies Norma Jean, and also included emo Mount Rushmore nominee Aaron Gillespie (of Underoath), as well as up-and-comers Idle Threat and Watashi Wa.

While Idle Threat only had a 25-minute set (gif’d above), they made the best of it, performing several tracks from the band’s latest release, Blurred Visions—impressing the trickling in crowd. Watashi Wa took the stage next, and brought the fun with pop-punk styles to match their hilarious inflatable stage performers (pictured below).

By the time Aaron Gillespie took the stage, the room was eager to mosh. Gillespie recognized this and asked, partly in jest, if everyone would give him a chance to perform a completely acoustic set (of which 99% of the material was from The Almost’s Southern Weather). Toward the end of his breathy performance, a heckler who kept screaming “PLAY UNDEROATH” got his wish, when the Underoath frontman performed his band’s emo staple, “A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White”… ironically the heckler had left the room and missed the entire song, much to the joy of Gillespie and his crowd. Emery then snuck on stage to close out Gillespie’s set, co-performing “Say This Sooner.” Not 30-seconds later, Emery was playing its first track! In my 20+ years watching live music, this was the smoothest band transition I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I swooned.

At one point Emery’s co-frontman Toby Morrell chuckled, “Here comes another old one….well… they’re all old ones. Y’all are attending a classic rock concert and you love it.” The 21-year tenured band tore through vintage material and new editions from their newest release “Rub Some Dirt On It” alike. And while the record hasn’t been out long, fans clung to one another and sang along to every word. Who’s cutting onions in here?

Emery - You Stole God From Me

Norma Jean took the stage last and the energy (and quite frankly the decibel level) shifted from” hug it out screamo” to “in your face metalcore.” Cory and company took fans through a full catalog tour, including tracks from 20-year-old debut Bless The Martyr Kiss The Child, which is commendable for a frontman who has been at the helm of this band for 18 freakin’ years and is the longest-standing member. The highlight had to be when NJ performed “Disconnecktie: The Faithful Vampire” from Cory’s debut record, O’ God, the Aftermath–it played almost a ballad compared to the ripping tracks on either side in the set.

Norma Jean - Sleep Explosion (Official Music Video)

It’s been a treat to see ~20-year old emo and metalcore acts like Emery and Norma Jean continue to tour while simultaneously passing the torch to up-and-comers like Idle Threat and Watashi Wa.

For September dates featuring Oh Sleeper and Salt Creek, visit labeleduniverse.com.