Arts Desk

Tomorrow: Algernon Cadwallader, Standard-Bearers of the New New Emo

When second-wave emo legends Cap'n Jazz reunited earlier this year, music critics and fans rejoiced. It all seemed a little unexpected: After years of Warped-Tour banishment, emo was being celebrated again.

Chances are, a lot of those folks haven't noticed that a new emo scene that's more interested in '90s aggression and idiosyncracy than 2000s sheen has been growing right under their noses. If they did, Philadelphia's Algernon Cadwallader might be garnering Cap'n Jazz amounts of press. When the band released its self-titled debut album in 2008, the few music sites that discussed the Algernon Cadwallader frequently compared the group to the Chicago emo legends.

The comparison is fitting, perhaps mostly because, like Cap'n Jazz before it gained a legion of followers, Algernon mostly plays to tiny crowds in dusty DIY spaces. It plays one such venue tomorrow: D.C.'s H0le in the Sky.

"When we were starting out, it was just our friends at shows," writes singer/bassist Peter Helmis. "The local emo bands that were still kicking while we were growing up were now long gone so it was rare that we'd fit in with other bands on a show... It was still a long time before it [the current underground emo scene] gained momentum, but eventually it was like overnight, at least, to me. I realized that were were a million bands playing emo again, and it was its own actual scene."

The small, new underground emo scene has been steadily growing nationally, and Algernon Cadwallader is at the center of it. Its mathy take on the genre can pack hundreds into sweaty basements. There haven't been too many of those shows lately, though, as the trio's been hard at work on the next LP. "Our summer was spent writing the songs to complete our album," Helmis writes. "We did record some demos, but we have the studio booked for November and December to do the real thing."

Before the group heads back to the studio, it'll hit the road for a brief East Coast tour. At tomorrow's D.C. date Algernon Cadwallader will be joined by the local emo quartet Monument. The members of the bands are friends, and Algernon Cadwallader guitarist Joe Reinhart even helped produce Monument's forthcoming record. Though the two groups are close, don't expect any joint Algernon-Monument records anytime soon.

"Most of our collaborations are in killing cases of beer, so when we get down to jamming no one ever remembers to hit record," Helmis wrote.

Algernon Cadwallader performs with Monument and The Feed tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Hole in the Sky, 2110 5th St. NE.

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