AU's Student-Run Internet-Only Radio


AU's Student-Run Internet-Only Radio


AU's Student-Run Internet-Only Radio


I Promise I Listen to Music Other Than Car Seat Headrest and Here’s Proof: Allow me to introduce you to Knope, also known as the angriest Midwest (?) emo band in the DMV
Members of the band Knope pose for a photo. Photo source:

As a resident of Northern Virginia myself, I am always on the lookout for musicians from the NOVA area. Admittedly, one of the main reasons why I connect to Car Seat Headrest as much as I do is because Will Toledo is from Leesburg, Virginia. As someone that has grown up in these suburbs of Washington, D.C., which is where Will Toledo has once described being a place of “nothing but banks and strip malls,” it can feel a little hopeless to live here sometimes. Many people from this area tend to stay here for their entire lives, which makes me feel claustrophobic when I think about it for too long considering that there is a chance that I will end up doing the same thing.

However, the fact that Will Toledo was able to get out and make a name for himself acts as a huge source of hope for me, that I will one day be able to do the same. I often find myself seeking this sort of comfort from other artists in this area because watching people create something out of nothing is already incredibly satisfying, but the idea that that something can be music in an area with a pretty underwhelming music scene of any kind? That possibly in itself just makes it so much more satisfying for me.

Bringing me to my next point, I recently discovered a band from this area, or more specifically, Fairfax, Virginia (which just so happens to be where I am from!) that has continued to comfort me in knowing that Northern Virginia does not have to be a place that destroys all musical creativity. At a total of 9,000 monthly listeners, Knope has proven itself to be small but mighty. Consisting of a couple of guys who were brought together through the “emo” subreddit, also known as lead vocalist / guitarist / bassist Jack David, lead guitarist Ryan Bishop, bassist Raul Portillo and drummer Killian Brubeck, this band is extremely successful in balancing the classic, American Football-esque Midwest emo style with tasteful, yet raw and utter rage.

Seriously, this might just be the angriest Midwest emo band I have ever encountered, and Midwest emo is already angry enough as is.

(Side note: I am not entirely sure if I can classify Knope as Midwest emo if they are not actually from the Midwest, but I am going to do that anyway. Pretentious music weirdos, please do not come after me if it is true that I misclassified this band. I am simply just a girl writing about musicians I like for my college radio station’s website which automatically means that you have to be nice to me!)

The Fairfax, VA band Knope’s logo. Photo source:

What I particularly enjoy about Knope, however, is that this anger is not only directed at the loss of a lover, which is also a theme that I have seen one-too-many times from Midwest emo pros such as Modern Baseball or Mom Jeans (not a diss! I love Modern Baseball and Mom Jeans! They just sing about their ex-girlfriends a lot!).

Although Knope does have songs about heartbreak, their anger is also frequently directed towards on-going societal issues or pressure, such as their song “I’m Not a Punk,” which critiques the immoral practices of many people involved in the punk scene. The lyrics in this song are brutal, an example being, “I hope your wallet weighs you down / when you go swimmin’ in your pool / The very next time you hit your wife / I hope she guts you with a knife / I hope she’s the last thing that you see in your entire f****** life.” However, I find the unapologetic nature of these lyrics to be incredibly refreshing, thoroughly calling out how many so-called punks are using the punk image to mask their reprehensible behavior in a way that is mandatorily remorseless.

The unapologetic nature of Knope certainly does not stop at “I’m Not a Punk;” Knope’s 2019 album “Picture Perfect” beholds all of the unapologetic honesty that you could possibly dream of, accompanied by enough multifaceted guitar solos and gravely screams to make your head spin.

One of my favorite songs off of this album, “That’s Not Dinner Talk,” is one that especially exemplifies this concept of unapologetic honesty that I am talking about. In this song that expresses the disappointment of being failed by a parent or a parental figure, Jack David sings lyrics that are nothing short of straight-to-the-point, one of my favorite lines being, “So if you go, then stay away / and pretend that I’ll miss you ’til my dying day / I believe that it’s hate / that makes me this way / but don’t test my faith / and stay away.” For whatever reason, this collection of verses has really stuck with me. I think this might be because although the lyrics are simple, they ultimately do pack a punch; it is not often that I hear musicians openly verbalize their hatred for someone, let alone their parents, and the bluntness in which it is done in “That’s Not Dinner Talk” is incredibly effective.

“Barrel Roll!” from the same album is another song that I think does an excellent job of conveying Knope’s unapologetic nature, but differently. This song is more difficult to analyze as the lyrics are more vague than their other tracks, but lines such as “Most nights I still feel like I lack a fundamental sense of purpose / It feels like everyday I make the same damn mistakes / I drowned the devil, now I’m waiting for his lifeless corpse to surface / I wonder if he’ll just stay at the bottom of the lake” still affect me in a similar way that “I’m Not a Punk” or “That’s Not Dinner Talk” does. This could be due to the fact that Knope seems to have a habit of embracing discomfort rather than hiding from it, intentionally trying to make you feel uncomfortable so you will pay attention to what they are quite literally screaming in your face; these lyrics are clearly not just lyrics, and I really appreciate this aspect of Knope’s tracks, considering that a lot of lyrics from modern-day music ultimately tend to not mean much.

In conclusion, if you are one of those people who are secretly angry but have trouble admitting or expressing it, Knope just might just be the band to help you channel that inner rage! Just you guys, though. Not me. Haha.

Make sure to support them by checking out their music on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever else you stream music. Maybe give them a follow on Instagram and Facebook as well to keep up to date with special announcements and where in the area they are performing next. Perhaps I’ll even see you at Knope’s next show, who knows? Anything is possible.

See you all in the next one where I continue to force myself to talk about other bands that are not Car Seat Headrest (or at least attempt to. I’m still figuring this out)!

Bonus: Some of my other favorite tracks by Knope:

– “Broken Couch”
– “Shimmer”
– “Pregame”
– “Dreamcatcher”
– “Holy Water”

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  • S

    stephanieOct 3, 2023 at 1:00 am

    saw knope open for origami angel at the pie shop this summer & then thrashed in the pit with them for the rest of the night. super kind. they put pokemon cards in all of their records and the bass player was in a cowboy hat. cool dudes.

    • D

      DannyBoyNov 15, 2023 at 2:35 pm

      The sonic was wilding fr fr