emily the band cultivates safe, queer space in music


James Hoeck

Emily the Band lead singer Emily Antonacci sings at the Rose Bowl Tavern while playing her ukulele alongside the rest of Emily the Band on Friday.

By Kaitlyn Devitt, Contributing Writer

Under blue and purple lights at the Rose Bowl Tavern, emily the band, a three-piece queer girl group took the stage. 

The band began its set with an original alternative style pop song and switched between tunes written by its lead singer and covers by other bands throughout the night. 

emily the band features three musicians — Emily Antonacci, the lead singer and ukulele player, Cami Proctor, who plays guitar and works background vocals and Abbey Haste, who plays the drums. The group officially formed in April of 2021 after connecting in Peoria, Ill., where they all grew up. 

Antonacci said she has been writing songs since she was a child after her best friend gave her a ukulele for her 13th birthday.

“Having a ukulele was nice to kind of grab those ideas, and I just kept going with it,” Antonacci said. 

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    Before starting many of the band’s songs, Antonacci said she took the time to describe the experiences that influenced her to write their music — making live performances more personal than streaming their discography. 

    “I spent all day studying while listening to their album, and it is amazing,” Aly Cigelnik, junior in LAS, said. She added that she first heard of emily the band after watching them perform during the University’s pride weekend.

    “It’s just as good or even better, especially with … their personalities all together and every little story that Emily shares about the meaning of the songs adds to it,” Cigelnik said.

    emily the band identifies as a queer girl group that gives audience members the opportunity to connect with music on a deeper level, focusing on relatable experiences within the personal experiences with growing up queer. 

    “I know a lot of our fans who are openly queer, and they have voiced that they felt a safe space within our music and within our performance, or they come out to our shows and they know they’re safe to be queer, because the stage is full of queer musicians,” Proctor said. 

    emily the band and their show opener, Disaster Kid, decided to perform together after Disaster Kid’s drummer, Connor Criswell, mixed the sound for emily the band at the Make Music Normal Festival. 

    “As they were on stage, I texted these guys and was like ‘We have to find their contact info because we gotta play a show for them,’” Criswell said. 

    Disaster Kid has been playing together since 2019 and frequents the Chicago area where the group originally formed. They attributed part of emily the band’s success to the relationship between the band members.

    “They had a great vocabulary dynamic,” said Seamus Kreitzer, the lead singer and guitarist of Disaster Kid. “They could get real loud, real intense and then dial it back in an instant and then just do that for every song. That was great.”

    Disaster Kid is releasing a new song this Friday, and emily the band is still promoting its own new release “the heartbreak album.” Both bands can be found on Spotify and Apple Music.

    emily the band has recently expanded to playing in out-of-state shows and is set to perform in Nashville a week after its Rose Bowl show. 

    “I definitely feel like when I’m in a rocking chair, and like 100 years old, I’m going to be like, ‘That was a great time,’” Antonacci said. “‘That was the best time of my life with my best friends.’”


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