Many people resonate with the 2002 self-titled debut of The Used with good reason. It’s considered a classic album in the emocore genre with songs like the “The Taste of Ink” and “Buried Myself Alive”. Personally, I always identified with their 2004 follow-up, In Love and Death. As a matter of fact, I still have the actual CD that I bought from Target years ago. The album is a little darker in content and a little bit more aggressive, but still straddles the line of being catchy. This is one of the enduring strengths of the band in general.
The Used set out to play this album in it’s entirely on the second of back-to-back sold out nights at the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. For a band that’s been hammering away for a good part of 15 years, there was a great mixture of older fans who had grown up with both albums and younger fans who may have been seeing The Used live for the first time. As a matter of fact, those younger fans packed the front of the barricade, reciprocating lead singer Bert McCracken‘s energy while throwing back every lyric to him.
The New Regime which is the brain child of Ilan Rubin (Nine Inch Nails, Angels & Airwaves) opened up the show. I’ve happened to see this band twice and Rubin’s stated influences of older bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin really pour out. During “Tap Dancing In A Minefield,” Rubin was able to show off his guitar prowess with an extended jam session with members of the live band. The recent single, “We Rise, We Fall” gives a little bit more modern edge with a gritty guitar line and electronics that translates good live.
Now with all the years I’ve listened to The Used, this was my first time I got to see them live. I’m hiding my head in shame as I type this for that very fact. The opener, “Take It Away” was just as good as I remembered it from listening to the album for the first time. Crowd surfing fans screamed the chorus as they tried to stretch out to reach McCracken. It was almost as this was as much as a rebirth for the band just as they were revisited older material. They played at a frenetic pace of that of a band who was just starting out on their first tour.
One of the cool moments of the show is when McCracken prompted everyone to raise their hands and then wrap their arms around someone in the crowd in a “We Are The World-like” gesture. In this shows where older albums are played in full, it is almost like a venue of old friends getting together reminiscing about the old times. In this case, it may mean sweat, hoarse voices, and a plethora of stories for years to come. It’s one thing to listen to a particular album over and over again – it’s another to see your one of your favorite bands play it live for you.