The Used @ Enmore Theatre
When I first heard The Used were touring Australia this month solely to play two of their early albums in full, I was a little apprehensive.
Firstly, the American emo-rock outfit are fairly polarising with their distinctive brand of ‘screamo,’ so would people currently sitting in a decade characterised by electronic music and sun-bleached indie riffs still care? Secondly, what kind of band picks a release from 14 years ago and decides to form an entire set based on these songs from the past? And why? It’s hard enough for artists to remain relevant with new releases, let alone seemingly flogging a dead horse…
The Friday night edition of this comeback saw The Used take to Sydney’s Enmore Theatre – an upgraded venue accommodating the high demand for tickets – to celebrate their 2002 self-titled album. Scanning the venue, the majority of the crowd looked as though they would’ve been die-hard fans back in the day, wearing faded old merch like a badge of honour.
Any concerns I had previously quickly disappeared within the first few minutes of the show when I saw how strong the relationship between frontman Bert McCracken and the crowd was. “I’ve been waiting for this night all fucking year long, this is the very fucking best day of my life so thank you for being here,” he called out to admiring fans. “Music has the power to save this whole fucking planet!” In a unified wave, the whole venue burst into cheers as McCracken launched into ‘Maybe Memories’ followed by ‘The Taste Of Ink.’
“After 15 years, seeing that there’s so much love and support for my favourite thing is humbling,” McCracken continued. “This record is about finding your place in the world and fitting in.” An angst-y rendition of ‘Bulimic’ was next, complete with the crowd proudly singing word for word, blurring the line between artist and fan.
The show continued with complete mutual adoration from the audience and band, with a few surprises hidden amongst the album – notably Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, and the Play School theme song (dedicated to McCracken’s daughter Cleopatra Rose which tugged on the old heart strings). ‘Poetic Tragedy’ was also dedicated to Cleo, whereas ‘Blue And Yellow’ and ‘On My Own’ were tribute singalongs to the people who had supported the band from the start. It was an hour of singing, screaming and circle pits as a room full of sweaty individuals relived not just an album but a period of their life.
This unique show wasn’t a huge success because they have the best vocalist, the most expensive gear or an outrageous light show. It was successful because they wrote an album that came from a genuine place and touched people’s lives in some way, to the point where it still remains relevant almost 15 years later. The Used boldly put both struggles and triumphs on a pedestal to show people that things can go wrong, and you’re allowed to feel shit about it, but eventually it’ll get better.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no doubting the impact The Used and their music has had – and still continues to have – on a huge number of people. It’s actually quite refreshing to be reminded that when music truly has an impact on people it’ll stay with them for years after the hype dies down.