by Cassie Wilson
Earlier this year, The Used embarked on a sold-out 15 year anniversary tour and fans in other US cities demanded that the tour be expanded to their town. As a result of the high volume of requests, The Used added a second leg to their tour. The band plays two dates in each city: the first night they perform their self-titled album and the next they perform In Love And Death.
Portland, Oregon was the first night of this new leg of the tour, and kicking off the evening was a newly-formed band from Los Angeles called New Language. They have only digitally released one song and have two out on a 7”, but I never would’ve suspected how new they were if they hadn’t mentioned it. Their performance and interaction with the crowd came with an ease that isn’t typically seen among bands on their first tour. At the end of one of their songs they had the crowd clapping to the beat and yelling, “Are you better without it?” which really brought the room to life. It was very cool to see The Used bring a new band out on such a special tour.
I got to see The Used perform their self-titled record which came out when I was three. My first listen to the album came the night before the show, and comparing the 2002 release to the 2016 performance was fascinating. Between songs, vocalist, Robert “Bert” McCracken, talked about how many of the songs on this album, like “Say Days Ago,” were written about his struggles with addiction, so everyone in the room was pleased to hear that he’s been sober for a few years now. The band was gleaming with joy the entire hour they were on stage, and they were truly celebrating their 15 years together.
The songs sounded more clean and clear live, but definitely still showed off their original early 2000s rock sound. They had manikins as a part of their stage setup with lyrics such as, ‘He’s alone,’ and, ‘I’m choking on nothing,’ written across them. Bert stood on the speakers in front of the stage for the majority of their set and directed the crowd’s booming voices as he frequently let them take the lead. At almost any given point, the crowd could be heard singing over the music at full volume, so when the band played the quiet and acoustic, “On My Own,” it was pure bliss to listen to everyone sing along together. There was such a positive atmosphere because the band continually emphasized that everyone is free to be themselves at The Used shows. The band evidently had just as great of a time as their fans, and Bert wondered aloud why so many other bands don’t like playing songs that they put out early in their careers because he loves doing it. He showed a lot of pride in how far The Used have come musically and as individuals. His close connection with the audience stemmed from the common factor that The Used has changed many fans’ lives in a positive way, just like how it helped Bert himself. He said that he firmly believes that music is powerful enough to change the world, and if anyone in the room didn’t believe it before their performance, I have a feeling that they believe it now too.
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