Music Reviews — 22 May 2012
The Used at Irving Plaza: A Concert Review

The Used
Irving Plaza, New York, NY
May 21st, 2012

Concert Review: The Used at Irving Plaza

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M onday night’s rock show at Irving Plaza was a creative hybrid marrying the catchiness of pop music with the passion of punk and the unmistakable in your face aggression of rock music, for a band that refuses to be labeled by a particular genre. The band on stage was The Used, parading through New York City on the heels of the release of their fifth studio album, “Vulnerable” in March. A sold out house filled the standing room only floor of the historic venue and as the band took center stage, the actual floor seemed to be shaking, putting to rest any exaggerative metaphor about the band blowing the roof off of the building, which was instead, shaking to its core.

Standing behind a large black curtain, with four sets of flashing fluorescent bulbs illuminating through like a silhouette, a unified set of screams rang throughout the small room as the lights went completely dark. The frenzied build continued to amplify until the curtain dropped, revealing a vigorous quartet exploding into opener “Put Me Out.” The band relentlessly continued with “Take it Away” from 2004’s ‘In Love and Death’ and “The Bird and the Worm” from 2007’s ‘Lies for the Liars.” From the back of the room, a sea of hands clapping overhead was the only thing visible, prodded by the conductor, vocalist Bert McCracken at the front of the stage. The mostly young, mostly female audience lost it every time the vocalist addressed them, often singing together so emphatically that their loud voices would drown out his own.

After interviewing the enigmatic frontman last week, it was difficult not to be struck by his raw emotion, the passion he feels about his music, and about performing. “Vulnerable” had been the culmination of a trying twelve month stretch for the band, with its release signaling the end of the band’s latest creative phase. Addressing his fans on stage, he exclaimed “We have a new album out called ‘Vulnerable.’ If you don’t have it yet you should steal it…from Wal-Mart.” The band’s first single of 2012 “I Come Alive” was an early highlight of the band’s ninety minute set- a catchy as hell, chill inducing song, that had it been released around May, might have become one of the biggest songs of the summer. Exclaimed McCracken “If you’re not having fun yet, get the fuck out of here!” which made the exasperated fans explode.

The band itself was incredibly tight- from the elevated drumkit of drummer Dan Whitesides being destroyed by his pummeling of the wooden sticks to guitarist Quinn Allman’s harmonizing backing vocals. But at their core- it’s the band’s imperfections that make their live show so infectious. Looking gruffer than his high pitched singing voice might indicate, McCracken is at times off key, and is rarely pitch perfect- but in a live, true punk music rarely was, which makes The Used so refreshing to watch. All four band members literally dripped with sweat, as McCracken pointed to members of the crowd, demanding they reciprocate lyrics back to him. Needless to say, the vociferous fans obliged emotionally.

The set was paced mostly by newer tracks from ‘Vulnerable’ but also tunes spanning the band’s decade long song catalog. The band brought a long time fan up on stage for “Blue and Yellow,” and as the male fan approached McCracken for a hug, the singer insisted on a kiss on the lips. Again, the fan happily obliged to the crowd’s disbelief and subsequent applause. McCracken then mused “I know that life is not easy. Everyone has their own life and you should be free to do whatever you want to do with your own life.” He continued, “I think that everyone in here has the right to smile. Make sure that when you leave here tonight you leave with that cheesy fuckin’ smile on your face,” before launching into “Shine,” “The Best of Me,” which spawned a massive moshpit, and “Pretty Handsome Awkward,” to close out the band’s main set. As the band returned for a tease of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into “A Box Full of Sharp Objects,” to close the show, the crowd, now drained of energy and drenched in as much sweat as the band on stage, managed to leave enough in the tank to meet the band’s energetic zenith with a standing ovation. The band, seeming genuinely awestruck by an unorthodox New York City crowd, promised a return visit down the line. With a string of dates on The Warped Tour lined up for this summer, and a live DVD being filmed on this night, The Used faithful are licking their chops to do it all over again.

- Jane Van Arsdale

The Used – Live at Irving Plaza

New York, NY

May 21st, 2012

1. Put Me Out
2. Take it Away
3. The Bird and the Worm
4. Listening
5. Kiss it Goodbye
6. I Come Alive
7. Give Me Love
8. I Caught Fire
9. The Taste of Ink
10. All That I’ve Got
11. Buried Myself Alive
12. Blue and Yellow
13. Shine
14. The Best of Me
15. Pretty Handsome Awkward
16. Now That You’re Dead
17. A Box Full of Sharp Objects

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(3) Readers Comments

  1. Ahh that’s an incredible set, I’m bummed that I missed this. I’m particularly happy to see that they played a few tracks off of their self-titled. I will have to catch them their next time around and @ Warped Tour in Uniondale. Great review & pictures!, check out my review of “Vulnerable” at I have the album so I’m relieved that I won’t have to steal it from Walmart now.

  2. Well it seems like this was another fabulous concert, gonna have to get the album.
    Long hair and a tattoo
    yee ha

  3. It was fucking amazing! :)