Leading into the long Memorial Day weekend, music fans in Los Angeles were treated to a special two-night set of concerts where The Used performed one of two landmark albums, The Used and In Love and Death each night. For a band that cut their teeth during the early days of Warped Tour, it’s unusual to see a tour billing with less than four bands, and even more unusual to hear a set filled with anything other than the greatest hits. The fact that The Used can get away with this type of tour (not to mention selling out many dates within days of tickets being released) in and of itself is a testament to their impact on the music scene, and the amount of love fans still have for their first two albums.
Fans began lining up early outside The Novo in downtown LA (one of the premiere larger club venues in Los Angeles, also formerly known as Club Nokia). There was a buss of excitement that permeated the crowd, and when doors opened, may younger fans jostled to obtain coveted spots on the barricade. Although much of the audience was probably in their mid to late twenties, there were still many fans both young and old, again a testament to the staying power of the band’s music.
On this particular tour, the band had been changing the stage setup each night to mirror the cover artwork of whichever album they were performing. On Saturday, they were set to perform In Love and Death, so the stage backdrop featured the stark white graveyard scene from the album cover, as well as a three-dimensional tree with the hanging heart that has become an iconic symbol of The Used ever since. The heart began pulsing to a heartbeat piped in through the PA system, and then all at once, the band took the stage a few minutes after 9:15.
In fifteen years, the band has had their ups and downs. From mainstream MTV stardom in the mid 2000’s, to troubles with major record labels a few years, it seems the band has finally hit their groove again. Although longtime guitarist Quinn Allman recently departed the band, it seems their performance was better than ever.
Although In Love and Death features some of the band’s more popular songs, this concert series was also a special treat for fans who wanted to hear the rarely-performed tracks off the album as well. Although tracks like “All That I’ve Got” and “I Caught Fire” have been standard fare on the band’s setlist for years, it was nice to hear deeper cuts like “Yesterday’s Feelings” performed live for once.
Sonically, the band was on point. They seemed happy to be performing, and their energy never let up during the hour-long set. Although frontman Bert McCracken said onstage that they “really didn’t want to do this tour at first,” he made quite a point about how their 15 year anniversary tours has been “one of the best of our lives.” In between songs, McCracken acknowledged that “fans tell me all the time, this album has saved their lives. It means so much to me, because this album has saved my life many times as well.”
The true beauty of this tour shone through in how connected the fans were to the band and how much the band tried to connect with the fans as well. It’s rare to see an alternative band last as long as The Used, and indeed they are one of the few remaining stragglers of their time. They’re still alive and kicking after fifteen years, and it seems that their genuine passion for the music, their fans, and the community surrounding their work is still alive and well. It’s always incredibly fulfilling to watch a band that oozes authenticity like The Used does, and this effect is made even more incredible knowing just how long they’ve been fighting to keep that flame alive.
On a personal note, I’ve seen The Used in concert many times, both as a fan and a writer. This tour was by far, the best I’ve ever seen them perform live. For my sake, and that of many other fans, I hope to see them playing at this level for many more years to come.