Show Review: The Used with The Almost at The Warfield 11/11/09

by David Price on November 13, 2009

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The Used’s set began with an intro video of footage from past tours mixed with stock footage of planes taking off, cars passing by, and scenery changing as if shot from a window of a car. I am not sure most of the fans knew what to think of this semi-heartfelt intro. Backed by a piano and some strings, it seemed like it, as well as most everything with this set could have been better. When the video ended, the entire band just walked on stage.  It was kind of anticlimactic for such a drawn out intro.

I would have thought that the drummer would have started playing and then they would layer on instruments/band members until they got to McCracken. Regardless, the set started off with “Blood on my Hands,” the first single off of Artwork, as well as being their first single in over two years. “Blood on my Hands” is what would be expected from The Used; in fact, I find Artwork to be a rehashing of their last few albums. It has different arrangements and chord progressions, yet it’s overwhelmingly similar to everything else they’ve done. Throughout the opener, McCracken would raise his hands in the air and the crowd would copy him. This was as much as a greeting as The Warfield would get all night.

The remainder of the set consisted of a fairly repetitive pattern of play two songs, take a break. After maybe the third time, they stopped playing for an unreasonable amount of time, so one of the fans in the first row stated booing and yelling at them to play more and talk less. This apparently upset McCracken to no end. He proceed to tell her to “shut the fuck up you little bitch!” His yelling at her was accompanied by a threat to kick her in the teeth. McCracken told her basically that because she was in the front row, she had to endure his self indulgent side show.

Frankly, from seeing The Used several times, I have come to expect the self centered side show that McCracken weaves into his show. To an extent the rest of the band have come to expect it. When it would start, they’d just lean against there cabs and settle in for his ridiculousness. McCracken overall seems to have actually lost energy since the last few times I saw him. He was much less physically animated. What I had come to know from him, as far as being hard to track around the stage, jumping off the drum riser/amps/ speakers and hanging off lighting rigs, all of that Bert McCracken circa 2006 stuff didn’t seem to apply to 2009 Bert McCracken.

I did enjoy hearing songs like “Taste of Ink” and “Box Full of Sharp Objects.” However, it was a good thing I knew the lyrics. On the whole, McCracken seemed to be forcing out every single word of every single song; nothing flowed out of him the way I had witnessed it in the past. Every word seemed to be spoken as in conversation, and not sung as on the albums. The first song of the encore was “On My Own” and was arguably the only song really sung by McCracken, yet still it felt inferior to past performances and crunched by his continual use of throat spray.

I feel that, in a musical sense, I understand Bert McCracken. I understand that losses and struggles in his personal life drive him to make the music that he does. I more then appreciate his desire for music to be about the love of it, and not some superficial bullshit, but I truly feel that there is a disconnect between what he and his band work hard to create and McCrackens live performance. Live, McCracken just felt forced and sloppy. Not once did I get the feeling that he wanted to be there and it felt as if he was more interested in talking shit to the fans then playing music for them. Awkward gaps between songs with McCracken smoking multiple cigarettes at a time and other unsavory antics made me feel uncomfortable.

The thing that got me thinking about The Used and their fans was the fact how as McCracken would get more outrageous, so would the fans. I didn’t expect the crowd to be so unruly, and I saw many fights. The Used fans love Bert McCracken, but must hate one another. It seemed the more shit McCracken would talk, the more they’d reciprocate with cheers of equally insulting jeers. This kind of escalating profanity seemed to soon boil over and I wanted to be nowhere near it when it did. As soon as the last note of the last song was played, I grabbed my girlfriend and hit a cut out of there.

As a noteworthy mention, The Almost opened for The Used tonight. The Almost are fronted by Aaron Gillispie, drummer of Underoath. It was nice to see Aaron out front singing. I will proudly mention that The Almost’s 2007 release Southern Weather was one of my favorite records for that year. I have not seen The Almost live and it was nice to see the Almost performing for fans that would definitely not have exposure to them otherwise. I’m not convinced, though, that opening up for The Used was appropriate for The Almost. The Almost are a sort of cleaned up version of what some may say “emo,” and The Used are the exact opposite. In fact, not much about The Almost and The Used seem to overlap other then the fact that Aaron and Bert at one point lived in Utah, but not even at the same time.

The night overall was an interesting mixture of light and dark. For sure, anyone going to see The Used will not soon forget Bert McCracken. McCracken is in-your-face and unapologetic. There is something liberating in this disregard for caring what you’d think of him, and I think that this is what feeds the fans. McCracken is a poster boy for the disenfranchised and his off-the-wall antics are what fuel this overwhelming “fuck you” vibe that takes over. This is the opposite of chi. This is The Used.

Set List:

Blood on my Hands
Empty with you
Take it Away
Listening
Hospital
I caught Fire
Cum Undone
Taste of Ink
All That I’ve got
Buried myself
Yellow
Best of me
Pretty Handsome
– encore –
On My Own
Box Full of Sharp Objects

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Dakin November 16, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I momentarily considered blowing off plans to attend this show. I’m glad I didn’t…. Sounds depressing!

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Sophia November 16, 2009 at 7:05 pm

first of all. i was the girl in the front row who he yelled “shut the fuck up you little bitch!” and we were not yelling because of the long interval between songs. he was talking to the crowd between the songs. he also yelled “what are you complaining about, your in the front row” as in “your in the front row so you obviously like us”. then he finished it all by saying “just joking, i love you” and proceeded to make a heart with his hands. so the reviewer can suck it.

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David Price November 16, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Hey, Sophia!
Thanks for finding our little website. We surely are happy you stumbled upon us! However, your tone seems to only further my point. why so angry? The general feel of Bert McCracken was just that, angry, ungracious, disrespectful and over all rude! I’ll ask you Sophia, did you get the feeling while watching Bert McCracken that he wanted to be there? Did he thank the audience for spending their hard earned money to come out and see him or did he throw cigarettes at you? Did you leave The Warfield that night with an overwhelming sense of “Wow, that was amazing? Who knows maybe you did, if so great! I’m happy for you! Not everyone can know good entertainment when they see it and that’s why The Used still tours.
Hey Sophia “just joking, i love you”!

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sonic December 10, 2009 at 3:01 am

first of all, penis.

secondly, Bert used my lighter to light his cig, I can die now?

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David Price December 11, 2009 at 6:45 pm

wow! the post that won’t die!

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Emma December 15, 2009 at 6:44 am

I’m seeing them in March, when they come to Australia.
I really hope the show isn’t as horrible as its made out to be here, because I love that band so much.

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Sophia December 19, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Hey David!
I have to admit, you have a point. When Bert threw the cigarette at the audience I thought that was bitchy. Any you’re right, he never thanked the audience or anything of the sort. This brings me to the conclusion that Bert is an asshole. I’m not kidding myself, I’m aware of that. Bert McCracken has always been an asshole. And I did have a good time at the show, I did think it was pretty amazing, and when I read this review I was in the middle of a fan girl moment. So David, I attacked you, and I’m sorry I offended your reviewing expertise, I didn’t mean to upset you to the point where you had to write back a response, well, maybe I did. And about the previous “suck it” comment “just joking, i love you”!

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