Warm and humid the evening began before The Used played their gig supporting their seventh LP The Canyon. Many people arrived at the venue dressed in the main act’s merch indicating that the concert was going to be for the fans who are already familiar with the band. The majority of the crowd seemed to be Millennials; as they were probably emo kids in the mid-2000s when they discovered The Used.
Upon entering Elements Nightclub, a white sheet was drawn across the front of the stage. At 7pm, a man in a jumpsuit and a black pillowcase over his head stood in front of the sheet while a video of VHS distortion played over him. The audio for the video were excerpts from speeches by both Martin Luther King and Donald Trump. Contrasting political ideas. The video stopped, and the banner dropped, and then The Fever 333 emerged; loudly. Their sound is Rage Against The Machine mixed with 2000s post-hardcore tropes, like mostly screaming. F333 was doing so many hyperactive things to get the audience’s attention. Things like jumping onto the speakers, hopping over the audience barrier to sing (yell) in the middle of the mosh pit, using his microphone cord as his personal jump rope, and even going all the way to the bar in the back to sing and drink. Jason Butler, the lead vocalist of F333, just loved to jump nearly everywhere he could! But this didn’t take away from the fact that he wanted to get the message across that they are a politically charged band and speak upon the issues of Indigenous peoples and racism in America, where F333 is from.
After their half-hour set, the second opening act, Red Sun Rising, came on. This five-piece band was “calm” in comparison to F333. They have an alternative/hard rock sound. Halfway through their set, some fans knew some of the lyrics, so there were some fans of RSR there. Lead singer Mike Protich is a strong vocalist. He can hold long notes for a while and without falter. Throughout the entire set, they encourage the audience to jump or raise hands to loosen them up, but the fans only reacted for a minute. Kitchener was a tough crowd and only wanted the headliner. Overall, RSR had clear guitar solos and riffs with great harmonies on backing vocals.
Quarter to nine and The Used arrived. The stage set up had drummer Dan Whitesides elevated in the back and centre stage. Below him was vertical, forward facing lights with the rest of the band at stage level. Lead singer Bert McCracken appeared to be super excited and the crowd finally became alive. The audience knew every word to the catchy emo choruses; clearly, it was a venue of old time fans. Bert’s voice is incredibly intact and does not sound aged whatsoever. He was commanding throughout their set and asked people to do things like make a circle pit, jump around, and even put your arm around the stranger next over and make friends. He really just wanted people to let loose.
At one point they broke out into the chorus of “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer which was cute. He frequently talked between songs, mentioning how the Arabic scarf that he had tied around his microphone stand was from Palestine and that there’s still the conflict there. He stands with the civilians facing violence each day. He also talked about how The Used has been a band for eighteen years, and he’s continually grateful for the fans and how music can change the world and how music has saved him over and over again. The audience responded with applause.
About three quarters into their less than fifteen song set, Bert said he didn’t remember the setlist and decided to play “something special” which was the song “Blue & Yellow” from their 2002 debut self-titled album. He explained it was about a date he went on with Kirsten Dunst back in the day. During that song, he sang with great emotion, and the audience is listening intently more than singing along. It concluded with uproarious applause. He ended the set with one of their biggest hits “Pretty Handsome Awkward.” The band left and fans demanded an encore by stomping their feet. They had a medley of one of their own songs and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.
The Used are keeping it real to their emo/post-hardcore roots. They delivered a fun and nostalgic show for adults who might still have a little emo inside from fifteen years ago.
Written and Photographed by Vicky Mahony
*edited by Danielle Kenedy