In The Clubs
|The Used, Atreyu, The Bled,
and The Bronx
10/29/04 - The Orbit Room - Grand
By Mark Hensch
The age-old conflict between old, purist
fans of a certain band and newer fans enticed by said-band's recent success
is an ongoing struggle that thankfully I have been far removed from for
a long time. That long abstinence from concerts by bands that I have cherished
and since have gone on to mainstream success was ended by last night's
October 29th concert headlined by Utah screamo act The Used.
As someone who has followed the career
of the Used since literally the start, I was very interested to see what
my first Used concert in almost two whole years would amount to. Would
a plantinum-selling debut, several Warped Tour sets, and a new album recently
peaked on Billboard's #6 spot (and still selling fairly well) corrupt the
live experience that I remembered last time as intense, intimate, and totally
insane? Having met the band after that show, so long ago, I wondered if
that outgoing friendliness would have remained, or if fame and fortune
would have warped (puns relating to corporate rock tours not intended)
their original mantra of hard-work and honest music.
I'll answer those deep questions somewhat
later, but I can say that the band hasn't let an MTV spotlight blind them
to the convictions they hold dear in terms of good music. The groups opening
acts were all serious road-vets, all non-radio, and all serious in terms
of their styles.
Though not generic in a rock station on
the radio sense, opening act The Bronx was definitely nothing special.
I cannot bring myself to remember even one song title, and beyond that,
it almost made me feel better that this was the band I was missing while
languishing a hour after door-time in a Disneyland ride like-line. The
general consensus of several people around me seemed to reflect these sentiments.
The band played a simple blend of basic hard rock and screamo, whipped
up a lackluster pit or two (a general theme throughout the night for almost
all the bands), and left after about four or five songs (though I'm sure
they played more when I was waiting in line).
After this, the evening took a severe left
turn into hardcore realms with The Bled. Probably the wildest act of the
show, the act played their blend of strange hardcore to a crowd sorely
needing some energy. And what energy it was. Launching into their Pass
The Flask album catalog, The Bled played crazed hardcore that would never
be considered easy to swallow to mainstream rock fans. The pathetic mosh
pits of earlier were cleared as several fans along with myself began the
hardcore dancing for the evening. The various noobs to such heavier styles
of music cleared it the heck out of there, and it wasn't long before The
Bled gave us a spastic soundtrack of good songs. "Red Wedding," "You Know
Who's Seatbelt," "We are the Industry" "Spitshine Sonata" and "Sound of
Sulfur" were just a few highlights to a wicked set that ended with me getting
my glasses uppercutted off and a large bruise to the back of my head.
With my lenses scratched for the remainder
of the show (and the days to follow), many others nursing sore limbs, and
a lot of calories burned, I was prepared for the next act to follow through
and take the stage with aplomb.
I was left confused as to whether or not
that energy was equaled by quasi-metal act Atreyu. If you haven't yet heard
of Atreyu, you will be soon. They (for some crazy reason) have catapulted
to the fore-front of the metalcore masses by mixing in nice solos with
more generic hardcore drums and goth undertones. I listened to most of
Suicide Notes & Butterfly Kisses, just when the buzz for Atreyu was
growing, and was largely middle-of-the-road on it. It was good, but not
too good. After seeing Atreyu play live, this was something I still felt
was "middle-road." The good stuff was amazing; live, songs like "The Remembrance
Ballad" and "Right Side of the Bed" are awesome...especially when the guitarists
enjoy jumping around on their amps and spinning guitars like crazy. The
not-so-good stuff was just alright though; Atreyu's earlier stuff came
across as a little weak, and for the amount of respect these guys currently
have, it seemed kind of odd as they are talented, but not amazingly so.
It will be interesting to see if Atreyu can continue to evolve and outlive
the current hype surrounding them.
After Atreyu, it was time for the main
act to at last take the stage. At least that's what we all thought, before
in sadly typical rockstar fashion, The Used took about an hour and
a half to take the stage. However, once they took that stage, they made
it theirs. The Used proceeded to lambaste us with "Take it Away,"
the current single of course, but an entertaining rocker none-the-less.
The flashing lights and effects also added to the tune. The Used then proceeded
to mix almost equally songs from both their self-titled debut and the newer
In Love & Death. Bouncy jangles like "I Caught Fire" and "All That
I've Got" were thankfully balanced by heavier tunes like "A Box Full of
Sharp Objects," "Listening," and sole-encore song "Maybe Memories." There
were plenty of awesome moments; frontman Bert McCracken's spoken intro
to "I'm a Fake" was amazing live due to his face being bathed in purple
lights shifting and swirling, and ballads "On My Own" and "Blue and Yellow"
are always awesome softer tracks.
All in all, this show was a little conflicted.
With the exception of The Bled (who came across as much more experienced
then what they are in putting on a concert), all of the bands suffered
a tad from various things that dulled each band's musical performance edge.
For The Bronx, it was pretty much getting people to enjoy their music.
For Atreyu, it was a performance that showcases obvious gaps in styles
between albums, all of which are large and glaring. For The Used, it was
surprisingly crass and lewd commentary, long set-up times, and occasionally
flat vocals from Bert. Despite these thankfully minor flaws, all-in-all,
this was an excellent concert. I'm also pretty excited already for the
next one; The Used promised to come back to town in February.
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