The Used | Live Review & Photoset

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Photos (c) Paul Lippiatt

This was, by far, one of the most uncomfortable and misogynistic shows I’ve ever been to.

I have incredibly fond memories of The Used; their tracks often appearing on the mix CDs my friends and I passed around at school; ‘The Taste of Ink’ proving a necessity to any house party playlist; the lyrics of ‘All That I’ve Got’ providing inspiration for that perfect MSN messenger screen name. It was 2002 – the music I blared out of my walkman, placed as my MySpace song or talked about with my friends provided an identity that, at 14, I was desperately searching for. Emo did that for me (and unashamedly, still does). It was a time when music was the only thing that was able to communicate how I was feeling, a time when music was the only thing that understood me – The Used were a big part of that.

The reason I’m being so personal about the whole thing is because, usually, when a band gets a bad review, the writer is met with cries of “You made your mind up before you walked through the door” / “You’re obviously not a fan in the first place” etc. So, just to clear things up, I was very much looking forward to seeing this band, who had meant quite a lot to me during my teenage years and who I had never seen before. I wanted to drink beer with my friends and scream my lungs out.

This was, by far, one of the most uncomfortable and misogynistic shows I’ve ever been to.

Okay, so it started off great. Opening with ‘Maybe Memories,’ the band were a tight-as-heck force, opening with moody guitar strums before lead vocalist Bert McCracken screamed and sang way through a note perfect performance. Singing to the side of the stage, he only faced the audience to stick his middle finger up or stick his tongue out and use a wanking motion on his head. All good fun? Well, it doesn’t bode well to diminish the bro-rock aspects of American emo but I didn’t think too much of it.

Next up was ‘Take It Away’, which saw the whole venue bouncing and chanting to “Burn the Sun / Burn the Light”, as the band propelled their heads back-and-forth, screaming the chorus in unison. As the song came to an end, McCracken pointed to a girl at the front, claiming her to be ‘too rowdy’ – “Get up here on stage,” he demanded. “Now sit there, right by the drums. Looks like I’ve got to babysit you”. She did, before sitting there meekly and finally walking off stage a few seconds into the third song. Okay, so I hate “mosh-pit” culture and have forever had to put up with it – at an Underoath show when I was 15, a dude picked me up by the waist, laughing “you don’t belong at the front” – so the front is never really a safe space for any woman. We either don’t belong there, or if we push back, we’re too rowdy.

Continuing with the set, I couldn’t sing along to my favourite songs. This woman was taken away from her friends and belittled in front of the entire audience. “Where are the true Used fans?!” McCracken shouted. “I don’t see you. Where the fuck are you?” Encouraging a mosh-pit, he then told the guys at the front – “If you see someone fall down, pick them up and then beat the shit out of them” So, obviously, men are encouraged to be rowdy. Women? Told off. And for his final comment, “Oh, and ladies. Feel free to shake that booty because I like it like that.” And that just about ruined The Used for me. Think it’s an unfair judgement? McCracken also made a bro comment about women’s menstrual cycles in a recent interview (2:48) because LOL WOMEN ARE CRAZY WHEN THEY’RE ON THEIR PERIODS LOL.

The rock / emo / indie scene is difficult enough for women to be taken seriously both as musicians and as fans. We’re often pushed to the side lines, witnessing these shirt-less, sweaty bro-dudes beat the shit out of each other. For a woman to be called out at the beginning of the show for being ‘rowdy’; to be told to shake my booty; to see Bert wink and utter “I know you ladies” before sticking his tongue out, is immediately disregarding a huge portion of his fan base and audience. I felt objectified, uncomfortable and as the bro-dudes next to me pumped their fists in the air to the sound of Bert’s so-called ‘revolution,’ I felt left-out and isolated.

It’s a shame for the rest of the band – who I can only hope don’t hold the same opinions as their self-proclaimed ‘prick’ of a front-man – as they were on point all night. Calling yourself a prick doesn’t mean you should act like one, it doesn’t make you endearing and it doesn’t make me want to join a ‘revolution’ that means women are there for your entertainment. Thanks Bert, for ruining a bunch of great memories for me.

Check out ‘Revolution’ right here: