Even before singer Bert McCracken began an
ill-fated romance with the daughter of heavy metal icon Ozzie
Osbourne, which took place in the public eye thanks to the
success of the MTV show The Osbournes, The Used had attracted
their fair share of publicity.
With their hard-luck, drug abuse-plagued rise from the rock
'n' roll wilderness of Orem, Utah, their shaggy
good looks and fuck-you attitude, the foursome represented
ideal fodder for the world's music tabloids-poster
boys for dysfunctional youth, if you will. But this is a case
where the hype shouldn't detract from the reality,
which is that The Used have at least as much if not more energy
than the other emerging nu-metal, nu-garage, etc. bands currently
being hailed as rock's salvation.
The fact that the band grew up in the Mormon heartland in
the '90s gives their typical rock 'n'
roll venting of timeless teen frustrations an even more alienated,
aggressive posture as they do battle with the conservatism
around them. When they managed to land a gig at one of the
area's few clubs, for instance, their show so upset
the owners that they weren't invited back. "Everywhere
we played, people wouldn't let us back, because the
way we play...I think it would frighten some people,"
drummer Branden Steineckert told Rolling Stone. "It's
just us goin' off, and it's too much, the puke
and the fuckin' blood and things like that."
This wildness (McCracken went homeless for a period) did,
however, ultimately bring them to the attention of the record
industry, and in 2002 a deal signed with Reprise resulted
in their self-titled debut.
One of 2002's most talked-about new releases, The Used
rocked with the hardest of the current crop of alt-rock bands.
McCracken possesses a strong voice reminiscent of Soul Asylum's
Dave Pirner, and he sang convincingly against a backdrop of
shattered guitar solos and monster drumbeats on songs such
as "Bulimic" and "A Box Full of Sharp
The Used won't be able to sustain this intensity for
long, but while they can, this week's shows at Liquid
Room, and in particular the smaller, dive-ier Loft in Shinjuku,
should provide a memorable rock slap in the face. Hopefully,
McCracken should have recovered by then from a recent case
of acute pancreatitis brought on by hard living.
The Used play Liquid Room on September
1 and Loft on September 2. See concert listings for details.
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