I went to see The Used at Starland Ballroom and learned something important
This might have been my last time seeing The Used, but I doubt it. I always end up back there, don’t I? The half of the band that cares is so compelling that it’s easy to forget that the other half doesn’t. Also, the Starland Ballroom is a fucking fire trap, but I fully appreciate the work of the horde of security guards that were seriously on top of the action.
I don’t think New Jersey has fire marshals. Dinner took way longer than expected, so we turned up about 15 minutes before the band was to go on. This place is wall-to-wall bodies. I have to grind on ten strangers to get along the back wall to the bar and it takes the girls and me a minute and a half to get separated. If this crowd starts to get rowdy, we’ll be pinned against the back wall and die. The bar isn’t any better. (But later, when we escape to the bar just in time for Bert to order a mosh pit opened in the section where we were standing, when we would have inevitably been crushed against the back wall, the bar is my savior.)
The band is taking this tour as an excuse to grow beards. Jeph and Quinn are trimming theirs, so they look like hipsters. Dan and Bert, less so, so they look like Tom Hanks in Castaway and Grizzly Adams, respectively.
I have never seen this many drunk clearly underaged people in my life. They’re racing past us, presumably to throw up in a garbage can, before the band even goes on. Two people get carried out during the third song. And that’s just what I can see from my spot. I am off-balance and can’t get my hands higher than my shoulders without taking someone’s eye out. I want a Mudslide so bad right now. Or water. Water would rule.
Bert’s long-winded banter is much less fun when I’m probably going to die. Also, some guy behind is all incredulously yelling “Why are you going out with fucking queers??” at his girlfriend. At a Used show. Maybe he came to see the openers?
Some girl is working really hard to show the band her breasts. She keeps holding up her shirt for as long as her friends can hold her up. It’s … pathetic. Maybe she has a message written on them. Otherwise, honey, trust me, your rack isn’t that spectacular.
OH MY GOD, BERT. SHUT UP. I am going to die here and he’s reading conversation hearts out loud.
I’m learning that there are two general styles of performance: there are the bands that believe they owe it to you, the ticket buying fan, to put on the very best show they can and the bands that feel you’re paying to see them be themselves, so who cares what they do onstage. (The latter theory is very popular with bands that have drug/alcohol/anger management issues.) The tension in The Used is that the rhythm section is the former, putting on a tight, proficient, well-rehearsed show, but Quinn and Bert are of the latter school, with Bert utilizing his soapbox to say anything that comes into his head and Quinn seeming to not care what happens at all.
We take this opportunity to go back to the bar, hoping that the shorter of us can at least see something from there. Bert invites 100 of his “best friends” onto the stage. It’s a fucking melee. I have lost sight of both and Jepha and Dan (i.e. the band I came to see). As the crowd clears, I realize that Jeph was wisely hiding behind his Nintendo gamepad bass cabinets. I love him. Quinn climbs on top of a speaker, wisely electing to move to higher ground. We all stand around for ten minutes while they clear the stage afterwards. There’s just a lot of wasted time in a Used show. This further reinforces the feeling that we’re here to watch Bert do whatever he wants, and that that is what we came to see. Maybe that’s enough for most fans, but not for me, not anymore.