Taste the chaos of The Used

The Used are at the top of their game. They just released an ambitious new record, In Love and Death, and are headlining the Taste of Chaos Tour. Two days prior to playing the Pompano Beach Amphitheater, I spoke with bassist Jeph Howard who talked about the new album like a proud father handing out cigars in celebration of a newborn child. He assured me that fans can expect a “totally different sound” from The Used, as the band simply “refuses to sell out and make the same record twice.”

The Utah band was raised in an area notorious for its strict Mormon population. Orem was certainly not a place where rock and roll thrived, but the four friends immersed themselves in their band at a young age because they viewed it as “all they had.” The resulting music is essentially a soundtrack to their lives and all those who share a desire to break out of a dismal hometown and live life on your own terms.

Taste of Chaos rolled into Pompano on Saturday boasting a bill that featured such exciting young acts as The Used, My Chemical Romance, Senses Fail, Killswitch Engage, Underoath and A Static Lullaby. All the bands put forth strong sets. Senses Fail played particularly fast and loud while flying across the stage like good showmen should. Their cover of Faith No More’s “Epic” was impressive, but it was overlooked by the high school-aged crowd. Still, the audience was enthusiastic and well behaved.

My Chemical Romance raised the bar with a powerful showcase that warrants their recent success. It was just announced that M.C.R. was chosen to tour with Green Day, and the band’s excitement is evident on and off the stage. In fact, every musician on this tour was friendly and extremely gracious. It is a treat to be around bands that truly appreciate their fans.

The Used headlined the event, and I had the privilege to watch their high octane set from the stage. Prior to the show, bassist Howard spoke candidly of how important it is to “have a talented and charismatic front man to shape the image of your band and work the crowd.” I couldn’t have been in a better spot to see what he meant. As I stood at the rear of the stage, my body shaking to the wall of sound around me, lights shined out over a sea of adoring fans. Singer Bert McCracken proceeded to work the audience into fervor as extreme joy flashed across every face in the stands. Sharing the band’s perspective, I took note of the chemistry between The Used and their fans. The impassioned crowd put forth so much energy that they too seemed to fuel the group’s performance. The view from the stage proves an energetic crowd is as important in making a good concert as the band itself. I will never watch a rock show in the same way. By the end of this set I too was a Used fan, and a journalist second.

John Heslin can be contacted at j.heslin@umiami.edu.