February 1, 2010 | 8:45am
The Hype: Metalcore titans the Used and Atreyu co-headlined two very sold out shows at the House of Blues, Anaheim, Friday and Saturday. Atreyu definitely had the home field advantage and probably could have sold out both nights alone, so I wasn't going to be surprised if a portion of the crowd would leave after the OC-based band performed.
Atreyu rock HOB
The Show: A combination of frantic guitar squeals and jackhammer riffs assaulted the audience with Atreyu opening up their Friday set with "Stop! Before Its Too Late and We Have Destroyed It All." Atreyu were in the face of the crowd as their gear was pushed precariously close to the edge of the stage. The guitar gymnastics of Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel were on par with such metal guitar tandems of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Jacobs especially paid homage to the '80s with his Japanese-icon-adorned headband; he also sported items from his own Rokk clothing line.
Front man Alex Varkatzas prowled the stage like a madman, barking out the lyrics to the "Bleeding Mascara". The catcalls came from the females when Varkatzas took off his shirt during "You Were The King, Now You're Unconscious." Brandon Saller was barely visible perched high on a drum riser with his double bass drum setup, yet his background vocals really elevate their songs to another level, rising above their peers in the genre.
"Gallows" from their latest album Congregation of the Damned had the crowd jumping off the floor in unison with the guitarists coming together for another harmonizing salvo. Venturing back to their Victory records debut album Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses, "Lip Gloss and Black" had the crowd chanting for one more song--to no avail. The good news is Atreyu will be back for the Mayhem festival in July.
To my surprise, the House of Blues Anaheim didn't quite empty out after Atreyu finished. Who knew the Used still had a rabid fanbase? The stage was wide open with the only decoration being a large "The Used" banner hung from the ceiling. Bert McCracken unabashedly violated the code of wearing your own band t-shirt while performing in a "Blood On My Hands" T-shirt while screaming the aforementioned song to start their set.
Embracing the punk ethos and probably pissing off his record label, McCracken ordered the audience to steal or illegally download their new album by whatever means necessary before singing another new track "Empty With You." The mosh pit really started to stir when they ventured back in time for "the Taste of Ink." Usually bands stick to the printed setlist, but the Used must have enjoyed the reaction from the crowd so much they deviated into "Blue And Yellow" from their self-titled debut album.
Perhaps believing that they were Slipknot or Slayer, the Used coaxed the audience into dividing itself in half and running into each other for a "wall of death" that was quite comical due to the floor being too full for anyone to gather enough steam. This silliness went down during "Pretty Handsome Awkward." The Used did show some compassion dedicating an acoustic rendition "On My Own" to "the Rev," James Sullivan, of Avenged Sevenfold, before closing their set with a crowd sing along of "A Box Full of Sharp Objects". Needless to say, the girl in the front row with "I love Bert" written on her arms was probably stoked!
The Crowd: Affliction and Tapout were the T-shirt of choice for the bros, yet it was surprising to see a large number of tattooed, pierced and black t-shirted females in the audience singing along to every word of the Used.
Overheard: McCracken boasting that the song "Hospital" was written about his penis enlargement surgery so that he would have three legs.