Last Night: The Used at Chain Reaction

Last Night: The Used at Chain Reaction, Anaheim; August 31, 2009.

Better Than: Paying $4 billion for something.

Questionable Moral Stance: Bert McCracken encouraged the crowd to not be “pussies” and steal the album online, but to walk across the street to Target and steal it there. (Perhaps even more misguided that the only way into the show was pre-ordering the record.)

Though the Used might not quite as popular as they were doing the height of their relevance in the mid-2000s–when “The Taste of Ink” was inescapable and lead vocalist Bert McCracken was an MTV mainstay–they've remained successful, thanks to a large and loyal fanbase. The Used were able to thank this fanbase Monday night, playing a free show for folks that pre-ordered their new record, Artwork, on Smartpunk.

Of course, the fans were into it. The Used aren't exactly U2, but they can still draw a pretty good crowd–thus the the radiant excitement from the assembled young folks over seeing their screamo heroes in a 240-person capacity building. Even before the show started, anywithin a block or so in could hear frenzied screeching as the (mostly female) crowd shouted in anticipation.

Opening up with first Artwork single “Blood on My Hands,” it was clear that the band was just as tickled to play in a smaller space. In the just more than an hour set, plenty of more songs from the new record were hit (“The Best of Me,” “Come Undone,” which is assuredly not a Duran Duran cover); along with older radio hits like “The Taste of Ink” and “All That I've Got.” (In which that crowd was more than happy to sing along with every syllable.)

The most entertaining element, perhaps, might have been what came in between songs: McCracken's passionate, mostly lucid diatribes about subjects including fame (“fuck being famous,” he shouted), whether or not people in the crowd should pursue artistic endeavors (consensus: they should), and some back story behind the new songs–like “The Best of Me,” which he said they actually wrote four years ago.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: There is something really appealing about covering a show that ends at 9:15 p.m. (Plenty of time to make it home for Hoarders on A&E, for instance.)

Random Detail: Before “Hospital,” McCracken told a story about eating a maggot-filled chicken fried steak at the Denny's near Chain Reaction a few years ago. The maggots were probalby the healthiest part of the meal!

By the Way: McCracken uses the f-word a lot on stage. He's not a great Mormon.

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