Live Review: The Used w/ LOWLIVES | Bristol O2 Academy | 27/09/18

Originally scheduled to take place this February, the Utah post-hardcore trendsetters The Used broke a number of hearts following the cancellation of their UK headline run promoting their latest effort The Canyon. Never being the ones to disappoint however, the group have returned to our nation as promised, bringing alongside the LA supergroup Lowlives for the run. Check out our photo gallery of the show here!

Despite only having a handful of tracks under their collective belts, it’s clear that the reputation surrounding Lowlives (8) has surpassed expectations. Featuring members of The Defiled, No Devotion and The Ataris, the group deliver a climatic powerhouse of a performance for the early arrivals, with hints of subtle metalcore nostalgia and revivalist rock and roll mentality puncturing their punchy and infectious sound. Whilst the respective acts of each members past may be jarringly contrastive when compared on paper, with each member finding their feet in various demographical circles, the sound presented by this act is coherent and streamlined. A true amalgamation of skillful prowess, it feels like each member has taken the potential their respective former bands possessed and have pumped it into this sound, with such energy and enthusiasm being deeply infectious on a subconscious level.

Photo: Stevie Swarts

Whilst the respective post-hardcore, alt-rock sound they chase and present doesn’t assault the boundaries of their genre’s sound, Lowlives inflict their mark upon the face of the scene and genre through their sheer skill, energy and presentation alone, differentiating themselves from the packs that inhabit this tested genre. With ‘Bones’ containing hues of the west coast grunge heritage and ‘Burn Forever’ carrying pop sensibilities marred with noise tinted aggression, there’s a level of inclusivity emitted. Whilst being appealing to casual listeners not accustomed to the culture of the deeper depths of the alternative scene, through a level of well spirited and superficial pseudo aggression presented by Lee Villain, the depth and technicality presented tonight does clearly show how this emerging act has a future within the deeper recedes of the scene. Clearly a band with a promising future and one that shall allow each member of the band to be known by this act as opposed of the musical pursuits of their past.

Despite now being active for over a decade and a half, it’s clear that The Used (8.5) are no where near the point of negative return, at least when it comes to their live shows. Opening with 2004’s ‘Take It Away’, the group enliven the rock n’ emo demeanor that swiftly became synonymous with the their rise to prominence, with the energy emitting from frontman Bert McCracken just demonstrating how the band haven’t lost any momentum despite the years. Radiating youthfully quirky charm and showmanship, demanding a circle pit whilst he recites the work of Shakespeare, McCracken is the lovable embodiment of this genre defining band whilst being potentially the only man in his mid-thirties who can successfully pull off wearing a single skeletal fingerless glove. It’s clear that the years of experience have given him the insight on how exactly to whip a crowd into a frenzy, with the masses in attendance obeying every single command whilst mirroring every syllable for ‘The Bird And The Worm’, ‘I Caught Fire’ and a touching and spiritually rousing acoustic rendition of ‘On My Own’.

Photo: Stevie Swarts

Whilst this setlist doesn’t actually contain any content from 2017’s The Canyon, the crowd doesn’t seem to mind or seem particularly knowledgeable regardless. Even with this greatest hits setlist being the chronological soundtrack to many an adolescent period of melodrama and angst, a party orientated atmosphere is clearly evident, an air of celebration focusing on the legacy this act has left in their wake. Such a statement is only backed up with a unprecedented performance of Artwork’s ‘Empty With You’, a track dedicated to the diehards in attendance. Such a performance seems like the group acknowledging the ones who have built their legacy whilst promoting their history, an act that many current bands avoid when exploring new creative avenues in the modern age.

With a passage of ‘All That I’ve Got’, ‘The Taste Of Ink’ and the swagger of ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’ reducing the masses to a collective swarm of voices screaming in unison, one can not deny how this act are not only still critically current in this day and age, but much required. Ending on 2002’s ‘A Box Full Of Sharp Objects’ alongside a snippet of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, whilst many may deem The Used an artifact of a bygone age, such a night clearly proves the polar opposite.