Alternative Energy Awakens at the Observatory With The Used

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images

I have asked some people this year which of their favorite artists they would want to see was. They all came up with the same answer: The Used. They kept telling me how great their sound was, and that I need to check them out. I was not sold at first because, as readers know from reading my stuff, I am mostly about heavy guitar licks, raging vocals, and intense songs. To me, I felt The Used was a little too mellow for my taste. However, that being said, I would be lying if I said that I was not a little bit curious to see what they were all about. Well, on December 4th at the beautiful Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif., The Used graced the Southern California crowd. Matt Martinez and Kendra Taylor tagged along with me, as witness to something special. Holiday cheer had officially begun.

Opening up for The Used, was this ultra cool alternative hard rock band from Los Angeles, called Lowlives. There was something about the lead singer that reminded me of my musical idol, Kurt Cobain. He has the look and voice to back up his rock charisma, albeit his voice is a little smoother than Cobain’s. The group has this great sound, one that is very grungy and catchy at the same time. Their guitarist, named Jax, was astonishing to watch and I just fell in love with his guitar licks. The Lowlives are a young talent that has caught my attention, and I do attend to learn more about them.

Full Lowlives slideshow below:

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The lights dimmed, and hundreds of The Used loyalists went crazy. The band got the set started with their classic tune from In Love and Death, “Take It Away.” Lead singer Bert McCracken lights up the night with his tenor vocals. They have tremendous chemistry with the audience. Almost every single fan was singing along to their classic hits, as well as the new songs from their latest record, The Canyon. From “All That I’ve Got” to “I Caught Fire,” “Pretty Handsome Awkward,” and “Rise Up Lights,” The Used brought an energetic presence to their set, going from pop, to full blown rock mode. Their new guitarist, Justin Shekoski, is a remarkable addition, with his guitar chops being exactly what the group needed, after the departure of founding guitarist Quinn Allman. Bassist Jeph Howard and drummer Dan Whitesides killed it with their harmonious rhythmic beats. The entire time they were playing, I was grooving to their music, finally understanding what the hype was all about. They closed out the night with “Maybe Memories,” the first song they ever wrote together.

Full The Used slideshow below:

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After a night like that, I can say with confidence that I have become the newest follower of The Used. Matt Martinez was right about them; they have a fantastic sound that everybody, including a diehard metalhead, can enjoy. The Lowlives were a surprise hit for me, and I will be watching them closely. It was a fantastic night from both bands. To The Used and Lowlives, I salute you. Horns up!!!

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