Show openers, the charismatic LA-natives Stars in Stereo, started the slow build of excitement throughout the night with their up-tempo pop-rock. Lead vocalist Bec Hollcraft’s voice is clear and commanding—add that to her fiery personality and it makes her just the sort of diva who can really spice things up on stage. The crowd certainly didn’t sound disappointed, the energy in the room instantly spiking high (only really ceasing when SiS played a somewhat awkward rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”).
With the first set of the night finished and the hum from the crowd growing, Dead Sara took to stage and absolutely blew me away. The four piece (also from LA) plays gritty, raspy, girl-fronted rock and roll that is a tough as it is pretty. For a touring spot with the Used, their bluesy, slightly twang-y rock and roll seemed out of place at first, but by the time singer Emily Armstrong hit the microphone, the entire crowd was won over. If Bec Hollcraft is a diva, then Armstrong must be a goddess, her growl of a voice perfectly suiting her swaggering demeanor on stage. Band-mates Siouxsie Medley (guitar), Chris Null (bass), and Sean Friday (drums) are all incredible musicians, pulling the performance together into perfect fist clenching harmony. With huge recent success with their single “Weatherman” and a lead spot on Warped Tour all summer, Dead Sara is a band you want to watch out for.
Riding high from Dead Sara’s powerful set closer, lights dimmed and anticipation clearly visible in the wavering crowd, the Used took the stage in a flash of bright back drop lights. For a band that has been at it for over ten years, they are not strangers to the spotlight, lending itself to a well-crafted stage show featuring songs from all of their releases. Armed with songs from their most recent LP, Vulnerable, the band seemed to have renewed energy even when playing through older fan favorites like “Buried Myself Alive,” “I Caught Fire” and “Take It Away.” The fans they have amassed over their time as a band are loyal die-hards, and I’m not sure if there was even a single person who wasn’t singing along to all of the words with front man Bert McCracken.
McCracken was very talkative during the set, joking along with the crowd in his typically crude manor, and even the younger kids in the crowd responded with loud cheers and applause. In addition to the Used’s explosive set, they were wrapping up the filming of a new music video, which featured a friend of theirs dressed up in a cigarette costume and interacting with the crowd. Even the cameramen rushing across the stage couldn’t stop the high energy performance.
A stand out during the set was one of the band’s newest songs, titled “I Come Alive.” A hopeful anthem, the song’s repeated chorus was sang so loudly throughout the Roseland that it was inspiring. Though the new songs don’t stray from the niche that the Used have carved for themselves over their last four releases, Vulnerable seems like a turning point for the band’s mindset, and made for a hell of a show.
Words by Jenna Fletcher.
Photos by Kimberly Lawson. More on Flickr.