The Used was in the midst of an Australian tour when frontman Bert McCracken and guitarist Justin Shekoski came back to the States for a video shoot and acoustic performance in Los Angeles. The last (and only other) time I saw the Used was over a year ago when they played their first two albums front to back, so I’m more than happy to see an acoustic set.
It was at SeaLegs Live in Huntington Beach. I definitely got lost looking for the venue. I’m the stupid person who sees the beach, gets overly excited, parks, and then realizes she has no idea where she is. Whoops.
I was also the stupid person who couldn’t decide between beach shoes (flip flops) and concert shoes (Converses). I picked concert shoes, and naturally regretted it immediately. For one, it’s an acoustic show. I won’t be moshing. For two, it’s the beach. I have Florida blood. I need sand between my toes to survive. Not in my socks. Ew.
But eventually I’m at SeaLegs and dealing with my bad shoe choice. I didn’t realize there were two openers, and I didn’t care a whole lot about watching either, so I wandered around the small venue. There was plenty of food options, including chips with guac or salsa for $12 or $6. I’m a cheap ass so I asked how much they’d charge for just the chips. $2? Sold. There’s a healthy dinner.
While I may be cheap when it comes to my stomach, the merch table might have found a weak spot. They had mystery bags for $20 that held two shirts and two miscellaneous items. That’s like two shirts for $10 a piece AND some extra things. Sold. I could always use more band t-shirts, right?
I thought it was a good purchase. I got a shirt that says “Blood On My Hands” and one from that 2016 tour, as well as patches and a bracelet. Score.
When Bert came on, I joined the crowd as best I could. Naturally, I found myself behind a girl with a phone for a hand. Lovely.
This is a small, intimate acoustic performance. Why can I see Bert on so many people’s cell phone cameras better than I can see Bert in person? He’s just a few feet away. But all I see are phones. This is the most disappointing thing. I don’t understand. I always take a few videos just to post here because I feel like it’s necessary in sharing my experiences, but don’t these people want to remember being this close to Bert McCracken? I didn’t even have to worry about having too much video evidence of my own, because with the amount of phones in the air I saw, I know I’ll find a decent amount on YouTube. But why. Ugh.
He played a nice mix of Used songs as well as a few covers. I didn’t know all of them, but I definitely knew Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.”
He dedicated a cover of Blind Melon’s “Mouthful of Cavities” to one of his best friends who killed himself.
And of course, he played a lot of his own music. He said “Lunacy Fringe” is one of his favorites. I love that song. So cool to see that acoustic live.
Speaking of Bert’s favorites… Here’s a fun thing. He talked about how The Used is his all time favorite band.
Yes, he’s literally saying he is his own favorite band.
If it was anyone else, I’d probably think that’s super narcissistic to say. But it’s Bert McCracken. I love him. So it’s more just adorable than anything. And there’s nothing wrong with having The Used as a favorite band, even if you…are… The Used. Meh. Why not.
I guess they’re all a little narcissistic. Probably gotta be for that kinda job.
Anyway. He talked about how he wished he could switch consciousness with the crowd so he could watch himself onstage. Honestly that did kinda make me sad. He’ll never experience The Used live the same way that I can. That’s kinda a tragedy. They’re pretty amazing live.
One thing about seeing The Used live is that they always without fail try to get a Wall of Death. Tonight was no exception. Since it was acoustic, though, Bert knew it probably wouldn’t work very well. He said it would be more like a Wall of Fluff.
Yeah, it did not work.
I tried, believe me. Well, I mostly took his instruction as a good excuse to get away from the girl with the phone in front of me. But when I moved a few people over, I looked up at the guy I was now standing next to and say, “We doin’ this?!”
No one else was planning on doin’ this. Boo. Such is life, I guess.
Bert and Justin weren’t alone onstage the entire night. There was an interpretive dancer at one point, which was weird and super different but also really interesting? I don’t know. You don’t see that every day. Or like at all. There was also a woman from the band’s backing choir who joined them for a few songs.
Why, yes, you read that right. The Used now has a backing choir. They just finished recording a new album that Bert promised would be released soon, and apparently they went all out with this one and got a full choir on board. Sweet.
One of the last songs he played was a new one, “About You.” It was SO GOOD. Oh my god. If this is what I have to look forward to, I am stoked for their new album. Even acoustic, it was obvious there was a lot in this song. I attempted to record this one, but ya know, everyone else and their mothers did too, so I put my phone away when I realized all you could see on mine was everyone else’s. Nah, let’s not.
Then he recited Hamlet’s soliloquy. This is a very different show. Holy crap. I love Hamlet, but I don’t think I ever imagined I’d hear Bert McCracken reciting it on a beach. Okay. This is happening.
He closed with “On My Own,” and it was beautiful, and I tried my best not to get emotional. The usual.
Blue & Yellow
Breakdown (Tom Petty cover)
The Wind (Cat Stevens cover)
The Taste of Ink
Mouthful of Cavities (Blind Melon cover)
On My Own