The Used made a stop at Tulsa’s historic Cain’s Ballroom this past week, touring in support of their newest record Toxic Positivity. With support from Sleeping with Sirens and Dead American, the three groups packed the sold-out venue with fans both young and old alike—though the latter was definitely in the majority.
The night began with a set from post-hardcore group Dead American. Hailing from SoCal, the five-piece group simultaneously combines the nostalgic sound of the early 2000s with more modern elements for an intoxicating performance that more than amped up the crowd.
From the get-go, singer Cove Reber (Saosin and Patriot) worked the crowd, repeatedly asking them to scream his band’s name so they wouldn’t forget it. Immediately, the audience fell in love with the charismatic frontman as he bounded from one side of the stage to the other.
The highlight of their set came when Reber gave the crowd a taste of their new song, “ADD,” teasing that it would come out officially in a few weeks. “I need your help with this one. I don’t care what you sing. It just needs to be loud,” he yelled at the crowd before the song kicked into gear. Infectious and fun, “ADD” saw the most crowd participation of their entire set. Figuring out the chorus, the audience took every opportunity given to them to respond to Reber’s vocals by calling out “ADD.” If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that everyone went home after the show knowing Dead American’s band name.
Interestingly, before Sleeping With Sirens came out, the pre-show playlist switched to a run of ABBA songs, not stopping until the band came on stage. As imagined, the ABBA songs did a wonder on keeping the crowd energized and entertained between sets.
As soon as fans saw singer Kellin Quinn take the stage, the room erupted in screams and squeals of excitement. Hiding behind his signature shaggy, Quinn took a moment during SWS’s set to express his gratitude toward Bert McCrKen and the rest of The Used. “We’re so lucky to tour with our all-time favorite band The Used. Everything I am is because of watching Bert perform.” His high compliments struck a chord with the audience as they enthusiastically applauded.
From the moment the band walked on, none of the members had both of their feet on the ground at the same time, jumping and launching themselves across the stage in this highly energetic performance. The standout, however, is touring guitarist Tony Pizzuti, who performed an abundance of near-acrobatic feats like spinning kicks and even mid-air splits—ouch! It’s enough to make you tired just watching him.
In a sincere moment toward the end of their set, Quinn told the audience, “You are special. You are amazing. You belong here. That goes out to all the elder emos here especially. Check in on your friends. If someone isn’t here with you and they come to mind, send them a message telling them you love them.”
Before playing the penultimate song of their set“If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn,” Quinn dedicated it to all the lovers in the room. Looking to guitarist Nick Martin, he said, “Nick, you’re my lover and you’re in this room. This one’s for you,” which earned a laugh from the audience. As Quinn sang the lyrics, “You bring out the beast in me,” Martin faced him and put up devil horns, making Quinn chuckle in return.
Finally, it was time for The Used to take the stage. Immediately blasting into the vengeful—and fan-favorite—“Pretty Handsome Awkward,” the band barely gave the crowd time to breathe before quickly transitioning into “Take It Away” and “The Bird and the Worm.”
As most fans know, McCracken is one of the most unpredictable frontmen today, besides a few of his set staples—his speech about how The Used never broke up, getting the crowd to boo them, etc. He pulled out quite a few tricks from his bag of stage antics, starting by blasting the crowd with water with his signature, devious giggle.
Noticing a kid on the barricade, he asked, “How old are you?“ to which the kid responded with an enthusiastic “Nine years old.” “Nine?” McCracken repeated, “Let’s get a big ‘fuck you’ for this nine-year-old.” The crowd—perhaps a little too excitedly—did what they were told, but the biggest shock came when McCracken realized he had met his match. “Fuck you, bitch,” the child yelled back, loud enough for everyone to hear. Taken aback and more than a little delighted, McCracken laughed loudly, calling him his favorite nine-year-old ever.
Treating the audience, McCracken then began reciting his favorite Shakespearean soliloquy—from Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5—serving as a direct lead into “Blood on My Hands.” A circle pit formed as McCracken intoned the famous speech that ends with, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
After the song ended, McCracken welcomed a special guest on stage: drummer Dan Whiteside’s toddler, Indy, who treated everyone to a performance as his eyes barely peered over the hi-hat. In a sweet moment, McCracken called Indy the “future” of music, saying that we were the first to see him on stage.
The mood of the evening soon shifted to a more somber one as McCracken gave an impassioned speech about suicidal awareness. “If there’s hope for someone like me, then there’s hope for all you beautiful people. If we could, I’d like to have a moment of silence. One of our crew member’s loved ones committed suicide last night.” Respectfully, the crowd indulged him. “This song’s called ‘Giving Up.’” You could hear a pin drop as the band broke into the new song.
McCracken sang with an emotional depth that transcended words, making itself known as he crooned about not giving up on himself. Enough to bring a tear to the eye, it was the most emotional moment of the night.
The somber mood was broken a couple of songs later when everyone’s favorite nine-year-old returned with a vengeance. “Fuck you, you cunt!” He yelled. McCracken cackled loudly, saying, “This kid won’t stop talking mad shit. Where are your parents?“ The audience loudly cheered on the kid for a few moments.
Next, came “All That I’ve Got,” which saw the bassist Jepha grab onto the rafters near the stage’s ceiling and do some chin-ups before jumping down to play again—not missing a single note.
Another interesting moment saw McCracken shout out his mother who was apparently in the audience for the show. “Fuck you, mom!“ he giggled.
The set came to a close with “A Box Full of Sharp Objects.” Before starting the song, McCracken told the audience he had a suggestion for them. “Shove your phones up your ass. Make a moment right now that will last you a lifetime.” Blasting into the “Best song ever written,” the crowd parted, once more revealing a circle pit that saw its climax right when the band switched gears, shifting to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The crowd sang along at the top of their lungs as the show came to a fitting end.
Emotions ran high all night, often conflicting, but that’s pretty standard for a show for The Used. More than anything, it proves that The Used is at the top of their game, only getting better and better with age. Be sure to check out their fall tour dates for your chance to see them.
Sleeping With Sirens