For those punks who need to wear their otherness, there are tattoos, facial piercings and hair dye. For those whose otherness is beyond accessorizing, there is the Used.
Screamo, a rock genre as practiced by the Used, is less a style of emotion-drenched, screaming punk rock than an exorcism, an unscripted catharsis driven by the highly infectious stage lust of bantam lead singer Bert McCracken. In the early part of the band's set on Tuesday at the Hollywood Palladium, McCracken quipped, "It's not about us; it's not about you, either; it's about these songs." He then went on to prove that, for him, it wasn't about the songs either. They were merely springboards he would use to launch himself into a spiraling frenzy.
His sexual energy had the all-ages crowd erupting into mosh pits as he cursed and leapt around the stage, long hair and short pants flying, talking about how aroused he was and simulating sex with the stage.
McCracken's androgynous character, and the band's ability to build patient and unpredictable extensions into songs like "The Taste of Ink" and set opener "Maybe Memories," stretched out the group's art-core attack and approached the spiritual ambitions of a Jane's Addiction.
Local art-punks S.T.U.N. and alternative-tinted Yellowcard shared the high energy but lacked the charisma to transcend expectations. S.T.U.N.'s set devolved into the requisite trashing of instruments. For all their volatile emotion, the Used's instruments remained intact.
The songs' emotional grip on the rapt audience, and McCracken's spontaneity, were good reason to cheer the news that the Used will finally put out a second album in early 2004.