Barely Usedby Jason Basson / 15.08.2011
I’m not the biggest fan of screamo, nor do I applaud the gothy twink fashion and bad hair that desperately accompany it like flies on soft poo. The Used, however, were a lot better than anticipated. But that honesty doesn’t say much. Screamo is, after all, one of those ‘has-been’ fads that are about as superfluous and forgettable as scented bog-roll and flavoured lube. I do mean it, though. The Used were surprisingly good, and I’m not only saying that because the front man stuck his crotch in my face.
We’re all guilty of prejudice. I decided two weeks ago that I wasn’t going to like The Used. In my mind, they were just a liquored up version of Silverchair, minus the anorexia and with a few more ball hairs: just another Gandalf’s anthem band on par with Alchaline Trio and many of the other dregs that end up in South Africa when the rest of the world has forgotten them.
Though their music was completely generican, I must commend them on an electric stage presence. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band with such little self-consciousness. Contrary to expectation, nothing was forced. No pretentious band fashion. No attempts at gratuitous stage theatrics. Just straight up music delivered hard, with passion and sincerity.
Of course, a band is nothing without a good crowd. Though I would rather attend church than walk the halls of the ‘Grand’ Casino ever again, the fans did a great job of transforming a place where families go to die into a sloshy beer stained ‘juvi-hall’. What fun, indeed. I even met a girl who was deathly allergic to latex (there were latex gloves and condom balloons flying around). It felt like meeting a celebrity.
The three warm-up bands for the night were P.H.Fat (more like pH flat or pH zero), Lark and Fokopolisikar.
Nobody likes to play first, so I empathize with P.H.Fat for what must have been a terrifying performance. I’ve watched these guys at the Assembly, and they always manage to bring down the house. However, this time they failed to connect with their audience. There was that and the fact that I just don’t ‘get’ P.H.Fat. One song is about ‘liking animals’ and the next is about ‘fucking the universe’. I don’t think I was the only one that was confused.
The crowd seemed jaded for having to sit through four hours of warm-up routine to actually enjoy anything other than the R20 beer (and even that was pushing it).
Thankfully, Lark were sensational. It’s been four years since I last saw them play. I didn’t think they could improve, but they certainly have. A few first-timers in the audience kept remarking ‘Yoh! That chick can sing, hey?’ It’s true! Inga is barb-wire pixie chick with a set of chords that could put the likes of Jeff Buckley to shame.
Fokofpolisikar were Fokofpoliskar: high-octane, reliable, crowd-pleasing stuff. Not my thing, but hey, I guess it’s a South African staple.
Obviously, seeing as I’m obsessed with fashion, I was on the constant lookout for the worst and best outfits of the night. Let’s just say I didn’t really have to look very hard when it came to the worst. There were, however, some surprisingly stylish individuals (who were clearly lost – the Kylie concert was last month kids).
On the whole, it was an okay-ish event. The arena was barely half full by the time The Used kicked off, and I suppose that speaks volumes in itself. However, I do take my hat off to the die-hard fans that clearly couldn’t give a rat’s arse about any of that. In the end, watching them go ape was probably the most entertaining part of the evening… second only to the part where I finally got to leave.
*All images © Jason Basson.