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As Long as You're Alive and Care


The Used

It’s 2001. I’m a freshman in high school, a brown kid navigating the cornfields of Ohio, sticking out like a sore thumb in a sea of sameness. Life at home is a battlefield, each day a struggle to find peace and purpose. My only refuge, my solitary escape from the chaos, is music. One seemingly uneventful day, I stumbled upon the video for "The Taste of Ink" on some music network, most likely FUSE (RIP), valiantly battling MTV for dominance. The raw energy and unfiltered emotion of The Used’s anthem grabbed my soul and refused to let go. It became my lifeline, my secret rebellion against the mundanity and hardships of life. I rushed to my local FYE and bought a copy. Oh god - I am aging myself.


Every morning, armed with my skip-proof CD player—the kind that devours batteries like a ravenous beast with every skip it prevents—I’d march into class with "The Taste of Ink" blaring in my ears on repeat. The thin foam and metal headphones would dig into my cartilage, a small price to pay for a few minutes of auditory bliss. One day, as I walked into English class, a group of girls heard my music and excitedly recognized it. "You listen to The Used?" they asked, eyes wide with surprise and approval. Those girls became my lifelong friends, and 23 years later, we’ve attended each other’s weddings and watched our children grow.


Aside from that bit of core memory, today is special. My firstborn turns 18, and all my kids are at this show. This isn’t just another gig; it’s a pilgrimage on my nostalgia tour, a tribute to the bands that shaped me. And tonight's lineup—Amira Elfeky, Story of the Year, and The Used—marks a moment of profound significance, a full-circle journey that started with a rebellious anthem and now celebrates a life well-lived and the promise of the future.


 

Amira Elfeky: A Sad Siren's Debut

Amira Elfeky

Amira Elfeky

I never research openers; I prefer my opinions untainted by the trolls. Amira Elfeky steps on stage, not what I expected for a tour with Story of the Year and The Used. She evokes the raw emotion of Evanescence, only darker and more profound. Dare I say more talented? Her voice is a haunting wail, filled with an authentic longing that cuts through the air.


The music channels the mood of Mer de Noms-era A Perfect Circle. It’s not just about the songwriting but the atmosphere. Suddenly, DJ scratching takes me back to the 2000s. Amira has the pipes, gliding across the stage like she was born for it. Another artist I’m thrilled to discover live. I’m eager to see where her sad siren songs lead her career.



 

Story of the Year: Until the Day they Die, or until we do.

Story of the Year

Let’s not beat around the bush: Story of the Year goes HARD. I’ve seen countless concerts and festivals, but SOTY hit the gas and never let up. As the lights dimmed and the first chords struck, the crowd surged with a collective roar that rattled the bones. In the early 2000s, they made guitar spins and spinning kicks in breakdowns a thing of beauty. Page Avenue was a revelation – massive sing-along choruses, thunderous instruments, and a beacon of hope in a lyrically desolate post-hardcore scene.


Story of the Year

From the first note, it was clear they hadn't lost an ounce of their edge. The years might have added a touch of grey to their hair, but not to their spirit. Each member of the band was a whirlwind of motion, their energy palpable, their passion undiminished. Frontman Dan Marsala commanded the stage with an infectious fervor, his voice as strong and clear as it was in their heyday. "Until the Day I Die" was a cathartic experience, every voice in the crowd shouting the lyrics back at the band with an intensity that made the air crackle. It wasn't just nostalgia; it was a reminder of the power that music holds, the way it can capture a moment in time and make it eternal.


Story of the Year

Page Avenue was a pivotal album, and hearing it live again was like stepping into a time machine. With the biggest sing-along choruses, the loudest instruments, and being from a time when the post-hardcore scene felt like it had run out of hope and optimism, SOTY offered anthems of resilience. "Anthem of Our Dying Day" hit just as hard now as it did back then, a song that resonated with anyone who had ever felt lost and found solace in music. But it wasn’t all about the past. The new songs were met with just as much enthusiasm. They sounded like the SOTY I remembered but with a new layer of maturity, a depth that spoke to the years they’d spent honing their craft. They’ve evolved, but they haven’t lost touch with what made them great in the first place.


As the set drew to a close, they left the stage not with a whimper but with a bang, leaving the

crowd craving more. The echoes of their performance lingered in the air, a testament to their undying relevance and the power of their music. They keep our heads up with theirs, and as long as they continue to bring that kind of energy and passion to their performances, they will always hold a special place in the hearts of their fans. Story of the Year proved that night why they’ve endured, why they continue to inspire, and why they’ll always be a band worth seeing live. Here’s to hoping they never lose that fire.



 

The Used: A Complex Legacy

The Used

Before diving into The Used’s set, let’s address the elephant in the room. Days before this show, former member Quinn made serious allegations of abuse against an unnamed band member, presumed by many to be frontman Bert. No room for abuse here – physical, emotional, or otherwise. This article is not about that - but I do feel like it needs to be mentioned.


The Used

The photo pit is packed, the crowd buzzing. The Used takes the stage to the opening riff of "Pretty Handsome Awkward," and the place erupts. Bert, ever the enigma, greets us with double middle fingers and an unapologetic, “Hi, we’re your favorite band!”


Concerts are like church; the frontman, a minister. But what does it mean when the minister has a storied past? Well, it means we sing along, tears in our eyes because The Used’s lyrics are unflinchingly real. They sing of genuine pain, hope, love lost, and dreams shattered. Their setlist is a perfect mix of old and new – from their self-titled debut, In Love and Death, to Lies for the Liars. The new songs blend seamlessly, and the crowd sings every word.


The Used

The light show is one of the best I’ve seen for a legacy post-hardcore band, accentuating the intensity of their performance. During "The Taste of Ink," I have an emotional moment. This song was pivotal to my youth, a promise that I would escape my town and lift up those who couldn’t come with me. And here I am, my ten-year-old son on my shoulders, my three-year-old daughter on my wife’s, singing every word. I did it. I made it, and I brought my loved ones along. And with complete honesty - I did, in fact, savor every moment of it, tears streaming down my face.


Bert ends the set with a statement: “We’ve been a band for over 20 years. We’ve never broken up, we’ve never taken a break. We’ve been here the whole time.” He repeats. “We’ve never broken up, we’ve never taken a break. We’ve been here the whole time.” Was this directed at Quinn’s allegations? Maybe. But that’s not my place to speculate. What I do know is The Used are still here, and if tonight’s show is any indication, they’re regaining the ferocity that made them legends. Here’s to hoping they never lose it again.





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