The Used & Papa Roach @ Margaret Court Arena

It’s hard to compete with the all Aussie sport of football especially on a Monday night but the pandemic has clearly left us wanting more. Trams were packed like sardines in tin cans and hordes of people drifted down Flinders Street into the arena precinct. You were either part of the colourfully draped footy team supporters or you were part of the black shirt, black jeans brigade. The latter heading to the double headlined ‘Cut My Heart In To Pieces’ tour. Named after the combination of the common imagery associated with multiple The Used’s album cover art and Papa Roach’s lyrics to nostalgic chart topper Last Resort, perhaps? 

First up for the evening, representing Nagoya, Japan we had five piece, alternative/post-hardcore band Coldrain. This will be their second time in Australia (the first being on the line-up of Soundwave 2015, which Papa Roach was also coincidentally a part of) and to be supporting some heavy weights in the alternative post-hardcore/pop punk genre would be an honour for this band. They started their set strong with Revolution which has parallels to the current sound of Bring Me The Horizon or Crossfaith and with vocals resembling Craig Owens/Anthony Green. If you close your eyes you could easily mistake them for Americans lending to the influence of bands that preceded them in the scene. Their setlist comprised of singles from their 2013-22 catalogue with most songs coming from 2019’s The Side Effects. Having been around for just under two decades they are a very solid band with polished live vocals. Bassist Ryo Shimizu could be described as a post-modern grim reaper in an apocalyptic print hoodie, drifting forward to the microphone and drawing the audience back with his face obscured in the shadow of his hood. Frontman Masato Hayakawa’s clean vocals lull you into a false sense of security and then his death growl and the guitar shredding hits you with reality in tracks such as Mayday which Hayakawa politely finished with a gentle, “Arigato” and ending their set on Paradise (Kill the Silence). It’s a tough gig, warming up the crowd. They definitely deserved a better reception but Mondayitis was strong this evening.

As bands mature their songs tend to evolve in to lighter, heavily over-produced pieces. The Used carry their distinguishing 00’s sound with themes of inner turmoil and battling personal demons into their new eras. Bert McCracken writes about his view of the world. Not always beautiful, not always secure. Their set was a selection of their most popular tracks from their back catalogue. By now the audience had ramped up to a 7 and they were ready for them. I Caught Fire and Taste Of Ink made it in to the set early with new track Numb from their soon to be released album getting a good amount of movement in the pit. Loud screams were heard for Jacoby Shaddix when he was brought on stage before his set to guest on Blood On My Hands after which the audience incited a shoey. McCracken obliged, after skilfully catching an audience member’s red sneaker, one-handed. He quickly skolled the beverage and returned the shoe to the owner.  You have to wonder if bands carry the notion back home and pass on that you are now expected to complete a shoey on stage at Australian shows and Festivals. After many years of local bands and bands visiting our shores doing it, this is unequivocally Australian. We claim it. It’s ours. They launched in to A Box Full of Sharp Objects with fervour with McCracken waving his microphone stand draped with a banner saying “Palestine”. There were circle pits, a wall of death, covers of alternative rock songs, “boobies”, many hugs, heart hands in the air and even a birthday song for their lighting guy. This set had it all.

If The Used was your emo phase, Papa Roach is your pop punk, skater phase. Like a teenager who can’t sit still this set was high energy and the volume was even higher. Their popularity skyrocketed higher with tracks such as Blood Brother and Dead Cell making it on to mainstream video games, movies and TV shows, both making it on to the setlist. When an audience knows a song, they KNOW the song. Fists were pumping and the lyrics were sung along to as if they themselves were part of the band. Shaddix barely broke a sweat running from side-to-side of the stage, passing on the energy to people watching whilst belting out their hits. To break up their set they performed a cover of The Prodigy’s Firestarter on a stage bathed in red light and smoke. During …To Be Loved, Shaddix did a lap around the stalls, through the wide eyes and open arms of the seat holders at Margaret Court Arena. It’s no easy feat because those seats are tight. If you’ve ever had someone shimmy past you because their seats are in the middle of the row, you know. Band members Tobin Esperance and Jerry Horton watched on whilst Tony Palermo drummed with windmills for arms, still rocking the stage whilst all eyes followed Shaddix. Returning the favour, they brought McCracken back to the stage to guest on No Apologies. The guests didn’t end there as they welcomed Rob Damiani from Don Bronco (who is here early for his own tour in a week and a half) to the stage to the tune of Still D.R.E. to sing on Between Angels and Insects. Damiani’s British twang was a contrast to the mostly American accents that we were there to see.  One of the last songs to be played on the night was the previously mentioned, alternative chart topper Last Resort. Every person born before the year 2000 knows this song and it showed. The song started in complete darkness and with a flash of the spotlight on Shaddix, and the opening line “Cut my life in to pieces. This is my last resort” they knew they had the crowd. There was not a single person who didn’t sing along. We had sonically and visually been taken back a decade.

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Photo source: Twitter