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Review Wed Apr 09 2014
Its been a little under four years since the original lineup of Taking Back Sunday got back together. In the time since they've reunited, they've toured endlessly around the world in celebration of the 10 year anniversary of what is probably their finest hour; Tell All Your Friends. They've also released two new albums, 2010's self-titled reintroduction and Happiness Is, which came out early last month. Their new work sounds like what you would probably imagine a 30-something Warped Tour-era emo band sounds like, slightly less harsh and a bit more mellow overall as they wear the classic college radio rock influences of their youth boldly on their sleeves.
This sense of nostalgia became a theme throughout Taking Back Sunday's set this past Saturday night at Concord Music Hall. Songs from the new albums, such as "Flicker, Fade" and "Beat Up Car," were played with a fervor and sounded like something from a band who grew up idolizing bands such as The Replacements and The Promise Ring. On the other hand, songs from their classic repertoire such as "You're So Last Summer" and "Cute Without the E" were greeted by an almost fanatical response from the audience as they, in turn, remembered their own youth. As they played "A Decade Under the Influence," I closed my eyes and remembered hearing that song for the first time on Q101 while riding my bike to high school one morning on my Walkman. I smiled and enjoyed the moment. Taking Back Sunday might be a band most defined by their past, but it's apparent they are eager to define their future.
When did The Used become members of Occupy and champions of the 99%? When did Bert McCracken become an acolyte of Che Guevara and start selling t-shirts promoting his band while also co-opting the image of his newfound mentor? "Steal our album from the rich!" he sneers to the crowd at one point during their set. "Give our album to the poor!" says Bert before diving into a series of songs about drug use and self harm. Am I severely missing a populist undertone in The Used's music? As genuine the band's intentions may be, their actions appear to be opportunist. It seems radical chic to cloak yourself in the imagery of revolution when, simply put, you're not a revolutionary.
Politics aside, their set was solid. Newer songs like "Cry" were urgent and charismatic while older songs such as "A Taste of Ink" proved why it has remained an essential component of the genre. Then Bert started awkwardly ranting about how Courtney Love had Kurt Cobain murdered as they ended their set with a medley comprised of the opening riff to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" before going into their own "Box Full of Sharp Objects" and finishing things with the closing of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of." "See you at the revolution, Chicago!" Bert yelled as he walked off the stage. Um...sure. As they start to approach middle age, The Used have unfortunately found themselves in the throes of an identity crisis. It is of my personal opinion that they work best when simply playing the music they clearly love instead of trying to find a new identity to call their own.