Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Used, S.T.U.N. rise above lame-o emo

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

If it's not a daily occurrence, it's weekly. Another four-way emo package. Another sold-out Bogart's. Another chance to examine the specifics of what flavor the 19-and-under crowd is into this month as opposed to last.

In case you haven't noticed, emo, that whiney, youth-driven strain of punk, has by some measure seized the place of the less-enchanting rap-metal genre as the kids' choice of rock. It's an upgrade, but it's still difficult to find an emo band upon the Bogart's stage whose sound justifies the wall-to-wall crowd.

Take, for example, Coheed & Cambria, second from the top of Sunday's bill with the Used headlining and S.T.U.N. and the Start rounding it out. Coheed & Cambria's embodiment of all things emo - their sound is whiney and, to use a rock-reviewer term, urgent - was pretty darn boring. In fact, the only thing memorable about their half-hour on stage was looking at singer Claudio Sanchez's hairdo, which was better suited for a mop handle than a human being.

Such groups are better served putting a spin on the genre, as did the Used, rather than trying to be the emo-ist emo band of them all.

True emo fans, whoever they are, might have scoffed at the Used's metal tendencies. The band could be grouped in the screamcore or screamo subdivisions. But non-emo purists should have enjoyed the Used's all-out rock assault, complete with, of course, screams, as well as crunchy guitar riffs and lead singer Bert McCracken's dive from the top of an amp stack into the crowd.

The music in the hourlong set may have been a bit derivative in its slicked-over metal-ness, but the Utah band preferred to engage the crowd instead of hiding behind shaggy 'dos, and the audience fed off the intensity way more than that of the other groups. The give-and-take emotion peaked with the performance of the band's big hit, "The Taste of Ink."

S.T.U.N. (Scream Toward the Uprising of Nonconformity, so says their Web site) weren't nearly as lame as their name would have you believe. In fact, their set was about as good as the Used's.

They weren't the Sex Pistols or AC/DC, but they rocked out in that same no-frills, straightforward manner, and they turned Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" into a fun punk rave-up.

E-mail cvarias@enquirer.com

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