GETTING USED: Today in “bands I’ve never heard of before today,” we’ll consider The Used (pictured), who play the House of Blues on January 11 with the similarly unknown-by-me We Came as Romans, Crown the Empire and Mindflow sharing the bill. I’m a little embarrassed that I’m unfamiliar with The Used; their Wikipedia entry says they’ve sold more than 3 million records worldwide since forming in 2001, that they’ve seen their share of hardships (the most tragic being the 2004 overdose of lead vocalist Bert McCracken’s ex-girlfriend—while she was pregnant with his child), and that the band released its latest album Vulnerable independent of their former major label, Reprise. That kind of gumption earns my respect, and if you like melodic screamo, it should earn them $38 of your money.
DARK STARS RISING: I really dig Pinback, scheduled to play the Hard Rock Café on the Strip on January 16 ($18). Their spacey, chug-a-lugging indie rawk sounds as good on an expensive car stereo as it does on crappy earbuds, and any band that names itself for a character in John Carpenter’s sci-fi farce Dark Star gets an eternal pass from me. And I’m heartened by the words of self-proclaimed “music nerd” the Blanket Reviewer (TheBlanketReviewer.com), who in the wake of a November 21 Toronto show proclaimed Pinback “one of those bands that sounds exactly like their albums live, if not better.” Let’s go, nerds!
NOW ON SALE: I’ve spent no small number of years disliking Bon Jovi. I didn’t like them when they emerged, spandex-clad and moist-looking in the 1980s; I didn’t like them in the 1990s, when they inexplicably didn’t go the hell away; and I really didn’t like them by the time the 2000s brought them—I can’t believe I’m saying this—credibility. But I’m older now, and one thing has changed: I no longer dislike you for liking Bon Jovi. If for some reason Bon Jovi’s music makes you go squee, I can’t fault you for that. They’re nothing if not devoted to their fans, and shit, man, they’ve been around forever. You ought to see them at the MGM Grand on April 20 ($69-$249), and tell John Francis Bongiovi Jr. that his songwriting remains trite. Also, I sometimes pretend to be him in smutty chat rooms.