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Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Papa Roach / The Used @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 24/04/2023

Review By Lynda Buchanan

It was a warm Monday night in Melbourne, and while most people may have been preparing for a quiet evening at home, the music lovers of the city had other plans. They were flocking to Margaret Court Arena to witness a double headline show with two of the most influential bands in the emo/punk rock genre – The Used and Papa Roach.  

The Used and Papa Roach are veteran names in the industry and have amassed a devoted fan base that has been with them for over twenty years. The fact that they are sharing the stage for a double headline show is a testament to their lasting popularity and remarkable musical talent. As the venue filled up with eager fans, the excitement in the air was thick. 

Taking the stage to kick off the night were the energetic Japanese rockers, coldrain. Making their long-awaited return to Australia after an eight-year hiatus. Having never witnessed coldrain before, I was immediately drawn to lead singer Masato Hayakawa, his vocal range is truly amazing. The band treated the audience to an energetic setlist, showcasing tracks from their latest album, Nonnegative, as well as fan favourites from The Side Effects and The Revelation.  

coldrain’s performance set the perfect tone for the evening, effectively warming up the crowd and leaving a lasting impression. Proving why they were the ideal choice to open the show. Here is hoping we don’t have to wait another 8 years to see these musicians again.  

After a brief intermission, the excitement in the room heightened as The Used, took to the stage. They opened their set with Take It Away, a crowd favourite from their album In Love and Death, and the band was met with an outpouring of cheers. 

McCracken reminded the audience that at a Used emo show, they were allowed to be themselves, and nobody would judge them. He then launched into Blow Me, which had the crowd dancing and singing along. The circle pits were in full swing as the band played their music, and the crowd was more than willing to participate. When the familiar sounds of The Used new single from their upcoming album, Toxic Positivity, called F**k You rang out across the venue, the audience joined Bret and stuck their middle fingers in the air. 

Taste Of Ink was followed by the slower All That I’ve Got, which had the crowd singing along with full vigour. The band took a moment to celebrate the birthday of their lighting guy, Jeff, with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, which included a humorous ending with McCracken claiming it was his birthday too! 

The audience was treated to The Used’s latest single, Numb, with Bert giving them an unusual request – to boo instead of cheer at the end of the song. The crowd found it amusing and gladly complied. 

Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach took the stage by surprise to perform Blood On My Hands alongside Bert, and you could see all the phones go up throughout the audience to capture this surprise appearance forever. The band’s guitarist, Joey Bradford, showcased his skills with an incredible solo during the performance of Pretty Handsome Awkward. A request from the audience that McCracken, do a shoey. To which of course he obliged, catching the shoe that was thrown on stage and filling it with Red Bull before chugging it down. The crowd cheered and laughed in approval, adding to the overall high energy of the night. 

As the set drew to a close, the band rocked out to A Box Full Of Sharp Objects, giving drummer Dan Whitesides the opportunity to show off his drumming expertise. The set culminated in a mashup with Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, leaving the audience pumped and energized. 

McCracken finished the show with a bang, hurling himself into the crowd and ending the epic performance on a high note. The audience was now nice and warmed up, ready for the Papa Roach

Excited yells rang though the air as the lights dimmed, and Jacoby Shaddix led Papa Roach onto the stage. A giant white cockroach loomed over the black backdrop behind them, and without missing a beat, the band launched into Kill the Noise from their newest release EGO TRIP, and it was crystal clear that Melbourne had missed Papa Roach dearly. 

As Jacoby launched into Getting Away With Murder, he asked the audience, “Melbourne, how the f**k are you feeling tonight?” and the crowd erupted in cheers. As Jerry Horton shredded out his solo, Jacoby continued, “Let me see those horns in the f**king sky!” Shaddix declared how rock n roll saved him, and it was clear from the crowd’s reaction that many of them felt the same way. 

Another new song Cut The Line from the new album EGO TRIP was next. Jacoby explained that he wrote the song with the mosh pit in mind. “F**k yeah, it feels amazing to play that new shit,” Jacoby exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear as the crowd cheered and began to headbang in unison. 

In  nod to their musical influences, the band played The Prodigy’s Firestarter and the Ramones’ Hey Ho Let’s Go intro before launching into I Wanna Be Loved as Jacoby took the chance to connect with the crowd and ventured out into the seated section of the audience, managing to navigate the entire venue while singing to and along with the crowd.  

Upon returning to the stage, Jacoby took a moment to deliver an uplifting message of hope and resilience, telling the crowd. “Show up for yourselves every day, you are worth it, no matter what your head says to you, no matter what the world says to you. That’s a fact, y’all!” and that pain is only temporary. The audience were clearly moved as the band played Scars while everyone lit up Margaret Court Arena with a sea of phone lights.  

The stage was ignited with energy as Bert McCracken made a surprise appearance during No Apologies. His unique vocal style and vibrant stage presence complemented Jacoby’s seamlessly. However, the collaborations didn’t stop there. Recently, Papa Roach concluded their much-anticipated Amazing Things tour in the UK, where they shared the stage with fellow rockers, Don Broco. As luck would have it, Don Broco will also be touring Australia very soon and had arrived early. So, to the delight of the Melbourne crowd, Rob Damiani joined Papa Roach for Between Angels & Insects. This was an amazing opportunity for Rob to give the audience a taste of what they will be seeing next week, and I have no doubt there were a few ticket sales as “Bobby Damage” left it all on the stage and earnt Don Broco new fans across Melbourne. 

As the sounds of Last Resort echo across the arena, the crowd becomes even more frenzied, if that was even possible. The audience screams the lyrics of the chorus back in unison and Jacoby stands back and takes it all in, basking in the moment. This is the magic of live music, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. 

In that fleeting moment, as the band took their final bow, the appreciation was thick in the air, both from the performers and crowd. It was an unspoken agreement that each had given their all, leaving nothing behind. The audience departed with hearts brimming with happiness, their souls nourished by the events that they had just witnessed. 

It’s not uncommon for artists who have been around for a while, particularly those who have made their mark in the emo and pop-punk scenes, to be written off as being past their prime. But the performances by The Used and Papa Roach proved beyond any doubt that they still have what it takes to captivate a crowd and leave them wanting more. 

Their new music is just as powerful and relevant as their past hits, proving that these bands are far from being mere nostalgia acts. It was an amazing night that showcased the lasting appeal and talent of these two incredible bands, leaving the Melbourne crowd begging for more. 

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Album ReviewReviews

Papa Roach – Ego Trip

Review by Jodi Maree

EGO TRIP, the 11th studio album for California’s PAPA ROACH, was released in April 2022 and has been met with mixed reviews across the board, but the majority appear to be positive. The album reached #115 on the U.S Billboard chart, whilst on the UK Rock and Metal chart it has tipped in at #3.

Since coming together in 1993, PAPA ROACH has been very consistently churning out albums approximately every 2-3 years, with some being very successful and others only moderately so.

This album, in my opinion, has the makings of being one of the former. It has quite the mix of tracks on it, and at times can seem a touch disjointed, but it somehow comes together. If you go into it wanting everything to sound like “Last Resort”, you may be a little disappointed, but if you go into it open-minded and ready for a little diversity, mixed with some old-school sounds, then you are really going to like it.

Straight out of the gate the album opens with “Kill The Noise”, which is a punchy angsty track, with a heavy riff. The track was the second single released from the album back in September 2021, and if Spotify plays are anything to go by, seems to be the most popular. Lyrically it runs with the very prevalent theme of PAPA ROACH’s music, which talks about inner demons, and in particular in this track about the internal rage and voices of said demons, which are just becoming too loud, hence the title “Kill The Noise”. I was drawn to the song immediately and found it very catchy and relatable.

The second track “Stand Up” was the fourth single released from the album, and was released in January this year. It has very much the Nu-Metal sound that has appeared so often in the back catalogue. I get a very RATM meets Sevendust meets BMTH vibe. Weird mix, I know but that’s what comes to mind when listening to this track. Touching on the subject matter of oppression, and the need to encourage us all to “Stand Up”. Definitely a great track though and a stand-out for me.

The first single from this album, and the third track, is “Swerve” which features Jason Aalon Butler from Fever333 and rapper Sueco. While this totally contradicts Jacoby Shaddix’s statement in 2004 that the “rap was gone”, this track is well-produced and catchy, it has a funky little sax bridge, and is likely to appeal to those who prefer the rap-rock stylings. One thing this track does do highlights the diversity of PAPA ROACH, and how they are always looking to move with the times and not be stuck in the early 2000s. And while I am a rock/metal/punk-oriented person myself, I certainly do not discredit musicians whose diversity steps outside of the genres I prefer.

Bloodline”, the fourth song from EGO TRIP, feels a little darker, and a little more aggressive. A heavy beat, with a catchy pre-chorus leading into a loud and boisterous chorus. As with many of the tracks, this song is short and punchy. None of the tracks exceed 4 minutes, with more than half being less than 3 minutes long. It certainly leaves the listener wanting more, but means you can bounce through the whole album from song to song without feeling like you need to skip a track at all. And while there are certainly some songs that grab me more than others, I really do not think there are any really bad tracks.

The fifth track is “Liar” and this is one that I really like. It has such a bouncy, catchy tune, and the lyrics, while fast and at times a mouthful, flow well. The layered, gang-style vocals of the chorus work really well on this track.

“Ego Trip” is the sixth song on the album of the same name, and if I’m honest is one of my lesser faves. Musically it is great, with the drums absolutely standing out, and also has some real funky bass riffs too. I do find though, that lyrically this one is a little cheesy.

Another one of my faves from the album is track seven, “Unglued”. It has an old-school “rock style PAPA ROACH” sound that I have an affinity with. Lyrically it is cohesive and appears to be about the breakdown of a relationship. Although not one of the higher ranking songs when you look at the album as a whole, I like the sound of it, and have often played it over again for multiple listens in a row.

“Dying To Believe” was released in October 2021, and looks to be right up there in popularity. Jacoby Shaddix was reported as having described this song as having been written to help unify the division that is prevalent in today’s society. Anyone who loves music, knows that, in itself, music is a great way to unite people from all over. It brings us together, it makes us feel whole, and is an outlet for so many to express themselves and their feelings, so I applaud Jacoby on trying to lessen the divide. Lyrically it is deep, and musically it has elements of the new styles we see being produced by some of the world’s biggest artists. More synth, couipled with a very harmonic chorus makes this track super listenable and appealing.

Track nine, “Killing Time”, to me has what I deem as the typical PAPA ROACH sound. Highly identifiable, and one to get you moving. A tad repetitive but nothing so bad as to taint the song.

Anyone who knows me knows that vocals are my thing. I love a great vocal track. On this album, this is that track. I cannot tell you how many times I have played this song over and over again. Jacoby Shaddix has done such a stellar job on “Leave A Light On”.  It is nothing like any of the other tracks on this whole album. It is poignant, deep, and just an absolutely beautiful, beautiful song. I hold nothing back in saying it is my favourite. It’s no heavy rock song or riffing Nu Metal song, but it is the one I just cannot stop singing and playing over again. I would love to see this acoustic song done live!!

100% my highlight of the whole album, even if I am the only one who thinks so!

Track eleven brings in yet another element in what I can only describe as more of a pop-punk/rock type of vibe. “Always Wandering” is definitely catchy, I actually really like this one too. I feel it is referring to recurring issues, whether it be drugs, bad relationships, or mental health.

Saying that somehow it always comes back around. Life is a constant battle for some, and I think, in that respect, PAPA ROACH nails this sentiment in many of their songs., including the next track “No Apologies” Learning to let go of the things we hold deep inside is hard, but listening to songs like this, for some, might just make it a touch easier.

The penultimate track is “Cut The Line”, which is another one of those songs that has a vaguely pop-punk rock sound to it, that is becoming popular right now. The drums on this track are brilliant and Tony Palermo has to be congratulated on his overall performance across the whole album. So too do Tobin Esperance and Jerry Horton, and of course, the one and only Jacoby Shaddix, whom I believe is the driving force behind the success of PAPA ROACH.

And lastly, but certainly, not least is the final track “I Surrender” which starts out heavy, and has a very melodic chorus. Backing vocals are notable and the tale of not running from your past, and accepting who you are seems to be where this song leads you. A great track to close out what I think is an excellent album. I certainly like it far more than the last two albums and have an appreciation for the diversity the album brings. Bands that have been around as long as these guys do well to constantly evolve, try new sounds, and develop further the sounds they have created for themselves. Nearly 30 years in this business is a huge milestone, and I look forward to hearing more from PAPA ROACH in the future.

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