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Words by Tracey Moyle

All photos by Elizabeth Sharpe | @ummagummamumma– FULL GALLERY HERE

With the Labour Day holiday adding a long weekend to look forward to, Sunday night in ‘the Valley’ was bound to be a busy one.  Add in a sold-out double headliner featuring rock legends, The Used and Papa Roach at Fortitude Music Hall and the popular inner city party zone was pumping. 

Both bands touring Australia for the first time since 2018, these adored rock icons wrapped up their tour in Brisbane with all the passion and intensity of an opening show, giving fans exactly what they came for. 

Touring off the back of the ‘Deluxe’ re-release of their 2022 album ‘Ego Trip’, Papa Roach’s long-time fans knew the night would be insanely high energy.  Their latest album re-release proves these Californian sub-genre morphing rockers have their finger on the pulse. They are tapping into the dedicated heart strings of faithful fans and drawing in a new army of followers with their unique blend of nu metal, punk, rap rock and rock. An ever-evolving sound has kept the band current with their energetic and fun live performances attracting sold out shows across the world. 

Joining as co-headliners, emo favourites, The Used have been tearing at the heartstrings of loyal fans for over 20 years. The band always drawing an army of faithful followers to live shows, and now with their latest single Numb, racking up over half a millions streams in less than a week, fans are anticipating the release of their ninth studio album ‘Toxic Positivity’ in May. These post-hardcore titans have never disappointed a live audience and fans know it, with the energy buzzing around the venue very early on. 

The night was opened by Sydney-siders Father Deer Hands. The young hardcore emo/punk outfit had played to live audiences in Brisbane, for the first time, just last month. The band took to the stage in awe of the massive crowd. They admitted their nerves playing to such a large audience for the first time but didn’t waste any time introducing the music lovers to their dynamic sound. They drew in the crowd from the first song, their music bringing together a mix bag of heavy styles. Frontman Matt Betmalik uses an emotive fury in his voice expressing deep messages in his lyrics. The crowd were on instant alert with the support being an excellent choice as opener, even if the band did only find out two days prior they had this Brisbane gig and needed to get flying.  

They played through tracks including For The First Time In Years, Feel The Low and Make Me Feel. The crowd revved up ready for impending musical feast as they won the Qld music lovers over with the ‘better than Sydney’ friendly fire. Musically they came together with precision, their introspective lyrics showing a maturity beyond the bands time. 

Father Deer Hands were humble, grateful and a little in awe but with dynamic vocals and such a passionate performance they won over new fans and likely fast tracked their rise in the local music scene.  

There was a now an obvious buzz in the air with The Used and Papa Roach fans grabbing drinks and milling around waiting for the show to begin. The wait wasn’t long before The Used took to the stage filling the room with all the emo ambience you’d hope for. 

The lights went out and the screen on stage lit up with the familiar hanging heart cover art from In Love And Death, drawing out a roar from the crowd. The narrated intro to Take It Away blared across the room with fans welcoming the emo gods onto the stage with a roar and vocalist Bert McCracken taking the fans along with him in the opening number.

They moved through to The Bird and the Worm with the whole venue jumping and screaming out the lyrics with all the passion they could conjure. 

McCracken talks passionately about the band and their faithful fans pointing out that in their 20-year career they “never went anywhere, never split up” always having a strong band between them as well as the fans. He announces, “this is a song about blow jobs and killing yourself”, taking the Fortitude Music Hall patrons into Blow Me, getting the crowd and their vocal chords charged.

This level of energy was sustained through the show.  McCracken has a great connection with the crowd, talking to and engaging them throughout the night. They had the punters giving the one-finger salute to Fuck You and gave the old school fans the chance to relive their glory days with The Taste of Ink and All That I’ve Got.  

Songs bounced back and forth through their 20 year catalogue. McCracken having the crowd completely mesmerised, directing them like a magical puppet master, controlling the rise and fall of the their vocal range between Buried Myself Alive and Blue And Yellow. The latter having the crowd joining in with so much emotion the frontman claimed “that got me right in the heart-bone”

He had the crowd boo as loud as they could to get out all of their anxiety and depression going into their latest track Numb. Bloody On My Hands saw Jacoby Shaddix join them on stage with the frontmen talking about the great friendship between the bands. A circle pit opened up with the crowd in a frenzy for the entire song. The energy of both artists on stage, a truly amazing encounter for all the fans in the room. 

McCracken recited his favourite Shakespeare soliloquy from Macbeth Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!” 

He orchestrated a split in the crowd setting up a wall of death. Pretty Handsome Awkward had the floor wreathing like it was its own entity, with some of the crowd surfing the human waves.  A Box Full Of Sharp Objects took the show out morphing into Smells Like Teen Spirit in the outro. 

The night had definitely begun and the crowd were ready for more. Papa Roach had big shoes to fill following on but no one doubted that would be an issue.

Another short break for refreshments and the packed-out music hall was keen for the headliner to appear.  The crowd were fully charged when the lights went down as Papa Roach took to the stage. They opened with fan favourite Kill The Noise, their years of playing and touring evident in their solid performance, musically and vocally, from the first note. 

The crowd were alive, and the band were pumped. Jacoby’s interactions with the fans were from the heart. He shared the news that Cut The Line had just reached No. 1 on the US Rock Charts, taking the fans into the emotive rock track. Three songs in and Shaddix had been working the stage hard, already drenched in sweat. His vocals were on point with the band taking the crowd into one of their best sing-a-long tracks, Help, the love the fans have for the band pouring out across the room.

With fists in the air the crowd were prompted to pump out the words Dead Cell” with the band taking the sold-out venue into a Blood Brothers/Dead Cell mix. The band were ferocious. They went right back for old school fans with Broken Home before another wall of death ensured, with the band paying tribute to Prodigy frontman Keith Flint belting out a brilliant cover of Firestarter. The crowd were in a frenzy and Jacoby called out an injured fan to security.  The solid respect between the band and their fans has always been a big part of the Papa Roach world. 

…To Be Loved opened up another circle pit within the fired-up crowd and if Jacoby was drenched in sweat by song three, then the continuous thunder from Tony Palermo would have him drowning in it with the constant barrage of sound from the explosive drummer.

Things slowed as they played the instrumental from The Cure’s Lullaby as Shaddix spoke to the crowd about his gratitude for his journey with music. Channelling his life, anxiety, depression, and all of his emotions into his lyrics.  He spoke about the connection with the fans and their songs. He told the crowd to fight to be who they are and not listen to the world outside. With crowd lighting up their phones in as a sign of solidarity, Shaddix tore at their heartstrings taking them into another fan favourite, Scars.   

Shaddix mirrored the respect for their touring partners and brought McCracken on stage for No Apologies. Again, the energy between the frontmen was like no other. They complement each other vocally, energetically and respectfully. High energy and good vibes pulsated across the room.  Jacoby thanked the crews of both bands for their support and hard work on there long awaited Australian tour before going into None Of The Above. Papa Roach are a band who have their finger on the pulse of what is happening in the world and this reflects strongly in their music. This song hammers a strong point, and this isn’t lost on the crowd.

“Everybody’s fucked up off the beat. The words are in our mouths but we don’t speak.  Boarded up the windows in the house. Another generation bleeding out.  Don’t want no part of this. None of the above.”

An altered version of Dr DRE’s Still Dre introduced band and welcomed bassist Tobin Esperance’s brother Anthony on keys and guitar. Anthony filled in for guitarist Jerry Horton when he broke two fingers in 2020. Now is just a part of the Papa Roach family.  The band finished up the show with Between Angels and Insects and the ever popular classic hit Last Resort tore the place apart.

Papa Roach left the crowd wanting more but with a catalogue as extensive and this band that was always bound to be the case. 

The night had the fans on a massive high and showed the connection people have with music. This is always amplified when you have bands like Papa Roach and The Used who deliberately and openly create a personal bond between them and their fans. 

Thanks to Dallas Does PR

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