This event is all ages.
$49.50 – General Admission
$49.50 – Reserved Seating
$65.00 – Reserved Seating
*plus applicable service fees
For an additional $60.00, you can opt in to upgrade your experience to include access to the exclusive Telegraph Room before, during and after the show! Please note all Telegraph Room upgrades are subject to availability.
Join us at The Den one hour before doors for food & drinks!
All doors & show times subject to change.
When Bert McCracken says that the songs that comprise Toxic Positivity are some of the most sincere he has ever written, you know he doesn’t speak those words lightly.
For as long as he can remember, McCracken has used music as an outlet to lay bare his innermost thoughts and emotions. For 23 years, that writing has enabled The Used to deeply resonate with fans the world over. Exploding off the back of universally adored rock anthems such as ‘The Taste Of Ink’, ‘Take It Away’ and ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’, the many millions of streams and record sales (including the platinum-certified The Used and In Love And Death) their career has yielded are one thing; the human connection formed between artist and audience is priceless, however. To that end alone, The Used can consider themselves four of the luckiest and richest men in music.
“Humans share such similar experiences and similar tragedies and everything in between,” McCracken says of the intimate connection he has with people in all four corners of the globe. “I feel that if I’m writing honestly, and I’m writing from the heart, our fans will feel it.
“This record is quite tough of me to listen to,” he adds, “because it’s a reflection of times in my life that have been some of lowest ever.”
If most albums are a document of a singular time, a place, and a feeling, then Toxic Positivity can lay claim to being a document of two, and the journey between them. When The Used entered the studio of longtime collaborator John Feldmann in the autumn of 2021, the result was 10 songs recorded across 10 days that would see McCracken, bassist Jepha, drummer Dan Whitesides and guitarist Joey Bradford spilling sweat and blood for anything up to 14 hours at a time. Emerging from the eye of the Covid pandemic, and created in the shadow of a world that socially, economically and politically felt as if it were rupturing at the seams, the tracks were imbued with a negativity and despondency that spoke of experiences both shared and deeply personal, with McCracken suffering from a deep depression and addiction issues. Recent standalone singles ‘Fuck You’ (‘I’m a shadow of the one I once knew’, McCracken cries) and ‘People Are Vomit’ (‘This future’s fucked before it got started!’) were, unsurprisingly given their titles and riotous anger, born of these sessions.
“Honestly, we thought we had a record right there,” laughs Jepha today. But McCracken especially couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that the story those songs were telling was not yet finished. “I felt it captured an emotion, but it was one without an ending,” he says. Instead, he wanted his band’s ninth full-length to carry a narrative that spoke of his own ever-changing headspace, as well as that of a society slowly emerging from pandemic hibernation and isolation.
McCracken doesn’t fully accept Toxic Positivity as a ‘concept record’, in the traditional sense, but rather a “day-in-the-life journey of a depressed, anxiety-ridden person”. “I think it flows cohesively like a concept record, but it ends up travelling here, there and everywhere, so it’s a little scrambled,” McCracken explains, “just like my days are a little scrambled. There’s a lot of emphasis on ‘me’ and ‘I’, where a lot of the poetry of the past records is about ‘him’ and ‘his’ or ‘they’ and ‘theirs’. It’s a little more selfish and reflective in the literal sense on where I am at and where I was at.
“Waking up in a dark place has been such a huge part of my life in the past couple of years,” McCracken continues. It’s little wonder, then, that Toxic Positivity opens with the words “I’m the worst I’ve ever been.” “But for me, I tend to feel at my best at night time,” he adds. “That’s when I’m most at peace in feeling, ‘Everything’s going to be ok.’”
And so The Used gathered once more at the beginning of 2023 for another 10-day songwriting and recording sprint. The results fizzed with the same vigour and energy as those earlier songs, inspired by the collaborative process of a band that have never felt tighter. Yet they slowly began to take on a more hopeful lyrical turn, too, inspired by post-lockdown touring, and time spent reconnecting with their fans and each other.
“I wanted the record to end with something for people to grab onto,” McCracken smiles, referencing the closing Giving Up, which opens with the admission “Yesterday I woke up wanting to die” and concludes with the repeated mantra of “I’m not giving up on me”. “I want people to understand that, no matter how bad it gets, you don’t have to give up. Everything always feels different no matter what. So what you’re feeling right now you will not feel later on.”
The collection arrives under a title created with its tongue firmly in its cheek, but one that comprehensively sums up its overarching emotion. “You see other people living their lives and smiling and it makes you hate everybody in the world who’s doing okay,” McCracken explains. “Even though you know, deep down that nobody’s doing okay.”
Absorbed front-to-back in its finished form, Toxic Positivity pulls from every facet of The Used’s definitive sound. There’s the buzzsaw riff of ‘Pinky Swear (Save Me)’; the sweeping, arena-sized chorus of ‘Headspace’; the earworm hooks of ‘The Worst I’ve Ever Been’; and the underlying pop sensibilities of ‘I Hate Everybody’. Hell, McCracken even digs deep for throwback screams on ‘Dopamine’. Displaying a depth of sonic variety while never allowing an inch of slack into its taut cohesiveness, this is the past, present, and future of The Used represented in 11 tracks that combined barely break the half-hour mark.
“I feel we’re a very personality orientated band,” Jepha explains. “You can hear each of us in our instruments, and then Bert’s voice ties us all together and anchors us. Our influences within the band vary so much, and this record is the perfect melting pot of everything we’re all hearing. I see this record almost as a different branch of reality from where the band could have gone after (2009 album) Artwork.”
“I think it has a lot of the love and the compassion and the viciousness of our first couple of records,” adds McCracken with a mischievous grin.
Then, of course, there is the influence of producer John Feldmann. A near ubiquitous presence in the Used story – it was he who was instrumental in helping break the band, and who has manned the controls of every one of their records, bar 2017’s The Canyon – both McCracken and Jepha speak to how their friend and collaborator simply ‘gets’ the band like no other. “He’s helped us be better musicians and, frankly, better people,” states Jepha. “He pulls from us things that no one else could. Everything he does comes from such a deep love of The Used.” “And his studio has the most amazing coffee,” laughs McCracken.
It would have been much needed for Toxic Positivity’s marathon writing and recording sessions. Jepha laughs recalling the discomfort that working at a song- per-day speed instinctively felt to him, but both he and McCracken agree that the results it yielded were inimitably honest and inspired, necessity indeed proving the mother of invention. “The more you tinker with a song, the more you can lose sight of its true essence,” is how Jepha sees it. “It felt like how it did when we were making our very first album,” nods McCracken.
It exemplifies. too, the prolificacy of The Used. After 23 years and nine records, it speaks of the strength of the band’s collective collaboration and also their innate, unquenchable thirst to create. “I think we have no choice but to write and write and write,” says McCracken. “It has always just been in us, and we’ve had to get it out. I read a quote once that said you either work your entire lifetime on four great pieces, or you write thousands of pieces and become great that way. Everything that we feel, I think it always makes for a good song.”
In that regard, McCracken is humble to a fault, for the simple fact that the songs within Toxic Positivity are far more than merely good songs. They mark the latest chapter in a truly great career. And, like those that have come before them, they will truly matter.
Sleeping With Sirens
Sleeping With Sirens breathe rarified air. After fourteen years, five studio albums, and thousands of shows, the band has outlasted many of their peers while crafting an undeniably unique path through modern alternative rock. With each release, the band — Kellin Quinn [vocals, keyboards], Nick Martin [rhythm guitar], Justin Hills [bass], and Matty Best [drums] – continue to hone their mix of unflinchingly honest lyricism, unforgettable riffs, and pulse-pounding percussion while boldly exploring new creative frontiers. That future-forward perspective, coupled with a deep connection to listeners, has established Sleeping With Sirens as a beacon of hope in a world desperate to find silver linings.
On Complete Collapse, the band’s sixth studio album, Sleeping With Sirens cut straight to the bone, as they process life in modern times. “We’re coming to terms with the new reality we are in,” explains Quinn. “Things have changed so rapidly, and we’re all doing our best to process it. There’s a feeling of heaviness to the record, both in sound and emotion. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on and where we’re going. We’ve seen so much stagnation, but also a lot of change that wasn’t necessarily for the better. We’re realizing now that our voice, and what we’re able to say or should say, needs to come through the music. It’s not about what you can say on Instagram or Twitter, it’s about what you’re saying through your work.”
Helping the band amplify their voice and bring Complete Collapse to life is a murderer’s row of guest appearances from alternative rock’s brightest stars and the next generation of talent. Spencer Chamberlain from Underoath appears on the lead single, “Crosses,” which tackles themes of identity and self-confidence. Elsewhere on the record, Charlotte Sands appears on “Let You Down,” singer-songwriter Royal & The Serpent joins “Be Happy,” and Dorothy lends her incredible voice to the romantic anthem “Us.”
“We’ve never been a group that did a lot of features in the past, and that’s honestly because I hated giving parts away. But for this record, it started with “Be Happy.” Once we heard Royal & The Serpent on it, that opened the door for us, and it became a baseball card collection type thing for us. We started thinking about who we would love to have on a song, and Spencer from Underoath was one of the first that came to mind. Charlotte Sands has been a fan for a long time and we always talked about working together, so I reached out on Twitter and asked her to participate. She crushed it.”
Also contributing to Sleeping With Sirens’ ongoing evolution is the band’s continuing focus on storytelling. More than any other album in the group’s catalog, Complete Collapse revels in its narratives, especially those that connect with stories and themes from previous releases. “Family Tree,” for example, features lyrical and thematic references to “A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son” from 2011’s Let’s Cheers To This.
“This record bridges the gap between our first and last records,” says Quinn. “I think our longtime fans will experience a lot of “a-ha” moments while listening to the record because we specifically added to give our fans something they’ve been asking to do for a while.”
He continues, “We touched a lot of bases on this record. We touch on family issues, anger, and depression. “Be Happy” is a perfect example. You can have everything you want, but we’re still unhappy. We have filters on our phones to make us beautiful, but they don’t make us feel good. We do things to make ourselves look or seem like someone else, but we must learn to accept and be ourselves.”
Now that the album is complete Sleeping with Sirens is looking to the future. “I think this is a stepping stone album for us,” says Quinn. “We’ve been exploring what the band can sound like moving forward, but we are making an effort to let our fans know we won’t abandon the things they’ve come to expect. If a song like “Us” takes off, that may open new doors for us, but if something more familiar like “Control+Alt+Delete” works, we’ll pursue that. After fourteen years, we want to be a band people respect, and I think we’re well on our way.”