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Concert Review: 30 Seconds To Mars

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I was first exposed to 30 Seconds to Mars through their newest CD A Beautiful Lie. After just one listen, I was looking forward to their appearance at Headliners in Toledo on March 31. A converted warehouse, the venue is large, open, and a nearly perfect atmosphere for the loud and hard sound of this group.

There were three opening bands. The first was a local small-time band with a huge sound. They were intense, loud, and had an energetic stage presence. Maybe it was because I was unfamiliar with their music, but I couldn’t really connect to them and their set wasn’t over soon enough for me.

RJA01The second band, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, announced they had just signed with Virgin and would have a CD coming out in two months. Of the same genre, they had high energy, punk pop sound and the crowd responded well. I enjoyed the performance, but wished I had heard some songs prior to the show. It can be hard to discern this type of music for the first time live — especially with my ear right up against a speaker — and I found myself concentrating too hard to really just enjoy it. Since Friday’s show, I’ve checked out some MP3s at their Myspace profile and am kicking myself for not doing it before the show.

[ADBLOCKHERE]Aiden was the third opening act and another band whose sound I was unfamiliar with before Friday night. Though I was not in the middle, the people around me were saying the mosh pit was going to expand out to the sides and it was going to get rough. I ducked out to the edge of the crowd, not really wanting to be involved in the pushing, shoving, and crowd surfing. I was glad that I did, but not only because I wanted out of the action. Being on the fringes I got an interesting perspective of how the band interacted with the crowd and visa versa. Aiden has a tremendous energy on stage and really works at interacting with the crowd and giving the fans a great show that goes beyond the music.

For 30 Seconds to Mars I had a photo pass, which meant for the first three songs I was allowed up between the stage and the barrier that held the crowd back. Aside from getting another unique perspective, I was able to see and appreciate just how much this band reacts with the crowd as well.

30 Seconds to Mars has the most unique lighting system I have ever seen. It consists of a series of white lights, spaced around the entire stage. Mixed in with the lights are mirrors which rotate causing the lights to bounce back and forth resulting in a strobe effect. In the moments before they took the stage, it was flooded with smoke and then there was complete darkness before the rotating and blinking white light assaulted the stage.

They opened with “A Beautiful Lie” from the new album of the same name. The song is intense and full of life, and took the already enthused crowd to an even higher level. The next song, “Capricorn (A Brand New Name)” has a lot of digital and synthesized effects on the album and I was curious to see how it would translate live. shannon02It worked very well. Even with all the digital effects on the album the songs still have a raw feel to them, and they were just as sharp live. Lead singer and guitarist, Jared Leto, continued to pace the entire stage, reaching out into the crowd trying to make it personal to the crowd and masterfully achieving his goal of drawing them in.

It wasn’t only Jared who was firing the crowd up with his high-energy performance, but bassist Tomo Milicevic, guitarist Matt Wachter and drummer Shannon Leto also gave all out performances. Tomo and Matt never stood still for a moment. They continually crossed the stage and rocked out to the heavy tunes. Shannon pounded away with a powerful driving beat that fueled and drove those around him.

In an unusual move Jared gave a bit of insight to the lyrics while introducing “The Kill.” He typically likes to leave his metaphoric lyrics open to the listeners interpretation but to paraphrase said, “Most believe this song is about a relationship that is ending … when it’s really about self-destructive feelings.” Midway through this song Jared tossed himself directly over my head and the wall into the ecstatic and accepting crowd. The fans methodically surfed him back up to the front where anther photographer and I had to assist the security guard in getting him back over the wall and to the stage.

jared on speakersA few songs later he took it even a step further and climbed to the top of the large speaker set on the left side of the stage. As can be seen in the picture he was closer to the ceiling of this large open-air warehouse then the ground. Midway through the song, he took a running leap landing again in the middle of the crowd. Aside from being a show-stealing acrobatic stunt, it demonstrated the love and respect that exists between the band and those Leto referred to as family instead of fans more then once.

symbols30 Seconds to Mars has dubbed their large and loyal fan base Echelon. Aside from being a song on the self-titled debut album it is a Latin metaphor that has a literal meaning of “launch forth into the deep” or “reach for the heights.” Jared is fond of metaphors and introspective meanings that one has to translate for themselves, the popular symbols that adorn their album covers and merchandise are pictured left on the drums. All that is really known is they are ancient hieroglyphics. They are thought to represent the bands name. In exactly what way is not known though there are two popular theories (One explained here.), no one in the band is confirming which, if either, is accurate.

Jared04Late in the show Jared took a moment to speak of not only his influences, but those of the rest of the band, citing such legendary groups as Iron Maiden, Nine Inch Nails and Pink Floyd. He promised their Echelon 30 Seconds to Mars would continue to deliver their style of music in the tradition of these great bands for a long time to come.

The last two songs of the night were both stand-out tracks from A Beautiful Lie. First the slower and moody “Was it a Dream”. A throaty and dark ballad that also speaks of the internal battles of an inevitable end, it softened the atmosphere slightly before they broke into the high-powered and mega-popular lead single “Attack” to close the show. With its intense and powerful lyrics the song is also incredibly melodic and not only demonstrates the intense talent of 30 Seconds to Mars, but fired the crowd back up to the same excitement level they had found them at in the beginning of the night. The video to this song uses a labor intensive animation technique of scratching the negative to produce an incredibly artistic and popular video which can be seen here.

In the end 30 Seconds to Mars not only put on a show to entertain their fans, they connected with a group of people they consider family. For an hour the band drew them into the deep and intensely personal world of their music.

Before the show, Tomo Milicevic and Matt Wachter sat down and gave me an interview. We were joined for a few minutes by Jared. Come back next week for that interview.

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About Connie Phillips

  • Emma

    Great review of 30STM. I saw them the following day, in Chicago.

    You combined the physically descriptive with the more abstract description very well – I can’t even imagine trying to do that. Thanks for creating such a vivid image of the show.

  • Thank you for the comments Emma. It was such an interactive show. I’m so glad I was able to catch it. You use the term “abstract” – that’s a great way to describe it, abstract like Jared’s songwriting.

  • simergalis

    Interesting review. Sounded like an especially good show. I would have loveed to see their entrance.

    There are a couple of errors.

    ‘Provehito in Altum’, not echelon, is ‘Launch forth into the unknown’or deep.

    The glyphs (there are 2 sets that have been around for a long time) are not necessarily ancient hieroglyphics and almost certainly are not borrowed from the Iberian-Celtiberian alphabet as the the site linked to claims. Several alphabets (including Greek) have symbols resembling one or more of the glyphs, but no alphabet has been identified as having clear representations of all 4 or 8 glyphs. The band may have created the symbols themselves.

    I look forward to reading your interview

  • Thank you, simergalis, it was certainly an exceptional show.

    I linked the source for both the translation of Echelon and the glyphs, but concede that your explanation makes a lot more sense.

    Please do come back for the interview next week.

  • Aitana

    @ simergalis:
    That theory about the 4 symbols in 30STM cd booklets being Iberian letters is mine. You can read it here (because by your statements, it seems that you haven’t READ it)

    You said “almost certainly are not borrowed from the Iberian alphabet. Several alphabets (including Greek) have symbols resembling one or more of the glyphs” but, why are you so sure about that, are you an expert in European Protohistory? I’ve been seen those signs my entire life in Iberian coins, inscriptions, ceramics, … because I was born in one of the most important areas of the Iberian culture and it’s my job (I am Archaeologist and Historian and I know exactly what I’m talking about):

    1. These 4 signs are NOT invented (i’m not talking about the 4 principal glyphs, but the 4 in the cd booklet)
    2. The resembling is because Iberian, Greek, Etruscan and Latin alphabets are based in Phoenician. Same for the Norse Runes (based too in Mediterranean alphabets).
    3. In the Iberian alphabet is in the only one you can find the 4 of them (just try to find them in Greek alphabet, in the same exactly form that they are drawing in the cd booklet… If you can)

  • I just want to say I just recently went to my second thirty seconds show and they will not disappoint you.. so go out see them.. support them.. and join the echelon.. see what all the talk is about. If you haven’t heard a Beautiful Lie check out thirtysecondstomars.com

  • tyler

    tomo is thre guitarist and matt is the bassist besides that great job and your link to the rune theory is messed up

  • Dominique

    the guy that sings in this band is a hotty. man i wish he would go out with me, even though i’m only 11. well thenks for posting his hot picture on the internet. luv u guy who sings!!!!!!!!!!

  • joy

    mmmmmmmm well the one who sings is sooooooooooooooooooooooo freakin hot!!!xoxox jared right i love from yesterday and the kill urgh they rock luv them alot