Thirty Seconds To Mars’ ambitions, both musically and creatively, have no limit. In the past year, this rock band set the Guinness World Record for Longest Concert Tour by a Rock Band. Their single “Up In The Air” from recent release Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams was sent into orbit to debut on the Dragon spacecraft.
To continue their boundless journey last Saturday night, this internationally successfully group took over the Hollywood Bowl in their hometown for the biggest show they’ve played in the United States. More impressively, however, Thirty Seconds to Mars catered to every audience member, used their popularity to promote positivity and charity, and gave fans a night they would never forget.
Guitarist Tomo Miličević promised the band would “bring our entire big arena show to the stage,” but nothing could have prepared me for how over the top the performance would be. The sea of 17,000+ concertgoers adorned with blinding LEDs filled the arena, and screens promoted the live broadcast of the concert online (the band partnered with VyRT to broadcast the event for fans around the world).
Thirty Seconds To Mars’ epic discography is built for gigantic venues, and every element of the show was a spectacle with sky-high production value. A row of military drummers were back lit as charismatic actor-turned-frontman Jared Leto began opener “Birth.” Stagehands threw gigantic, colorful balls into the crowd as a Tim Burton-esque balloon eerily hung above fans during “Search and Destroy.” The band prides itself on fan appreciation, building gang vocals into every song, and Leto addressed the entranced crowd, saying, “Hollywood, I know half of you! I want everyone to have the best night of your entire fucking lives! Let’s jump so high we touch the moon!”
Throughout the night, a giant screen behind the trio flashed videos, whether lyrics of the song, dizzying images, or clips of politicians and soldiers as shown during “This Is War.” The band took a brief pause during the madness to pass out donation buckets for The AIDS Project while Leto discussed his first film role in six years, portraying a transgender AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club.
Leto shared his excitement to perform the “most personal song I’ve ever written when I wrote it” as fans screamed the song name “City of Angels.” It was dedicated to “all the dreamers out there who came here to do something special with their lives” and screens showed bird’s eye views of our city. Leto was a long-haired, entrancing rock god, commanding the attention of thousands who hung off his every word. He never missed an opportunity to respond to screams or share the thrill of playing a venue he could “hear the performances at when I hiked Runyon.”
You could almost hear jaws hit the floor as Leto made his way through the bottom sections and up into the cheaper seats to perform a string of songs acoustically. He promised to “sing so fucking hard my voice is gone tomorrow,” and when not drowned out by fans screaming gang vocals, Leto’s tortured voice shone brilliantly through hits “Hurricane,” “Kill,” and “Closer to the Edge.” It was an incredibly powerful shared experience as fans finished most songs for him, and many were looking around at friends with the wide-eyed “Is this really happening?” reaction.
The encore began with the anthematic “Kings and Queens,” and clad in the largest black fur coat I’ve seen, Leto introduced “something special, only for you.” The screens lit up with the brand new music video for “City of Angels,” which featured intimate interviews with celebrities describing the magic and energy of Los Angeles. The video will surely be praised by every city-dwelling dreamer after its official debut.
After demanding the “craziest people come onstage,” the group finished the night with “Up In the Air” as the stage filled with fans. The circus-like evening ended with Leto promising to sign “every single copy of our album after the show.” As I made my way to my car, I passed a line that stretched around the biggest venue in Los Angeles. It was a night that seemed impossible to top, but knowing Thirty Seconds To Mars, they will find a way the next time they play their hometown.
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