Thousands of rock fans packed the Hollywood Bowl Monday night despite the sweltering Hollywood heat. The Carnivores Tour was taking over Los Angeles that evening, bringing Thirty Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park, two of the biggest rock bands in the country, and their visceral, dramatic shows to LA fans. Although the headliners had to deal with soaring temperatures and venue-enforced time restrictions, both groups delivered over-the-top performances that rocked Los Angeles, a city both groups cited as launching their careers.

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Thirty Seconds to Mars displayed their flair for the dramatics with their orchestral set opener, the powerfully epic “Carmina Burana: O Fortuna.” The entire set felt as if frontman Jared Leto (who was looking very Jesus-like, clothed in white robes with his long beard and flowing hair) was leading troops into battle, particularly since giant TSTM flags were placed throughout the lower venue and wove proudly during the band’s performance.

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Every song was so explosive in sound and presentation that each felt like an encore. Many of the stadium-sized parts of Thirty Seconds To Mars’ last tour re-appeared Monday night, from the giant scrolling words during “Search and Destroy” to the huge, multicolored balloons that bounced around during “This Is War.” Confetti canons exploded during “Conquistador,” and Leto dedicated “Do or Die” to the people of Iraq as he proudly waved the American flag.

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Leto is notorious for including fans in Thirty Seconds To Mars’ gang sing-alongs, and he continued his tradition of getting as close to the audience as possible, running to the middle of the giant venue to sing the gang-vocal heavy “Kings and Queens.” Before kicking off an acoustic version of “The Kill,” Leto noted that Lisa May from KROQ was “one of the first to play us when no one else would.” Thousands of cell phones lit up the Bowl during “City of Angels,” and Leto promised to sign every single CD at their merch booth before closer “Closer To The End” saw audience members come onstage to chant “No, no, no!”

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After being inducted into Guitar Center’s Rockwalk earlier this year, Linkin Park is unquestionably one of the most accomplished alternative-rock acts in the world, and they demonstrated why Monday evening. Every song in their set was infused with an aggressive energy as Chester Bennington screamed the lyrics (along with die-hard fans), while Mike Shinoda came in with his velvety-smooth raps.

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Linkin Park opted to not use confetti or balloons and stuck to the harder side of rock that night, with hits “One Step Closer,” “Burn It Down,” and “Numb” mixed in nicely with a handful of tracks from the group’s latest release, The Hunting Party. Several of their songs, however, were cut short or woven into medleys due to the evening’s late start, and the band kept the banter to a minimum as well.

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Linkin Park brought some of their friends to the homecoming show, including Of Mice & Men’s Austin Carlile, who lent his vocals to “Faint,” and Daron Malakian of System of a Down, who shredded on guitar during “Rebellion.” The audience was treated to an incredible view of the performance due to the elevated stages and the cameras that were placed on the instruments as they swung along with the band members.

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All the encore songs were cut short so that Linkin Park could pack hits like “Crawling,” “Until It’s Gone,” and “What I’ve Done” into the set. “Bleed It Out” ended the night, with Shinoda asking the audience for the last ounce of energy they had and drummer Rob Bourdon leaving the stage in ruins after an impressive drum solo.

Overall, the Carnivores Tour delivered an epic rock experience that turned up the heat just a little bit more on an already-sweltering night in Los Angeles, but I doubt a single person in the venue was complaining.

For more info:

Carnivores Tour
Thirty Seconds To Mars
Linkin Park