Note: Sadly, due to Friday's traffic nightmare getting up to The Woodlands (see "Random Notebook Dump"), photos from Thirty Seconds' set are unavailable.
Thirty Seconds to Mars Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion September 5, 2014
Donning a white robe, a golden crown and with his long locks chasing him around all night, Jared Leto looked more like the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar than the front man of an alternative rock group.
The Louisiana-born vocalist and 2014 Oscar winner for Dallas Buyers Club tirelessly ran back and forth across the stage, into the crowd and around the venue for nearly 80 minutes Friday night, spending as much time hyping the crowd as he did singing and playing guitar. When it was all over, the band had performed only nine songs in their entirety.
But with a fan base as loyal as theirs, Thirty Seconds to Mars are free to do just about anything they damn well please. The Los Angeles-based trio supplemented their unique blend of art and synth-infused alt-rock with plenty of bells and whistles to keep fans entertained, but unfortunately the music itself took a back seat.
Opening with "Up in the Air," the first single off 2013's LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS, Leto, his brother/percussionist Shannon and guitarist Tomo Miličević brought fans to their feet almost immediately. As the song continued, however, Leto asked the crowd to crouch down as low as they could before jumping into the air as the song's chorus began. Audience members obliged, and the resulting visual was something akin to the wave.
Gigantic balloons were released into the crowd during "Search & Destroy"; confetti cannons were shot overheard during the final verse of "Conquistador"; and, during "Kings & Queens," Leto leapt into the crowd, running down the aisles and eventually ending up above the soundboard in the center of the venue, where he later undertook the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
He asked fans to lift each other onto their shoulders during "Do or Die" and even brought the American flag onstage for twirling and waving as he sang. His vocals soared despite a few technical difficulties throughout the evening, though they were far from the focal point of the show.
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Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, Leto performed the choruses of "Hurricane" and "Attack" as well as a verse from "The Kill," whetting the crowd's appetite for additional music without giving them much more, much to everyone's chagrin.
Before ending their performance with "Closer to the Edge," the band hyped the crowd even further with Pantera's "Cowboys from Hell" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman" while Leto handpicked a few dozen members from the crowd to come onstage for the finale.
For old times sake, Thirty Seconds to Mars even signed albums after their show. This group clearly loves its fan base, and Friday's show was wholly entertaining; but as a musical performance, it came up short with too little music and a bit too much ostentation.
Personal Bias:My favorite Thirty Seconds to Mars album is still A Beautiful Lie, and I wish the band had performed more songs from that era, but they still put on a pretty great show even if the set list wasn't ideal.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Sit on my face, Jareeeeeeed!"
Random Notebook Dump: It took me nearly two and a half hours to make it from the Heights to the Pavilion, which made me feel sorry for AFI and the band's unfortunate set time of just before 6:30 pm.
Up In the Air Search & Destroy This is War Conquistador Kings & Queens Do or Die City of Angels Love. Lust. Faith. Dreams. Closer to the Edge
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