January 24, 2011 by DJ Elroy
Had a blast this past weekend at the 30 Seconds to Mars show at The Fillmore.
More interesting than the music was the crowd… the people! Society is doomed.
It almost seemed like a middle school field trip. A line of kids and reluctant parents circled the block when we got there, and we had to stand in the nut-wrenching cold for over thirty minutes… I don’t know how those girls can wear short skirts and halter tops in this weather! On the plus side, we got in quickly once the doors opened — the all-ages lines take a fraction of the time as getting in the door would at the old folks’ shows with their ID checks and invasive patdowns and hassles from security. But when we walked in it looked like a weekend at Skate City! There’s nothing wrong with having a tween-heavy fanbase, but really, how deep can your music be? You can write about your life experiences, but how can somebody 1/3 your age relate? Sure, kids that age know everything, right? They might think they can relate, but can they really? I suppose that’s what pop-rock is all about: the lowest common denominator; music for the masses. Don’t get me wrong; pop doesn’t always mean crap. Sometimes simpler is better.
It was supposed to be a yuppie/preppy theme, but only about one in ten made any effort. (Side note: I looked very sharp in my pink polo and button-up sweater vest, if I do say so myself). But it’s sad when kids care more about fitting the part and dressing to the scene than having fun. These are the same people that will be “too cool” to wear a costume to a Halloween party when they get older… Later in the night the band gave a shout-out to everyone that came dressed for party, and everyone cheered… Especially those kids that weren’t dressed up! Brookers and I looked at each other, wondering what they were so excited about… Instead of a theme show it turned out that every fourth girl was wearing some variation of a black & gray striped shirt and almost every guy was wearing skulls or hipster threads. These are the people that keep Hot Topic in business!
We got a spot right up front, behind the handicapped row. Twelve reserved spots for disabled people, and only one had a wheelchair. The other 11 had fat people overflowing in folding chairs… wait, what? Since when is being fat a disability? These people had baskets of cheese fries and $7 cups of beer lined up on the rail in front of them like pigs at a trough. A girl with crutches and a cast hobbled up to find a place to rest, but nobody was willing (or able) to get their fat asses out of a chair for her.
Opening angst-driven alt-rock duo Middle Class Rut played to a wooden crowd. They tried to warm the place up, get it moving a bit, but… no. If I closed my eyes I could almost hear Jane’s Addiction on stage. Almost. Well, maybe Perry Farrell anyway. The music wasn’t too bad, but frontman/guitarist Zack Lopez got a bit shrill. Hell, I was more impressed when drummer Sean Stockham took the mic for while. But despite the decent music, the kids weren’t there to see them; the crowd just didn’t care.
And so MC Rut only played for half an hour.
The stage was cleared, the music techs did their thing for about 10 minutes, and everyone sat around for another 45 minutes waiting for something to happen. Something? Anything! Please? The long, silent wait was not only a slap in the face to Middle Class Rut by needlessly cutting the opening set, it was disrespectful to the fans.
Finally 30 Seconds comes out; the applause is deafening! The band was decked out in full douche attire, frontman Jared Leto with a preppy sweater tied around his neck and sunglasses from the 80s hiding his face… He paced the stage, hyping the crowd and pointing with a tennis racket like a World-War II general might use a riding crop to motivate the troops to fight and die…
And so the show was on! Giant beach balls were thrown around the crowd, eager fists pumped the air, and the band was tight as ever. Jared tried several times to get the pit started, but it didn’t work. Do 12 year old boys even know how to mosh like we did 20 years ago? The only casualty we saw was a girl that was kicked in the forehead by a crowd surfer…
I said the band was tight, but there were a few things that bothered me about the set. First thing I noticed was crowd interaction. Yes, I’m all for bands that encourage crowd participation; A good back-and-forth makes the show fun, and the band win fans for life.
But when a frontman encourages the crowd perform more of the show than the band itself there’s a problem. Sure, he really let loose himself a few times, but not enough. He held down a few acoustic songs alone, but then… Who knows? Leto could have a valid excuse; they’ve been touring for more than a year now, so his squawk-box may need a vacation… Or maybe it was a cold or something, or… But at least make an effort; we didn’t pay to hear the crowd sing, we came to see you!
Sometime during the show a group of teenage tuna-boats came to stand behind us… And there is nothing worse than being in close quarters with sweaty seafood rubbing up on your back, let me tell you. On top of that, one of the loud ones tried a few times to sing but couldn’t even get the words right! Ugh.
And where were the songs from the first (and best) album? I understand a band that wants to do something new every time, and I’m all for the experimenting, but the newest music sounds like a chorus of “We Are the World” or something. Change it up, throw your fans a bone. We want some variety! Not just a bunch of sing-a-longs! And I’m not the only one that thought this; I heard mutterings from several others in our section with the same complaint…
But it wasn’t a bad show. They played their hits, their MTV-friendly cuts, and a bunch of material off “This is War“. It was good, but I don’t see what the big deal is. Brookers insists they were off their game, but was I impressed enough to go see them again to find out for myself?