Saturday, January 7, 2012


The first part of this adventure can be found here.

Have you ever tried to run in a floor-length lace and sequin gypsy skirt that is soaking wet?
I wouldn't recommend it.
I swear that my skirt had the same specific gravity as galena as i pounded up the rather creepy side stairs of the Hammerstein Ballroom to the second mezzanine, but by jiminey i was on a mission.
I bought the tickets right when they went on sale so i could have gotten floor seats, but when you are 5'2 and three-quarters there is no point of being on the floor unless you are guaranteed to be in the front row, so i went with the balcony knowing that i'd be able to see even if i didn't get to the very front.
But, i did indeed get to the very front.
In fact, i could have had front and center, but i chose to go front and slightly stage left because that was where the drum set was and we all know that i have a deep and abiding love for all things percussive.
Then, it was time to wait.
The ushers wouldn't let us stand at the railing until show time so i sat in my seat and waited.
And waited.
Lordy, time was moving slowly.
Look, the ceiling is cool:

sigh... too dark to read my book...
Talking to the sisters next to me that had been standing in the rain for 13 hours; feel a smidge guilty that i only stood in the rain for 2 hours and have the same seat.
Do i hear music?

my view, without zoom :-)
The big screens over the stage start playing 30 Seconds to Mars videos.
The crowd goes bonkers.
It is still nowhere near show time, but using videos to fluff the crowd is brilliant. I've never seen a band use their own music for the pre-show wait, but now i wonder why everyone doesn't do it because the atmosphere in the ballroom was crackling electricity.
Final sound check; I enjoy that the techs can just ignore the blaring videos.
Video screens cut off mid-song, lights go out and IT IS TIME -
...for the opening band.
I understand the point of having an opening band, but i swear that 8 times out of 10 it is just a disappointment. And this opening band... i'm not even sure if they were one of the 8 or one of the 2. In fact, their whole set made me feel like i was really drunk. Semi Precious Weapons are a New York band that put a lot of energy into showmanship. The frontman was a charismatic freak (i mean that as a compliment) that got the front of the crowd really riled up, but up on the balcony i was contemplating their lyrics, such as Put a diamond on it and bite down or the classic She wants free booze, no rules and you. They were really something and I was certainly entertained, but i'm not sure it was in the way SPW intended.
Finally, finally, finally 30 Seconds to Mars took the stage.
They were amazing.
I described Muse as more than epic and U2 as a spectacle. 30STM had all of the flash and lights and lasers and sound and giant inflatables of an epic spectacle,

but the whole show felt much more intimate.
It had something to do with the size of the ballroom, but it really came from how the band interacted with the crowd. This was the last big concert of a 2 year tour and they held nothing back. The crowd, in turn, projected raw energy back to them. It was unlike any other concert experience i've ever had.
The frontman, Jared, talked to the crowd throughout the show and i could see the guitarist, Tomo, and the drummer, Shannon, interacting with the people on their sides of the room between songs.

Plus, since this was a world record breaking show (more about that later) it was being streamed via VyRT so Jared would interact with people all around the world while telling us what they were saying.

It felt like a huge house party with a much better band than you could ever actually get for a house party.
In the rush to get ready i'd left my earplugs in Baltimore and was pleasantly surprised that except for when the opening band was playing i didn't miss them. It was actually appropriately loud with the sound fully filling the room, instead of needlessly ear-splitting and generally the sound engineer did a nice job (i would have mixed Jared's mike louder, but then again i am never really happy unless i am running sound myself).
Like any good play list there was a good mix of super-high energy songs and quieter moments,
like when Shannon came out from behind the drums to play a Tibetan singing bowl (really) and guitar for a song he wrote from the last album
or when Jared showed up all the way at the back of the audience on a tiny stage next to the sound board to do several acoustic songs; basically he was right below me and about 20 feet to my right. Again, the music was fantastic, but what really struck me was the genuine emotion filling the room. He talked about how this was the last time he would get to do this for who knows how long and sang his heart out on about 4 songs, taking requests from the crowd.
Partway through his acoustic version, i saw Tomo and Shannon come back to the main stage (even with Jared 20 feet away, my eyes naturally look toward the drums; i think it might be a clinical condition) and launch into the full band version

at which point Jared stepped onto the security barrier for the tiny stage and indicated for the crowd to part between him and the main stage. They did and he leaped down to the floor, running through the crowd, singing. It took me completely by surprise; i have never seen anything so insane. The crowd let him get part way before they started to close in and he almost made it to the stage before they gobbled him up like an amoeba.

He's almost to the stage

Holy crap, where's Jared?
Security managed to dig him out -still singing, by the way- and bodily threw him over the security barrier onto the catwalk. I enjoy a wee touch of insanity in my frontmen.
At this point in the post i'd insert a video snippet of them nailing my favorite song of theirs, Closer to the Edge, but i was dancing so hard by that point in the show that i kinda flailed my camera into a metal pole and she was understandably a bit persnickety after that so i thought better of trying to shoot video. [note: the link on the song title is a performance video of it, so you can kinda get the idea]
Before the concert it would be fair to say that Shannon Leto was my drummer crush. His self taught playing style delights me to no end when in song after song he makes awesome choices that no classically trained drummer would even consider; he embraces full tonality like a rock drummer, but is more polyphonic and rhythmic like a jazz drummer. [if i just lost you, i mean that he is really different from other drummers, but very good] Now that i've seen him play live i think that he might be my one true drummer love. I can't imagine ever finding another drummer that i'd rather watch play. I won't subject you to a song by song analysis, but trust me, i could.

that is a bitchin' kit

intense much?

Almost at the end of the concert a gentleman in a suit from Guinness World Records took the stage.
At some point someone counted up the shows that 30STM had played on this tour and realized that with just a few more it would be a world record. Hence the shows added in New York even though the last leg of the scheduled tour was in Europe.
Here, rather out of focus (my wee pink camera was throwing a full on fit at this point about how i treat her), is Tomo, Jared and Shannon receiving the certification of playing the most number shows for a rock band on the same album cycle, which is why the whole weeks events were called Mars300. [i think the final official number was 309 shows in something like 745 days]

The set list was mostly from the last album This is War and the hits from the previous A Beautiful Lie, but one of my favorite parts of the show was when the band pulled out some earlier songs. Jared called for requests and they'd just play bits and pieces of songs. Tomo talked to Jared with his guitar, playing riffs from various things to suggest what he wanted to play next, some of which elicited an Are you kidding? or I don't think the bass player knows that one. My favorite reaction to a suggestion was Jared looking hard at Tomo and saying Okay, let's at least try to get through the chorus. It seemed like the band was making every second that they had left on stage count; they were having as much fun -if not more- as the crowd.
I don't have any pictures of the last part of the concert where Jared pulled a 5 year old from the crowd and talked to her like there weren't thousands of other people present -it was adorable- or the very last song where about 60 or 70 people from the crowd were on stage singing and dancing with the band.
Or when Jared stopped the song in the middle and called for medics because someone was hurt in the pit. Yep, he just stopped singing. I know from being on stage on a much, much smaller scale that when you are really on an adrenaline high from a great show it is hard to see around you so i am frankly shocked that he even noticed that there was a problem. Not only did he notice, but he took action. MTV News (an oxymoron if there ever was one) reported that a woman had been trampled, but in fact she slipped while dancing [a girl that had come from New Zealand for the concert was next to me at the merch stand later and had been standing next to her when she went down]. The band handled it really well, giving us updates about what was happening and telling us not to leave. Once the medics took her out took cheering from the crowd, the band started right back into the song. Awesome.
To finish out the whole reckless-at-a-rock-show experience i decided to find the stage door and wait for the band. Though i did meet Nickel Creek after their show it was pretty much by a coincidence; i've never intentionally tried to wait for some one famous and thought that it would be a fun new thing.
Did i mention that it was raining?
And really cold?
Getting colder by the moment?
But by jiminey when i make up my mind there is a deep streak of stubbornness to back it up.
I didn't risk the camera in the rain to take pictures of the other few brave/crazy bedraggled souls waiting along with me next to a block-long line of full garbage dumpsters.
The bad news is that 30STM does their Gold Ticket meet-and-greets after the concert instead of before like other bands, so they were occupied inside for over 2 more hours while we were outside in the rain. The good news is that it was so cold, so wet and so late that there were only about 20 of us outside of the stage door when Shannon and Tomo came out.

It was obviously too nasty for autographs and pictures, but Shannon came over to talk to us quickly while Tomo loaded up the taxi. He was honestly incredulous, What are you guys still doing out here? It's freezing. You need to go home and get warm; take care of yourselves.
So i caught a taxi back to the hotel (much easier at 2am), took a hot, hot bath and went to bed; then back to the train station in the morning to get back to work in the afternoon (which in the spirit of full disclosure i admit that i skipped any way).
I loves me a good adventure and good music.
i'm in the yellow oval


Kaaren said...

Wow! What a night.

Brenda*Nery said...

Love that last pic ;)

Anonymous said...

SO AWESOME! That sounds/looks like a fantastic night! Even wet & cold ;-P Sheryl