Thirty Seconds to Mars with Walk the Moon, K. Flay and Welshly Arms
Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX, July 7, 2018
Review and Photography by Jim Chapin
The crowd waited in anticipation as the lights dropped out and the band’s instrumental song “Monolith” blasted through the speakers. A large LED paneled box had been lowered to the stage and, as the music played and the lights flashed, you could make out the silhouette of the two musicians behind the panels. The box began to rise, revealing Jared Leto standing straight and tall at stage right while brother Shannon’s drumkit occupied stage left. Jared raised his arms up and then… nothing. Darkness engulfed the Austin360 Amphitheater stage and, after an awkward pause, Thirty Seconds to Mars walked offstage.
Apparently, the power to the stage went out. It remained dark for well over 30 minutes as the audience flashed their cell phone flashlights to illuminate the stage and entertained themselves with sing-alongs. And then, just as suddenly as it had stopped, the opening staccato keyboard sounds of “Up in the Air” broke through and multicolored lights filled the stage.
Many actors have tried their hand at being rock stars, and most have pretty much failed. Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto has pulled it off, fronting Thirty Seconds to Mars for over 15 years. The band has steadily grown bigger and are in the middle of their mammoth “Monolith” tour. Jared is simply exhilarating, sharing the sparse, massive stage with Shannon’s drum kit. With the recent departure of longtime bandmate Tomo Milicevic, these two are the band. Of course, to replicate the sound of their recordings, they need instrumental help, but that keyboardist/guitarist/bass player played in darkness at the side of the stage.
Jared used the open space to his advantage, strutting, dancing, and twirling from one side of the stage to the other before running out onto the center ramp. Clad in sunglasses, a pink kimono/housecoat with sequined gloves and Gucci leather hightop sneakers, he was the epitome of rockstar cool mixed with outrageous lunacy, and he was definitely in on the joke. He included the crowd in every song, turning the mic towards them and prompting them to sing along to the chanting choruses. At times it seemed like he had them in the palm of his hand in a massive game of “Simon Says.” He said “yell” and they yelled, “jump” and they jumped. Throughout the show, Jared invited fans up on stage to sing, dance and shout to their favorite songs. Balloons were thrown into the audience and created the ultimate party atmosphere.
At one point early on, Jared teased the audience by announcing a special guest. “Kendrick Lamar!” The crowd grew silent, as if in shock before screaming wildly. But he let them off the hook by saying changing the guest to “Bono.” After nixing that guest as well, he introduced Ian Oosterbaan from Fredericksburg who had won a 101X radio contest to be able to play guitar with the band. He did a great job, playing up the guitar histrionics and soaking up his fifteen minutes of fame.
The band included a solid mix of older hits and new songs off their latest album “America.” One of the highlights of the evening was drummer Shannon taking over lead vocals for “Remedy.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise came during “The Kill (Bury Me)” that had Jared perched twenty plus feet in the air on top of the LED box leading the crowd in a sing-along when they briefly lost stage power again. While some bands would’ve panicked, Jared turned the mishap into a moment to be remembered.
The band closed the night with “Closer to the Edge” and Jared brought fans up on stage to dance alongside the band while confetti cannons showered the audience in brightly colored paper. What a fun night!
THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS PHOTO GALLERY
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What really helped to make this evening special were the opening bands. Walk The Moon held the third slot and was a non-stop dance party. The band from Cincinnati band played for close to an hour and hardly paused between songs. Heavy on the drums and bass, the audience was singing along and most spent the entire set dancing.
The band played all of the favorites including “Different Colors“ and “Portugal.” But it was their mega-hit “Shut Up and Dance“ that really got the audience moving.
WALK THE MOON PHOTO GALLERY
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K. Flay took the stage before Walk the Moon. her sound was a mixture of Indie, rap, and modern rock and she spent the set crouching, flailing and high kicking around the stage. An impressive performance and an audience favorite.
K. FLAY PHOTO GALLERY
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The evening’s first act, Welshly Arms, was a pleasant surprise. The Cleveland band played a blistering 30 minute set of blues rock soul. Lead singer Sam Getz’s bluesy growl played exceedingly well off of the two background vocalists who spent the set having a blast with their loosely choreographed dance moves. A tight band that I am sure we’ll be hearing more of in the future.