The mighty Val Air during the show / Jared looking up as I take his pic
Me w/Chris, Saosin's drummer / My girlfriend and I w/ Jared Leto!!
The crew at 30 STM! A Good group! / Me w/ Tomo Milicevic, 30STM guitarist
Greetings all! It is Hank, your concert dude, coming to you once again after a very long and very extended hiatus. Many of you probably think it is because I have not been to a concert in a very long while. That could not be further for the truth! Since I last posted, I have seen Godsmack, Alice in Chains (!!), Think Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, AFI, Rod Stewart, The Killers, Tool, and of course 30 Seconds to Mars. I am also heading to go see The Deftones next weekend at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado (where I reside for this month), I will be seeing Rise Against in Chicago in August, and also have tickets to see Lollapalooza also in Chicago in August!
The problem has not been seeing the shows, it has been writing them up! 3rd year of medical school was rough, and every time I started to write a review, I felt like I should be doing something else, like, uh, STUDYING. I appreciate Steve, Tae, and Ted for keeping the site going while I was lazy, and for their patience! I have all of my "notes" saved (words scratched on ATM statements), so hopefully I can get a chance to post for most or all of those previously mentioned concerts (if I can remember enough!), but for now we'll start out with Jared Leto and 30 Seconds to Mars!
I knew this concert was going to be good long before it started. I had long said that the one show I hoped would come through Des Moines before I left for 4th year rotations in June would be 30STM. And lo, look who got booked! My wonderful girlfriend (who has been with me for many past reviews) then goes and wins us two tickets to the show! Score! We had hoped for a chance to meet the band backstage before the show, but were told Jared and Company were not going to do a meet and greet. Well, my girlfriend was not satisfied with that answer and called several times the week of the show to the radio station to make this happen (she's good at stuff like that). And what do you know, she get a phone call at the end of the week saying we get to meet Jared Leto and the rest of the band!!
Before the show, a bunch of us grabbed a few beers at the local watering hole just down the street from the Val Air known as Charlie's Filling Station. When it came time for us to go backstage, we gulped our beers, left the rest of our friends, and went backstage and met Saosin. I know a little of Saosin, and they were very cool. I had a nice long conversation with the drummer Chris, who is a very cool dude. I asked him if they had ever played in Iowa before, and much to my surprise he said yes. He remembered playing at the House of Bricks (at it's old location on Merle Haye Road). To my amazement he also remembered playing at the venerable, dirty, legendary (and now deceased) club in Iowa City know at Gabe's Oasis (now known as The Picador -which I researched online they will be playing there on the 4th of July 2007 w/ Poison the Well, The Receiving End of Sirens, and Fiore). What a first great memory! For those of you who never saw a concert at Gabes in Iowa City, first of all shame on you. Second of all, it was one of the dirtiest, but best places to see a show. Back to here - we got to meet Saosin outside. They said 30 Seconds to Mars had been sound checking all day. Turns out they had been testing out some new material.
When it came time to meet the stars, they whisked us inside the back door of the mighty Val Air (which, after attending almost 25 shows here in 3 years I had never been through), and face to face with Jared, Shannon, Tomo, and Tim (Matt W. left the band mid tour). Now I have previously met with Jared and seen 30 seconds to Mars back in November of '05 (and reviewed them on the Lonely Note), but this was much more intimate! As you can see above, I got some pictures with the band, including a great one of Jared Leto, my girlfriend, and myself. You can tell he had been through all of this before as he just took my camera out of my hand, turned it around, and took the picture himself. I was afraid after he took it he would cut himself out, and as you can see by the picture, he almost did :-) After meeting with all of the radio station winners, they walked off to get ready for the show. But not before Jared asked us all a question.
"Can you promise me you'll get this place moving tonight?"
Of course we will! And we did! After the meet and greet, and gettin them to sign our stuff, we headed back to Charlie's to brag, and drink, and get ready for the show.
SAOSIN We missed a lot of Saosin, since The Filling Station beer was so good, but because their drummer Chris was so cool, we had to make some of their show. Everyone knows their single from the radio, "Voices," off of their latest release, Saosin. The song is very cool, and a lot of their other songs are very similar. They are all very catchy and easy to listen to songs. The lead singer, Cove, has a great rock voice (and even better name). We would see more of him later. Be sure to give this band a listen, they are worth your time!
30 Seconds to Mars Even though it was only the 1st day in April, the Val Air was already reaching high temperatures (not as bad as the Killers in May '07 which Steve reviewed, or the hottest it ever was, when I saw Chevelle and Index Case in August '05 with my friend Ben @ the Val Air). When they burst into their first song, "A Beautiful Lie," the first song and title track from their 2005 multi-platinum record, the temperature went even higher. I don't remember exactly, but Jared was dressed in black, had his hair down (he had his hat on when we met him), had black 30STM Mars wristbands and gloves, black bandanas (the whole band did), black leather pants with a red guitar strap. I heard he broke his nose earlier in the tour, but I could tell no ill-effects from that (probably much less painful than the axe in the face he took from Christian Bale in American Psycho). They killed all the songs off of A Beautiful Lie, a much more poetic and real album than their 2002 debut. "The Kill" was fantastic as expected, as well as "Was it a Dream." It was during "The Fantasy," song #5 off of their latest album, that he screamed they planned on coming back "over, and over, and over, and over again." Awesome.
They slogged through "From Yesterday," and "Savior," which is a very underrated song. On "Battle of One," a bonus track on the 2006 re-release of A Beautiful Lie, he asked the crowd to form a circle and had everybody come together running as fast as they could at one another and running counterclockwise. Not exactly a circle pit, but close! Cove from Saosin helped out with this song. Jared dedicated "Modern Myth," which he played acoustic and solo, to tour manager John who recently lost a family member. He asked the crowd to take out their cell phones and lighters, which like any concert crowd, they obliged. You can really hear how strong and refined his voice is on this track. They then played the only two songs (that I can remember) from their first album, "Buddha for Mary," and an acoustic and acapella "Capricorn," which was totally awesome. They ended the show with my favorite song, "Attack," and really tore the house down.
After "Attack," they said they would sign autographs in the back after the show. When I reviewed them back in '05, I mentioned how down to earth they were, setting up camp outside the show to sign autographs and take pictures. Tonight was no different. They always take time for their fans, and we all really appreciate that. I also said in my last review that Shannon Leto is a hell of a drummer, and that does not change. I also said Jared Leto has some crazy pipes on him. Most actors crossing over into music flat-out suck. Jared takes this responsibility very seriously, and really does make good music (as opposed to Keanu Reeves in DogStar). He also is a pretty darn good actor --- not too many people can say they are good in both realms.
Over a few years, I have become a huge 30 Seconds to Mars fan. I really sincerely hope they keep it going, as they seem to have found a niche in this "post-grunge" world that we live in. Unlike most of those "bands," (ie Creed) they actually got better on their second album, which shows they take their music seriously, care about the song-writing process (the anti- Fred Durst), and they are pushing themselves to new limits. I hope to hear great things from them in the future.
That's all for this review. I am glad to be back (at least for now). I hope to keep reviews coming, but I am in my 4th year of school and am traveling the country (and pretty much living out of my car for the entire '07-'08 school year. I will, however, be getting the opportunity to live with fellow Lonely Noter Tae for July '07. Excited would be an understatement. It will be a good month.
Talk to you all again soon. And another thanks to my wonderful girlfriend for the backstage passes- you rock!!!