with 30 Seconds to Mars, Seether
Orlando, FL • Oct. 19, 2005
On May 6, 2005 Audioslave was supposed to play Orlando for the very first time. Two days before the show they got the opportunity to play to 60,000 fans in Cuba, becoming the first American rock act ever to play an outdoor show in the turbulent country. Unable to pass up such an honor, they postponed the Central Florida date at the Hard Rock Live and jetted down to Cuba — a performance which was filmed and now can be seen on their new DVD. Five months and a brand new record later, Audioslave is out on a headlining arena tour across the country. Rather than move the rescheduled Orlando date to a bigger venue, they honored their commitment to the 3,000 capacity venue, giving the sold out crowd a special intimate performance.
Opening the show to a crowd of early-arrivals was 30 Seconds to Mars, a neo-prog art-rock band of guys who appreciate Pink Floyd as much as they do the Sex Pistols. Their set started off to the applause of a small group of loyal fans, and grew gradually as the wave of recognition spread through the crowd. You could hear the whispers, “he looks familiar…who is that?… oh my god, it is him!” as people started to realize that the lead singer/guitarist who was tearing up the stage was actor Jared Leto. Leto is known to some as “the heroin guy in Requiem For a Dream,” or “the dude who gets his face bashed up in Fight Club,” but to many of us, he will always be “Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life.” Yes, it’s him and guess what? The guy can perform! Making an inspired effort to deflate the assumption that all actors-turned-musicians suck, Leto along with his brother (drummer Shannon Leto), guitarist Tomo Milicevic and bassist Matt Wachter managed to hold the crowd in the palm of their hands for the 30 minutes they spent onstage, and were then followed by hundreds of newly converted fans as they made their way to their merch table to sign autographs.
Post grunge rock act Seether followed 30STM and delivered a crowd-pleasing set of rehashed Nirvana chords in front of an In Utero stage setup. One song sounded so similar to “Come As You Are” that it may have well been called “Be There As You May.” At that point, I thought that the only thing more obvious that they could possibly do would be to outright cover Nirvana. What did they do? They brought out the lead singer of Dark New Day and covered Alice In Chains’ “Man In a Box.” Their lack of originality was insulting, especially when you consider that the headlining band includes members who were a vital part of the Seattle scene that they so blatantly were ripping off. Yet the majority of the crowd seemed to love it.
Before the band that is three parts Rage Against the Machine and one part Soundgarden could dominate the night, the now packed-in crowd began chanting their name. As the curtain dropped and Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford came onto the stage, the Central Florida audience was immediately theirs. I was so caught up in the excitement of shooting these guys who helped shape the music of my high school years that I have no idea what song they opened up with.
Cornell’s voice and charisma well makes up for the fact that he’s a subtle frontman who doesn’t boast a lot of theatrics onstage. He casually walked the space that is lit up by Morello. Watching the guitarist gives you a feel for what it must have been like to see Hendrix demonstrating distortion to a stunned crowd of virgin eyes and ears. He has patented one of the most unique styles of guitar playing in rock history and the mere glimpse of his famous “soul power” guitar received an elated response.
The band pounded through a set that included material from their two albums, the highlight of which was an unforgettable “Like A Stone” with the crowd sharing vocal duties. The surreal moments came when they dug into their back catalog to represent their previous bands. A backdrop featuring the Badmotorfinger album cover was lowered as they played “Spoonman,” which ignited some hysteria. The pinnacle of the night’s set, however, didn’t come until over an hour in, when the Soundgarden curtain was replaced by Rage’s red star logo. Begining with a voiceless “Bulls on Parade” and flowing into a Cornell-infused “Sleep Now in a Fire,” the audience shook the space where their collective bouncing. Clearly a Rage crowd, this flashback to ten years prior was an incendiary moment forever stamped into my brain.
The show stretched on with more surprise oldies like an old Temple of the Dog song, and an acoustic “Black Hole Sun.” It’s all a blur of euphoria in my well-satisified mind. Audioslave have risen above the novelty of being a supergroup and come into their own as a rock band worthy of respect.