30 Seconds To Mars
Head Automatica, Rock Kills Kid, The Receiving End of Sirens, Cobra Starship
Orlando, Fl • Nov. 4, 2006
With five Mtv buzz-worthy bands on the bill (6 if you count the unannounced special guest) and tickets going for a mere $22 a pop, it was no wonder that the 30 Seconds to Mars’“Welcome to the Universe Tour” sold out Orlando’s Hard Rock Live. The band has always had a fiercely loyal fanbase, but their numbers have grown exponentially from just one year prior when they were opening for Audioslave and half of the audience hadn’t arrived yet. “30 seconds to wha?” the late arrivals could be heard mumbling later in the night when they browsed the merch tables.
The scene was quite different this time around. Right after entering the atrium of the venue I saw :30’s guitarist, Tomo Milicevic swiftly walking past a gaggle of teenage girls who started shyly whispering, “that’s Tomo!” to one another. Last year frontman Jared Leto walked about unbothered through crowds of Audioslave fans who didn’t even realize that the famous actor was in the opening band. Times change, bands get famous.
Cobra Starship is in the midst of what is sure to be a short-lived wave of popularity, but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. Riding high on the success of one catchy song (“Bring It”) from one highly hyped but little seen movie (Snakes on a Plane), the group is the creation of ex-Midtown vocalist Gabe Saborta. Proudly sporting a New Kids on the Block shirt beneath his black hoodie (hood up, baseball cap on), Saborta danced through 30 minutes of hip hop dipped dance rock, and it was difficult not to get into it.
The Receiving End of Sirens were easier to resist. While they were substantially tighter than last time I saw them, I was still unmoved by their Is it Indie? Is it emo? Is it electronic? sound. Guitarist Nate Patterson, however, is an entertaining spectacle as the groove turns his legs to rubber and his body strikes out in strange jerks and twists.
Though they’ve played Orlando a half-dozen times this past year, Rock Kills Kid roam about pre-show unrecognized. Drinking beers and watching the other bands, RKK are still the unappreciated opening act. Forever the bridesmaid, never the bride. With a tighter sound, a more comfortable disposition onstage and a sense of being capable of playing the songs with their eyes closed, they are a more developed bands these days. “Come have a drink with us,” they tell the crowd before leaving the stage and heading back into the public sphere of the audience.
Daryl Palumbo is a rubber band that shoots across the stage in a well-suited blur, his white shoes barely meeting the ground. It’s this energy, along with his erratic vocals, that make Head Automatica an interesting viewing experience. The band’s blending of genres has produced a sort of Elvis Costello for the emo audience and it is clear that the fans love them.
30 Seconds to Mars are a theatrical band who load their tours with surprises. As the lights lowered and everyone was expecting the headliners, three droog-like boys sat in the dark behind an assemblage of buckets and garbage cans. A 15-minute drum tour-de-force followed. The quick set found the “frontman” (if there is such a thing in an instrumental drum troupe) walking across the hands of the audience. Impatient fans may not have fully appreciated the inspired effort of the unannounced threesome, but I was ecstatic to have been gifted with a performance by the Street Drum Corps.
When at last the men of the hour made their appearance they were head-to-toe in white, with a red rifle logo emblazoned on their chests. White masks covered their faces, an image mirrored on the massive backdrop behing them, and they carried flags with their enigmatic logo as the crest. The flags were planted at either side of the stage, as Jared came out to the lip of the stage and tossed roses into the greedy hands of fiendish fans.
Hiding behind a wall of hair- dyed red in parts- Jared stuck to the shadows as he ran about the stage leading the band through an eye-popping performance that focused largely on the band’s sophomore release, A Beautiful Lie. The enraptured audience practically pummelled one another to get a touch of the lead Leto when he dove into the masses mid-set. A predictable element of the :30 show, it nonetheless never fails to excite.
The band, which also includes Jared’s brother Shannon on drums and bassist Matt Wachter, has acheived the impossible. They have legitimized a band headed by an actor. What was once a source for jokes and skepticism has proven to be the real deal.