30 Seconds To Mars

support Carpark North + Street Drum Corp
author TL date 09/03/10 venue KB Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

It's Tuesday night, I'm at KB Hallen, waiting in a massive line for the vastly understaffed ward robe. Why is it that there are three employees in the wardrobe for this place, when a much smaller venue, like Store Vega, tends to have at least eight for their shows? And more importantly, why do I have the feeling that God is hell bent on making this night just not work for me? I'll tell you why, firstly, it's because Concerts.dk, who are the only ones who can grant press-members admission to this horribly expensive gig, have deemed that Rockfreaks.net and its readers are not important enough to deserve coverage of 30 Seconds To Mars, despite us being probably the Danish medium whose target audience is most likely to care about the band - Hence the lack of quality photos in this article. Also, after arriving early and standing dutifully in line for the ticket stand, it turns out that KB Hallen also does not have such high tech machinery as a card paying machine, so I am at the mercy of my friend Andreas if I even want to get in tonight - Something he fortunately handles well, lending me the money for the ticket with a smile, so I think you should all pay extra attention to his band Siamese Fighting Fish. Those hurdles mounted, we're in said line, having a 'bad feeling about this', as some moron pours beer all over Andreas and suddenly the venue starts shaking like an earthquake, under the sound of what is apparently the first warm up band. We spout curses and press on, eager to not miss all of them. "Please, let this not have been a waste of money".

Street Drum Corps

About two songs later, we find ourselves on KB Hallen's floor, which is barely half full at the moment, bearing witness to a band called Street Drum Corps, a band titled as such because they sport and extra set of trash cans and snare drums which a singer and spare drummer can bang on, making them 'unique' compared to normal bands. I'll be frank and just admit I think they're all bullshit, because for a band named as such, not much is going on by means of innovative drum work. In fact, I think all the songs SDC play are kept in a conventional 8/8 time signature, and while one of the band member's bangs wildly on an assortment of "stomp"-style 'drums', you can't actually hear any of his efforts' sounds, only those that originate quite clearly from the elevated conventional drum kit. So much for the words 'drum corps', and apart from that, these boys don't have a whole lot to offer, at least not from what can be deduced from their terribly sounding set, which seems to have all instruments forced through the same amp. The band's frontman tries to make up for this, by deploying all sorts of antics on stage, throwing his mic-stand around and what not, but all to little avail, as the words produced by his shrill voice is lost to the echoes of KB Hallen's room, and the trite riffs in general do nothing to belie that this is in fact a case of what we in Denmark call "røvballe rock" - A term that basically means that this is stupidly inflated simple man's rock, meant for people who don't normally care for music but just want to pump their fists and sing "whoa-oh" for no apparent reason. What exactly Street Drum Corps are doing on this tour, I'm not meant to understand yet, but I know that if they come to play your town on their own, you shouldn't mind giving them a miss.

Carpark North

Carpark North's ballgame on the other hand, is of an entirely different nature. You may not have heard of them if you're not from Denmark, but up here, they are probably in the top 5 most popular rock bands to emerge from the country in modern times, and have fathered probably the biggest rock single the country has had since the nineties in "Transparent & Glasslike". The band has headlined multiple shows and tours around this country with great confidence, and their electro-fused 'big-rock' is absolutely perfectly suited to precede 30STM, which is probably also why this support gig is likely to finally break them in countries outside of their own. That however, is for the future to tell, because here in Copenhagen they're playing to the home crowd (mostly, as there are a fair few Swedes here as well), and as they kick into the set with the three singles off their latest album, "More", "Grateful" and "Save Me From Myself", elitists like me, who are prone to neglect them as 'that radio rock band' are reminded just why Carpark North enjoy the success that they do. The sound is sharpened significantly and earplugs become unnecessary as the sonic impression is suddenly the same with and without them, and while the instruments are still a slight bit low in the mix, and the characteristic echo of their albums isn't present, Lau Højen's (guitar/vocals) singing is spot on the money, leading the crowd into one singalong after the other. The fourth song of the show slows things down briefly, with the somewhat more mellow "Lost (Peace)", before the band's fans get what they are waiting for in "Transparent & Glasslike". All the while, CPN are carrying themselves like a band that considers rocking out on stage mandatory, and every chance they get, they abandon fixed keyboards and microphones to brandish their guitars on top of the monitors. Simply put, they underline that they are a band of considerable format, until they end the show with a new version of their second album's lead single "Human", in which they've changed the verse around - for the worse though, unfortunately - but apart from that, there's not much to complain about when it comes to CPN. Only I wish they had played longer and SDC hadn't played at all, and that the venue had been more full already, so that their songs could get the response they deserve?


1. More

2. Grateful

3. Save Me From Myself

4. Lost (Peace)

5. Transparent & Glasslike

6. Human

30 Seconds To Mars

Okay, so far so well and my feelings are already warmer towards this night. Still though, as I await 30 Seconds To Mars' appearance, I have all manner of fears for their performance. First off, there is of course the fact that they provided the biggest disappointment to which I have ever been treated when they supported Linkin Park back in 2007, but also I'm concerned with the stage being so small. When considering that the last album these guys put out was so epic that it seems to only make sense to play it live from the moon or something, a stage that is smaller than the one Placebo recently brought with them, doesn't quite fit in my mind, with a performance that can match the material. Soon enough however, I am torn from my worries, as "Escape" starts sounding from the speakers, and silhouettes start to appear behind a giant black veil that hides the stage. Interest is drawn in particular towards figures on the side, waving massive flags back and forth (Iron Maiden fans can visualize this I'm sure) and anticipation builds exponentially until the veil is dropped dramatically, just before the intro to "Night Of The Hunter" hits us, and Jared deprives me of the negative expectations I had for him, by rushing to get engaged at the barrier as soon as the first chorus kicks in and.. Well, the video below explains it, if you can sit patiently through the dark intro:

And that's it, the whistle is officially blown for this singalong party, as the crowd reveals its preference for the second album "A Beautiful Lie", when its leading single "Attack" follows, and the top-of-our-lungs response takes another step up. It answers the calls of that song and the ones of the opening ones in "Vox Populi", before the stage goes black for another instant, and suddenly search lights flash over the audience wielded by Jared and members of Street Drum Corps who have reappeared to also give a helping hand with the many thunderous marching drums used in the new 30STM songs (ah, that's what they're here for!). At this point, I have to stop and think for a second, of how ridiculous my angst for the stage setup was, because the band has nailed this spot on, with an elevated drum kit to the right, giving Shannon Leto as much attention as the other members, and with a steely ramp-setup in general that makes KB Hallen seem like some post-apocalyptic urban area, in which the band's music doesn't feel alien and all. "From Yesterday" follows, and the song's cinematic video runs along a screen in the back, a screen which is used in songs that does not have a video, to present a clever mixture of inspirational imagery and lyrics that help out those that aren't totally familiar with especially the new songs - Which is exactly what happens in "This Is War", after "A Beautiful Lie" has also been played with its video running in the background. It fades into "100 Suns", which also accompanies it on the album, and which here signals a lengthy interlude:

Lights flash off again, Shannon appears 'playing' some odd cauldron-ish device for "L490", only to disappear again before Jared comes on alone, classically illuminated by a single spotlight and singing acoustic renditions of "The Believer" and "Revenge". As 'boring' as this may be to some, it is the first time we get to hear just how bone-chillingly good the 'actor' sings. A double edged realisation however, as it also brings along the thought that Jared has been spending a bit too much time away from the microphone at this point, and that his voice, during the louder moments, seems to come through the mix a tad sharper than it is. It's a shame, because as much as I get that he wants to spin along and rock out (as he should) during choruses the crowd should know, the will to sing along to the new material isn't what it should be, and as such, I would've liked to hear his immaculate delivery instead. Be that as it may, Jared exhibits perfect Hollywood charm when he cheekily asks for requests between the two acoustic songs, and is met by a conflicting storm of shouts, which he ignores just as cheekily. On one hand, this break draws on for longer than I would like in most bands' cases, but Jared has just enough American charm to keep me from getting bored. That's why I'm actually tempted to believe his excitement, when he asks the crowd to sing a Danish birthday song to Shannon, who turns forty today, and who has already been celebrated by a forest of signs some street team members have handed out prior to the gig. The whole thing ends when Shannon blows out the lights on birthday cake, only to be convinced by Jared that he should offer it to the crowd, after which he throws into a sea of exhilarated little girls. I'm thinking it's a bit like that acoustic interlude Coldplay had at Roskilde last year. Some will find it a bit too long, but others will love this display of 'intimacy' sandwiched here mid-set. See what you think below:

From here on out, the band cranks up the use of every trick they've used so far, for another batch of singalongs. "The Kill", "Closer To The Edge" and "Search And Destroy" follow, all delivered with drummers and flags and a band that's still eager to rock out and a crowd that's still eager to wail along. The band then instigates a vote over what is to be played next, either "Capricorn" or "Buddha For Mary", only to proclaim the show a dictatorship in the end and opting to play "Buddha For Mary". A song that might not go down as well with the many young girls in the audience, but which certainly provides some delicious contrast, showing how heavy the band sounded in their younger years. The main part of the set is then concluded with "The Fantasy", before the band departs rather briefly, only to return predictably to play "Kings And Queens". They're not just going to do that the easy way though. First, Jared wants a choir, and he proceeds to hand pick audience members to come on stage, while offering access also to those who can crowdsurf up there the fastest. Thirty or forty eager fans try in vain to contain themselves as they take to the stage at the 30 Second To Mars show, while Jared proclaims that he still won't start the song - Not till all the people seated in the back come down and join the crowd that remains on the floor. So they do, and well, what can be said, other than that the night ends with the most overblown singalong of all, as showcased by this final video I've found for you:

Overall, it goes without saying that 30 Seconds To Mars were over nine thousand times better tonight than they were the first time they guested Denmark. Not only did their clever use of otherwise mundane stage equipment craft the perfect environment for their music to be played in, they also performed with much precision and enthusiasm. The sound was of course not entirely perfect, it never is in KB Hallen, but it was as close to as one could wish for, and Jared's voice stood out like a pinnacle for me and other singers to aspire to in the future. Moreover, him and his band had picked up a striking amount of class to replace the bullshit rock star attitude they brought along last time, and seemed to play with more energy and eagerness than the crowd put together - despite their admission that this was the smallest show on the tour and that KB Hallen was only at about seventy percent of it's capacity. The show wasn't epic or legendary like the band's album, for that it was still too much like 'just another show' for those of us who see a lot of arena rock bands, but that being said, this was probably more the fault of a crowd lacking in strength and familiarity with the band's material, rather than that of the band itself. Because as ludicrous as it sounds, 30 Seconds To Mars, the band that so many people love to view as hotshot popstars, who are way up their own asses and only do what they do to cash in, they at least made it seem like they do what they do for a tremendous love of doing so. Rock solid experience



1. Escape

2. Night Of The Hunter

3. Attack

4. Vox Populi

5. From Yesterday

6. A Beautiful Lie

7. This Is War

8. 100 Suns

--Acoustic Interlude--

9. L490

10. Revenge

11. The Believer

--End of Interlude

12. The Kill

13. Closer To The Edge

14. Search And Destroy

15. Buddha For Mary

16. The Fantasy


17. Kings And Queens

N.B. I have shamelessly hotlinked youtube videos that are not mine, and users who mind me using them can email me on viz@rockfreaks.net to have them removed.

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