January 17, 2011 | 8:19am
30 Seconds to Mars
Jan. 14, 2011
The Fox Theater Pomona
This weekend, the illustrious Fox Theater Pomona
was host to Jared Leto-
fronted alternative band 30 Seconds to Mars
. It was Saturday night, and the band didn't fail to disappoint. These guys are bad. Not Roger Corman, Ed Wood or Daniel Johnston bad. Those guys were bad enough to be considered good in their own way. Sadly, Leto and Co. just aren't good.
The most musically inspiring moment of the evening may have been when Leto's older brother Shannon hopped behind his large, reverb-heavy drum kit and busted out a thunderous solo. But things went downhill immediately after, when, against a backdrop of Klieg lights aimed in the eyes of the audience, the younger Leto emerged from the wing with arms outstretched, striking a Christ-like pose in front of the band's massive triangular logo.
The rapturous screams of females aged pre-teen to soccer mom drowned out every ambient sound in the room. Because of the harsh lighting, which largely obscured each band member, only fleeting glimpses of Leto and company were possible. But from those few brief glimpses, it was clear he was sporting eye-doctor style shades and what looked like the tattered remnants of a furry gorilla suit.
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Throughout the set, with the bearing of a trained actor, Leto spouted a series of mandates and retorical questions such as "Everybody jump," "Get the fuck up," "I love you so much, Pomona" and "Are you ready to fuck shit up?" Each was repeated with enough frequency to sound extremely rehearsed.
Then there was the music.
As mentioned earlier, these guys don't sound like a school choir beating hundreds of cats in unison with pillow cases full of soap bars. They play and sing on-key and maintain cohesion and high energy. But the super-distorted guitars and ambient keyboard sounds combine with Leto's overwrought, melodramatic moaning and wailing to create annoying, amorphous soundscapes with few memorable hooks.
Toward the end of the show, Leto stood alone onstage, armed with only an acoustic guitar, and sang several stripped-down numbers, including "100 Suns" from 2009's This Is War. Aside from Leto displaying no musical finesse as he banged out the chords on his guitar, the song is saturated with overwrought lyrical clichés. He repeated the refrain ad nauseam: "I believe in nothing/I believe in nothing/Except the truth of who we are."
During songs such as "This Is War" from its eponymous release, Leto rocked the electric guitbox. But there was something about the way his instrument dangled awkwardly from his neck as he spun in circles and danced without playing. Though he didn't strike any bad chords, his instrument looked more like an accessory than a musical tool.
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Let it not be said Leto doesn't engage the audience. In fact, he singled out individual members in the crowd like a cult leader. At one point, he demanded a spotlight be shined on a young man sitting in the balcony; he wanted to know why the man wasn't standing. Leto also exhibited a vacant, wild-eyed stare as he scanned the audience.
Though the venue was weighted in favor of the female sex, there were plenty of dudes there who sang along to every word. Couples embraced and passionately made out during the melodramatic numbers, their arms draped softly around one another's necks. And when Leto stood atop the barrier, he was groped about his crotch for at least a minute by countless up- stretched hands. It was weird. This is definitely music geared toward the masses. And quite mediocre. But since when does mediocre music not appeal to the masses?
Random notebook dump: One girl was holding up a sign that read, "Go Pre!" in large letters. If you haven't seen the 1997 biopic about the Olympic runner starring Leto, do yourself a favor. This is a good one. Makes you wish Leto would go back to doing what he does well. Plus, it has the drill sergent from Full Metal Jacket.
Overheard: "I love you, Jared," from the ladies in the audience.
The Crowd: Largely female. Young and old. And more than a few young people of legal drinking age. There were a few fathers there, too. Some of them were dancing awkwardly. Like I said: weird.