June 25, 2018 Thirty Seconds to Mars Electrify Madison Square Garden, NYC 6-20-18
Madison Square Garden is a name well known in the music world: it is one of the most famous, renowned venues to play as an artist. If you can play Madison Square Garden, you have made it big time! So, should it be any surprise that when Thirty Seconds to Mars announced their Monolith Tour was making a Madison Square Garden debut in New York City on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, that tickets sold like hot cakes? With newest album, America, released back in April, it was the perfect time to head out on the road for a cross-country tour. Being an Electropop and Art Pop aesthetic/concept album, this was certain to be a brand-new side of Thirty Seconds to Mars live, and as such the openers for the Monolith Tour reflected the genre mashup as well. Alongside Thirty Seconds to Mars were Joywave, MisterWives, and Walk the Moon as openers for the concert.
Lights went up in the arena as Joywave made their appearance on stage. Hailing from Rochester, New York, Joywave consists of Frontman Daniel Armbruster, Guitarist Joseph Morinelli, Bassist Jeremiah Crespo, Keyboardist Benjamin Bailey, and Drummer Paul Brenner. On the scene since 2010, the band has cultivated a loyal fanbase with their vibey music and almost Vaporwave influences.
Native New Yorkers, Joywave seemed right at home on stage as they opened with first song of the evening “Now” and greeted the audience. Amidst the flashing lights and crowds gathering in the venue, Joywave’s relaxed and cool, but prominent, stage presence was a relief to ears and eyes as they played through their set-list of the ever bluesy “It’s a Trip!,” funky “Destruction,” spacey “Doubt,” bass heavy “Somebody New,” sleepy “Compromise,” and closing off with famous single “Tongues.” With their chilled-out Dance sound, their set seamlessly played through. Before closing off with “Tongues,” Armbruster asked New York City to lend the band some energy, as it was their last song of the night, to which the gathering crowd responded enthusiastically. Wishing a good night to all, Joywave bid farewell to the crowd as the lights came up for intermission.
Intermission was a blur of noise, movement, and drinks until the lights went down and MisterWives, the second band of the evening, made their way to the stage. Another New York band, MisterWives is Lead Singer Mandy Lee (Amanda Lee Duffy), Bass Guitarist William Hehir, Guitarist Marc Campbell, Multi-Instrumentalist Jesse Blum, Percussionist Etienne Bowler, and Saxophonist Mike Murphy. Known for their vibrant on-stage sets and Indie Pop sound, MisterWives is a pleasure to watch perform.
Smoke and red lights permeated the main floor as MisterWives came center stage, opening with the lively “Machine.” Vocally, Duffy can evoke comparisons to Shakira, Hayley Williams (Paramore), and Marina and the Diamonds while still remaining freshly unique. “Coloring Outside the Lines” blasted through the arena space as the band kept to the beat, not staying still on stage and electrifying the venue with their energy. Duffy greeted the audience, asking if everyone was still alive out there to keep it going. Then Duffy said the next song was one of her favorites to perform as MisterWives began to play the slower-paced “Drummer Boy.”
Claiming that as a New York band it was a dream to play onstage at Madison Square Garden, MisterWives then began an impressive and emotional mashup cover of The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do” and The Cranberries’ “Dream.” In between songs, Duffy proclaimed MisterWives to be a band dedicated to self-expression and being you no matter what. MisterWives then proceeded to play “Oh Love” as an anthem to self-love, and also a well-placed version of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” blended into the song. Upbeat “Reflections” lifted the mood of the audience before announcing they would be playing their last song of the night, famous single “Our Own House.” Thanking the audience profusely, MisterWives exited the stage to a flurry of applause.
It seemed the intermission had only just started when the lights dropped and The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” began to play. The applause in response to the song was incredible as Walk the Moon came to the stage. An Ohio-based band known for its Indie Rock and Synth Rock sound, Walk the Moon consists of members Nicholas William Petricca on Lead Vocals, Bassist Kevin Colter Ray, Guitarist Eli Brose Maiman, and Drummer Sean Byron Waugaman. Delving straight into the music, Walk the Moon opened with funky “One Foot,” then segued into the cool “Lisa Baby,” Dance Pop “Portugal,” upbeat “Different Colors,” Indie Vibe “Avalanche,” and soulful “Surrender.”
Taking a moment to address the crowd and ask how they were, the band then continued in their electrified set, performing synth heavy “Tight Rope,” poppy “Kamikaze,” and chart-topper “Shut Up and Dance” to the ever-increasing crowd containing devout Walk the Moon fans. Thanking the crowd again and again, talking about how playing Madison Square Garden was a dream, Petricca also thanked 30 Seconds to Mars before leading the band into “Headphones” with a Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” snippet, before finishing off their set with hit song “Anna Sun.” Wishing the concert goers a good night, final opener Walk the Moon left the stage to a resounding applause for their soulful and humbling performance.
Thirty Seconds to Mars, Los Angeles born in 1998, is made up of brothers Jared and Shannon Leto. Known for their Emo to Indie, to now Electropop sound, Thirty Seconds to Mars has attracted a wide audience and are known for their interactive performances with fans coming on stage to help lead song and dance. Excitement mounted as time progressed, and the stadium seemed nearly full as the lights went out and the applause exploded from everywhere. A box made of screens descended from the ceiling, and as lights began to bleed out from inside and drums sounded, the audience went wild. Drawing out the anticipation, the crowd was on edge waiting for Thirty Seconds to Mars to emerge. After what seemed like an eternity on the edge, Thirty Seconds to Mars was slowly revealed from under the flashing screens as it ascended once more, and intro “Monolith” from the America album started to overtake the arena.
Jared greeted the audience in his usual, casual way, and continued onward with theatrical “Up in the Air” and famous “Kings and Queens,” which was sung by the entire audience in part with Thirty Seconds to Mars. Proclaiming the audience as kings and queens, gargantuan balloons suddenly appeared into the crowd as Jared Leto led the chant for next song “This is War.” The crowd was alive and spirited as they all sung heartily with the band and passed about the balloons to a stripped version of “Dangerous Night,” in which fans were called onto the stage to dance and sing. Following was “Do or Die” and “Hail to the Victor,” while Jared Leto danced and flitted about the stage with the same charisma as his acting persona, humorously regaling the crowd while Shannon killed it on drums.
Taking another moment to reach out to the audience, Jared Leto spoke on the new album and how exciting it was to be performing again in New York City. Alongside fans, Thirty Seconds to Mars continued the set with emotional “Rescue Me,” and then interlude “Pyres of Varanasi,” while Jared Leto relocated atop a platform screen to perform heartfelt “Great Wide Open.” Once more there was a change in scenery on stage as the other half of Thirty Seconds to Mars was featured alone to sing melodic and heart wrenching “Remedy.” The crowd erupted in a roaring applause of approval for the solo performance, as Jared took center stage once more, remarking on what an incredible performance the song had been on Shannon’s part.
Wasting no time, Thirty Seconds to Mars played famous hit “The Kill” with all crowd members screaming out the words with all their being. The next song, “Walk on Water,” featured flag-spinning by Jared Leto. Taking a final moment to address the crowd, Jared Leto spoke about the record label troubles they had in the past, and how the band owed its tremendous success to its fans, thanking the crowd profusely.
For their final song, Thirty Seconds to Mars invited a large group of fans onto the stage to help perform hit song “Closer to the Edge,” accompanied by an explosion of confetti and thunderous applause. With the lights blaring and confetti slowly dancing down to the floor, the Monolith Tour performance at Madison Square Garden concluded, but the room remained full even as the lights came up as crowds sang to each other as they exited into the night.
Overall, each band was incredible, unique, and brilliant in their own way. The concert was exciting, fun, and touching in all the right ways, while remaining so very welcoming to the fans. It says a lot to be able to put on a show as long as this one and still leave the crowd ready to party all night. Sure to be a continued success, The Monolith Tour continues now through July 22nd, so do not miss out!
photo credit: Donny Joseph Photography