Taste of Chaos

30 Seconds to Mars and The Used at Convention Hall

ASBURY PARK, New Jersey (March 24, 2007) - Many of the young teenagers in attendance at Asbury Park's Convention Hall on Saturday were most likely cornered by their parents before leaving their homes. It's no doubt that some heard their dad tell a story of catching a glimpse of Keith Richards jumping out of his limo in front of the venue a few decades back.

It wasn't long before 30 Seconds to Mars lead singer/guitarist Jared Leto emerged from the Convention Hall bleachers, when fans were on their cell phones bragging about how close they got to him. So, in a few decades, it might be a new crop of teenagers telling their kids about the Taste of Chaos tour they saw on Saturday night.

The bond between 30 Seconds to Mars and its fans was clear before Leto entered the crowd. The sold out audience's voices echoed through the venue as they sang many of the band's choruses verbatim. The band walloped through its set list of intense tracks, building on the staccato power chords supplied by the Leto and guitarist Tomo Milicevic.

While lighting effects added to theatrics, Taste of Chaos focused mainly on the music and fans. 30 Seconds to Mars' songs stretched across a limitless range of emotions from joy to despair, as the band synchronized itself and delivered its message with a precise attack of chordings, muted single notes, throaty bass lines and dynamic drum beats. Leto's vocals were impressive for a venue that might present a challenge to some singers. He remained in control of his performance, carrying the audience through the vast emotional spectrum at the core of each song.

30 Seconds to Mars' set preceded that of the Used, a band that refuses to label itself. It's a band that manages to reach across numerous genres from pop to punk to metal, in the same song.

Like its predecessor on the bill, the Orem, Utah-based quartet's music reached out and touched its fans from the inception of its performance. Singer Bert McCraken spoke to the fans as if they were his best friends. Both 30 Seconds to Mars and the Used held a stage presence worthy of the legends that have graced Convention Hall before them. It was a presence that could be felt either from the front of the stage or the back of the venue.

During the Used's set, Quinn Allman supplied a sensitive and screechy guitar tone, beside a rhythm section that included Jeph Howard's locked-in-a-box bass lines and Branden Steineckert's gutsy drum beats.

To say the Used comes from humbled beginnings would be an understatement. Its beginnings are marked by both poverty, homelessness and, for McCraken, drug addiction. But success propelled like the top of a Blackhawk helicopter once the band released its self-titled debut album in 2002. Sales of that album exceeded one million copies and the band has since performed on Ozzfest, the Vans Warped Tour and Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution tour. The Used's subsequent studio efforts show a band that is not afraid to depict the challenges of its past and will most likely continue to do so for years to come.

30 Seconds to Mars also released a self-titled debut in 2002. The band followed up, three years later, with A Beautiful Lie and most recently were nominated for a 2006 MTV Music Award for best rock video with "The Kill." Leto is also known for his work as an actor, which began on the 1990s television drama "My So-Called Life" and continued with movies such as "Alexander" and "Fight Club." Next, he will star as John Lennon's murderer Mark David Chapman in 2007's "Chapter 27."

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.