“If you want my cold, come up to the front,” Jared Leto teased as a horde of girls clamored for the Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman’s bacteria. Still shrouded in the black that he wore less than 24 hours before at their Hollywood Bowl set, Leto and the rest of Thirty Seconds To Mars was able to transition from signing CDs for a thousand people and coughing so hard Leto “almost called 911” to an intimate performance at the Red Bull Sound Space.
Prompting the audience to sing-a-long with him to songs like “City of Angels,” “End of All Days,” and even a heartbreaking version of Rihanna’s “Stay,” Leto hinted that his voice wasn’t on par with what it could be, but the added vulnerability in his sound actually made Thirty Seconds To Mars’ performance that much more poignant. With his beautiful singing interspersed between naughty banter, Leto proved that he doesn’t need a fancy light show or Taiko drummers to actually be one impeccable performer.
“One of you dirty people got me sick,” Leto laughed, but he didn’t hesitate to give an audience member a hug after she apparently helped his brother Shannon find parking at the Hollywood Bowl. He also hugged a tiny fan in the audience after the little girl was given drumsticks from Shannon as a gift.
Leto said the familial vibes at their Hollywood Bowl performance was like the Grateful Dead “without the patchouli” and told host Ted Stryker that he’s like the “Jared Garcia.”
“It’s wonderful. I think we’ve always been really curious about the people that have made a decision to believe in what we do, so it goes both ways,” said Leto of the band’s fans. “We hung out after the Hollywood Bowl and we signed 1000 CDs, old-school style, and it was really fun to see the people and who’s listening to your music. I’m actually really interested. You know. Some people like to make music and do their own thing, that’s ok, but I’ve always been quite fascinated by all of you.”
Leto is so fascinated by his fans that he consistently likes to go out into the audience and touch them. He did this at the Red Bull Sound Space performance, illness and all, and he did it the night before at the Hollywood Bowl. He said his favorite part was playing for “all the people in the lawn.” A rare occurrence in concert history, a donation bucket was also passed around to raise money for AIDs and AIDs awareness as inspired by Leto’s upcoming role in Dallas Buyers Club.
In the role, Leto plays a transperson named Rayon dying of AIDS. To prepare, Leto had to lose 35-40 pounds and wore heels and make-up through-out the role. Already generating Oscar buzz, Leto said it wasn’t easy for him to take the role because he “hadn’t made a film in 5 or 6 years” and “wasn’t looking to make a film.”
“You know, we had more success than we ever dreamed of with Thirty Seconds To Mars,” Leto told Stryker. “We’re playing the biggest and the best shows of our lives so when someone called and said, ‘Hey, do you want to be a part of this?’ It wasn’t on my radar really, but eventually someone convinced me to read the script and I fell in love. I thought, ‘What an amazing opportunity here.’ I had this window and I decided to go for it.”
Leto has never been afraid to play controversial and creative roles and that might be due to his wholly creative upbringing with his brother Shannon. Calling his brother a prodigy drummer, Leto said that his mom found an ad for an “old beat-up piano” that said “If you can drag this piano out of this place, you can have it.”
“So, it was missing a bunch of keys and barely played but we started at a very young age and music for us was all about creativity,” confessed Leto. “It wasn’t something that you did professionally. We didn’t know anybody who made a living or spent their lives making music; it was just something you did. And in some ways, it’s still like that. It’s just what we do.”
–Nadia Noir, KROQ