Glassjaw / H2O / 30 Seconds To Mars - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Glassjaw / H2O / 30 Seconds To Mars

live in New York (2005)

live show

I and my fellow show attendee finally entered the rather large Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City during the last song of Alexisonfire's set, ready to experience what would assuredly be one of the more bizzarre lineups as of late.

I've never really been one for Alexisonfire on record, as I personally find their style heedless and as a result, completely forgettable. Even as the band closed with what I think is one of their better songs (".44 Calibre Love Letter"), my opinion didn't change much. Lead vocalist George Logan's scream was rather muffled through the course of the song, and even when the resident backup vocalist / Tim McIlrath soundalike chimed in with his melodic parts, it seemed strained.

30 Seconds To Mars was next, and took the stage to sirens and blinding, flashing lights. While they were certainly tight, focused, and energetic, their brand of radio-prog didn't quite do it for me. The keyboards the band uses gives them a rather cinematic feel, and if nothing else it was an interesting addition all its own. There was a rather complex-looking drum kit on the stage for whoever was handling percussion as well. Lead singer / guitarist / well-known actor Jared Leto wasn't the least bit shy, closing every song with vehement screaming and consistently trying to rile up the crowd. More sets of multiple colored lights would flash during the band's set, and it seemed like a drastic attempt at really illuminating the "prog" portion of the band's sound, though there's a decidedly accessible rock sound to the band at their core, perhaps comparable to a darker, less wistful U2, a comparison more noticeable once mentioned. I know the title track of their recent release A Beautiful Lie was played amongst the set.

Now, I've never seen H2O live, so I was in for what ended up being a rather strange experience at points. I'm not 100% familiar with their discography (Thicker Than Water, the not quite fan favorite Go! and even less well-received All We Want EP are admittedly the only albums I've heard of theirs), but I'm quite well in the know about the general sound the band started out playing and the severe backlash brought upon them with the release of their major label debut. And, to see a group of men whose physical appearance clearly let everyone know New York hardcore veterans of the scene were gracing the stage play straight pop-punk songs was just...weird. Indeed, around half the set derived from Go!, including opener "Role Model," "Memory Lane," and possibly one other song I can't remember. If I closed my eyes, it was almost like the Bouncing Souls were on stage, actually. Also included was "I See It In Us," "Thicker Than Water," and closer "Family Tree," in which Hoya from Madball came out to do some guest vocals with a guitarist from the same band to do some chords. Toby made sure to thank Bert McKracken of the Used for personally calling him and inviting H2O on tour, and gave everyone in the crowd a short NYHC history lesson, rattling off select important bands (Agnostic Front, Gorilla Biscuits, Warzone, and Madball were mentioned among a few others). Overall, a pretty enjoyable set even with the aforementioned "see one thing, hear another" detail.

The majority in attendance for Glassjaw likely hadn't seen the band either of the secret nights they played at Long Island venue the Downtown the past few days (Sunday, and the more publicized appearance Tuesday with This Is Hell), so their more or less first "scheduled" show in two years had to be a treat for the fans. Once the band took the stage, all anticipatory feelings hit home, as Daryl Palumbo had the manic look in his eye with the opening chords of "Tip Your Bartender" ringing right and left. Aside from some quick introductions of the members, very little banter occurred, but it was for the better, as a fairly decent number of songs were offered up. Palumbo instead flailed around the stage during cuts like "Gillette Cavalcade..." and the raucous "Pretty Lush." Hammerstein's sound is a bit overpowering no matter the band, but the band seemed to settle in by the time hands were in the air signaling double-digit multiplication in "Mü Empire," which was an appropriate, immediate follower of "Bartender." The set was fluid in its flow, and I was personally rather happy to hear both opening tracks of the band's two full-lengths, as they were absent from the set list a few days earlier, and are perfect for GJ's live setting in general. Again, I'd love for a miracle to happen that would allow the band to put out another record and tour regularly, because there's still enough passion and drive there to put out something as creative and intense as past efforts, and enough of an allowed hiatus for the members to embrace the band as something new and refreshing. Hopefully, this was a preview of all that and more.

Oh, the Used headlined this, but I wasn't there to experience the surefire spectacle.

Set list:

  • Tip Your Bartender
  • Mü Empire
  • Star Above My Bed
  • Ape Dos Mil
  • The Gillette Cavalcade Of Sports
  • Pretty Lush
  • Natural Born Farmer
  • Two Tabs Of Mescaline
  • Siberian Kiss