With their brand-new "Closer to the Edge" video — which premiered on Monday (August 16) — [artist id="1231235"]30 Seconds to Mars[/artist] have joined a special fraternity. For about as long as there have been rock videos, there have also been "road videos," grand testaments to the highs and lows, the triumphs and tragedies, the sheer excitement and terrifying monotony that come with being a touring rock-and-roll band.
Documenting your life on the bus is as much a rite of passage as getting your first platinum plaque (or bedding your first groupie), and as such, basically every rock act worth their salt has, at some point, released a road video ... and then released it again on the "Live" DVD. Though, in keeping with pretty much everything they do, 30STM have taken the concept to dizzying, unabashedly all-encompassing heights.
Though road videos feature plenty of live footage (as does "Edge"), they are rarely — if ever — about the live experience. Rather, they are about the band themselves, the three or four dudes who sleep on bunks, sign autographs, eat at all-night diners and gaze longingly out the window of their bus. The fans are just part of the background ... the occasional slow-motion shot or the supportive arms that keep the lead singer aloft when he crowd surfs.
"Closer to the Edge" is different because it is darn-near 100 percent about the fans themselves: their lives and loves and fears, and how all of those things motivated them to attend a 30STM show in the first place. They are the stars, they are the main attraction. The members of the band are basically secondary characters in the thing. Even Jared Leto's foot-high pink Mohawk takes a backseat to the fans.
The video — directed by Leto, under the nom-de-film Bartholomew Cubbins — opens with testimonials from sad-eyed 30STM fans, espousing their views on life ("My philosophy is: Don't regret anything you do ... because in the end, it makes you who you are"). Each of them is alone in their own particular way, it would seem, though, through the music of 30 Seconds to Mars, they find a space in which they can coexist with others just like them. They may be outcasts in their high schools or towns, but at a 30STM show, they are anything but. They are, as a title card in the video puts it, part of "The Family."
And that message of inclusion is driven home in a series of stats the video throws at us ("27 Countries. 89 Cities. 1 Band. And All 1,363,930 of You") and the message, "Yes, This Is a Cult." Provided you are not curdled with cynicism, it's a rather amazing idea. 30 Seconds to Mars are less of a touring rock band than they are a barnstorming ministry. They aim to uplift, to inspire, to save, and "Closer to the Edge" is their document of that mission.
Sure, there are moments that sort of make you snicker — the sheer bombast of the entire thing, the fact that this is a "film ... presented by 30 Seconds to Mars," the image of Leto's pink Mohawk peering contemplatively over the Grand Canyon — but there's no denying the power of seeing tens of thousands of fans finding a simultaneous salvation, of a crowd of individuals becoming one. It's what rock and roll is supposed to be about, really: inclusion.
What do you think of the new 30 Seconds to Mars video? Share your own reviews in the comments below.