If, over the course of their This Is War album, 30 Seconds to Mars have not proved the following point, please allow me to state it once more: They are a band that truly only operates on a massive scale. From their globe-spanning, record-setting tour to their big-budget, high-concept music videos (ahem, “short films”), they are eternally going for the grandiose.
Which is why it’s noteworthy that fans voted their MTV “Unplugged” version of “Hurricane” #1 in our contest for Best Live MTV Performance of 2011 — besting Paramore’s #2-ranked “Brick by Boring Brick”
— because it represents them at their most stripped-down and, really, their most minimal.
Of course, that’s a relative term. Because while “Hurricane” does feature acoustic guitars and Jared Leto’s sparse vocals, it also comes backed by a stirring string ensemble, and the band’s ever-present Echelon, who chant and sing backup on the chorus, imbuing the song with a powerful air. The mood inside the studio is undeniably somber but, like pretty much everything 30STM do, there’s a raging, revelatory undercurrent too. Their performance is very much a communal thing, one where a celebration never seems all that far off.
And speaking of that communal vibe, that it was the band’s fans who voted them to victory on our Best Live MTV Performance countdown is proof enough that they love their 30STM any way they can get it — full-blown or scaled back. In a way, that connection is more powerful than a stack of amps or a 15-minute long music video … it’s truly the secret to the band’s success. Now they’ve got the hardware to prove it.