Thirty Seconds to Mars swung back into the music world last week after four years with the brash new single "Walk on Water" — and at Sunday night’s 2017 VMAs, the band injected new life into it, teaming up with Travis Scott for a performance that felt like a big party at the end of the world.
Kicking off in front of a blurred thermal camera typically utilized for scientific purposes, singer Jared Leto got as in-your-face with the audience as he could before revealing an entire cohort of dancers behind him mirroring his moves. The sequence — with its raised fists, violent rumblings, and Leto in a ski mask — tapped into modern activism imagery mentioned in the song’s lyrics: “The far right, the left view / Breaking all those promises made / Times are changing.”
Before the end, fellow band members Shannon Leto and Tomo Miličević joined at the front of the stage to create a chorus of chanting voices that carried the song’s chorus — all of which made Scott’s entry and subsequent appearance on the track (delivering vocals from his song "Butterfly Effect") that much more dynamic. It was kind of like a infrared cam-centric, post-apocalyptic sequel to Ed Sheeran and Lil Uzi Vert’s rap/rock hybrid performance from earlier in the evening.
Thirty Seconds to Mars’ lyric video for “Walk on Water” features footage shot both professionally and by fans across the country this past July 4. The full concept will be released as a documentary called A Day in the Life of America, which Leto explained to MTV News in June could come to be represented by a number of things: “Anything and everything that you think is important or impactful or challenging or inspiring, we want to hear what you think America is.”
Scott’s new album, AstroWorld, is set to drop sometime later this year. Maybe Jared Leto will make a surprise appearance on it? It’s 2017, man. Times are changing.