A NEW AGE.
I had just come back from an adventure all over Europe, challenging myself and learning and discovering more about myself than I ever thought possible. Thirty Seconds to Mars was touring Australia in March 25th – 31st because they rescheduled their shows here which worked out so perfectly for me. I had some money left over and I was on a high from my travels and seeing a whole new world and I craved another adventure. So I bought concert tickets to every single show and travelled around Australia following my favourite band.
Leaving Adelaide 25/03/2014
This is who I really am inside.
I woke up feeling excited and nervous about the whole experience. This was going to be my first Thirty Seconds to Mars show and as I took the bus to the airport I listened to Love Lust Faith + Dreams over and over again, feeling overwhelmed with anticipation about witnessing this band live. I had been an Echelon for a long time; I remember hearing The Echelon for the first time at the end of a movie called The Core and was curious about the band. But when their breakthrough single The Kill dropped I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for the success the band was achieving, I was fifteen years old, and had no idea who I was supposed to be and their music spoke to me in a way that nothing else ever has. I listened to that album incessantly throughout high school and it was then that I bought my first guitar and started to learn some songs. I felt inspired by their music and started developing my own skill and style. But it wasn’t until I heard the “This Is War” album in Australia that I knew I was hooked to this band. I was nineteen, I had just moved away from everything I had ever known from a little outback country town to pursue my dreams in the big city. I was in a bad place, I was scared and alone. But when I heard that album, when I heard Kings and Queens I would turn up the radio so loud in my car that I swear the whole city could hear it but all my problems would fade away and I would lose myself in it.
In defense of our dreams.
As I boarded the plane I thought about how crazy I was to do this, to follow a band around the country like this and spend so much money on the experience. My friends thought I was crazy but I had to do this. I just had to experience this; it meant so much to me.
I had no idea what to expect and no idea how amazing it was all going to truly be.
The concert was that night and I had already got ready for it before even getting on the plane. I had never been to Perth and it was a really industrial city with a lot of beautiful scenery. Checking into my cheap hostel I familiarised myself with my surroundings before grabbing my ticket and heading to the first show in the afternoon. The Perth show was at Challenge Stadium and when I got there I was excited to see people already lining up for the show.
I will save you from yourself.
I stood on the side where Shannon was playing the drums and when Birth exploded onto the stage I was absolutely fascinated by Shannon’s skill. It was mesmerising to watch him in his element because he would just completely zone out when he was drumming. The seats were hardly full and the GA was almost empty, Jared had said half way during the show for seated people to come down and join the mosh and they obeyed of course.
Thirty Seconds to Mars were amazing at the Perth show, Jared didn’t do too much running around, I think because they were all pretty jet lagged from their flight over (we live on another planet in Australia sorry). I was shocked to hear Jared start playing Save Me in his acoustic set, perhaps testing to see who knew the song. My heart skipped a beat when he came out on stage for Do or Die with the Australian flag in his hand, which was absolutely incredible to witness live, the bass boomed through my body. For Up in the Air Jared asked Shannon to help pick out some people to come up on stage. Shannon was the highlight of the Perth show, his drumming is electrifying and I couldn’t wait to witness it all again. I was so excited to see the band that I almost felt like I wasn’t even there in the crowd, I was thankful that this was just the beginning.
What a time to be alive.
The Melbourne show was in two days and I had decided to make a poster for the event to take to the show. In my rush to the airport at 5am though I had left my poster behind and had to make a new one, which actually worked out okay in the end because it was a better quality poster and I did two sides instead of one, the serendipity of events. I had tweeted a photo of my poster and hashtagged #MARSinAustralia on the end and to my great surprise Jared Leto added it to a favourite on twitter in a matter of minutes. It had made my morning to see that. Later that day I went down to the Melbourne Hinense Stadium for Soundcheck that I had purchased. I met other Echelon there, some absolutely wonderful people who I could talk to about the band’s music with and exchange stories of how they had discovered the band. A girl named Rebecca @sugaronmars was giving out “Echelon Chocolate” to people in line who had started to line up hours and hours before the event. Seeing everyone so passionate about this band was uplifting for me and I knew I wasn’t alone in my obsession for this music. Reni was the main girl who was running Adventures In Wonderland VIP and she made everything absolutely wonderful and perfect, making sure everybody knew what was going to happen and were exactly where they needed to be.
We waited for hours for the Soundcheck to start. It was well past the time scheduled on the ticket and people were getting itchy. I just sat still trying to take everything in, I could hear the Meet and Greet upstairs, I couldn’t believe I was even in the same building as them, my idols, the reason I picked up the guitar. I started talking to people who were also travelling around the country, some had even flown from overseas and meeting these people is a memory I will always treasure forever. In my hostel room were two French girls who saw shows in Paris the year before and just happened to be in Australia when Mars were playing so attended the show that night as well. I knew that I was going to be making such wonderful friends through this experience.
Lost in a daydream.
The Soundcheck was fun, it was interesting to watch them work out sounds and play The Kill full band. I recorded a little bit of footage on my phone but I didn’t want to make the mistake that so many others were making and view the experience through a tiny phone screen, this decision paid off well with all three band members acknowledging my existence by a smile or wave. I was so excited now for tonight’s show, there were so much more people here than at Perth.
A million little pieces.
The Melbourne show was incredible, the crowd got so involved with chanting and singing loudly along to all the songs. Jared actually jumped down into the crowd for Closer To The Edge and ran around the lower seating of the stadium and people’s faces just lit up in smiles because he was involving everybody into the concert. But when Kings and Queens exploded onto the stage with the lighting show, blow up balloons and confetti in the air, I started to shed a tear. The crowd singing it back and Jared being so in that moment with all of us telling everybody to sing the outro “one more time” and just absorbing every second of it was as special to me as seeing Versailles Gardens for the first time, and that was pretty damn special. A memory that I will never forget and always cherish, seeing someone in their element is inspiring and empowering. Thirty Seconds To Mars demanded the crowd’s attention that night and their energy on stage was infectious. Everybody was jumping around like crazy and I got the opportunity to take many wonderful photos of the night.
When I returned as quietly as I could back to my hostel the French girls were still out but two other people had checked in while I was out. I was as quiet as a mouse as I gathered my things and got ready for bed, trying to come down from the high of the night and get some sleep for tomorrow. But I kept thinking about how there were so many people around the world, and how some can be connected so strongly by music, an art form that wakes up and ignites something within us. A million little pieces all put together.
The birth of a song, the death of a dream.
The next day at the airport, I was catching a flight at 6am for the Artifact screening and concert in Sydney and I was very excited. I had posted a photo on Instragram of Jared inviting a little boy on stage with a pink Mohawk and to my surprise the Mars Instagram had reposted my photo and tweeted it out to the world. My social media was a nightmare that day but I loved talking with people all over the world about the shows I was going to and reading about their experiences. So thank you for reposting my photo and giving me an opportunity to virtually meet other Echelon.
A girl named Maria came over to me and complimented me on my Starry Night Van Gogh leggings which were a brand called BlackMilk here in Australia, she was also wearing a BlackMilk dress and we immediately clicked and then found out that we were actually both attending the Artifact screening and the concert in Sydney that night. She had attended the Melbourne show last night as well and we exchanged stories about the night.
She is to this day one of my best friends, and I met her because of your music and the incredible art that you have shared with the world, creating this wonderful community of people who really support each other and believe in each other.
I was shaking before I met Jared and my new found friend, Maria, was next to me and trying to keep me calm. I felt myself starting to sweat with anticipation as I shook and forced myself to breathe. I was about to meet one of my idols, someone I had looked up to my entire life, someone who has an absolutely inspiring desire to do everything on Earth and whose music had touched my soul and had somehow ignited a burning spark in me to chase my dreams.
I would hate myself forever if I messed this up. When Jared entered the room and sat down smiling I felt even more nervous, now he was here, right in front of me, a few meters away from where I sat.
As he started to speak I began to feel calmer, he said “there is nothing special about me, I’m being serious. I just work really, really hard and bleed for what I want.”
Those words were enough to completely calm me down. He was just a person. We all bleed the same. I sat and listened to him talk about the importance of dreams and fighting for what you believe in, trying to absorb every word he was speaking, to memorise it all.
And it worked. I grounded myself in the moment and listened to every word he had to say. How he thought failure was better than success, because you learn from failure. He spoke about how hard the whole situation was for the band and how much he had learned from it all not only as a businessman but as a human being. I found that inspirational, we all have our demons and sometimes we get stuck thinking that our scars are greater than other peoples but we all fight our own battles. As Jared so famously says “sometimes we must fight in order to be free.”
All I could think about was everything he said, all the advice he had given to every one of us in that room and how thoroughly he had answered my question about where the music industry is headed in the future. I had written down every word I had wanted to say to him and apologised for it, he had said “there’s nothing wrong with being organised” and I found the courage to look him in the eye as I explained a little about what the music means to me and that I was attending every show in Australia before going on to ask him if he felt nervous or excited about the severely damaged industry due to failing record sales, piracy and the ever changing face of technology.
He had told me that he felt excited about the changes and I listened intently, wishing I could record his advice. He explained how the band still sells out arenas and went into detail about the music industry and how the band was STILL in debt somehow because it’s just how the system worked. He spoke to me about the importance of crowd sourcing and making something that seems valuable to a customer, something scarce so that it is more important to the buyer. I agreed with him immensely, now that I was completely calm I wished that I could chat more about it but I was just thankful for a couple minutes of his time. He really appreciated my question and took his time answering it. I really appreciated that, so if you are reading this Jared, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words of advice and encouragement that day, it was an absolute privilege to meet you.
I want to let you know that you have created something valuable, something beautiful. It is the oldest trick in the book, to desire the one thing you cannot have.
But when you get a hint of it you want more. And you are certainly achieving that with not only your music but with the way you run VyRt and other business.
I remember smiling through tears on the way back to my cheap little hostel to get ready for the show that night, because in that moment all my troubles were nothing compared to the clarity, admiration and confidence I felt from meeting you that day.
Before the Sydney concert I was upset to find out that I had either lost my ticket for the night or somehow forgotten to bring it with me, either way my ticket for the show was gone. I frantically remember calling my new friend, Maria, and she helped me find tickets on sales sites etc. for the show. I finally found somebody who was selling one of their tickets and met them at the front of the stadium, she was an absolutely lovely girl and I am going to visit her in Sydney soon. The Sydney concert was absolutely insane. I felt like I was at a death metal concert and I was shocked by it. By the end of the concert I was almost at the back of the mosh because I was being pushed back so far by people. But it was amazing; I loved the brutal energy that was unfolding because of this music. It fuelled people’s energy levels and it was great to see. I lost my friend immediately when the concert started because it was so rough and just held onto whatever I could as the crowd all moved as one.
I couldn’t stop laughing when the boys returned on stage wearing onsies, mainly because I had seen these onsies at a women’s fashion store called ICE and I wondered whether they knew that. When Jared asked who wanted to come on stage with him a thousand people surged forward and I was pushed back even further. I knew I never had a chance of getting on stage ever but the desperation from some people was a little terrifying, I have to admit. Maybe it’s my introverted personality but when you have to rip someone up from the floor because they are getting trampled from the surging mosh pit it’s definitely not enjoyable. Fun tip if you are an Echelon reading this book Jared will get you on stage if you are A) Wearing something ridiculous B) A small, tiny child C) On someone’s shoulders.
After the show I took the girl I had helped to a security guard who got her an ice pack, her nose was bleeding now but she seemed okay and enjoyed the show all the same.
I found Maria with other Echelon I had met so far on my journey and we all went out for a late dinner, discussing the craziness of the show and sharing stories of what we experienced. I love hearing people talk about something with passion; this was one of those moments. We all experienced the same thing yet we all interpreted it differently and all remembered different moments more thoughtfully than others.
I need a new direction because I have lost my way.
I had met Jared yesterday so I wasn’t that nervous about meeting the rest of the band today, I was feeling very excited more than anything else. Reni recognised me at the gate and I felt slightly embarrassed that she knew me by name now. I hope I didn’t look like a crazy stalker, but I dismissed that thought reminding myself that I should be able to do whatever I wanted without judgement.
The Meet and Greet was disorganised which made me wonder what was going on with the management, whether they were stressed about it all or not. Or whether it was the classic scarcity of valuable time with the band, leaving everybody wanting more.
There were so many people at the Meet and Greet that I felt like a drop in the ocean, just an insignificant being all over again and it frightened me that I could slip back into that thought so easily after feeling so inspired by all my travels around Europe and this tour around Australia. But when the band came out on stage and smiled at us all, I felt at ease again, Shannon came out on stage and he had smiled at me as he held a coffee in his hand….what a surprise he had a coffee. I had barely smiled back because I was so lost in my daydream.
He said “hello, it’s nice to see you again.”
And I finally smiled at that, confused about how he would have remembered me through a sea of faces or whether he was just saying that to be kind, regardless it was nice so thank you Shannon!
They answered a few questions that the crowd was throwing at them and I was hoping to get a chance to ask about the evolution of their music changing throughout their albums but there were too many people and a girl next to me was from Ukraine and wanted to thank them for their message to the people of Ukraine so I jumped up and down trying to get Jared’s attention without being rude so she could have her chance, it worked and she got to thank the band and ask a question.
She was very grateful for me doing that and I ended up spending the next day with her and her Ukraine friends in Brisbane site-seeing and helping navigate her way around in my home country.
Tomo gave wonderful advice to a young man who asked how to make it in the music industry and he spoke about the importance of working hard to achieve what you want in life. Tomo, if you are reading this, your laugh is probably the happiest sound on the planet. You laugh over absolutely nothing and make everybody else laugh with you in the process. You are crazy! But that’s exactly why the Echelon loves you. The signing was quick but I’m so thankful that I was calm enough to approach them and speak to them now. I got my This Is War album signed, as it is my favourite album and came at a very crucial time in my life where I was so confused and lost in my life. It meant a lot to me to get that signed and I am glad that they all did it with a smile on their faces.
I didn’t get much time to say what I wanted to say just a quick “hello, thank you, bye” because of the amount of people and scheduled time but a nod in my direction was all I needed. My photo turned out great, I had decided that morning when I flew into Brisbane that I was going to purchase some Australian gear to wear to the final concert and ask them to have it in the photo. They agreed when I asked and Tomo took the koala puppet with that ridiculous laugh and I started laughing as the photographer took the photo. I love how this photo turned out. Thank you.
GOING HOME 31/03/2014
I will never forget, I will never regret. I will live my life.
I was sad that it was all over. The Brisbane show was the best one yet, each band member gave it their all in their performance and for City of Angels the band had invited a young man to play guitar with them on stage. I posted a video on my YouTube, capturing the special moment and he ended up getting in contact with me, thanking me for recording a video. His name is Josh and we both work on music together and share creative ideas. A girl I had met that day with her face painted got on stage and took a photo of the band altogether with the crowd and my koala photobombed the moment. Thank you Sera for letting me use your photo. It’s just incredible how many amazing people I’ve met that have made an impact on me in such a short amount of time and who will continue to have an impact on me. Meeting other dreamers who are ambitious, creative and doers inspires me so much and makes me believe that perhaps my dreams are possible. I have so many different paths I want to travel down and experience and I always thought that I couldn’t do any of it, that none of them were possible. But now I realise that it’s not about making a choice, it’s about the freedom of doing what you want and working hard to achieve all your desires. I owe that to your incredible music making that community of people. Interacting with people online, through social media, through VyRt, meeting the Echelon in person. You really have created something valuable and something I can believe in. I feel like I belong somewhere and I am not just a vagabond walking alone.
This is my only escape and music is universal love.
Music is memories frozen in time that can be relived at the push of a button. That’s what you’ve given me. A thank you isn’t enough. You pulled me out of hell, inspired me to move and saved my life with your art.
I want to do something that makes me feel the same way your music does.
Your music is the soundtrack to my dreams and you are with me every step of the way inspiring me to dream hard and work harder.
I will live my life