To some people in British Columbia, Tuesday September 4th, 2012 was just the first day after labour day and a long weekend. To others, it was their first day back at school, be it university, college, high school or elementary. For me, it was the end of the ultimate nostalgic long weekend. 99.3 The Fox (cfox) was having a “nothing-but-the-90’s-long-weekend,” so my childhood was in front of my eyes every time I was driving around town. By the time Tuesday rolled around, it was time to go see Incubus and Linkin Park. The more current and fantastic alternative rock band, Mute Math opened and you can find my review of Incubus here.
By the time Linkin Park came on, my sister had made it downtown and was able to join me for the show, which helped my nostalgia that much more. My peak of listening to Linkin Park was just after Meteora came out, in 2003, and we used to share a room. As we sat and got pumped up for the headliner, the music the venue chose as the song the lights would come down for happened to be “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” by The Beastie Boys. Not only do I love that song, it fit my personal theme of the night well, as well as the fact it’s a fantastic song to get pumped up to and the rest of the crowd felt it, singing along.
Once the lights were completely out and silence reigned upon Rogers Arena for a second, the massive arena seemed to inhale for a moment and as the first sounds of “Tinfoil” echoed throughout the arena, I watched hundreds, if not thousands of people pull out some sort of electronic recording device, from cameras to cell phones of varying sizes. Personally, I just want to breathe in the music for a moment before even contemplating trying to remember it!
From the intro of the song, they melted it into “Faint” and the crowd went wild, myself included. As much as some music fans may think the lesser known songs are better for x reason or y reason… Sometimes it’s fun to sing/scream a song with tens of thousands of people doing the same thing because eeeeveryone knows that song. And with lyrics like “Don’t turn your back on me / I won’t be ignored,” it’s as angsty as every teenager feels while still being empowering. Next up, they did a rendition of “Papercut” which mostly sounded like the version on 2000’s Hybrid Theory, but vocalist/ rapper Mike Shinoda slipped an element of the Jay-Z version remixed and later released as Collision Course in 2004. Shinoda’s talent with his rhymes stun me sometimes. He is so intelligent and witty while meshing so well with the pounding beats and melodies behind him. Him and vocalist Chester Bennington balanced their vocals in a very natural way. To say the used they stage would be putting it lightly… Chester specifically devoured the stage! Jumping and dancing and running and moshing stage, all in time and all the while keeping his vocals on point. Not to say that the rest of the band was outshined to any degree as they had an apparatus set up in the middle of the stage as an X, were the two sides furthest from the audience were higher and the other two kept on the same angle and would reach the stage. Guitarist Brad Delson, along with alternating members, would run up and down this contraption, as well as onto the many other things they brought onstage to jump off of. His giant headphones gave him the appearance of a very focused and determined musician, mastering is axe, but he played with so much passion that it came through in little bursts of energy needing to be expelled.
Shinoda grabbed a guitar and Benning pumped up his energy to compensate, if it was even possible. “Given Up” really got the crowd going with it’s fast tempo combined with the energy of the performers. Next up, they played “With You,” which included an audience-approved DJ solo from Joe Hahn that was quite a bit longer than the recorded version. The massive video monitor behind the band showed a 3-D CGI version of the DJ that was live and fascinating to watch, being that he looked a bit like a monster!
As soon as the guitars kicked in for “Somewhere I Belong,” I personally jumped up and shouted. It was time for another one of those songs that I knew like the back of my hand and I knew that I wasn’t alone. They moved into “In My Remains” and following that, the song Linkin Park wrote for the movie “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” came on, entitled “New Divide.” Bass player Dave Farrell swayed back and forth from side to side, as if a stoic rock and roll machine, powering out the bassline. All the while, Chester is continuing to chase himself from one side the arena to reach every single person in the building.
If I had one word to describe the new album played live, it would explosive. When “Victimized” came on, it’s like we were on 10 and someone just bumped everyone up to 11. It was a slow build, but
everything from the music to the lights to the video (which I found disturbingly profound). I had never heard the song before, but I just wanted to scream along with Chester at least once, just to feed off his vibe and with the title of the track being repeated, I got myself a “Victimized!” in there. Mike demanded that everyone get up, so the crowed began bouncing in unison, especially on the floor, but even up in some of the “seated” areas.
Back to “Hybrid Theory,” they played “Points of Authority” and quickly back to the new album, “Living Things” for the song “Lies, Greed, Misery” in which Chester did as much as he could to pump up the crowd with his dancing. This was followed by the slower, “Waiting For The End” from 2010 and then it was back to “Meteora” for “Breaking The Habit.” Chester used his mic to the full extent that his instrument would allow, pulling it from side to side to accentuate notes. Then came the combo of “Leave Out All the Rest / Shadow of the Day / Iridescent” which included a pretty cool lights/kick drum synchronization followed by “Catalyst” and “Lost in the Echo.” The band were fantastic at creating an environment in the arena for each song, even with all the different moods and emotions that come with each song. Chester even picked up his guitar a couple times to show us his fret-work and he had a piercing stare on his face as he held prolonged notes, filled with passion and strength. As the video zoomed in on his face, you could see the beads of sweat rolling down his face, but it hadn’t have phased him in the least. And with that passion came the audience’s attentions and as he sang “Lift me up / And let me go,” they swayed their arms to show their devotion.
As the opening beats for “Numb” bellowed, the crowd kept the same vibe created with the previous song, but with a bit more energy, with more people knowing the lyrics. And with that slight increase of energy, they continued with “What I’ve Done” with flames shooting out in lines behind them right at the kick. They ended on “One Step Closer” and for every single “Shut up” that was repeated near the end of the song resulted in perfectly timed flames to make Chester’s voice sound as IN-YOUR-FACE as humanly possible. With every burst of fire, I felt the heat in a wave, spreading throughout the arena and the moment the flame disappeared, it was like a sigh of oxygen.
After the song, they said good-bye and left the stage with no prior warning that it would be their last song, so it was clear that the audience wasn’t going to leave. Cheering, catcalls and jeers began, to fill the next 5-10 minutes. I can think of a few reasons these fans didn’t want to leave. First, they hadn’t played their most famous song that turned them into the international successes that they were, “In The End,” so these people wanted their money’s worth. On top of that, they way they had ended the show was a steady climb, so it needed a proper climax to cap it off. And who really wants to leave a rock show, anyways? Especially one like that!
Eventually, me and my sister started chanting “Linkin Park” because for some reason, no one (at least near us) was doing the same and with both of our many years of experience as concert-goers, we know that the way to bring a band back onto a stage for an encore is to chant their name, in the most appealing way. Linkin Park needed no shortening, so we chanted and chanted and chanted and as people started to join in on large numbers, the lights went back down and the band came back on the stage.
They exploded onto the stage with “Burn it Down” and now that everyone was back up to the same level, it was time for the moment everyone was waiting for. “In The End” saw almost every voice in the building being used, at least for “I had to fall / To lose it all / But in the end / It doesn’t even matter.” The pyrotechnics confirmed this as the ultimate high of the night, with an astounding pyrotechnics display to capture everyone in that moment and as soon as the song was over, they moved into “Bleed It Out” after saying their quick good-byes. Many fans had gotten what they wanted and whether they didn’t need the resolution of the very last song of the show after such a long and fantastic performance, or maybe they wanted to avoid the foot traffic of thousands of people trying to exit through a handful of doors, but whatever the case, I can’t imagine a single person left that show unhappy. Linkin Park delivered, for both new fans and old. Even a casual listener would have had no choice but to rock!