15 August 2008
Riverbend Music Center
Projekt Revolution. Linkin Park’s travelling three ring circus. For the uninitiated, Projekt Revolution is a travelling festival put on every year by Linkin Park. Two stages bring the best of the young, up and coming artists as well as the more established acts, most of the latter being bands that LP think the masses ABSOLUTELY MUST hear.
This year’s Revolution Stage acted like the best of the best of the Vans Warped Tour. With Armor For Sleep, Hawthorne Heights, 10 Years (the only band to the exception to the Warped Tour formula), and Atreyu, there was a little something for everyone. Armor For Sleep turned in an interesting performance. For the first two songs of their set, frontman Ben Jorgensen went sans guitar. Normally accustomed to playing with a guitar, but equipped this time with only a microphone and his charisma, he faltered a bit. Hardcore fans would have noticed, but for those new to their music, it went unnoticed and the band turned in a very energetic set. Whatever ground they might have lost at the beginning was easily made up going into their biggest hit to date, Car Underwater. The crowd erupted into a cheer when Ben introduced the song as, “For those of you who have been around us as long as we’ve been around us, this song’s for you.” As soon as he was settled back behind his guitar, the rest of the set went flawlessly, with Jorgensen assuming the role he is most comfortable in. Hometown heroes Hawthorne Heights took the momentum that Armor For Sleep built and tried to make the best of it. Walking out onto the stage to There Goes My Hero by the Foo Fighters, it can be believed, was a calculated move. There was a brief pause before they began their set. It was bittersweet. The first half of their set went as well as can be expected, with the band in business mode. Things were a bit different, however, as they started into a rearranged version of Ohio is For Lovers. It was the only time during the set that they stopped being musicians and showed their human side. It’s the small things that no one would have noticed. Eron constantly looking at the sky. Micah focusing his energy towards the right side of the stage. Matt with his back to the crowd. JT looking out at the crowd, but not at anything particular. Perhaps these were all distractionary measures to help them keep composure. They worked, for the most part. The only time singer Woodruff became anything less than focused was during the first chorus. His voice cracked and he looked away. It was small enough that anyone who didn’t know him well would have easily missed it. 10 Years were an interesting choice for a follow-up, and they went over better than one would expect. Their flavour of radio rock wasn’t for everyone, but their fans were there pushing through the crowd and making themselves known in order to keep the momentum going. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, by any stretch of the imagination, but they are very very good at what they do. By this point in the afternoon, almost everyone who was left were there for Atreyu, but 10 Years managed to win the majority of the crowd over. As segments of the crowd followed the band to their merch tent to participate in their autograph signing, the remainder of the crowd began to rearrange themselves for Atreyu, hardcore fans down front and hardcore kids in the middle to, in vocalist Alex Varkatzas’ words “get the mosh moving.” For the first time that afternoon, the stage was running ahead of schedule allowing the band to get an early start and play an extra song. They clearly turned in the performance of the afternoon. Varkatzas took full advantage of the steps infront of the stage to interact with the crowd and to get in their faces. Every line of every song was spat back at the band with as much energy and fury as the band themselves produced; at times, the crowd drowned out the band. The highlight of the set occurred during The Bull. The band stopped mid-song and had everyone get on one knee; the crowd did as they were told, not sure as to what was going to happen next. On the count of four everyone in attendance, the band and the crowd, leapt towards the sky and all hell broke loose as the crowd became a swirling mass of bodies and limbs.
The Main Stage was a spectacle in and of itself. After the second stage had dismantled, you could hear banging in the distance. Before you knew it, three very energetic men were leading the crowd into the main amphitheatre. The Street Drum Corps had arrived. tSDC are a punk rock version of Stomp. They run around and bang on…things: giant plastic tubs, metal barrels, whatever they could find. They paraded the crowd into the amphitheatre like the Pied Piper leading his followers. This set the stage for ASHES dIVIDE. Having been in A Perfect Circle, one would expect frontman Billy Howerdel do be the stereotypical rockstar. This couldn’t have been any further from the truth. He humbly thanked the crowd for showing up early to see his “little band of merry music makers.” Most were unfamiliar with his material, but near the end of his set, it appeared that he had won the crowd over. Later, at his signing at the Island Def Jam tent, there was a long line waiting to talk to the band, take pictures, or just shake his hand. He could have left early, but he stayed for nearly an hour talking to everyone who wanted to talk. The Bravery followed on the mainstage. No longer the NYC hipsters they were when they first started. They have become more confident and more assertive. They now seem more sure of themselves as they take their place among the new generation of power players in the indie rock scene. Most of the songs were played in the “remixed style” of the re-released version of their latest record. Believe, their latest single and most successful to date, received the biggest response of the night, turning the amphitheatre into a giant sing-a-long. With such a solid performance, one would wonder how Chris Cornell was going to follow that. No one quite knew what to expect from him in terms of a setlist or a band or anything, but as soon as they raised his backdrop, a stylised version of his initials, it was clear that the crowd was in for something special. Knowing his musical history, anything was fair game. The crowd was treated to an eclectic mix of his entire catalogue consisting of part Audioslave, part Soundgarden, and part originals. Oh. And Billie Jean thrown in for good measure. The set was solid, professional, and well rounded; it was something that you would expect from a professional such as Mr. Cornell. At times, his performance seemed a little too…rehearsed and a little too slick, but no one seemed to mind. Those who were fans sang along. Those who weren’t waited politely and clapped as needed. They were there for one reason and one reason only.
Linkin Park. if you are a fan of Linkin Park, this is truly an amazing spectacle to behold. If you aren’t a fan of Linkin Park, go to one of their big shows because it’s truly an amazing spectacle to behold just on sheer production value. Based on this fact alone, whether you paid $15 dollars for lawn seats or $95 for the best seats on the house, you’re not going to be disappointed. If you’re a hardcore fan who has followed them since Hybrid Theory or a new fan who just discovered them with Minutes to Midnight, you’re not going to be disappointed.
This tour is different than any other tour that they have ever done. This tour is a dramatic production. The venue is made completely dark with the exception of the blacklights and minimal backlighting on the stage. Soon, you see things begin to move. The Street Drum Corps take their spots next to whatever they’ve found to bang on, in this instance, it’s giant plastic and metal oil drums. Each member is lit with the blacklights, enhancing their neon taped outfits and particularly bizarre “warpaint”. Their drumsticks are covered with neon tape, the colours of which are made more vibrant with the addition of the blacklights. Each member is highlighted with a single white spotlight from overhead at the end of their first “song”. The crowd doesn’t quite know what to expect, as evidenced in their wide eyed “what’s going on?!” expressions. This is a Linkin Park show, right?
Of course, this is a Linkin Park show. As the Street Drum Corps begin their second introduction which become the introduction proper to What I’ve Done, the drum riser is slowly lit. DJ Hahn’s turntable stand is slowly illuminated from behind. Movement in the shadows produces Mr. Hahn himself, and soon the crowd sees drummer Rob Bourdon perched atop his drum riser. While Hahn scratches and tSDC bang away, Bourdon begins a little drum fill. One by one, the rest of the band takes the stage to rapturous applause, the biggest reactions, of course, saved for duelling frontmen Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington. At first glance, one would be inclined to think that this is the Chester and Mike show, but just as soon as the first song starts, one realises that this is the farthest thing from the truth. With a group of musicians as talented as these, it would be easy to have a clash of egos on stage. During Bleed It Out, the band give a break in the song allowing for one of the most impressive drum solos the crowd has apparently witnessed in a long time. During One Step Closer, the focus is all on Shinoda. The definite highlight of the show was when the band were joined by Chris Cornell and, once again, tSDC on the second verse of Crawling. it was complete hero worship as Chester and Chris harmonised, with Chester, at one point deferring control completely to Chris. Perhaps it was because Bennington was completely and utterly thrilled to have him on stage or perhaps it was out of respect. Either way, it was an awesome thing to witness. Tonight, there was not one, but two encore breaks. The first came after Bleed It Out, and the second after Breaking The Habit. Closing the set with their biggest song of the set, One Step Closer, the band was out sung by all of those in attendance. Even after all these years of touring and playing that song, the band still cannot suppress their happiness as the crowd takes over all the vocals, leaving the band to do nothing but play and take it all in.
With all of their success, the band has remained grounded. Before they left the stage, they took the time to thank the crowd. They stopped and shook hands with people in the front. Such honesty and sincerity is a rare thing in the music industry these days, but I firmly believe that it is the thing that their fans appreciate the most. Between songs, the band took time to thank everyone and interact with the crowd. Most bands would sound forced, but with Linkin Park, it was obvious that it was from the heart. As long as they continue to keep music and honesty as the basis as everything that they do, they will have a very long career ahead of them.
Armor For Sleep:
What I’ve Done
No More Sorrow
Lying From You
Somewhere I Belong
Points Of Authority
Leave Out All The Rest
Shadow Of The Day
In The End
Bleed It Out
Pushing Me Away (Piano Version)
Breaking The Habit
Cure For The Itch
One Step Closer
Thank you to Linkin Park Live for the setlist and production notes which greatly assisted me in my review.
Special thanks to Donnie and Rifqa at Island Def Jam, Ben for Sleep, the guys in the Bravery, my extended family in Hawthorne Heights, and Brandon Saller for making everything that happened for me that day happen.