Once upon a time, I was a sheltered high schooler whose overprotective Asian parents feared that my attending a rock concert came with a reasonably high probability that I would get mugged, stabbed, drugged, or murdered. Expectedly, this meant I was not often permitted to attend concerts. However, it did little to deter me from listening to modern rock bands in the early 2000s, chief among them the wildly popular Linkin Park.
The group’s second album, Meteora, was my studying soundtrack of choice when SAT season rolled around. I unsuccessfully tried to parlay this into an argument for why I should be allowed to attend their concert in 2004, but my parents saw through my reasoning. Eight years later, I was presented with the opportunity to make my high school dreams a reality by reviewing the 2012 Honda Civic Tour with MUTEMATH, Incubus, and of course, Linkin Park.
With multiple Grammy awards, an RIAA diamond-certified debut album, and over 50 million copies of their five albums sold to date, Linkin Park isn’t exactly a stranger to the music world’s limelight. Coinciding with their fifth and newest release, Living Things, Linkin Park and fellow LA-native band Incubus have been co-headlining a nationwide series of shows for this year’s Honda Civic Tour.
Barring the occasional radio single, I haven’t really kept up with Linkin Park in the last eight years, and during that period, they have put out three albums. As it’s fairly customary for bands to play extensively from their newer releases, I was admittedly a little apprehensive about what I was getting myself into while walking into the Home Depot Center last Saturday. However, I was determined to make my high school self’s dream of seeing Linkin Park a reality, so all feelings of unease were pushed aside for nostalgia’s sake.
Supporting act MUTEMATH started out the evening with a bang. With their brand of quirky yet accessible indie rock, these New Orleans-natives made it abundantly clear that they were worthy of sharing the stage with their more established co-headliners. Following MUTEMATH’s set, Incubus took the stage. Another band that I had listened to extensively in my high school years, Incubus was a, pardon the pun, “stellar” co-headliner.
Opening with “Privilege,” Incubus delivered a stunning performance from start to finish while the sun began to set at the Home Depot Center. For me, the highlight of the set was 2000′s hit single “Drive.” The audience’s subdued state of awe, turntablist Chris Kilmore’s stylings, and singer Brandon Boyd’s shirtlessness made for an all-around magical four minutes.
The crowd waited with bated breath for the arrival of the final headliner, Linkin Park. As the band took the stage, “Tinfoil,” an instrumental track from their newest release, began to play. Once all band members were in position, the music segued directly into the familiar string opening from “Faint,” much to the audience’s delight. The first grinding guitar riff had everyone in the pit jumping from the get-go, while vocalist Mike Shinoda’s rapping was enthusiastically echoed word-for-word by the crowd. By the time vocalist Chester Bennington began singing the chorus, the audience was in the palm of Linkin Park’s proverbial hand.
Throughout the set, one notion became abundantly clear: these LA-based nu-metal rockers know a thing or two about how to put on a show. Their live rendition of “Given Up” had the entire arena jumping and thrashing like a 6-year-old in the throes of a hyperglycemic fit. Everyone sang along to Linkin Park’s classic hits “Somewhere I Belong” and “Breaking The Habit,” the latter of which led into a medley comprised of their mellower tracks, “Leave Out The Rest,” “Shadow Of The Day,” and “Iridescent” (complete with cell phone flashlight accompaniment from the audience).
Linkin Park concluded their first set with “One Step Closer,” a performance that was rife with blasts of fire and stage sparklers. The three-song encore that followed featured more of these staging effects, which had been largely unused throughout most of their main set, and the band appropriately saved the best for last with the track “Bleed It Out.” Toward the middle of the song, they segued into a verse of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys prior to bringing out Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger for an unforgettable guitar solo that culminated in a glitzy fireworks display.
Despite my unfamiliarity with Linkin Park’s newer albums, I was very impressed by the group’s set. Their on-stage presence and ability to truly connect with the audience is a testament to the years of hard work they’ve put into music production and performance. From Mike Shinoda’s on-point rapping, to Chester Bennington’s vocal intensity (how the hell he manages push his vocal chords they way he does does night after night is a scientific mystery), Linkin Park unleashed a torrent of seemingly limitless energy from beginning to end. They’ve tried so hard, got so far, and in the end, I guess it really did matter after all.
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