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Linkin Park Rocks Staples Center: “This Is What We’re All About”

Whitney Bratton |
February 24, 2011 | 5:59 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Linkin Park at Staples Center 2011 (photo by Whitney Bratton)
Linkin Park at Staples Center 2011 (photo by Whitney Bratton)

When Linkin Park frontman Mike Shinoda noticed an audience member in the pit holding a sign reading “First Concert, Favorite Band” at their sold-out show Wednesday night, he held it up and showed it to the crowd. 

“Yo LA!” he called over the vamping chords of ‘Bleed it Out,’ “This is what we’re all about!”

In an age where anyone with a computer can hack out a synthetic melody with auto-tuned lyrics, Linkin Park takes great pride in their ability to deliver incredible live performances. 

With enough smoke, lights, shock and awe to put the Wizard of Oz to shame, the band’s twenty song set list is an experience that completely abducts you from reality. 

Projecting raw, uncut footage of audience and band members alike on the enormous split screens behind their set, the band engages their fans directly, and even mixes each concert individually for concertgoers to download in its entirety after the show.

From the opening notes of the performance (and consequently, their new album, A Thousand Suns), the Staples Center crowd was electrified. 

A Linkin Park concert is a communal experience that borders on spiritual, with a stage steaming as if perched atop the entrance to hell, and a bass line powerful enough to restart your heart, should it become overwhelmed at any point during the show.

At one point during their chart-topping hit “In the End,” Mike even dove into the audience at his feet in an act of faith that was met with enough hands to hold up a nation, much less a single rock star. 

This is, perhaps, what Linkin Park is hoping for from their fans in regards to their charitable side-project, MusicForRelief.org, which focuses on providing aid to communities around the world damaged by natural disasters.

With only five concerts remaining on their North American tour, Linkin Park has circled the globe to share their music, new and old, with a fan base that includes everyone from Prince William of Britain all way down to the Staples Center ushers (“this is sick man, wow!”)  LA is more than just a stop on the road for this band, though, it’s home for most of the band’s members and their enthusiasm at being on their native turf was palpable. 

“This song is dedicated to my son who is here tonight for the first time with his friends,” Chester Bennington (vocals) announced prior to their anthem “Iridescent.” 

There was something familial about the crowd too, the fans cheering with the opening chords of each song and singing along whenever humanly possible (though they usually left the guttural screaming to Chester himself—after all, not just anybody can screech like they’re being boiled alive on cue). 

And even Chester struggled occasionally with his demanding set as he only recently has recovered from an illness that took him out of action for three shows on their tour.

Linkin Park’s fans were here for the real deal, and the entire energy of the stadium changed the moment the six-member band stepped into the strobing lights. 

After a rousing performance of “One Step Closer” that had every hand up in the air, the band left the feedback running and vacated the stage momentarily to prep their equipment for the final segment of the show.  For a second it seemed like the concert had come to a premature ending, but no one was going home, all eyes were on the stage as it glowed in expectation.

Then Mike reappeared at his keyboard, bringing with him soothing synths, the calm before the storm, that progressed into their current hit single, “The Catalyst.” 

As the music pulsed with renewed vigor, the audience knew the concert would have to end eventually, but Linkin Park had no intention of letting them leave unsatisfied.

Their set crescendoed to its climax with several more of their hits, the chart-topping “What I’ve Done,” “Bleed It Out,” and, from their original album Hybrid Theory, “Place For My Head.” 

The audience, on its feet since the downbeat twenty songs prior, sent the band home with an enthusiastic ovation that, if decibels are any measure of approval, should assure the band that their music has touched the hearts of thousands and found resonance there.

The band, in response, seems to fully understand the role their fans play in making their success possible and has managed to find a way to continue to please their audience while remaining true to their music and to themselves.

For more on the band Linkin Park visit their official website linkinpark.com.

Set List

1.    Papercut
2.    Wretches and Kings
3.    Given Up
4.    New Divide
5.    Faint
6.    Empty Spaces (Mike interlude)
7.    When They Come for Me
8.    No More Sorrow
9.    Waiting For the End
10.    Wisdom Justice and Love
11.    Iridescent
12.    Numb
13.    The Radiance (Oppenheimer)
14.    Breaking the Habit
15.    Shadow of the Day
16.    Crawling
17.    One Step Closer
18.    The Catalyst
19.    The Messenger
20.    In the End
21.    What I’ve Done
22.    Bleed It Out/Place for My Head (finale)

Reach reporter Whitney Bratton here.




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