Saturday, January 29, 2011
As we walked up to the Sprint Center Saturday night, there were four different radio stations out front: 99.7 Gen X, 96.5 the Buzz, Mix 93.3, and 98.9 the Rock. That's crossover success, ladies and gentlemen.
Linkin Park's first success was with "One Step Closer," sneaking in on the coattails of nu-metal. Since then, they've morphed into an act that manages to combine elements of dance and hip-hop with the emotional heft of -- well, emo -- without seeming like a relic from the days of Limp Bizkit. The band's crossover appeal stems from its songs that speak to alienated youth -- but they're talking about feelings and emotions other than your usual I hate my parents, nobody understands me.
As soon as the lights dimmed and the opening riffs of "The Requiem" began, the audience began chanting, "Link-in Park! Link-in Park!" Linkin Park wasted no time in taking the stage and knocking out the first block of songs. It was a pure fire-starter set that was meant to get the audience riled up. The crowd raged toward the stage, but the folks in the back were fairly mellow. (Appreciative, but mellow.) For a band so full of angst, Linkin Park had the most well-behaved audience I've seen outside of a Christian-rock concert. (That changed on the band's more monstrous radio hits, of course -- the crowd rose as one to sing along to "Numb" and "In the End.")
When Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda sang out front while the band cranked out harder-edged material -- like "Papercut," for example -- the band had the audience moving and grooving. When Linkin Park dropped the hard-edge guitars, however, and added in elements such as tribal drumming on "Empty Spaces" or tripped-out atmospherics on "Waiting for the End," the numbers were plagued with a chill vibe that wouldn't have been out of place on a Pure Moods compilation.
While Linkin Park gave its all to the audience, there wasn't a moment when the show tipped into stand-out territory. The band clearly had die-hard fans pleased but never managed to convert those casually familiar with the radio hits into true believers.
As for opening acts Pendulum and Does It Offend You, Yeah?: I hadn't seen this many kids confused by an opener since Atari Teenage Riot opened for Rage Against the Machine. The two bands were nearly indistinguishable from each other. (My wife commented that it was the same band, but Pendulum had come out in black shirts.) Here were small differences that I noted: Does It Offend You, Yeah? had a light show like an epileptic's nightmare, and Pendulum did an amazing cover of "Master of Puppets" (which only lasted for about a minute and a half, unfortunately).
It's hard to hide the fact that DIOYY? and Pendulum are simply more industrial versions of the Faint. (DIOYY? even remixed the Faint's "The Geeks Were Right." Shameless.)
Setlist for Linkin Park:
Lying From You
What I've Done
When They Come for Me
No More Sorrow
Jornada del Muerto
Waiting For The End
Burning in the Skies
Breaking the Habit
One Step Closer
Bleed It Out
Wisdom, Justice, and Love
Shadow of the Day
In the End
Critic's bias: My car got broken into during the show, and somebody stole a $200 parka out of the back seat.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Oh, shit. I shouldn't have got so hammered."