Linkin Park Save Themselves By Catering To The Fans
08.05.2008Judging by the number of concert-goers hanging out at the concession stands, no one was really in attendance to see Hoobastank, Story Of The Year or, to a lesser extent, P.O.D. While these bands were received warmly and got their fair share of hooting, once the Meteora banner dropped from the ceiling, the crowd rushed the stage in a flurry of "Fuck, yeahs!" and patchouli. Looking around me, I noticed that every second audience member was wearing Linkin Park merchandise — T-shirts, hats, rub-on tattoos. Turns out the formula for success is mass cultural assimilation.
Looking like the winners of a nu-metal American Idol contest, Linkin Park certainly know how to play the game. Vocalist Chester Bennington, MC Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist Phoenix, drummer Bob Bourdon and DJ Joseph Hahn have mastered the art of the self-indulgent performance, which included screaming "make some fuckin' noise," "how many people consider themselves hardcore Linkin Park fans?" and the tried and true "Nobody rocks like [insert city here — in this case, Toronto] rocks!"
They warmed the sold-out ACC with tracks off their recent album, Meteora, including "Don't Stay," "Somewhere I Belong," "Lying From You" and "Faint" before performing familiar tracks from Hybrid Theory such as "Papercut," "Crawling In My Skin," "One Step Closer" and "Runaway," which started the moshing, the body surfing, the lighters in the air, the wave and all the rest.
It would seem that months of market research and managerial decisions were carried out before the band was told what outfits and hairstyles to wear in order to fit the trends. They appeal to the baggy jean-wearing crowds, but maintain their youthful boy band personas. Plus, they're pop stars who can play their own instruments, but aren't so heavy that they scare off the Jewel fans.
Despite it all (bad reviews and little critical acclaim), Linkin Park know how to keep their fans happy. They erected two ramps from the stage leading off into the stands so that during the show they could run over and high five all the little people. This form of audience interaction hit a climax when Chester and Mike pulled a wannabe out of the mosh pit to play lead guitar on "Faint," which the kid did quite flawlessly and even managed to upstage the band. There was also a mammoth screen behind them to display standard images of tanks and rifles, revolts in the streets, mass deaths and suburban homes on dead-end streets, all crossed with ethereal images like butterflies and handwriting.
Ending with a four-song encore, P.O.D. joined LP onstage to thank the crowd for being "the best crowd on the tour so far." How charming. To their credit, they are quite captivating as live performers and that's their sole redemption. In fact, the best reason to enjoy Linkin Park is because they exude a gratifying musical presence, which is why they have so many fans in the first place.
Chart Attack - January 27, 2004